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Sunday, November 05, 2006

 

Ted Haggard's apology

Anong other things, Haggard said this morning via letter to his congregation, ""The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life..." I suspect he is not referring to drug addiction when he refers to that which he has been at war about during his life. He may be able now to find some assistance since he will not be able to avoid his war.

Video and transcript of the apology. More on Haggard's disclosures. The more that is revealed the more unclear things seem.

Comments:
"There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life..."

Gives you some idea how terrible it is to be in the closet. I pray that he gets some assistance to repair his self-esteem, end the years of lying and affirm his true sexuality, not pretend to be straight or strive to be exgay. I also pray for his wife and kids that God would comfort them and soothe their sorrow.
 
Everything useful I learned about sexuality I learned by watching South Park. Remember Butter's dad had a homosexual relationship and then returned to his wife. Stan and Kyle's dad had a sexual experience, but concluded it was alright because 'everyone is a little gay.' I hope the man is able to continue in his marriage and I pray for him.
 
Unclear is putting it gently, as far as I'm concerned.

Supposedly a sexual struggle throughout his adult life culminated in ongoing contacts with a sex worker over a 3-year period, and yet none of that contact was sexual?

I wish him the best of healing and recovery, but I can only imagine that Rev. Haggard has work to do before before he is capable of speaking plainly and honesty about his experiences.
 
I do not believe that everyone is a little gay. And it's not not as simple as a cartoon character having a gay affair and then carrying on as usual with his wife.

He needs serious psychological help, spiritual guidance and probably drug rehab as well. Haggard's comments are confusing and contradictory. As Judge Judy says, "If it doesn't make sense, it's not true." He's either still lying or he's delusional. Maybe a little of both.

From the article linked to this topic: "(Haggard) is not in touch with truth and reality, and he readily admitted that," Stockstill said.
 
I have worked with same-sex attracted men who did indeed seek massages as substitutes for sexual encounters. The truth could be somewhere between what Haggard and Jones are saying. It is only speculation to go much further. However, it is true that he will need to find someone he can be transparent with in order to move forward. But move forward he can. Now, for those damaged by his actions, the assault on trust is another matter for repair.

Perhaps it is hopeful thinking on my part, but I wonder if there will be any ripple effects in the evangelical world surrounding same sex attraction. Not on the moral front necessarily; but rather I am hopeful that those struggling in silence will feel able to confide in someone to avoid such duplicity. Say what you will about evangelicalism, the response thus far from his church and colleagues has been pretty accepting and compassionate.
 
"I am hopeful that those struggling in silence will feel able to confide in someone to avoid such duplicity."

I understand that was the original purpose of EXODUS before it decided that politics were more important.

AS long as he descirbes his gayness as dark and repulsive, his church will be supportive. I am sure his church would be less compassionate if he decided to live an open and honest gay life.
 
But that response is predicated on Mr. Haggard changing his ways. The point is, Ted should never have had to hide his homosexuality in the first place.
 
I agree completely: "The point is, Ted should never have had to hide his homosexuality in the first place."

It is time for gay Christians everywhere to come out. It is one thing to choose to keep one's sex life private. But this should be a personal choice, not something one has to do to avoid rejection and abuse. The fact is, gay people have been preaching the sermons, leading the youth groups, overseeing church functions, producing evangelical films and directing the choirs for years.

Being in the closet is not healthy for evangelical ministers and other living things.
 
What is he going to do? He can't become "ex-gay" because Alan Chambers did away with the term. He can't become "post-gay" or "formerly gay identified" because he was never gay identified in the first place. He can't become a "former homosexual" because he claims he is not homosexual.

Maybe in this case his therapist won't "over-promise" him and will simply help him to acknowledge his gay attractions but not act on them. That would at least be an honest and realistic goal for an honorable therapist -- and a welcome change of direction for the reparative therapy movement in general.

I have no argument with those who don't want to act on their SSA for religious or personal reasons. Just don't lie to people. It's really the only thing I have been asking the ex-gay movement to do these past 25 years. Stop the false advertizing and get real. It's the Christian thing to do.
 
With all due respect to Dr. Throckmorton, I think this case highlights another important problem with the religous right's perception of homosexuality. For if the religous right is to consider homosexuality a mental illness, how can it simutaneously call it a sin?

Of course, considering the Reformed background of Grove City College, perhaps the perception among Dr. Throckmorton's colleagues, if not Dr. Throckmorton himself, is that mental illness is in itself a sin. For instance, Jay Adams has argued such in his book Competent to Counsel.

I'd be interested in hearing Dr. Throckmorton's take on these questions.
 
