I watched the Ted Haggard special on HBO last night and was left really thinking about a couple of things:
1. The show wants you to feel sympathy for Ted. As a fellow sinner, this is no problem. As a fellow sinner saved by grace, this too, is no problem. However, I’m still not sure how honest Ted is on camera, off camera, behind the camera, whatever. I’d like to be careful with how far my suspicion carries me but I do feel some sympathy for him. Many may want him to just “go away”. But going away in that sense only means “get out of my life”. Ted still lives and we cannot write people off and I needed to be reminded of that.
2. The show wants you to either be amazed for his wife Gayle or write her off as an idiot for staying with him. I choose to be amazed.
3. The show wanted to present as much of Ted’s life as possible and that included his kids. While, the sympathetic part of me really wanted to know how the boys were adjusting, I’m glad the cameras weren’t on them much. Good decision on the Haggards part.
4. The show wants to present all the characters in this story. I was glad they showed Mike Jones, (the trainer that engaged in homosexual acts and gave drugs to Ted). He may be hurting from this and who knows what else but he presented himself as quite the opportunist.
5. The show wants you to be angry at the insensitive attitude of New Life Church. Mission accomplished. I understand that there is a history with Ted’s misconduct (new details are being discovered. Ted has not been honest, still not sure if he is now), and they were right to dismiss him, but to banish him from Colorado? Really? I’m guessing they gave him a generous settlement and leaving the state was among the conditions. Ted, defeated and ashamed would have agreed to just about anything.
I know that many will say there was follow-up counseling with Ted (that wanted to bring him back to restoration. And you probably have heard the term “completely heterosexual”) but from this show, it seemed that it didn’t last too long. Further, it didn’t seem to bring him to restoration. Now, I remember reading that Ted walked out on the counseling. I’m wondering if that’s what led to his banishment of Colorado but I don’t know these details and there’s too much online to determine. But even if Ted curses his counselors and storms out, which would be wrong on his part, a church should not exile you from the state. I can understand not allowing him to come back to that particular church within a certain time frame but banishing someone out of the state? I tell you, if I heard this in a Starbucks or at a pub, I wouldn’t have believed it and if HBO is telling us the truth, then this is not how we as a Church treat people, even if he is lying.
I know my post is somewhat sensitive to Ted Haggard and I am comfortable with that. And believe me, he’s a tough case for me. Mega-church pastor, homosexual acts, evangelicalism, deception, rumors, it’s easy to want to dismiss the whole thing. And while I can do that being from New Jersey, I cannot as a part of the Body. Certainly he sinned. A sin that has hurt many people in many ways and I do not treat that lightly. This is reality however, and we as people, from the shady to even the most sincere-hearted Christ followers to all those in between, will continue to fail. The Church cannot turn its back on people. It’s not Christ-like.