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Saturday, January 31, 2009



I now know more about hatred than I’ve ever dreamed. And I know it doesn’t help. And I know about judgment, and I know it doesn’t help...We are in a world that’s short on love and high on hatred and judgment, and I’ve gotten it from every side. I get it from the religious side as well as the secular side, and I just think we can all improve.”
- Ted Haggard

When the Ted Haggard scandal became public knowledge in November of 2006, I was At Mars Hill Graduate School. The response among my peers was mixed.

While the stock evangelical response was to send him away for his sinful habits, my response was more subdued. I was fascinated by his hypocrisy. One of the things he spoke so strongly against, was the thing that was central to his internal battle.

I imagine that is true for many of us.

Since that time I have not thought much about Ted.

Over the last week Ted and his wife Gayle have been on an interview blitz. Oprah. CNN. The Early Show. The man was all over. I didn't want to watch these interviews and honestly find the Evangelical obsession with homosexuality quite tired. However, I watched almost all of them and the HBO special he was promoting, and to my surprise I have not thought much of his sexuality or his hypocrisy.

Rather I have appreciated his honesty.

He comes to these interviews not as a "whole" man having successfully undergone "sexual restoration". He comes with a tone of humility. He doesn't have it figured out (although some would say that his theology claims he has it figured out). He is still struggling. He is lonely. He is broke. He is searching through scripture. Searching through his story. Searching for people to accept him. Searching to put his shattered world back together.

I know that the documentary intentionally painted him as a sympathetic character and I am not saying that he is blameless or that his actions should be admired. Rather, I am noting the courage of this man (and his wife!). Especially in the face of a movement that promotes isolation and secret keeping with the strong arm of fundamentalism.

While he does seem to have a perma-smile, his pain is evident. It is pain that is deep rooted and mysterious. And that's what he shares. He doesn't share a testimony with a bow on top. He doesn't need things to be clean or theologically in order. He speaks of his struggle powerfully.

I hope that we can all find that same courage.

The media and the Christian community can continue to pick his situation apart. We can talk about what would be "healthy" psychologically or spiritually. We can say that their actions are an attempt to raise funds or garner a reality TV show. But if you've got a few minutes I think we could all learn a thing or two from Ted's public struggle.

"We were more judgmental than we are now, and people were hurt by us. And I know that a lot of people deserve a very sincere apology from our family because we are all the way we are for a reason.
- Ted's daughter Christy

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