Today Ted’s story hit closer to home for me personally.
When I heard about Haggard’s fall from grace, I felt ashamed that I was partly happy. I was ashamed because the bigger part of me felt deeply sorry for the man. Because, in all truth, that could have been me.
Although I don’t have any homosexual inklings, I was once a man who was basically in denial that he was living a lie, and had I not escaped my Christian underpinnings, I would very likely have ended up a man in ministry with a huge sexual scandal to expose my inner dissonance.
While I was an evangelical Christian, I saw it many … many … times. Good men who were sincere in their zeal, cast aside because of sexual impropriety. Then in today’s LA Times headlines, I learned that one of the two men who will counsel Haggard is Pastor Jack Hayford.
Jack Hayford used to be my pastor. I know the man well. I was once very good friends with his son Mark Hayford. His Son-in-law used to be one of my best friends. It was bizarre that Haggard’s life was now, in a weird way, connected with my own. I also find myself in a rare quandary for me; when I picture Pastor Jack counseling Ted Haggard, my heart and my head feel differently.
My heart feels a bit of hope for Mr. Haggard, because Hayford is a truly good man who will–at the very least–make Haggard feel like he is not a worthless pile of crap. He probably does feel like that now, because I do not believe Haggard started off as a man who intended to deceive. Hayford is a truly caring man who will help Haggard try to reconcile his faith with his “sin nature.”
But here is where my head steps in and says it is all for naught. Hayford’s cure is actually Haggard’s poison. I feel like a scoundrel for saying that, because, like I said, I know Jack Hayford and he is a very decent man. But, he too is deceived into believing a framework of sophistry that he will never extricate himself from. Haggard will one day emerge as a Christian man whom The Lord has delivered from homosexuality, but Haggard will still be a homosexual, and either be tortured by his desires, or go back to them.
Delivering a homosexual man from homosexuality is like trying to deliver a cow from Bovinity. Can a cow say, “Hallelujah! I’m not a cow anymore!”? That is what Hayford will attempt to do.
And he has attempted it before. I can think of a small handful of pastors who served under Pastor Jack himself who lost their roles due to sexual scandals. One of these scandals I was responsible for uncovering. (I wasn’t involved, but one of my best friends at the time was.)
I feel so bad for Haggard, or anyone who tries to sqeeze their round frames into the square hole of Christianity. It hurts; it doesn’t fit; and it will fail.
It was this story, and some other recent correspondance, that has inspired me to set down my current (pretend) effort at a novel, and dust off one of my old non-fiction projects and get to work on it again.