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November 03, 2006

Comments

Zossima

Gee, if I was a Calvinist, I'd have to be wondering why Calvin's god is causing these right-wing leaders to "fall"? Could it be that Calvin's god wants their sin exposed? Could it be that Calvin's god wants their hypocrisy exposed? Could it be that Calvin's god wants to destroy the evangelical opposition to gays?

I think those are the only 3 choices for Calvinist fundagelicals.

Dallas Tim

I am a Calvanist. I'm not wondering about anything, except why we continue to, as Greg aptly put it, "promote Christian superstars?" This guy was human, just like me and you. His ministry may have had a huge impact, but at the end of the day, he was just another guy who, for one reason or another, made the decision to let things get out of control. There would have been signs, he obviously ignored them.

Yes, I believe homosexuality is wrong (sin) across the board, but this could have been a heterosexual affiar and been just as bad.

Why leaders feel insulated from temptation is a mystery to me.

Streak

This just in, Haggard admits he hired the guy for a massage, bought meth from him, but threw it away and never had sex.

Who knows what is going on there, but getting a legit massage is not hard to do. Either way the hypocrisy is still evident.

I agree. The celebrity issue for evangelicals is not really different than the celebrity of our "journalists" and politicians. At a certain point, they start to believe their own press and stop doing their job.

But I also think that evangelicals, in asserting their faith in the political world, have forgotten the imporatance of humility. James Dobson is a great example.

Brooke

Well, I'm voting for the gay marriage dealy on Tuesday. not that I think it will make a difference. Is it on the ballot in Oklahoma?

Tim Sean

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the great cloud of witnesses in chapter 12 after giving his list of some of them in the preceding text. Think about the lives of some of these folks listed: Rahab (prostitute), Samson (horn-dog and liar), David, (adulterer and murderer).

We are a mess, all of us. There is a quality that enables a person to recieve God's kindness, but my sense is that such a quality comes from God's kindness and is in no way dependent upon how good we are. God loves Ted Haggard gay or straight. I hope Ted figures that out one day. I hope it for everyone.

Kevin

One of the phone recordings has him asking for more meth, which means he probably got it at least twice. Which also means he's probably lying.

andy

On "Inside Edition" tonight a lie detector test of Jones (the gay escort) proves just that, he is lying. Your earlier suspictions that his accusations are pre-election related are proving true.

greg

Andy,

Except that Haggard admitted to some of the allegation prior to Jones "failing" the lie detector. The man who administered the test has said that Jones's lack of sleep over the past few days could have affected the results. There are reasons these tests aren't admissible. But nothing will convince the fervently evangelical that their hero isn't lying.

bobstevens

A few things to say...

I'm not sure why anyone anywhere thinks that hosting polygraphs on news radio and television shows is a good idea. When has Inside Edition ever proved anything other than the gullible nature of most of the country? "But Marge, listen to the music... that man is evil!"

Two, I had no idea who Haggard was. Now I do, and I mostly still don't care. I'm a little troubled by his duplicitous life and the illegal nature of his actions. He can never be a pastor in his circles again, which is probably fine. Long term, I think this changes nothing for anyone that isn't Ted Haggard or his family.

Three, sexual identity is a complex issue. I'm not comfortable asserting that someone "is gay" or "is not gay". Perhaps the most intelligent commentary on the issue came from Matt Stone, who has said "I guess everyone's a little gay."

(Yes, I just implied that the creators of Southpark are more interesting and thoughtful than a news magazine show.)

bobstevens

Oh, yeah.

And I don't really know if I'm a Calvinist or not, but I do in fact believe that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

How you interpret that is up in the air. Maybe it happened so Haggard could stop his sexual misconduct. (Because even if you think homosexuality is A-OK, none of you think cheating on your wife is ok... right? Right???) Maybe it happened so that Haggard could change his views on the issue of how Christians are supposed to respond to homosexuality.

I like to believe that God is more clever than any of us, though, so guessing is a bit of a pointless endeavor. Same with trying to interpret prophecy that's unfulfilled.

michael

Just an aside greg, you can decide if its relevant or not, but I am interested in how the GL of GLBTQ are increasingly becoming the 'conservatives' of the fold and often the two camps, in terms of agenda, are not on the same page. Your reading of Haggard's actions fall within what I would call the conservative reading. That is, you assume he's 'gay' and somehow living a lie or at least bifurcating his personality. Queer theory would argue that his actions with Jones have nothing to do with being 'gay', as if the options are 'gay' or 'strait' - binary. There are many men - and women - who love their heterosexual spouse and are deeply committed to them, yet nevertheless enjoy other kinds of sexual experiences, which for them have nothing to do with the love and commitment they have for their spouse.

