Currently the news is full of stories on the sad turn of events for Rev. Ted Haggard who appears in the new documentary "Jesus Camp" making comments in a sermon -- comments which have taken on new meaning due to recent revelations. Haggard has admitted to being involved with a gay prostitute and using drugs, all while preaching to his church members the dangers of temptations and the evils of homosexuality. In a final letter to his church, Haggard states:
There is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark
that I've been warring against it all of my adult life"
I can only imagine the pain being felt by his wife and children, not to mention the demons that Haggard is dealing with at this time. I also can't help but wonder what is going through the minds of the young people in his church, and you know there must be some, who themselves have struggled with their sexual identity. How are they to understand this turn of events? Here is a religious leader who preaches that homosexuality is a sin while he himself acts on his sexual orientation in destructive ways.
I have to wonder how this whole picture might be different if Rev. Haggard lived in a world where his sexual orientation was simply seen as another expression of human life -- if he had felt free to be the person he truly is, rather than living a lie. It is not Haggard's sexual orientation that led to these unfortunate events. It is the "closet" he felt forced to hide in and a religious viewpoint that deems a part of a person's biological makeup to be sinful and immoral. One of the great sins of the Church today is that many so-called Christians still feel perfectly content to condemn faithful young gay people to the the same damnable "closet" that has destroyed Haggard's ministry and damaged his family life.
Christian fundamentalism ceases to be a "just another variation of the Christian message" when it twists the teachings of the gospel to force people to hate themselves or others for being the person God created them to be. Persons can agree or disagree on what the biblical authors thought about same-sex relationships thousands of years ago. But ultimately we are called to love one another, to invite one another to the table, and to help one another live into a life centered in God's justice and peace.
I can imagine a fundamentalist eagerly approaching Christ on his "return" and saying "At last, Jesus, you're back. Now, settle this question about the homosexuals once and for all!"
To which Jesus replies. "The what now? Any way, back to what I was saying about love, peace, justice, grace, and forgiveness. Maybe you'd better start writing this down. You folks seem to have a knack for being easily distracted by trivial matters. By the way, I've only got a few more minutes. I'm having lunch in a half hour with some of my friends at the GLBT church down the street."
Some more reactions to this story at beliefnet.com