I am pretty far from a nouthetic counseling position (Jay Adams). I do not consider mental illness to be a sin. I am not sure that even the nouthetic counselors do these days. Here is what I think a counselor's role is:

I believe therapy should focus on helping people clarify how they want to live based on a chosen set of values. Often that does involve a reflection on religion, history, upbringing, traumatization, culture, school influences, religious beliefs and the gamut of experiences that may be tied to current attractions to the same sex.

My approach is to ask clients to explain the problem as they see it, clarify their objectives and then pursue those objectives by whatever means we agree are consistent with their values. Thus, I often engage in helping people understand the difference between identity (chosen self) and attractions (feelings). Also, we often spend time understanding how our minds work. Feelings and desires are not standards or commands; they are reactions to whatever environment we find ourselves. Feelings often change as we change our environments and make commitments to chosen values. However, whether feelings change or not, we are always free to act in accord with our beliefs.
 
One therapist to another, I admire your approach. Very client centered, with an emphasis on personal responsibility, self-awareness and living in accordance with a set of core values. To me, that's the essense of emotional healing.

I also wish more people realized what you pointed out so well: "Feelings and desires are not standards or commands". We are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.
 
Mr. Jones, the male prostitute who outed Haggard, told and interviewer: "I think he (Haggard) has enormously strong homosexual tendencies."

EXODUS says an ex-gay is a "Christian with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies." (quoting Joe Dallas of EXODUS).

Let's apply Joe's logic: Haggard is Christian, has the tendencies, and wishes he didn't. Presto! Another ex-gay. Isn't that easy?
 
The truth could be somewhere between what Haggard and Jones are saying.

Jones did clarify a bit in an interview with Andrew Sullivan. I was wondering if the discrepancy could be a difference in what different people might categorize as "sex" (remember Clinton). However it seems this cannot just be a matter of definition. One of them is not telling the truth.
 
"One of them is not telling the truth." Haggard has already admitted he is a deciever and a liar. It might be him.
 
"What is he going to do? He can't become 'ex-gay' because Alan Chambers did away with the term. He can't become 'post-gay' or 'formerly gay identified' because he was never gay identified in the first place. He can't become a 'former homosexual' because he claims he is not homosexual."

How about this? Maybe he (and those of us who also claim the name Christian) can move away from the labels and commit or recommit to the sanctification of our sexuality. (1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Thessalonians 4.)

While I really appreciate what you therapists do, mixing the terms has really confused the broader conversation about faith and discipleship.
 
Karen - I am not sure who you mean by "you therapists." I am not a fan of ex-gay either and believe that people should do exactly what you describe. Christians who believe SSA should not be expressed should commit to this spiritually, whatever causes it.
 
When did it happen that "labels" became a bad thing? They are useful tools in communication, as long as they are not used to mistreat or disrespect another person. For example, we give "labels" to the various parts of our bodies. I want the "surgeon" (not the "cook") to know what the label "brain" means and not have either person think it means the same as "liver".

We apply labels to different schools of poltical or religious thought. (Democrats won the last election, for example.) We even label cereal boxes and restroom doors.

What I object to is poorly defined or misleading labels. If a person he says he is "ex-gay" he should mean "no longer homosexual in orientation". If he doesn't mean that, he should clarify what he does mean -- and not get touchy when someone asks him to explain.
 
"Christians who believe SSA should not be expressed should commit to this spiritually, whatever causes it."

I would go a bit further and say that the language should get away from "we don't do this because it's evil and horrible and let me tell ya what they do (ICK) and throw some fake statistics at you" but perhaps consider the approach that orthodox Jews use: "we don't do this because we believe God said not to, end of sentence".

Then there's no need for accusations, or culture wars, or demonizing each other, or passing laws. Those who feel there is a conviction or biblical instruction to live a certain way will follow their faith. Those who believe that contextual Scriptural understanding lead them in another direction can also live in accordance with their faith.
 
"Karen - I am not sure who you mean by 'you therapists.' I am not a fan of ex-gay either and believe that people should do exactly what you describe."

Sorry I didn't take the time to express myself more clearly. I was mainly responding (reacting, actually) to Michael Bussee's flippant remarks about "ex-gay," "post-gay," etc. And also to Bussee's statement that he himself is a therapist.

Alan Chambers didn't "do away with the term" ex-gay. (As if he doesn't consult with his staff or have a Board of Directors that he's accountable to.) There's been ongoing, serious conversation - at least for the three years that I've been involved - among Exodus member ministries about the meaning of change and how it can be accurately described without resorting to labels. Bussee's jibes were not only uninformed, they were highly insulting.

