Saturday, January 31, 2009


The following is part of the transcript of Larry King's interview with Ted Haggard:

King: Did you not, though, preach against homosexuality?

Haggard: Yes, I did. And I...

King: Wasn't that hypocritical?

Haggard: It was hypocritical. Absolutely, it was. And the reason I did was because I have a belief system that I still have. I believe the Bible is the word of God. I believe Jesus is the son of God. I believe in being born again, those things that are fundamental to Christianity.

And I knew that the Bible was a set of ideals. The Bible says God hates divorce, but we know that lots of fine, wonderful people have to go through the horrible experiences of divorce.

We know that the Bible says pray continually. And I'm not giving it as an excuse, but I knew -- I knew that the Bible taught that sexuality was -- I felt like God's plan was for sexuality to be in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage. And I wanted that for myself. I wanted to please God. But at the same time, I had these other things going on and I ended up violating my wife and family and everything.

King: And since you didn't know why you had them going on -- no one knows why they are...

Haggard: Right. No, we didn't know.

I don't want to dwell on Ted Haggard's hypocrisy, as enough has been written on that issue to last a lifetime. Rather, I want to emphasize how complex we are as human beings, and how complex life is for each of us whereby none of us can afford to throw stones at anyone else, whether or not we invoke the Bible as presumed justification to throw those stones.

What is heartbreaking, however, in this whole scandal is that both Ted Haggard and his wife erroneously continue to believe that being Gay is a sin and violates the biblical injunction for all people to be Straight. This conclusion is clearly not true, but the very fact that this distortion of the Bible is so endemic within most Christian communities speaks to the truth of Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbel's assertion that no matter how big the lie is, if it's repeated often enough people will come to believe it.

In this case, unnecessary shame was visited on Haggard; he felt the need to be hypocritical about homosexuality, thereby causing untold damage to countless numbers of Gay people and their families by castigating them and their sexual orientation as a sin; showing himself to be a man for whom the accusation of being mentally ill is preferable to being viewed as Gay. Indeed, by depicting Gay people as sinners, he contravened one of the Ten Commandments that says we are not to bear false witness!

He need not have come out as a Gay man, but could at least have kept his mouth shut about the whole issue while he was pastor of the megachurch, New Life Church when he was its pastor before the scandal broke. However, in order to adhere to the party line; attract many members to his congregation, many of whom seem to love to have a seemingly vulnerable minority be viewed as an out-group in order to feel superior and have increased in-group cohesion, he felt the need to preach against the very behaviors in which he, himself, engaged.

We are to make no mistake: it is not an infrequent occurrence that those who frequently rail against a given behavior are often the very ones who either engage in that behavior or are in some way conflicted about their engaging in that behavior. The mechanism operating in this duplicity and hypocrisy is largely "denial" about who they are as human beings, comprised of all the complexity that comprises the human condition for each and every one of us.

As I've often written, in life one size doesn't fit all, and in the Christian life one size doesn't fit all, either. One can be Straight and be a mature Christian, and one can be Gay and be a mature Christian!

There is nothing in the Bible that justifies viewing homosexuality, same-sex love, as a sin! It's very unfortunate, to put it mildly, that Haggard doesn't see that fact; that he felt he need to communicate the lie that same-sex love is a sin and is unbiblical; that to this day he doesn't cop to being Gay; that he put his family through hell in having to deal with this scandal; that he is causing himself additional mental health problems by his denial of a good part of his sexuality; that he has undoubtedly caused others to live lives of needless guilt and shame, falsely thinking that they are sinners and that God can't possibly love them just as they are.

And all of these assertions, boldly made in the name of God, was and is a big lie!

As I have written in an article for an upcoming issue of "The Sacramento Valley Mirror," a newspaper in which I have a weekly column entitled, "Christianity and Society":

Like many Christians, I have been curious and dismayed about what seems to be the increasing appeal of fundamentalism and fundamentalist thinking within Christianity. Actually, “fundamentalism,” rather than being within the mainstream of orthodox Christianity, may more profitably be seen as a relatively recent phenomenon that may be seen to be a sect that has grown out of Christianity, rather than existing as a movement within the rubric of orthodox Christianity itself. It is, therefore, indeed ironic that many people have come to equate fundamentalism with Christianity itself, and very often view Christianity as a legalistic religion when, in fact, and quite the opposite, it is a call to freedom in Christ, and is a religion of grace, love, and peace.

It is "fundamentalist" thinking that makes one's interpretation of the Bible as one's idol, thereby both contravening one of the Ten Commandments, as well as unbiblically preaching hate, guilt, and exclusion of others, that has caused the Ted Haggards of the world, and all of their gullible followers, to not only often live lives of quiet desperation, but have also caused so many others to live similarly guilt-ridden lives. And all in the name of God who, ironically, in the Person of Jesus preached the very opposite.

They often see the Bible as a rule book rather than as a vehicle that shows forth the love and grace of Jesus Who preached liberation from the assorted yokes of bondage others, particularly th legalists, seek to place on us.

The Apostle Paul captured this essence of the Gospel when he wrote: “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

It's a crying shame that the Ted Haggards of the world, and all, Gay and Straight, who have taken them seriously, would rather take his and other like-minded others' advice and buy into their ungodly yokes of bondage, than take the advice, the liberating Gospel, of Jesus and its reinforcement by the Apostle Paul, in living their Christian lives!
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