Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Life Church Scandal

A defense of Pastor Ted Haggard?

Anyone reading this post is sure to already know about the Haggard scandal so I am not going to bother rehashing it here. I intend to point out the simple humanity found in all of us, and to point out the absurdities of those gloating over his downfall.

Today I heard, yet again, a group of people gloating over Haggard being exposed. Typically, they wondered at how a pastor could on one hand decry gay rights, but on the other hand be gay himself. They were upset at his hypocrisy. How dare a gay pastor try to keep gays down. How the church could rally around their pastor and not condemn him at the first accusation. Somewhat unfortunately they all got up at once and left the table as their break was over, as I was about to call them on their beliefs and their moral superiority.

Left out most every discussion on the air, in the papers or around the water cooler is the fact that Pastor Ted Haggard is a human. Just like everyone else. Humans have failings, weaknesses and skeletons in their closets. Every single one of us do. And we all fail to live up to our own beliefs. We all have regretted doing certain things, we all believe in ideals that we personally don't measure up to. That isn't so much hypocrisy as it is humanity.

Those who would hold themselves out to be superior because they don't have their skeletons aired are perhaps some of the biggest hypocrites around. Certainly they hold some absurd beliefs and are demonstrably full of themselves. Absurd because they believe that they don't have any moral failings, because they believe that if their deepest darkest secrets were known that they would come out smelling like roses. Full of themselves because they hold others to a standard where it only takes one mistake, one flaw, to declare that person an "untouchable." But in their arrogance their own personal failings are glossed over and "aren't a big deal."

But are those things a big deal? It may not seem like it now, and in truth they probably aren't a "big deal." But what if that person were to have their laundry aired on national TV? Making even international papers? Would it be a big deal then? You can bet on it. See, the vast majority of people would never get the media coverage for their greatest feat or worst failure that someone like Haggard gets for simply sneezing. And who wants to talk about Joe down the street coming out of the closet? After all, it is only good gossip when all involved know who is being talked about. Just look at all the gossip regarding Brangelina. The fact that such a nonsensical name means anything to you at all just goes to prove the point.

It boils down to this. Haggard was and is human. He isn't the G-d, nor is he a god. He isn't infallible nor has he claimed to be. He has failings just like you and I do. Any reasonable person should be able to see that for it is only unreasonable people who can conclude that all their actions line up with their beliefs. There is a verse in the Bible that invites the person "who is without sin to cast the first stone." As Jesus wrote in the sand it was the older and wiser that left first, as they realized that the sin they were condemning was in their own lives as well. Perhaps this wisdom could serve us as well today as it did some 2000 years ago.

As Christians we know that sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. We know that it isn't just the "big" sins that lead to death. Nor is it just the sins we don't like that lead to death. It is all sins. More precisely it is any ONE sin. One is all it takes to separate us from G-d so there is no theological basis for a hierarchy of sins nor should we attempt (in our ignorance or arrogance) to build one. Christ came that our sins could be wiped clean that we might be in the presence of the Holy G-d. That blood sacrifice covers gossip, it covers envy, it covers murder and it covers gay sex.