Since my worthless post on Ted Haggard was so popular, it’s time to at least briefly summarize what I have been thinking about the situation.
Ted Haggard screwed up. He has admitted he screwed up. His exact transgressions are unknown to me and even though I want to know, it’s not any of my business. Ted Haggard let down his family, his church, and Christianity. Here’s the kicker: we all have.
Ted Haggard is in a huge spotlight. He has lived and is still living in a fishbowl. As the pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church, his actions and words have always been watched. Unfortunately, Ted Haggard still had a sin nature.
Perhaps he said it best in the letter to his church:
I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve
been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy
victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone
would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that
were contrary to everything I believe and teach.
Paul said very close to the same thing in Romans 7.
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Does this excuse Ted Haggard’s behavior, whatever it was that he did? No, of course not. Romans 6 tells us that as Christians we should not continue in our sin. We’ve died to it and should not remain in it any longer.
Christians sin. Ted Haggard was in a position that made it very difficult for him to admit to any sin without a huge fallout. Again, I’m not condoning his actions, I’m only trying to explain to myself and to you the reader why the events transpired as they did. Haggard is the victim of a church that doesn’t accept sexual sin. By church, I mean American Christian church, not specifically his church in Colorado Springs. The only appropriate sexual sin to bring up in church is teenage boys looking at pictures of naked women. What if Ted Haggard had admitted a few weeks ago that he had a problem with sin and was struggling with something? I’d like to think that his church would have rallied around him and that he would have been surrounded by men and women who would help him be restored.
Haggard was a man with everything to lose. He was the pastor of a huge church and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. He was exalted to a high place and named as one of the most influential Christians in America. American Christians don’t want sinning leaders. American Christians want figures who are as perfect as Jesus. Here on earth, that will never be attained. It’s unfortunate that we have created an environment where the very men who are calling on us to repent cannot repent without fear of losing their position. Instead, I think that they feel that they must hide their sin. The Bible speaks again and again about hidden things coming to the light and that is what happened in this situation.
The unbelieving world needs to see Ted Haggard go through the process of restoration that he spoke of last week. Ted Haggard’s personal life is no longer personal, which again may be part of the problem. I don’t know. Evangelical Christians have an unrealistic of sexuality. They start with the truth, but they want people to live up to God’s standards. EC’s are okay with divorce, lying, and perhaps deceit, but nothing sexual. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, that homosexuality is a sin, and that pastors who do meth with male prostitutes are out of bounds. EC’s need to understand though that people are going to sin. There’s a difference between accepting that someone is going to sin and accepting that sin.
At first, I was angry with Ted Haggard. I felt that he had made Christians look bad. I ranted to myself that he was a hypocrite. I was upset that he couldn’t control his urges and that he would succumb to temptation. And why wouldn’t he admit his sins before he got to such a place? But when I began to reflect on my own life, I realized that I’m not much different than Ted Haggard. I still need grace on a daily basis and I still sin. I’m still a man in need of a Savior.