So, Haggard - a hypocritical gay man or just queer?

Kevin

Well, for the record, Haggard has now admitted to "sexual immorality."

greg

michael,

excellent point, as usual, but I see Haggard as one of those men who feel compelled to hid their sexuality precisely because they've chosen a life of ministry in a conservative church. How many ministers have we known who were obviously gay but chose to marry to either fix themselves or legitimate their ministry while they continued to pursue the gay fantasies or even affairs. As my gay friends occasionally tell me when I ask how they can have sex with a woman if they're gay: "I'm a guy; it still feels good when someone rubs my ****."

Jeff

I think Greg's "gay" friend's theory is interesting. I think a majority, maybe high majority, of gay, lesbian and bi-sexual people are just confussed on their labels. I think they should relabel themselves as hedonists. Were the idea of "it feels good" fits so much better. Gay is just the new slang for hedonist in America.

Gabe

This was an interesting post, but my comment is not about it. This is my first time to this site and I found it pleasently ironic that you had the Chi-Rho image in the top lef corner (typifying Constantine and the Constantinian Shift) as well as links to an emergent-esqe web-site (typigying post-Constantianian sentiment). That just made me smile.

*Christopher

Jeff,

Looking at all of the heterosexual hedonism, including among the married, let's dispose with the bearing of false witness. Given the number of queer folk I know who are faithful and quite conservative with regard to sexual ethics, hedonism is an equal opportunity possibility.

Growing up in a nexus of relationships, especially the church, in which we are thought of as the sh** of the earth can easily lead one to all sorts of ways of coping in secret and dealing even with marrying a person of the opposite sex. I pray for Ted, as he's in a painful place to be because of the theology he adheres to. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

http://regula.blogspot.com/2006/11/as-closet-empties-values-versus.html

greg,

I may be in the minority on this one, but I would rather be abstinant or celibate than have sex with a woman--no offense to women (who often are good friends), but the *ick* factor is pretty high, but more importantly, the affectional and emotional aspects I find with another man aren't there with women, and if we're talking about relationship versus simply getting my d*** rubbed or my rocks off, then as Eugene Rogers puts its so well that another male is the apposite sex. Many gay men have sex with women for complicated reasons: trying to change, trying to fit in, hiding, and yes, sometimes because it feels good...but then, we could say the same probably for a number of those men who identify as straight with regard to other men.

greg

Jeff,

Not sure what you're implying with the hedonist issue.

Gabe, not sure how the chi rho typifies the constantinian emphasis...

Mike

Well Greg, it looks like you were 100% right about Haggard: "Haggard Confesses To 'Lifelong' Sexual Problem".

The striking thing about Haggard's confession is that he uses words like immorality, deception, liar, repulsive, dark, etc. But he can't bear to actually use the word gay.

I don't have nearly the libertine attitude towards homosexuality that Greg does, but it truly saddens me to see that fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity has so stigmatized being gay that Christians and Christian leaders cannot even bring themselves to use the word.

Mike Laprarie

greg

Mike,

I agree with you on the stigmatization; however, I don't think I'm a libertine. I'd still insist on covenant faithfulness as a standard within sexual ethics.

Jeff

Greg,
Not sure I implied anything. I was saying we to quickly jump to label people gay, bi, straight because of who they are doing. Why they are doing it is more relevant, and as your friend said, "it feels good." That is hedonism. So maybe we should just realize America is a very sexual screwed up (hehe) nation, and very hedonistic.

kds

So how does one "read the Bible through the lens of gay-ness"? And is all moral failure, as you insinuate, the equivalent of hypocrisy?

greg

kds,

I don't think I implied all moral failure was hypocrisy. I tried to say just the opposite. Imagine yourself as a gay person and then read the Bible. Or better yet, ask a gay friend to read with you. Read Peter Gomes's The Good Book: he's gay and brilliant.

