Posted by: Jim | November 11, 2006

Help For Haggard?

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.



  1. jim,

    you’re right. trying to squeeze into ANY hole you don’t fit hurts. there are far too many round holes.

  2. “Delivering a cow from Bovinity.” Ha! Good one.

    I too knew Jack Hayford once, long ago when he was the guy up on the podium and I was one of the kids squirming around below in a pew. A more eloquent, compassionate preacher was never heard by me. I don’t recall him ever spewing words of hatred or villifying anyone, and I do recall him being wise, articulate, eminently respectable — in short, what a ‘Man of God’ is supposed to be.

    Later in my life I would be astounded, thinking back on how such a brilliant mind and passionate speaker could be trapped in the unquestioning cage of literalist Christian Orthodoxy, and I still don’t understand how some really smart people can be Fundamentalist Christians. The dumb ones, surely — but all I know is that by the time I was a teenager, my barely-developed brain was crying out for answers that even a learned and trustworthy man such as Hayford could not give me, because I knew at 15 what he didn’t know at 40, and probably still doesn’t know at 70:

    That IF there’s a God — and that’s a big IF — s/he didn’t write any books. All the mythology was created by ancient humans to explain the way THEY related to the universe at THAT time. Some concepts are timeless, but others, such as dictating people’s sexuality to them, are anachronistic and irrelevant. Attributing these very human judgements to ‘God’ inhibits our natural ability to evolve toward The Good and, quite ironically, robs us of the chance to get anywhere near the perfection that religion clumsily pretends to aspire to.

    * * *

  3. I think the saying is usually the other way round, “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

    I think pegs and holes and Haggard may go together well on one level, but personally, I’d search out some less sexual analogies, Jim.

    But really a very interesting post, and I agree wholeheartedly. Inviting Haggard to ramp up the denial to the next level, that of “cure” from his sexuality, would perhaps be expedient as a means of finding some redemption within the church, but it would also reiterate a stance that I don’t agree with, that homosexuality is a choice.

  4. LOL Kingfelix. I do have a knack for screwing up metaphors. Perhaps that’s a good reason not to use trite sayings. 😉

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  7. I’m glad I read all your posts and responses, and it only proves that none of you really knew Jack Hayford; you simply “bought” his “stage front”.

    While he is indeed a hyper-intellectual, he is NOT a compassionate man at all, only; he strives harder than anyone else I’ver ever known to APPEAR that way.

    I too knew Scott; his son in law, and I too was once a member his “Church made of Hay”.

    Jack and Ted wrote a book together, about “loving your city into the arms of Jesus”. Funny thing though, with Jack pastoring in the Porn Capital of the entire world, his city does not seem to endorse his claimed expertise at the matter of God’s “changing love”; unless of course you consider that he changes a lot of other peoples money into HIS MONEY. As for Ted, well, we all know about his “loving arms” now, don’t we.

    What was really sad for Ted was seeing Hayford distance himself from Ted after Ted was found out. Hayford said Ted wasn’t a “friend”, “just an acquaintance”. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard Hayford say anyone wasn’t his friend – he’s a fairly consistent name-dropper.

    Jack also runs the Ecumenical movement which Billy Graham began; consolidating all so called “Christian” religions into a one world religion.

    Jack Hayford is the most effective deceiver I have ever seen in all of my life. And from what all you have written, seems he has even “the unbelievers” fooled into thinking he’s a great guy!

  8. Dear Michael A. I prayed for you that God would restore your trust to Himself first, then of course towards the body of Christ. Do not hold any bitterness towards anyone. Life is certainly too short. God will help you overcome. And as far as Mr. Hayford goes…please know that you are not alone. Others have felt the same way and have overcome their resentments. God wants us to hate the sin but not the one who commits the sin. With God’s help, this can be accomplished.

    God Loves you and has a good plan for your life. Please turn to His son Jesus Christ if you have not done so already and do not let the sin of unforgiveness keep you trapped. God Bless you!

    • All l know is what lve experience when I was going to the church on the way at the time I was in my old life style I was going to a gay bath house where i meet this gay guy who lived 1 mile from jack church i know the Lord from my high school years but the life style called me in after high school and i believe i was gay wanting to return to the Lord I found my self wlth this gay guy 1 mile away from the church on the way I remember going down to that Church that sunday and guess with the sermon was about men and homosexuality how did i know that that by the Holy Spirit how cool was that when you look at man you will fine failure when you look to Jesus you fine love and power of a forgive God

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