Sunday, February 11, 2007

Anything but homosexual

I didn't miss Ted Haggard’s announcement last Monday. I’ve just been through a crazy busy week and got sick again on top of it. But even aside from that, it’s hard to know what to say about a guy who is so sadly self-deluded.

As evangelical Christians we freely admit to being sinners. Great. Except a lot of us apparently don’t believe it. Why else would people go through so many strange contortions just to deny struggling with this one sin of homosexuality? I mean if 1) homosexuality is a sin and 2) we are sinners, then it should be no surprise that 3) some of us will struggle with the sin of homosexuality. It may not be a happy conclusion but it is a logical one, right?

Yet Haggard is willing to admit to being Anything But Homosexual. He’d rather admit to lying . . . publicly. He’d rather admit to deceiving people in his own congregation. He’d rather admit to buying illegal drugs for crying out loud. But homosexuality? Nooooo. We thought he had made a breakthrough when he finally admitted to getting those massages for three years from a male prostitute and committing “sexual immorality,” whatever that means. But now he’s digging in his heels on terminology. He “acted out” he says, but he’s “completely heterosexual.” You feel kind of dumb asking the obvious question: “If you’re completely hetero, why didn’t you ‘act out’ by having, uh, a heterosexual affair?”

I’ve read enough ex-gay literature to know what the answer will be. He was acting out because of “emotional needs that became sexualized,” “unmet needs for same-sex love that became eroticized,” “the need to feel affirmed as one of the guys,” or “feeling inadequate before attractive men.” It will be words piled upon words with terms like “neurological pleasure pathways” thrown in for good measure. All to avoid having to use the One Word that he doesn’t want to use.

I guess if Haggard wants to believe that about himself, that’s his private business. But it makes me cringe that this man the evangelical church had exalted to such a high position appears at his core to be so delusional and self-deceived. As long as so many evangelicals would rather hear anything but the truth about homosexuality, we'll have to come to grips with the fact that Ted Haggard was a fitting leader for us in more than ways than we realized.