kds

How are you defining hypocrisy? That isn't at all clear and I think there is great confusion over that term in our society in general. It's just become another non-thinking buzzword like "tolerant." And then, depending on your definition, that may clear up the distinction b/t it and all moral failure.
As for the gay lens, I really don't get your point at all. I could imagine myself as all sorts of things while reading Scripture -- black, white, yellow, red, male, female, young, old, gay, or straight, but 1) it's pretty impossible to oneself in another's shoes to that extent, and 2) I don't really think it would change the words on the page. Are insinuating that the truths therein somehow change when read through a different lens? That seems to be bordering very precariously on the side of relativism.
Again, perhaps some more definition would alleviate these questions.

greg

OMG, relativism. How awful! I realize you can't really put yourself in someone else's place; that's why I suggested Gomes or a friend.

Do the "truths" change? How do you define truth? Propositionally? Relationally? Experientially? It's certain that the truths changed regarding slavery. Just listen to sermons from the 19th century. Or segregation. Try sermons from the 1960's. Truths change based on experience.

kds

I'm not sure if your tone is sarcastic there or not. Either way, you still haven't advanced a definition of hyprocrisy, so we're still left spinning our wheels as to what to make of your initial comments.

As to truths changing, you're not serious, are you? How in the world do past misconceptions mean that the truth has changed? Did the very same text mean one thing at one time and another at a different time?

greg

I don't know why you want me to define hypocrisy. If you're so all fired up about it, offer a definition.

Truth is not this abstract thing that kind of sits in space until we discover it. It is the application of convictions that function as truth. For people 200 years ago, the text said the same thing as it does now. They simply chose to interpret it differently.

kds

This is simply why you ought to define hypocrisy: you accused a man of engaging in it. Your accusation has no poignancy if you don't define what it is that you are accusing him of. If I accused you of "febbing," it would be a punchless accusation unless we each had a clear understanding of what "febbing" is. (In this case, it's a local meaningless colloquialism; I didn't just say something rude!)

greg

kds,

You're not reading the post very well. I explained why I believe Haggard wasn't really acting in a way we normally define as hypocritical. The problem is that evangelical theology has reached a point that identity and behavior can be separated such that I can believe one thing, act in another way, and never play the hypocrite. Much of this has to do with poor atonement theology whereby my "soul" is secured by the justification provided by Jesus' blood (or some other annoying metaphor) and I am thereby robbed of any compelling reason to act morally so long as I believe it's genuinely wrong and feel bad enough to respent later.

kds

Sorry, Greg, but it is not my poor readership; it is your muddled thinking. Perhaps if you wrote in language other than cliches, buzzwords, and strawman arguments you could produce something of worth. You called the man a hypocrite but have refused to define what you actually mean by that. You love love love to fall back on your oversimplified take on evangelical theology as indifferent to holy behavior -- a take which is foreign to my probably 95% of my experiences of interacting with evangelical circles. You imply that truth varies from interpretation to interpretation and from age to age.
What else is there to say? If you don't answer questions directly, don't stick to the topic, and don't believe in a transcendant truth, then there really isn't much hope for dialogue.

greg

kds,

You're so right. Sorry to have been so wrong. I hope God still loves me.

cheek

I'm not sure why the onus should be on Greg to clarify an apparently unambiguous use of a word in this case. Haggard not only condemned homosexual behavior hyperpublicly, he actually worked to make official expressions of homosexual relationships illegal. Then, he participated in homosexual behavior, the very behavior he had condemned. This makes him a hypocrite by most common understandings of the word. Now there is room to argue about degree. For example, he might not be as much the hypocrite as someone who railed against homosexuality while believing it was 'ok' to practice it himself, but he's still a hypocrite. This is perhaps why teachers are warned of the higher standard they will face because 'preaching' against immorality one practices personally would constitute another layer of sin under which one is trapped.

kds

Cheek,
The reason I feel the onus is on Greg is because... IT IS GREG'S POST! I'm not really sure why he is so loathe to clarify the comments that he originated.

Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to at least spell out your position a bit and supply a working definition of the topic at hand. It seems that the reasoning you offer for his hypocrisy is the majority view, at least from what I've read and heard around the proverbial water cooler.

I guess that I see the gradation that you mention (participation in the very behavior one condemns vs. holding a completely separate standard) as entirely different, not just gradations of the same problem. I think we can all agree that if Haggard (e.g.) said that HIS homosexuality was okay while others' was not okay, then he would clearly be a hypocrite. When Jesus rails against the Pharisees repeatedly as hypocrites in Mt 23, He seems to take particular umbrage to the fact that they ignore/deny their own sin while gladly pointing it out in others. Same with the "plank in your eye" passages.

However, your first example of hypocrisy (participation in the very behavior one condemns), I don't think necessarily qualifies as hypocrisy. As Robert T. Miller was pointing over on First Things, "A man is not a hypocrite because he violates a moral norm in which he sincerely believes... decent parents think they ought to be patient with their children, but an overworked mother who snaps at her child at the end of a long day is guilty of impatience, not hypocrisy. Violating norms we sincerely accept does not make us hypocrites. If it did, hypocrisy would not be a peculiar kind of wrongdoing but a concomitant of all wrongdoing." That idea got me thinking about the whole nature of hypocrisy -- a word that, let's admit it -- our society tends to throw around capriciously, especially in critique of any sort of religious figure/idea/organization. This is why I was hoping somebody (Greg, namely, in this instance) could put forth an account of the distinction between ANY sin and hypocritical sin -- or at least more of an explanation as to why Haggard is guilty of the particular sin of hypocrisy (b/c, to my knowledge, he has admitted his wrongdoing).

I think you make a good stab at it, but I hope you see my concern with the hypocrisy label in this particular case. (And not that I'm a fan of Haggard to begin with; I don't think I knew his name until two weeks ago.)

greg

kds,

The issues in this case, and the reason I think Haggard was being a little hypocritical, are at least two: 1) Haggard was one of the main proponents in CO of the gay marriage ban as well as an outspoken opponent of homosexuality; 2) He didn't admit to anything until he was outed. Anyone can fess up after the fact. It doesn't make you less a hypocrite. I believe I said something very similar to the First Things article you quoted (a vile and obnoxious magazine, by the way; I've subscribed for three years and have yet to find a piece worth reading--it's more ego masturbation from Neuhaus about how smart he is) in my original post. I just checked. In fact, I said it twice.

Despite your previous comment, I'd say that participation in a behavior one condemns is a pretty solid definition of hypocrisy. The fact that Haggard might actually have believed he was sinning in no way absolves him of the hypocrisy. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to my cliches, strawmen, and whatever else you accused me of and make room for you to launch another ad hominem attack disguised as clever repartee.

kds

Greg, I'm going to decline asking you to explain what you mean by "ad hominem attack" and "repartee", because 1) I really don't think I made one (and certainly not one on par with yours against Neuhaus), and 2) I will likely get a run-around response anyway. Instead, I'll just let you get back to your own ego masturbation. Sorry I couldn't bring myself to thoughtlessly nod assent to your rantings.

By the way, you still haven't shown how Haggard's sin of participation in a behavior one condemns is any more profound than what the rest of us practice every day.

Zossima

kds, you're looking like a troll.

Since he publicly condemned homosexuality. Since he worked for laws that restrict it. Since he probably sent his prayer teams to do drive-by prayer on bathhouses and bars. This is clearly more than merely "violating norms one sincerely accepts". This is more than the Romans 7 "why do I do things I don't want to do" stuff.

You're right: We all pretend to be things we're not. We all have secret lives. But I don't publicly condemn people who share my struggles. (I think I can honestly say I generally offer them great compassion.)

The quantity and quality of one's sin matters. And in this case, it quite clearly makes Haggard a hypocrite by any common definition of the word.

greg

Since you understood my attack on Neuhaus as ad homimen, you're obviously bright enough to see how you engaged in it. However, you can believe what you want about hypocrisy. As I pointed out in the original post, it's called theologizing when you engage in what you're trying. No one outside the church cares. Have fun convincing non-Christians that it wasn't hypocrisy.

Zossima

Gee, greg, it seems you were wrong. Pastor Ted is "totally heterosexual". I was wrong, too.

He didn't even have to be "cured". It just came out. So let's not doubt
* that the 2-year gay affair (with meth use) wasn't an expression of homosexuality
* that he's never had any other gay relationships

Nope, it was just a big mistake. He meant to fool around with a chick (probably his wife) and have a latte instead of meth.

