An Editorial by Eric Smith

Installment #2 (November 23, 2006)

 

What We Can Learn From Ted Haggard

 

    On November 2ND we learned that Ted Haggard, Pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church in Colorado Springs had been accused of homosexual activity and methamphetamine drug use.  Haggard denied these accusations of course.  That is, after all, the first reaction we all have when we are confronted with having done something we know is wrong.  Over the next couple of days, after stepping down as senior pastor, Haggard gradually admitted to most of what he was accused of until finally on Sunday the 5TH, in a two page letter that was read to the congregation by an assistant pastor, he made it clear he would not be back in a leadership role and admitted that he had been guilty of sexual immorality and of being a deceiver and a liar.

    I want to be clear; My purpose is not to rip on Haggard or shine any undue spotlight on his sins.  He is not alone in the sin category, he has lots of company. As for his accuser Mike Jones, I don’t know anything about him beyond what has been in the news.  In the beginning I wondered if we would find out that the whole thing had been political and cooked up in a campaign office some where.  Haggard’s gradual confessions made that scenario less and less likely.

    Jones did admit that he came forward with this information when he did in an attempt to influence the election and Colorado’s upcoming vote on gay marriage. I thought that was worthy of notice.  He was being honest about his motivation, but He said something else that just floored me. He claimed he was coming forward because it was the "moral thing to do". I thought, he’s kidding right?? CNN kept playing that all weekend as if to under score it.  If you repeat it enough times, people might start to believe it?

    I’m curious, where does Jones think he has moral standing? By his own admission, he is a former gay male prostitute. That means that men, (most of which I’m sure were married), paid him to have sex with them.  He facilitated Haggard's drug purchases. These actions are both illegal and immoral by any society’s definition.

    Both men have sinned; against God, and against each other.  Both need forgiveness. One knows it, while the other looks to justify his actions.  One is torn down and thrown on the alter of public opinion, while the other is patted on the back and told "he done good".

    By comparison, Jimmy Swaggart had his share of problems beginning in 1988. No one ever tried to justify the actions of the prostitutes he was caught with. At least one of the girls did give an interview to Hustler, for which I am sure she was paid, but no one ever claimed they were anything they weren’t.

 

WHAT IS THE POINT?

    Of course the media is taking it easy on Jones. The idea that a male prostitute could have the "moral", "upper hand" on one of the Christian Right’s shining stars.?  It is just too good a story to pass upon. America is so tired of the Evangelical's "holier than thou" attitude, that when a guy like Mike Jones comes around... who cares about the circumstances, as long as he can knock a preacher off his pulpit. And this was a big score; this preacher has been involved in conference calls to the White House. This is one of the guys America blames for some of the decisions that Bush has made in the past six years. This will have far reaching consequences. The Whitehouse and the Evangelical movement have down played it, saying that he has only been on a few conference calls and that Haggard really isn’t that big a fish in the Evangelical pond. This just proves they are betting on the American people being stupid. They think we don’t know damage control when we hear it.

    There is another point to consider. If a former male prostitute can be said to hold the "moral high ground", what does that do for the rest of us?  Isn’t that really the point? If the American public will accept the idea of Mike Jones having more of a moral standing then Ted Haggard, there is no telling what is in store for the rest of us who claim the name of Christ.  Up is down, right is wrong...

    Haggard, like Swaggart before him seems to have been caught doing the very thing he preached loudest against. That’s always the way, it’s a lesson we never seem to learn.  My Mother used to tell us, (me and my sisters), the things that bother you the most about other people are almost always the things you hate most in yourself. There seems to be some truth in that.

    It seems obvious now that Haggard preached against homosexuality because of his own dark secrets. Can you imagine how powerful this thing in his life must have been? Jones claims his relationship with Haggard extended over a three year period. This thing must have had a serious hold on Haggard, it must have beat him into submission over and over again.  We all know what that is like, as we all have had something that beats us up and wins the battle until we finally give it over to Christ, or he takes it.

    Haggard did the worst thing he could have possibly done in the average Evangelical's mind.  He isn’t being accused by his female sectary, or some young twenty something woman in the choir.  He is accused by another guy.  Remember that the only real sin left in the Evangelical world is sexual sin. There are other sins of course, but they have found ways around them...

  1. They have found ways to condone building bigger barns and laying up treasures on Earth.

  2. They have found a way to condone killing in the name of democracy.

  3. Protestants have found ways to embrace the very Catholic, "Just War Doctrine".

  4. With the Evangelical’s entrance into politics they have found ways around lying, it’s called "spin".

    Sexual sin is the only thing left in which we as Christians have not found any wiggle room. This may be partly because of the ongoing problems in the Catholic Priesthood and partly because of our need to be better then the average sinner.

    Is there something to learn from all of this, besides the obvious "practice what you preach"? Is there any reason for this information surfacing when it did? Besides the already admitted desire to influence the voting.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I will not claim to know the mind of God, but I am willing to speculate a little.

    The obvious thought is that Ted Haggard has now been forced to come out into the light of day and face his problem. He now has no choice but to either turn his back completely on Christ or to lay this burden at the feet of Christ and let him have the victory over it.

    I am sure that Mike Jones will be watching Haggard as will countless others in the gay community. Who knows how many will be touched by these events and what the outcome will be in each of those lives.

    There is another group of people who can benefit from this, American Christians. God has been dropping hints on us for some time now. He has been trying to get the American Christian to wakeup and stop compromising his Christianity in order to support a President just because he said Jesus Christ was his favorite philosopher.

    Since the invasion of Iraq in ’03 we have learned that we were lied to about Saddam’s WMD programs. We were told that there were ties between Saddam and Osama, which was also a lie. Our President has authorized the illegal wire tapping of American telephones, our President argues for the right to torture, he has used secret renditions and pushed for legislation that makes it illegal for even the supreme court to question him. All of this and more has come to light about our Christian President and still American Christians continue to support him, it seems we have not been paying attention.

    Conditions in Iraq continue to get worse. More Americans die every day. Every day another 50 to 80 Iraqi’s are killed. Still we choose not to read the very obvious signs that God has given us that we have made a mistake. Still we cling to the idea that God is on our side. Does the word REPENT mean anything to us?

    Well, now we have a major figure in the Christian leadership of this country that God has chosen to bring low. A man who has endorsed and advised the current administration. It seems everything this administration touches turns sour.

Are we paying attention yet? How many more chances will we be given to turn away from the world and seek the face of our creator? Pray for Haggard and Jones, pray for the people in this nation, pray that you will be ready for the coming trials. They are coming and you do not have a reserved box seat in heaven to watch them from!
 

 

In Christ, E. D. Smith 

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