“I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy. … I can’t tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away.”
The founding pastor of another large evangelical church in Colorado has resigned after disclosing that he had “sexual relations with other men.”
A month ago, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.
Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.
Like Pastor Ted, Barnes has been hiding his secret anguish and trying to live the way he was taught he’s “supposed” to for nearly 50 years. He also has a wife and grown children. In a video explaining his resignation to his congregation, he describes growing up in a “firm moral family” and becoming an “adolescent racked with self-loathing and guilt.”
In their only talk about sex, Barnes said his father took him on a drive and talked about what he would do if a “fag” approached him. Barnes thought, “‘Is that how you’d feel about me?’ It was like a knife in my heart, and it made me feel even more closed.”
No doubt that particular “talk about sex” is part of the package that the thoroughly discredited “Dr. James Dobson” advises as “what children really need.” It would complement this advice for making sure that children understand very early what they are expected to be:
Meanwhile, the boy’s father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son’s maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
In Dobson’s world, children have to be carefully taught to be boys and girls. Never mind that at exactly the same time we are supposed to believe that these critical, rigid gender roles are “natural.” One can’t help wondering why something so natural must be so rigorously taught and enforced, through violence if necessary – but I digress.
This sort of training is supposed to result in reliably heterosexual offspring. In reality, orientation can’t be taught or enforced, so with gay children it only results in alienated, stunted, self-loathing and shamed offspring. Way to go, parents! Someone should investigate how likely it is that parents engaging in this behavior are “a married mother and father.”
Unlike the pastors, Mark Foley was not living a lie – but neither was he living as a person who likes who he is. He lived as if he were ashamed of his partner and of himself. His behavior tells us that he has internalized the belief that their 19 year relationship is inferior and not worthy of the respect to which a committed heterosexual relationship would be entitled, in fact, not even fit to be publicly acknowledged. When asked by a family friend how he could, as a gay man, vote for discriminatory legislation, Foley responded,
I could never compare any relationship I have ever had to the nature of my mother and father’s relationship.
This internalized inferiority and shame not only explains the political, but also the personal. Can we agree that a person who values his partner and has pride in who he is doesn’t need to flirt with teenagers, or worse? This is what the closet creates:
[W]hat can one expect from denying grown men — and women — a normal, adult sex life? Whether the denial of adult intimacy comes from religious conviction or the ordinary urge toward conformity, people who run away from their sexuality nearly always have to answer to nature somehow. For people who fear abiding and mutual love, the trust and confusion of the young is a godsend. Add to that the perquisites of power, and a degenerate is born.
Meanwhile, rather than addressing the very real ethical problem of adults of any orientation who take advantage of young people, the bright lights of the faux “family values” crowd have identified a new target in their perpetual war on gay people: Soy products.
Also notable: James Dobson has declined to help Pastor Ted; he says he doesn’t have time to participate in “overseeing Ted’s restoration.” One can only hope it’s because Ted said something similar to a statement by Paul Barnes in which he hopes for a future in which one can “be who you are” and be accepted and loved in the Christian community.
These are all people who can advocate powerfully for the truth, if they choose.