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The Last Temptation of Ted Haggard

It’s the most telling and honest article about the Ted Haggard scandal to date.  Actually, it was like someone spiked Ted’s drink before he granted an interview with GQ.  I think the drink was spiked with 1/2 truth syrum and 1/2 grain alcohol that provided for a very candid and disturbing article.

The candid and disturbing:

- What really happened in the scandal that took Haggard down (at least the current version).  Warning:  It goes into some very graphic details.

- Haggard’s fall not only included homosexuality, but pornography and the use of crystal meth.

- Haggard says that others involved in this scandal (accusers, participants, and his original overseer team) will all end up publicly repenting, just like he already has.

- He and wife Gayle refer to the church he founded as “the old Soviet Union” and the Gulag.

- Haggard says if he was 21 in this society, he would identify himself as bisexual.

- The only question Haggard wouldn’t answer was “Do you watch porn anymore”.  The response:  ”Now we’re gettinginto what should happen between me, my wife, and my therapist.”

- The picture of Ted kissing his wife in the hot tub, along with his family (and daughter in bikini) was just a little over the top for me.

I know I will get emails for even mentioning this article at MMI.  I get no joy out of typing the above.  Actually, it makes me sad… and angry.

Sad, because… well… this whole situation sucks.  Sin is so ugly.  And secret sin… when it is hidden (as it was in this instance, for years), has so many levels, becomes so mixed up, and so hypocritical.  Rarely, do we see anyone who has lived a secret sin life for this long, be able to fully come clean, repent, and accept the seriousness of their action.  That is the case with Ted.  Here’s a line in the article that I wish I would have written myself:

Ted may be telling the truth, but his peculiar brand of self-victimization and protestation—in which every “I messed up” is followed by a “but… “—makes it hard for people in Colorado Springs to believe that he’s actually sorry for what he did. One former New Life member expressed what seems to be the general sentiment surrounding his resurgence: “I think Ted genuinely loves God, and I think he has a sincere interest in helping people, but I don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.”

Wow… that sums it up for me.  The repentance seems to take a back seat for me whenever the self-victimization and the ‘but…’s come in.

This also makes me angry because I know that this story is in GQ, and it will only reinforce stereotypes of Christians.  Having more details behind what went down with Ted’s fall only show how serious a hypocrite and sinner he was.  I don’t see much redeeming quality in that for Ted or the reader.

But there is redeeming quality in it for those of us who work in the church.  We must not allow sin to ravage our lives.  You may not have the popularity and following that Ted Haggard had; but you do have people watching you.  If you work at the church, people expect a higher level of personal integrity and purity from you.  And when you fall, you’ll fall hard… whether you’re in a church of 50 or 10,000.

If you’re reading this as a church leader, and your way in over your head in sin and there’s no way out… you’ve got to find a way.  It will be so much easier if you get help for yourself before someone else finds out and mandates that for you.

So… take Ted’s story as an example of the need of personal integrity.  As a pastor, you’re honesty, integrity, and personal testimony are all you have.  When you lose them, it’s a slippery path to nowhere.  While none of us may fall as fast and hard as Haggard, it’s an important warning to check our motives, to keep our lives pure, and to not make excuses and allow sin to grab a stronghold in our lives.

QUESTION:  What could be your downfall?

Take some time today and consider this:  what could be your downfall if you aren’t careful.  Maybe for you it’s not sexual at all… maybe it’s another area:  integrity or honesty.  Maybe it’s financial impropriety.  Maybe it’s drugs or alcohol.  Maybe it’s that you really don’t want to be a pastor but you really don’t know what else to do.  We all have an area that could take us down if we gave in to it.  it’s important that we’re honest with ourselves about what those areas are.  If you need to talk with someone (a friend, your spouse, a counselor) about this one thing… do so today.

Todd



One Response to “ “The Last Temptation of Ted Haggard”

  1. Mimi says:

    What wonderful advice! We have all sinned…and are constantly being tempted. We will ALL stand before God one day and give an account for our lives…and every word that comes out of our mouths!! But as it has been said…Our sin will find us out! We are here to overcome with God’s Help!!…but we do have to be dying to self!
    HE has to be the LORD of OUR LIVES!! (in every area)…Time is short and God has given us this time of Grace to turn to Him…and to pray for ourselves and to pray for others who are lost, broken and blind so they can turn to Christ and be FREE! We will be held ACCOUNTABLE!!!

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