Never had a clue

I've been reading news articles and commentaries on the Ted Haggard episode and have been surprised to find that the majority of stories haven't been all that condemning. Although no one is denying Haggard's homosexual lifestyle or his drug use, almost without exception the articles contain phrases such as "We are all subject to falling to temptation" or "Satan attacks successful Christians" or "Ministers are just people too" and "We should remember David and Bathsheba" or "We must seek for his restoration and forgiveness" or similar banal rhetoric. And these trite phrases have been weaved into columns written by secular and Christian writers alike!

In fact, the general timbre seems to be that although Haggard initially denied the allegations and only later admitted he’d been disingenuous, his fall from grace is supposedly only evidence of human frailty or Original Sin or something.

Perhaps I'm just jaded, but the man is 50 years old, and has admitted to having an affair with a gay, drug-dealing prostitute for three years.

Three years!

I wonder, is it possible for a True Christian™ to live a sordid secret life for three years? Does a three-year-long gay tryst held by a respected Christian leader prove that Christianity definitely has problems?

Regardless of the real answer to those simplistic questions, I can't help but wonder a few things from all of this.

Let me explain my thinking:

During these past three years Haggard has preached dozens and dozens of genuine sounding sermons in a church that claims to practice the gifts of the Spirit. People in the congregation still readily claim to possess spiritual gifts — gifts ladled out by the Almighty — for the benefit of HIS church. One of these divine gifts is known as the gift of discernment. Yet, apparently, not a single one of these purportedly gifted believers had the slightest idea that Haggard was lying. Or screwing around. Or getting high.

Not one!

This is intriguing to me. Does this prove that Spiritual gifts are bogus? Doesn't it at least raise some doubt as to the reliability of supposedly God-given powers?

Another thing that mystifies me is the assumption that a 50-year-old man would suddenly begin having homosexual tendencies at the age of 47.

Is that how homosexuality works? Does a man wake up one day at 47 and realize he’s just got to have sex with a hot guy? Perhaps I’m naïve, but it seems much more likely that Haggard has been gay a lot longer than three years. It seems likely that he would have acted on these impulses once or twice prior to reaching 47 years old.

Am I way off base on this?

Of course I have no evidence that Haggard’s been having dalliances with anyone other than Mr. Kiss&Tell, but I still wonder. When President Clinton's cigar was found where it shouldn’t have been, no one doubted he'd been wetting that thing as often as opportunity knocked. Most writers weren't all that forgiving of Clinton. Yet Haggard, who unless he’d been fingered would likely still be out on the prowl, gets the soft touch, so to speak.

Another observation I'd like to make is in regards to the relative ease with which this man wore an impenetrable mask before thousands of onlookers. His deception was flawless. To reiterate, had he not been turned in by his lover, no one would be the wiser today.

I've known people who could lie as convincingly as Haggard, and frankly, those people scare me. If Haggard could be the revered minister of thousands, and the leader of some 30 million as the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, without a single person ever suspecting his duplicity, how many other Christian leaders, past or present, possess(ed) similar talents?

No True Christian™ doubts that Joseph Smith was lying when he said he was visited by an angel who gave him golden plates — the Book of Mormon. No True Christian™ doubts that the spiritual experiences of Mohammad are fantastical fabrications. And no True Christian™ doubts that the stories written in the Bible are completely true. The early disciples of Jesus could never have fabricated the stories in the New Testament and Paul's honesty is unquestionable, say True Christians™

And again, no True Christian™ suspected that Ted Haggard was anything but an honest, holy, anointed man of God.

This website posts various stories of Christian leaders being caught with their pants down, their hands in the till, with blood on their hands, ect., and without exception the people in their "flocks" are shocked by the information. In every one of these types of cases that I'm aware of, True Christians™ never had a clue.

What do you think?

Related articles:
Sex allegations lobbed at Ted Haggard
Church fires Haggard for 'immoral' acts
Ted Haggard video clip


Anonymous said...

WM, you bring up an issue that has always mystified me--how come god via his holy spirit never warns his people about guys like Haggard. Now that I know there is a specific gift of discernment, I'm even more surprised that christians don't talk about this.

Most people have a fair amount of intuition and experience gut reactions to people. I think christians cut themselves off from this sense by having a one-track, god-obssessed mind. They forget how to think for themselves, therefore their perceptions become dulled. Not a good situation considering how many christians there are.

I wish Haggard would just come out of the closet and be himself. He's probably got so much invested in being a Superchristian that it will probably never happen.

Anonymous said... first thought after watching all of that was "Why don't Christians typically offer me the same benefit of the doubt that they are giving Haggard?" (I'd call it "grace", but I don't want to devalue the concept.)

Anonymous said...

WM: Right-on brother!

Michelle: Right-on sister!

Shanna: You have my "Grace" but that and 50 cents will still get you only a half a cup of cheap coffee. (he-he)

I suspect Ted Haggard will never be the same and will likely lose his wife and family too.

