I wasn’t planning on writing about Ted Haggard. I mean, what’s another fundamentalist preacher falling from grace and admitting that, yes, he did indeed purchase methamphetamine and in essence admitting that he did have sex with themale prostitute “massage therapist” who had accused him of doing so? What’s another hypocritical preacher who preaches what he himself does not live up to? We’ve seen enough of their ilk. Schadenfreude aside, it’s not particularly surprising, and it’s only interesting because Haggard used to brag about his closeness with President Bush and his weekly phone calls with him.
Then I came across a post by LaShawn Barber. Now, if you recall, LaShawn and I don’t see eye to eye on most things; she is a conservative Christian of the type that has driven me away from the Republican Party, particularly her truly uninformed and inane defense of Prussian Blue. In fact, perhaps the only thing we see eye to eye on is her love of Harry Potter and her slapping down Laura Mallory, the idiotic fundie who’s trying to ban Harry Potter books from school libraries in Georgia. This time around, though, she wrote a post about Haggard whose title, at least, made me chuckle, Christians Can Be Perverts Too.
Then I thought about it. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Barber seems to be saying that homosexual sex is in and of itself a perversion and that homosexuals are perverts. True, she did add later a rather tepid “clarification”:
Yes, sex outside of marriage is a perversion of what God intended, too. We all fall short of God’s standards, so in a sense, we’re all perverts. It’s a perverted world!
(“Too,” as in “in addition to homosexual sex.”)
But to me this clarification seemed added because of criticism that she received more than anything else. From my perspective, Haggard’s offense was not so much that he got it on with a cheesy gay prostitute; it was breaking the vow of fidelity he made to his wife, thus causing pain to his family. That was the true evil. He also broke the law by buying and using an illicit drug. But what I found strangest of all was this:
The Bible teaches that we’re all sinners, Christians and non-Christians alike. The difference between the two is that Christians are forgiven for all the sins they’ve ever or will ever commit. Non-Christians are not. They are still under God’s wrath, and unless they repent of those sins and accept Christ as their Savior, they will be judged and punished as unrepentant criminals.
Haggard knows that God has already forgiven him, but the difficult part will be asking his family to forgive him and forgiving himself. Christians know that no matter what we do, the one true God still loves us. He loved us enough to sacrifice his Son so that we wouldn’t be punished for our perversion. Christ bore the shame of it for us.
This fact should embolden all Christians. So don’t despair or shrink away in embarrassment as we learn more about the extent of Haggard’s perversion. Pray for him and heed God’s warning:
I’ve always found this statement from fundies to be puzzling in the extreme. If God has already forgiven Christians for all the sins they’ve ever committed or will ever commit, then what’s the point? And the absolute requirement to accept Christ as your personal savior in the way that they think that you should in essence consigns, in the fundie world view, all non-Christians to hell, no matter how good or how noble they are.
Even back in the days when I was a pretty religious Catholic, I had a problem with that concept. Of course, to many fundamentalists, Catholics aren’t “real Christians” anyway.