This is really very, very sad. What we see in this poignant video is Pastor Ted Haggard explaining how to have a happy, successful, faithful marriage. “It’s not hard,” he says. “It’s very easy.” Watch this, and ask yourself who he is trying so hard to convince. It’s hard to imagine anything more transparent. This is a man in great pain who doesn’t know what to do about it. For him, it’s not easy at all.
In his letter to the New Life Church he founded and led, Haggard claims that he is not gay. It is unclear at this point what he believes that term means. From the Denver Post:
Describing a lifelong battle against temptations that were contrary to his teachings, Haggard wrote in his letter he had sought assistance “in a variety of ways,” and while he had stretches of “freedom,” nothing proved effective.
“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,” Haggard wrote.
It may be tempting to gloat over a revelation like this, and it’s certainly true that Haggard’s ministry has caused a great deal of damage, especially to GLBT youth who have been subjected to “re-orientation” counseling due to the exploitation of their fearful, misguided parents. We have every right to be angry. At the same time, Haggard himself has been horribly betrayed by his faith community. Imagine how different his life could have been if he had not been taught to hate himself. Imagine how many lives could be different if they had not been truncated by the misguided belief that sexual orientation is something other than a naturally variable human characteristic.
Although he was very much a proponent of the Colorado version of the Marshall/Newman amendment, his support was tempered by at least a degree of compassion and realism.
Rob Brendle, an associate New Life pastor, said Haggard fought to make Amendment 43 only define marriage, breaking with other evangelical leaders who favored a broader measure barring domestic partnerships. Haggard has said marriage deserves special status, while civil protections should be a separate issue.
Pastor Ted no doubt wants to be the best Christian he can be. But he can’t follow the most fundamental commandments of his faith:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40.
He can’t even begin, because he doesn’t love himself. It doesn’t have to be that way, for anyone. Nobody should have to spend their life struggling to be someone other than who they are, and nobody should have to find themselves married to someone who can’t love them completely, just because they are trying in vain to “cure” themselves of something that is as natural as left-handedness. I can’t believe that any loving parent would wish that on their child.
Instead of gloating and being unkind about this painful assertion of truth, I hope that we can extend some compassion to this family. It’s likely that for now they will continue to participate in the fallacy of “re-orientation” because they want so much for it to be true. In time, my hope is that they can become part of dismantling the very harmful “ex-gay” myth that has brought them and others so much pain.