No matter what you call yourself, being true to that same self is a requirement for inner peace and happiness and is the center of genuine honesty. We violate this self-evident principle at our peril - the cost, many times, is very high.

Grace & Peace, John

Anonymous said...

Great piece.

Shanna, The reason why you can't get same grace is because you are pretending to be a xtian like them. You are not part of the church/community they live in. They see you and us as the devil trying to destroy what they stand for regardless if it is true or not. They are the vice-roy of god and you and I are the vice-roy of their devil.
Xtians forgive him because Haggard brought them something to believe in, even it is imaginary. He had faith like them and bought into the cult.

On the one hand xtians say "believe" and you're saved, but then there are those who say you must be obedient. I think they use which one is convenient at the time to make themselves feel good about their religion. Xtians love Haggard for having faith and they will let him come back to service the church. Not because they are forgiving. They just want to say Jesus cured him late down the road.

Shannon said...

Seems that there is only one thing a Christian can do to cross the line with other Christians and that is become an ExChristian.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I don't get- a) fundies insist that homosexuality is a "choice", a choice made for depraved reasons (I guess); b) Haggard said he has been stuggling with his homosexual desires for years, occasionally beating them into submission. He's been praying for a long time for them to just go away. If homosexuality was a "choice", Haggard would not be struggling with it. He could just stop and that would be the end of it. And why isn't Fred Phelps showing up at Haggard's chuch and picketing because they were harboring a gay guy in the pulpit?

Anonymous said...

In the evangelical world,"Haggard" is a celebrity. Charm and talented preaching are the important thing,..not their ability to obey the scriptures.
Numbers,(people and money)are what measures the a man of god.
The charismatic gifts seem to only increase with these guys.I guess the release of "sinning" loosens them up to minister in more relaxed and effective way.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Webmaster!

I entirely agree. Actually, what really bugged was that the scandal made the news for like three days only.

I realize that firing Haggard was the correct PR thing to do, and it worked. But it's still outrageous that the media let go off it so easily.

Also, I wonder why nobody in his Pentecostal church "prophesied" about it--bunch of liars.

As for why they were more forgiving toward him than to Shanna, me, and other women, I must remind myself that Haggard is a MAN and we are WOMEN, second-class citizens as far the Christian church is concerned.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add something we talk alot about here,...addiction.
Many of these evangelicals are severe addicts trying to control their problems through a powerless religion. It promises freedom and victory to all who just ask for deliverance.
Haggard is caught up in this cultish hell of empty promises and hype!It's no wonder he's living these two differant lives.

Anonymous said...

"Many of these evangelicals are severe addicts trying to control their problems through a powerless religion"

Religion IS the addiction, the escratic cults of the ancient world used fervent prayer and dance accompanied by music in order to achieve "a higher consciousness", in actual fact they were simply psyching themselves up so hard that they got high off their own endorphins.
Today, evangellicals use fervent prayer and dance (in the aisles, but it counts) accompanied by music to get in touch with "god".

But of course, christianity is COMPLETELY different to the old heathen religions...judge for yourself.

SpaceMonk said...

I think maybe the media (the secular media anyway) may be afraid to get too accusatory.

They don't want to be seen as rubbing this in christian faces, yet they're not going to say there's anything wrong with him being gay either.
It's the christians who would say that, so for secular media it's just another gossip story, but with a religious ooh aah factor.

Since it's so border line as to which party they would be offside-ing more if they leaned too heavily one way or the other, then they just play it safe, and lay off.

Which only means the christians can patch over it easier, and avoid the whole hypocrisy issue.

Anonymous said...

Just think Gang!! Our fine evangelical christian President has been praying with a Gay man every Monday morning for the past 6 years! The very thought of it just makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. Oh shit I can't take it anymore. I'm going to piss myself. This is comedy Gold.

I wonder if Bush ever opened one eye during prayer and said holy shit this guy is "fruity tooty".
If he did the prayers probably went something like this. LET YOUR IMAGINATION LEAD THE WAY!

Dear Lord Jesthus,

Please protect usth from all the gays for they are so hard and their bodies ooops I mean heartsss are so very hard. Pleasssse help us Lord Jesus because they are so hard and tight ooops again I mean their hearts. Please loosen their heartssss Lord Jesusth.
Amen my beautiful and Awesome sexy Heavenly Father!

Lord thank you for the flowers!

After this Pastor Teddy begins to tell Bush what colors he loooks good in. Bush then thanks him with that goofy laugh and they hang up the phone!!

Anonymous said...

This is a very good topic.

Christians often say that God can't work through them if there is some particular unaddressed 'sin' in their life.

In fact, they often tell us that we were probably unable to experience God because we had some 'hidden sin' etc.

Now, imagine if you had gone to the New Life Church say one month ago and asked random members of the congregation the following question:

'Do you think that this church has been blessed through the ministry of Ted Haggard in the last three years?'

