Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Was Ted Haggard's Real Sin Denying His Homosexual Nature?

Bad Methodist suggests that the problem with Ted Haggard wasn't homosexual sin, but denying his true nature as a homosexual. She contrasts him with a lesbian who grew up in a Christian home, faced rejection for her homosexuality, and then came to terms with who she was:

I know a lot of people like D. I know a lot of couples like D. and S. They make me wonder, what if Ted Haggard had decided not to struggle against his sexual orientation when he was younger? What if he hadn’t gotten married to a woman and had five kids with her? What if he had formed a healthy relationship with a man instead? Would that have kept him from the meth? Would that have kept him from visiting prostitutes? I don’t know, but I do know that’s exactly how healing happened for many other gay men and lesbians. And if the conservative church is wrong, if same-sex relationships are not inherently sinful, then the way we treat the issue, by urging people to change, to struggle against who they were meant to be and to pretend to be what they are not—that’s the root sin here. We the church are causing all this misery.

To this argument, Mitch Lewis has an excellent rebuttal (as usual):

If a wife comes to me with the complaint that her husband is attracted to another woman, my answer is never: well, his attraction to her means your marriage is a joke. He should have never married you to begin with. He should leave you and go to her. His attraction her represents his essential self. There are a number of different ways to approach this problem, but declaring the problem to be the solution isn’t one of them.



Jody Leavell said...

A key basis of understanding the problem is in the nature of it. It is silly for someone to argue that the behavior simply reflects the true self and should be embraced rather than avoided. It isn't who Ted Haggard is that is a problem, it is what he has done. If you can't accept that distinction than you will lose any ground for persuasion with the vast majority of christians who haven't "normalized" homosexuality.

The same argument for normalization is used(and abused) far too often to relieve a person of responsibility for the actions they choose to take. Might it be more difficult for some persons to choose a morally correct behavior due to genetics or environment? Yes, undoubtedly, but that doesn't excuse them. If anything it may help them to find a method of counter-action that brings a balance of internal forces to the task of choosing correct moral behavior.

To anyone who claims that homosexuality is an integral part of their personality, immutable from any other aspect of personality, I say fine, that is a label you choose to apply to yourself. But that label still does not define your behavior nor imply a right to satisfy a lust. The basis for such a label is indistinguishable from that of a thief who claims they cannot help but steal. To the extent that anyone has free will either case can be seen as limiting the person to whom it applies.

Anonymous said...


You know there are many people who enjoy sexxing married people. Should that be legalized? Should they be allowed to come out of hiding? There are others who enjoy screwing their pets. Is their sin that they are hiding it? Should they come out and request that it be legalized?

Hell no! Homosexuality should at best be tolerated, meaning put up with,). Teds mistake was giving in to his perverted desires. All of us think about doing things that are illegal and immoral, but most of us have enough mental maturity to not go there. Even if we do, we don't then turn around and want to legalize something unethical, and immoral just because it felt good.
We keep it in the dark where it should be, and pray that we find the strength to break out of the behavior.


Dan Trabue said...

"Even if we do, we don't then turn around and want to legalize something unethical, and immoral just because it felt good."

The difference being, it seems to me, is that some people disagree with those who think homosexuality is wrong in and of itself. It's not that they/we are celebrating sinful acts, it's that we don't think committed same-sex relationships are any more wrong than committed heterosexual relationships.

Now, we will disagree on whether or not it's wrong, but neither side is encouraging engaging in what they consider to be wrong behavior.

For what it's worth...

Anonymous said...

Wow, you gotta love Jack White's comment: sexxing married people, screwing pets, Hell No!, and...


Anonymous said...

I agree with Dan. At the heart of this debate, in all its forms, is that one side considers homosexuality to be a sin, the other does not. If one side doesn't consider it to be a sin, then the arguments used where it is held as a sin carry no weight for them. Likewise, the arguments by those who don't feel it's a sin won't carry any weight with those who feel it is.

Other than to raise readers' blood pressures and have a lively shouting match that we've all heard way too many times where nothing gets accomplished, what's the point of continuing to bring it up in the first place?