Whew! Glad that's all cleared up. Heck, since he's not gay, he can probably pastor again.

But I hope I won't get too much flak for wondering what those "acting-out" situations looked like.

greg

Speechless, for real.

Dallas Tim

Does gay actions always mean your "gay?" (I'm being serious.)

I'll use the classic illustration of guys in prison who, even though when not behind bars were only interested in women, become homosexually involved when locked up (and not because they suddenly start liking other men, but becasue the depravity of the situation leads them into... well... more depravity).

Biblically speaking, homosexuality is wrong... period. It's not natural (and I don't mean "easy" when I say "naturally", anything can become routine if you do it long enough) and whether your sitting around smoking meth and it leads to some sort of crazed, mind-numbed, deviant, sexual activity is beside the point.

That being said, it would have been just as wrong to have done it with a female prostitute as it was with another male.

The point is not whether or not he was "Gay" (however you define that, i.e thoughts only, thoughts that lead to actions, etc...) but that sin leads to more sin. Porn can, and often does, lead to worse things. Psychologists tell us serial killers usually start with small animals, the list goes on and on.

Haggard's breaking point came long before he engaged in whatever he did with the guy in the hotel room.

Jesus was clear that the long list of "Do's and Don'ts" shouldn't be your first clue that something is wrong. Sin starts in the heart and then leads to overt sinful actions and behavior.

it's funny how that even though Haggard was exposed and so many people questioned the "Church" because one of it's leaders was running amuck, his action and the resulting consequences only proved the truth of Scripture that much more.

Zossima

Uh, yeah. Thanks Tim. Nice regurgitation of everything you've been taught on sin and gayness. But like a true fundangelical, you have no funny bone or sense of irony.

it would have been just as wrong to have done it with a female prostitute as it was with another male.

My point is that those two deeds are viewed quite differently in the fundagelical world. He wouldn't have had to be cured of having sex with a female. He just would have had to "repent" (whatever that means).

But homosexuality is such a stigma in your world that Haggard did one better than get cured: He emerged from a few weeks of counseling to announce that he never was gay. How do they know? It came out in role play exercises. (Which apparently wasn't what Haggard was doing in a Denver motel room.)

Now go view the video I posted, imagine them doing that to Pastor Ted (or maybe some Clockwork Orange treatment to cure him) and have a laugh about the implausibility of yesterday's news. Seriously.

Dallas Tim

Zoss,

You seem to throw the word "fundagelical" around as if it's one size fits all. People also do that with the terms "Christian," "Pastor", "Truth", etc... I can't speak for everyone (neither can you) but the majority of people I fellowship with feel much like I do regarding sexual sin.

I don't know if Haggard was "cured." I don't even know if that's the proper way to describe it. I don't even know if Haggard is being totally honest about anything.

The bottom line is that Jesus referenced the husband/wife relationship. He didn't add anything about husband/husband or wife/wife. He said the WHOLE law would be fulfilled and that included homosexuality being wrong. It also included sexual activity with someone other than you spouse being grounds for death.

I really could care less about someone who has adulterous tendencies with someone of the opposite sex, but then says homosexuality is worse. That's unbiblical and wrong. Do I need to get "cured" from overeating, adultery, drug use, anger, etc...?

People like to have medical terms to describe everything. That alliviates them from much of the personal responsibility that the Bible says we have regarding our thoughts and actions.

What the Bible prescribed for Haggard is a life that is committed to honoring God by obeying His Word. There was, as I mentioned earlier, something going on with Haggard long before he entered the hotel room. He knew it. He didn't keep it in check and it led to a complete breakdown.

Sin is complicated. It can start small, very small. Jesus asked "Can someone take fire in their lap, and not get burned?"

Zossima

Tim, does every post that any non-fundamentalist writes here have to be met with some anal-retentive diatribe on inerrancy, what Jesus said (which is really what you interpret him saying), etc.? Did you even read either of my posts? "Fundagelical" isn't one size fits all, but it's one size that fits you.

For the record, I said NOTHING other than to poke fun at the obvious implausibility of the news that came out. But you have to twice issue some papal corrective to what you perceive to be my views on Ted Haggard and homosexuality, while the fact of the matter is that you little about what I think of either.

Again, chill out. Have enough humility to laugh at the church culture which you inhabit that birthed yesterday's unlikely announcement.

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