What do you suppose the answers would have been like?

I think we all know very well. But I wonder how many people in that same congregation are now asking themselves some serious questions about what was really happening when they felt inspired by one of Haggard's sermons, for example.

Steven Bently said...

For some reason Christians cannot imagine a life without a belief. They say what is life worth living without a Jesus? Christians say, the Atheists took away their Easter Bunny and Santa and prayer and now we want to take away their

I do not forsee any repercussions as being apposed to the famous Ted Haggard folly.

If that doesn't wake anyone up, nothing will.

If people where to be totally honest with themselves instead of feeling so sorry for themselves since childhood, we would have heard a swoosh of people leaving the churches in droves, but it apparently doesn't matter what a preacher does because he can be tempted by Satan just as easy as the next sinner.

I would have never believed that I would live to see so many adults pretending to be Christians and acting just like retarded children.

Chistians are adults that never really grew up, this behavior must tell us all something that if they are mimicking a Jesus, then apparently Jesus was also an adult that never really grew up, this should also tell us that the religious nuts are completely mentally insane.

Now we have these insane idiots in charge of trying to represent this country.

American citizens are so freaking screwed up in the head.

America also reflects this mental sickness for all of the world to see.

I believe Jesus was a homosexual, and the crusifixion was just a cover up and hoax to get Jesus out of the area.

Deuteronomy 23:2 A bastard child shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.

This was a very strick law, in them days!

Anonymous said...

WM: Another thing that mystifies me is the assumption that a 50-year-old man would suddenly begin having homosexual tendencies at the age of 47.

I wonder if it's not from sniffing the chemical fumes from the ink rising from the hymnals and the Bible after say, 30-40 years?

Maybe it's the carpet fumes from praying so

Anonymous said...

Hiding homosexuality is rather easy when you are a fundy. Just imagaine that beautiful face and body of Jesus Christ. Then imagine fucking him in the ass while calling him my lord and savior while having anal sex. Christian music is living proof of this by stealing songs and rewriting them from saying "I love you baby" to "I love you Jesus".

christuffer said...

It's about the belief system of Christianity. Even when you've spent your whole life believing the nonsense that is Christianity and leading others in the believing of it, when it comes to the crunch, it just wasn't believable enough for Haggard, to stop him indulging in what he knew was wrong (according to his religion).

Anonymous said...

9/11 for me was a wake up call. I really woke up and saw just what religious finaticism can do to a group of people. It really can take you to the extreme. You have finatical muslims over in Iraq blowing up kids on soccer fields and then you have a hypocritical christian leader over here leading a group of 30 million evangelicals to vote against a group of people who happen to be gay and then it turns out this fucker is gay. Oh shit this complicated. What the Fuck?
Human beings are a complicated bunch. It may take a civilization billions of years from now to ever figure us out. We are a fucked up bunch and Jesus and Mohammed are not making things any better. These fuckers are bringing us to the point of self destruction.

I don't know about you but it makes me imagine what the world would be like free of religion and religious finatics. I welcome the RAPTURE! Please GOD take these fucking religious finatics the fuck out of here. LOL!

Anonymous said...

These are good questions. I don’t feel I am on my way to becoming an ex-Christian, but I believe churches deliberately quash that “gift of discernment” nowadays. It must be in the interest of being “nice” and “forgiving,” but it is hardly what Jesus preached or practiced. It is also true that suspicious parishioners probably just left the church. There is hardly opportunity for blowing the whistle in a megachurch.

Yes, “Original Sin” it is—at least how Augustine described one major manifestation of it: the pervasive sexual urge at inappropriate times and places. (Homosexual or heterosexual, it doesn’t much matter to one with an Augustinian view). Augustine (on this subject), too, is very unfashionable in churches now. They just like to preach, “Sex is a gift of God” and “Sex is God’s idea” as long as it is “properly channeled.” And then they don’t admit that no one is good at properly channeling it.

ieeye said...

Those close to him said that they knew, but they did nothing about it, whose to say that someone didn't leave the church because they actually had the gift of discernment? Some Christians are cessationists, so the most you would accomplish is turning Christians into cessationists (those who believe that the gifts of the Spirit ceased with the close of the Canon.)

webmdave said...

Since you're 17, I'll go easy.

If people knew about this and did nothing, then that would be far worse than if the magical "gifts" of the Spirit were bogus.

Think about it. Surely a lack of moral strength and mute complicity is a far greater tragedy than the non-existence of magical "charisma's."

steamboat_willey said...

If someone did discern the duplicity, it was because of ordinary perceptive ability, not because of something supernatural.

It's a very good point. Taking it a step further, why believe that any person ever born, in the history of mankind, received information or instructions from God or had some special "gift" from beyond? Claims of those communications and gifts form the basis of all religions.

Pageviews this week: