The New Life community, along with the broader Evangelical community, has been presented with an unprecedented opportunity. While Ted Haggard dissembles with the press about what he did or didn’t do (and his friends at New Life, Focus on the Family, and the National Association of Evangelicals struggle with their shock), Christians might come to terms with the basic facts presented by the situation: sexual and gender minorities exist… at all levels of society. They can accept this fundamental truth and learn how to embrace the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people among us… or they can continue in a perpetual state of denial while foisting their pseudo-psycho-spiritual constructs of sin and sickness, redemption and healing upon their followers and other Americans.
Pastor Ted’s journey has only begun.
In a few years, he might actually become the new poster child of the Ex-Gay movement, claiming how he succumbed to temptation then subsequently began reparative therapy, “coming out of homosexuality” through the so-called spiritual truths taught by Exodus and Focus on the Family. We might even see Tom Brokaw interviewing him once again on national TV as he proclaims how he found yet another new life in Christ. And he might even find the same end as the notorious John Paulk, the former Ex-Gay poster-child who several years ago was discovered in a gay bar in Dupont Circle while ostensibly looking for a bathroom.
It is also entirely possible that Pastor Ted might begin a new journey towards truth, embracing his sexual orientation as a gift and learning to integrate this gift into his life. Can we imagine how much healing might be catalyzed by his personal reckoning? Were he to learn (as have so many others) how to reconcile his sexual orientation (whether gay or bisexual) with his faith in Christ—and were he to share that journey with the rest of America—we all might discover a new understanding of what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in 21st century America… and how we all deserve the same respect, dignity and rights of citizenship. Pastor Ted is in a unique position to help end the culture war over homosexuality. He is, after all, not simply a “favorite son”… but was until this week a revered leader of the Evangelical movement in America.
Unfortunately, both these eventualities would require that he (and his community) first confess his (alleged) sins before he can come to terms with them.
I fear that Pastor Ted’s journey will be long and painful.
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