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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

I've refrained as long as I could from writing about Ted Haggard and the allegations and admissions of his sexual exploits. The sins of public figures gain national attention only because lots of their normal activities do. And we fuel the outing of these people as we buy celebrity gossip magazines and blog like crazy when someone gets arrested, has an affair, or gets massages.

Maybe it's because we secretly crave the spotlight, but also know deep down we're glad we'll never get it because we, too, could fall hard like Haggard. Or Hugh Grant. Or Jude Law. Or Martha Stewart. Or Winona Rider. The simple fact that I don't have to include offenses with these names attests to our national infatuation with the missteps of those in the spotlight.

Lots of people have written very smart things about the situation, calling for prayers and grace for Haggard and his family. An article in Ethics Daily has made me like Haggard more than after I saw Jesus Camp. Haggard criticized the abrasive nature of Falwell's crusades and also fought for environmental and human rights causes.

Reality is now different for the Haggard family. The normalcy they enjoyed day in and day out (albeit a different normalcy that most of us know) has been ripped from their lives because of the sins of a father and husband. There is no more 'normal' for them. Reality has now been redefined, and this is Day 5 of a new life. They will now try to step forward with these past actions forever hanging over their family dynamics. The fact that Haggard is now unemployed is an issue so distant that they would gladly trade whatever money Haggard made for life before last Wednesday.

My prayers for Ted and his family center on this situation. I can only pray that this hell of a situation can offer healing one day, resulting in a stronger, more open, and more loving family. Haggard's friends are undoubtedly few, with the White House and other evangelical leaders denouncing his behavior and their association with him.

My other prayer is for Haggard to embrace who he is. As many have said, the life Haggard was paid to live as a spokesman for conservative evangelical Christianity is not who he is. And while his confessions thus far have decried what he has done as sin and detailed his struggle to repress 'evil desires,' I pray that Ted can awaken to who God created him to be. My hope is that other men and women around the world will shed their oppressive religion and breathe deeply their identity. There is a lot of soul searching to be done on the part of a lot of people.

My hope is that Haggard would rise again to one day lead the yet-to-be-created "National Association of Homosexual Evangelicals." There are no doubt countless folks illicitly satisfying the deepest desires of their hearts, trapped in a closet they can never leave for fear or losing their sense of normalcy. As such, their true self will live years on end as a secret and a sham. The evil in their actions is not that they love people of the same gender. Their illicitness lies in the fact they are lying to everyone they know.

I dream of an inclusive Christianity. Not one that doesn't stand for anything with at "whatever" mentality. But, as I read the gospels, I see that Jesus erred on the side of inclusion. It was better to let people in than to keep them out. I dream of a Christianity that allows people to be themselves in the deepest and most honest sense, loving them for being every bit of themselves as the Creator fashioned. Perhaps Haggard is just the man to lead this movement.

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