It's equally insulting when activists lump all transformational ministries into the category of "reparative therapy" in an attempt to dismiss or disparage them. Formational prayer, Christian coaching, and spiritual guidance and healing are NOT the same as therapy. And the failure to distinguish between them is usually politically motivated.

"When did it happen that "labels" became a bad thing? They are useful tools in communication, as long as they are not used to mistreat or disrespect another person."

Labels might be useful as a sort of shorthand. And because they're fairly prevalent in culture, I use both "ex-gay" and "pro-gay" if I need to get a point across quickly. But I don't find them very helpful when trying to understand or explain complex issues - like sexual sanctification.
 
Karen: Please explain which of my comments you felt were flip, uninformed and insulting. I admit that I can be sharp-tongued , but I don't want to be unimformed or flippant about such serious issues.

Alan Chambers told me personally that he wanted to "do away with the term (exgay) intirely and see that it is never used again." Ask Dr. Throckmorton. Alan confirmed it. He was quite empahtic about it and seemed to be speaking as EXODUS's leader, not just expressing a casual opinion. He said he felt it was "more negative than anything" and did not clearly communicate "what the change process is really about". He thought that getting rid of the term might "give EXODUS a chance to clarify what it actually does." He and I agreed that clearing up the language was long overdue. It's been 30 years.

Clarifying terms and methods employed would be a very helpful step. I believe that a LOT of the confusion and skepticism has NOT been the fault of "poltical motivation" -- but created instead by the very therapists, organizations and ministries who speak of change, but seem unwilling or unable to explain what they mean by the terms they use and or they actually DO. Even people with NO politcal motivation would like a clear explanation in plain English. The general public deserves nothing less.

Consider this confusion among EXODUS's own leaders; Frank Worthen defends the term ex-gay and insists that any person who calls themselves otherwise, especially those (like me and thousands of others) who call ourselves "gay Christians". will spend eternity in Hell for our misuse of labels. (Talk about insulting...) Then you have Joe Dallas, who says ex-gay doesn't mean ex-homosexual at all, but instead refers to a Christian who would "rather not have those tendencies". Finally, Alan wants to reitre the term entirely. Did political motivation create this mess? No.

By the way, I agree COMPLETELY that our sexuality needs to be transformed and sancitified by God. Do you presume that I am in favor of ANY sort of sexual expression, no matter how selfish or self-destructive? If you do, you are mistaken. There is sinful homosexuality just as there is sinful heterosexuality.
 
Karen: "Because they're fairly prevalent in culture, I use both "ex-gay" and "pro-gay" if I need to get a point across quickly."

That's the problem, the term ex-gay is prevalent but there is no common understanding of what it means and unfortunately, the change movement has failed to define it. You may think you're "getting your point across quickly", but something is getting lost in the translation.
 
Since Karen Booth uses ex-gay and pro-gay as a sort of shorthand to quickly get her point across, would she be willing slow down and give her best longhand definition of both terms? Because I am honestly unsure what she means by either word.
 
Karen: "politically motivated"? What about EXODUS's own overt political activities and motivations in recent years? Don't you think that has contributed to some of the confusion about what change ministries are really about? Why single out pro-gays as being politically motivated and not mention EXODUS? Double standard?
 
"Alan Chambers didn't "do away with the term" ex-gay. (As if he doesn't consult with his staff or have a Board of Directors that he's accountable to.)"

Is Ms. Booth suggesting that Mr. Chambers spoke out of turn?
 
I don't know if Ms. Booth is still blogging, but I have a sincere question for her: If members minstries have not yet decided to dump the term "ex-gay", then why did Alan Chambers invite me to "join him at a press conference" to announce that the term was "officially" being "retired"? OFFICIALLY, as in "having the appropriate authority by power of postiion."

I assumed that if he was "officially announcing" something that he was speaking for EXODUS. Are you saying that Alan did NOT have the authority to "officially" make such an announcement?

If you doubt me, ask Alan himself. I think he's a basically honest man. I took him at his word. This is what he said. He announced it like it was a done deal. I don't appreciate you my calling my honesty into question when you seem to be the one who is uninformmed on this particular matter. Go to the source. Ask Alan.
 
Karen Booth emailed me today to say that she was in error about Alan dumping the term, "ex-gay".

"Dear Michael, thank you for the email and for clarifying your statement about Alan Chambers. You are right, I was uninformed. I apologize."

To Karen: I also apologize for my sometimes rude and nasty tone. I do tend to get over-wrought at times and need to decrease the sarcasm. Thanks, Karen, for your comments, your scolding (which I deserved) and your apology. I hope you will accept my apology as well. Have a great Thanksgiving and may God less those you love.
 
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