"Proven without a doubt"

Well, Haggard’s been fired by his church. Here’s the .pdf file of the statement. “Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.”

The whole thing is sad to me. There is some sort of justice in it all. The man’s arrogant, self-righteous preaching on homosexuality has undoubtedly caused extraordinary amounts of self-torment in countless of his followers who are attracted to the same sex.

In my thinking, “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” refer to a persons conscious identity, not the fact of same-sex attraction; it’s a long story. So I don’t think of Haggard at this point as a secretly gay man; I think of him as someone who now has the opportunity to create a healthy, integrated identity as an openly gay or bisexual man.

Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if he becomes the next Mel White (a fundamentalist minister, speech writer, and ghost writer for Billy Graham and Pat Robertson who came out of the closet, developed a gay identity, and now is an important gay activist who founded the organization Soulforce) and recently wrote Religion Gone Bad)? I fear he is probably so enmeshed in the fundamentalist/evangelical world, and will be under so much pressure from those invested in the “ex-gay” fantasy, that it will be doubly difficult for him. On the other hand, if anyone has enough self-possession to break free, it’s probably him. (Of course, I’m just speculating.)

There’s a line in The Godfather Part III where the cardinal to whom Michael Corleone has confessed many things, including having his brother killed, says, “it is just that you suffer.” It is just that Ted Haggard suffers. It is not just that his wife and children suffer–especially his children. “The sins of the father are visited on the son.”

This personal tragedy for the Haggards (I mean the trauma to the life of the family; that Haggard, or anyone else, is same-sex attracted is not a tragedy, of course) has the potential to trigger a major rethinking of attitudes towards homosexuality in the evangelical world. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen.

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