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.
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.
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?
Sex allegations lobbed at Ted Haggard
Church fires Haggard for 'immoral' acts
Ted Haggard video clip
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)