I'm not going to convince you that I'm right and you're not going to convince me that you're right. So why don't we all just put our energies towards dealing with things that really matter?

Dan Trabue said...

"what's the point of continuing to bring it up in the first place?"

I don't know if this question was directed towards me or others, but the reasons to bring it up might include:

1. To be sure that we're not demonizing The Others (ie, "They want to embrace evil and reject the Bible!" when that is not the case at all).

2. To understand that we can and will disagree on various points and that, as a church family, it is good to try to come to terms with the disagreement. Ideally, to resolve the disagreements, but when that's not possible, to at least come to an understanding based on what the Others are saying.

Jody Leavell said...


You are right to point out that there is a fundamental point of disagreement between the two camps of faith here. More importantly, and this concerns heresy, is the methodology of understanding the morality of same gender sexualized relationships. When pressed, most every proponent of homosexual behavior, monogamous or not, arrives at and justifies the behavior using heretical methods. And this is the larger sin committed by so many.

At the point that the debate takes wing from the actual behavior and becomes a clear disagreement on how to determine truth the conflict becomes intractable. A congregation or larger church body loses any effectiveness at all as a source of moral guidance and discipline when the matter is only resolved as a difference of opinion. A member loses the basic need for fellowship in such a group, they really are better off on their own. Yet a repentant sinner recognizes their depravity and need for spiritual and moral stewardship and is precariously subsumed by the personal selfishness of a few who cannot carry the cross given them.

I could respect the integrity of an athiest or agnostic who is resolved to a lifestyle of homosexuality more than I could anyone who claims to be a Christian of any traditional sort and who seeks to normalize such behavior. And it seems to make funny bed-fellows(pardon pun) to have an advocate devoted otherwise to a religiously guided life, and those who have declared only their minds to be their master, pushing a common agenda. The latter can be assured to be as repulsed by the former as I am.

Dan Trabue said...

Beyond that, though, I agree with you Jason. Let's concentrate on dealing with what really matters.

Anonymous said...

I learned a thing or two here today, such as:

1. There is no such thing as a homosexual; there are only heterosexuals who have occasionally or very frequently have/had homosexual sex.

2. When heterosexuals indulge their desire to have homosexual sex, it is still not an indication of a homosexual orientation, it is merely a different kind of heterosexual thrill-seeking that other Christians on this blog have compared to sex with married people or with pets, for example. (And kudos for clearing that up so persuasively for us, by the way).

3. The people most likely to have deep insights into the origin of a homosexual sex are people to whom it has never happened, and who find the very idea repulsive. (If one wishes to understand the unique cultural experiences of African Americans in the United States for example, the last people one should consult are African Americans themselves – their responses will merely be biased in favor of African Americanism and in consequence they should be overlooked - and remember there is widespread dispute as to whether African Americans do, in fact, exist).

4. I look forward to your next post where you disprove the long settled claims of Sir Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newtown. We lived without evolution and gravity for millennia, after all, and the majority of us have little use for them in our daily lives.

5. If your career as a commentator doesn’t work out, you could explore contortionism.

5. How is the weather in 1609?

John said...

Fastlad, are you aware of the difference between a comment and a post? You know, like, they have different authors?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am, thank you. And thank you for going out of your way to make me feel welcome.

I have to say it's bracing, in a kind of 1609 new England colony way, to read sentences that include neo-puritanical lines like "a repentant sinner recognizes their depravity and need for spiritual and moral stewardship..."

Honestly, when I read that, I reflexively looked around to see if the Salem magistrates were eavesdropping.

Ah well, I just stopped by to see how you'd grapple with the – erm – manifestly hypocritical Ted Haggard condemns gays/has gay sex with a male prostitute/high on crystal issue. Not too well, so far, actually, I have to say. If the lesson is lost I hope the irony will linger - it really ought to.

John said...

What should happen to Ted Haggard? He should lose his ministerial position of trust and enter into counseling so that his life and family can be rebuilt.

Which is precisely what is happening.

So what's the issue? Sure, it's ironic that Haggard was such a vigorous opponent of homosexuality while having sex with men at the same time. Does that mean that the Biblical injunction against homosexual activity should end? Certainly not. Even Haggard isn't saying that now.