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Ted Haggard and Allegations of Drugs and Gay Sex

03 Nov

So I was stoking up the fire in my fireplace this morning and sipping my first cup of coffee when I got an early morning call from a friend. “Have you heard about Ted Haggard?” My friend began to tell me what I later read online: Ted Haggard has “temporary stepped down” as the Senior Pastor of New Life Church and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals pending an investigation and spiritual counsel after an accusation surfaced that he has been paying a male prostitute for drugs and sex over a three year period.

What a way to start the morning…

My reaction is complex. I have met Ted Haggard and had a conversation with him about pastors and sexual sin. (I have written more on this in my fifth reaction below.) Here are my thoughts:

First, I think it is important that we wait to get the facts and see what the truth is. I actually asked God for this. My initial prayer was, “God let the truth come forth.” Here is what we know. The guy accusing Ted, Mike Jones, says he has recorded messages from a man named “Art,” who Jones says is actually Ted Haggard. Ted has stepped down from leadership. The interim Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, said “I just know that there has been some admission of indiscretion, not admission to all of the material that has been discussed but there is an admission of some guilt.” Ted has denied the allegations of gay sex and any kind of homosexual relationship.

Second, Ted has been an outspoken opponent of homosexual marriage and there is a gay marriage ban on the ballot in Ted’s home state of Colorado. Mike Jones has admitted that he went public with the story, because the gay marriage issue was a part of the election and because Ted has been in support of the gay marriage ban.

Third, this issue feeds into my doctoral dissertation work and I have an academic interest in this story. I have been working on my dissertation for two years on this very subjection of how in the world can leaders can be empowered by the Spirit for public ministry and yet not be developed by the Spirit in their heart? In my dissertation I am working to understand how Christian leaders understand and experience the Holy Spirit shaping their inner life to reflect the image of Christ.

Fourth, emotionally I feel a combination of anger, sadness and trepidation. I just got off the phone with a pastor friend in Florida and we shared these feelings. I feel angry because of the stain this leaves on the gospel ministry. Ted was not as well known as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swagart, but he is probably more influential than these two guys were in their hay day. Ted has political power and influence in both the Evangelical world and in the Pentecostal/charismatic world. I am also angry, because Ted is a fellow ORU grad. Great just what we need, another ORU grad who has gone off the deep end…. I am sad for Ted, his family and his church. This must be absolutely devastating for them. I am asking God for his mercy for Ted and his family. I also feel trepidiaiton in my own heart, because I know that I am no better than Ted. I could stumble and fall too …GOD HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL.

Fifth, I am also bothered by this because I have had a conversation with Ted about this issue of pastors and sexual sin. Ted had helped a church recover after their pastor stepped down due to sin. Ted returned to Colorado Springs and preached a message entitled, “How Much is Your Sin Going to Cost Me?” In the sermon he told the story of pastor’s sin, without mentioning his name. The sermon was later played on Focus on the Family, which I happened to hear on the radio. In 2001, Ted was speaking at a pastor’s conference in St. Simmons, Georgia and after one of his sessions, I asked Ted about the church that was in recovery and how that sermon about got broadcasted on Focus on the Family. Ted said that it was a mistake. The sermon was supposed to edit out the references to the pastor, but he was clear on the message of the sermon – sin costs other people a lot. He explained to me what he new about the pastor’s sin and then talked to me about the ripple effects sin has.

And now it seems that Ted found himself in some kind of sin himself. I would like to ask him, “Ted, how much is your sin going to cost me?”

A few final thoughts for now… I am sure that there will be more blogs to come…

We who are leaders and pastors have to realize that there is an intoxication that comes from power and position that can warp our perceptions of reality. We have to stay humble before God and accountable with friends in the ministry. If any of us get in a place where we are isolated from God, people and friends—then we are in trouble. We also need to realize that God doesn’t really need us. It is only by his sovereign choice that we were called into ministry. He doesn’t need us. We are not as important as we think we are. God help us.

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Posted by on November 3, 2006 in Ministry

 

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