I’ve taken a lot of flack for my compassion for Ted Haggard in his fall. The more I read, the more I realize that I’m not alone, which is kind of nice.
I look forward to seeing others who understand that compassion isn’t always popular.
Yes, he lied to his family. Yes, he deceived countless thousands. He committed adultery. Yes, he was a hypocrite. Yes, he lied even when he was accused. And maybe he really did deserve to be exposed. When I first heard about it, I was angry. I was disgusted. I was especially enfuriated by the level of hypocracy he has displayed.
But does he deserve to be ridiculed? absolutely not. He doesn’t deserve to be kicked while he’s down, and we as Christians should never shoot our own wounded. This is a child of God who has lost everything he ever had. He has lost the ministry that he started. He has very likely lost his wife’s trust. He’s lost the respect of countless thousands of Christians. I can’t even imagine what his children think. No. He doesn’t deserve to be blasted by the rest of us.
It might true that he based his entire ministry on a lie. But I seriously think that for us to mock him and slap him while he’s down is just beyond low. In fact, it’s completely counter to the spirit of Jesus.
Others say he should apologize to all the gay people he hurt, especially those in his congregation. Maybe so. But the reality is that most of us who are gay probably never listened to even one of his sermons. I’ve seen his books on the shelves of Christian bookstores. I never bought one. So he doesn’t owe me an apology.
In fact, Haggard’s ministry is just another part of a large subculture of Christendom that is its own microcosm of society. The Christian world has taken everything of the “secular” world and copied it; making it their own. There are Christian books, music, TV stations and businesses. That’s why most in the “secular” community have never heard of Ted Haggard or New Life Church.
On the flip side, the gay community is its own subculture with its own labels. The two worlds rarely, if ever, meet. They have separated themselves to such an extent that it’s virtually impossible to see these two seemingly polar opposites ever even come close to each other.
And those of us who are both gay AND Christian have an even more difficult task of relating to both communities. Sometimes we’re effective, and sometimes we ruffle feathers everywhere we turn. But it’s the cross that we must bear. And what a cross it is.
Haggard’s fall has another aspect that we should consider: he lied to himself too. He thought he could live a double life. He thought he could never reconcile his faith with his sexuality. He thought he could hide it from the world. In the end, he was wrong.
And for those mistakes, all we can do is point fingers and mock him? Sometimes I’m ashamed of my fellow Christians, who are quick to judge, and even quicker to condemn.
But what an opportunity for us to show what Christian love is really like. What an opportunity for us to really build a “rainbow bridge” across this great gap. It’s a task that’s truly greater than all of us.
And that’s where God is.