Haggard – Back from the Wilderness

I’m glad I read this story today. Just from the sound bites in the article you can tell Ted Haggard has faced some harsh realities in the past couple of years. It will be interesting to see the documentary that is coming to HBO. Here’s my thoughts on parts of the article.

“I think sexuality is confusing and complex,” Haggard said. “I am totally completely satisfied with the relationship with my wife now, but I went through a wandering in the wilderness time, and I just thank God I’m on the other side of that.”

Asked whether he could define his sexual identity, Haggard said: “The stereotypical boxes don’t work for me. My story’s got some gray areas in it. And, of course, I’m sad about that but it’s the reality.”

I agree with him and I think it’s an important perspective for many people to take. Stereotypical boxes don’t always work for all people. Sexual identity and attraction can be a very gray area for people and labels only make it that much more difficult for some. I admire his resolve to work through the relationship with his wife while also not denying his sexual attractions to men. That sounds very honest and healthy.

Asked to expand on his attitude toward homosexuality, Haggard said, “I believe all human beings fall short of the standards they believe in.”

He added, “I would say the biggest change is I now know about hatred than I ever dreamed, and I know it doesn’t help. And I know more about judgment and I know it doesn’t help. Since my experience, I know more about the power of love and forgiveness. I know a lot more about the necessity of people not judging one another.”

That’s the words of a man who has hit bottom and lived to tell about it. It’s a very painful lesson he’s learned if I am reading between the lines.

In the documentary premiering Jan. 29, Haggard is shown shuffling from motel to motel, driving a moving truck, enrolling in a college psychology course, struggling as a door-to-door salesman and pondering his fate while laying in a motel bed in a white undershirt.

“At this stage in my life, I’m a loser — a first-class loser,” he says.

Now back living in Colorado Springs, Haggard said Friday he hopes to build his business selling insurance and debt-reduction software and is considering marketing himself through a speakers bureau to share his story — “if the terms were right. I have to earn a living.”

Yes, I hope he can make a living and I hope he does so speaking and encouraging others… especially if he’s going to talk about not hating and not judging. I also hope he doesn’t end up losing himself in the process of speaking and sharing his story. It’s very hard to have been in the spotlight and not lust after it, but maybe his fall was so big and so difficult he can remain humble. I also love to read all of the jobs he has tried. I think all full-time pastors should try to go make a living for about 3 or 4 months and see how easy they have it…maybe it will cause more of them to keep their dicks in their pants.

The nature of Haggard’s return — and his harsh words in the film for his former church — is drawing criticism.

“If you’re going to come out and begin a new life, why would you choose an HBO documentary, then meet with the liberal Hollywood press?” said H.B. London, a former counselor to Haggard and an executive at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. “The fact that he’s attacking the church or New Life Church, when they did so much to help him and his family, is below the belt.”

Shut the hell up H.B. London. You self-focused self-righteous baby. Yes the church gave him severance (from what I read it was very fair but not completely out of line considering his years of service). However, they also cut him off socially and forced him to move against his will or not receive the severance. They banished him from people in the community where he had lived for so many years and held money over his head to keep him in line. His new life involves not towing the stupid church party line and I am sure he feels a sense of great freedom in finally saying what he wants. He owes the church absolutely zero.

In the AP interview, Haggard credited his therapists, whom he described as Christian believers who used secular therapy methods.

“I just thought a spiritual solution would be the solution to everything that’s internal,” Haggard said. “That turned out not to be the case.”

What a great insight said by a man that probably thought he’d never feel that way. That’s the most refreshing quote in the whole article. If most Christians, including H.B. “Big Baby” London, believed that way, the church and world would be a better place.

Oh and one more thing Ted… you aren’t a loser now. At this point, you are someone that has gained my admiration. Sure, I think you still have some ways to go, but don’t we all. The difference is before this happened you thought you were a gift from God to the world, now you just might be!

14 thoughts on “Haggard – Back from the Wilderness”

  1. He says he’s “heterosexual with issues.”Here’s the issue, Ted, as the inimitable Jon Stewart has laid it out: You can’t run from Gay. Gay works out.

  2. I’ve casually followed this blog for awhile now.I recently found this quote that summarizes my thoughts:“Why do some Christians bash Christianity like they’re not a part of it? When a Christian expresses discouragement with or disapproval of the Church, shouldn’t it be from a spirit of remorse rather than criticism?” – Abraham PiperI assume most of you contributing to this site have been emotionally / spiritually abused and damaged by past church experiences. For that I am deeply sorrowful and I pray God helps you to heal and not allow bitterness to take root in your heart. I have struggled with that. My opinion is that it is neither helpful or therapeutic to focus on the negative, hone the use of sarcasm and criticize the church – the body of Christ – however imperfect it might be. Am I wrong?Is there a purpose to this blog that I am missing?

  3. Woweee…As anxious as I am to see his doc, I’m also cautiously expecting him to take advantage of the attention…it’s in his nature.His bannished status reminds me of a couple of episodes I witnessed while I worked at Saddleback. One was a young girl who worked in the office and became pregnant outside of wedlock, the other was a couple of staffers (both married) that had an affair. Both were essentially asked to leave the church. I have always been conflicted about that. Now I don’t know all the circumstances. Maybe they offered them help and it was refused. But if these actions were to primarily save face for the church…ugh, makes me sick.The church should be the first place to embrace, forgive and live out grace (not to be confused with enable, endorse, or support sin). Instead we see church institutions more worried about their public image than living out Christ-like principles.Steve, I couldn’t agree with you more regarding pastors having to earn an ‘honest’ living. It’s a real slap in the face when people aren’t ‘flocking’ to hear what you have to say…My first job was selling Kirby vacuums door to door…bring it on Teddy!!!!Wouldn’t it be great if T.H. would find us here? I would love to hear his musings as he joins our collective journey…Seve, why don’t you reach out and touch him (not like that…)?

  4. Sounds like an interesting story.Though I never read it all, Jim Bakker’s autobiography “I was wrong” also contained some similar humbling, home-truth revelations.Just one question, coz I haven’t got time to do the searches myself, did Haggard invite/allow a documentary team to follow him during his “time in the wilderness”? If so, that does sound some alarm bells for me. My experience is that true penitence & repentance is forged in solitude – not in the spotlight of camera crews.{PS – Steve, it’s Shieldsy here! But I can’t work out how to make Blogger stop using my other alter-ego!)

  5. I think they did spurn him.It seems to me like he’s accepted his sexuality instead of trying to “fix” it. I think that’s a good thing. I wish him well. *nods*

  6. <>I assume most of you contributing to this site have been emotionally / spiritually abused and damaged by past church experiences.<>And you would be wrong. Some of us just have an innate ability to call a spade…well, a spade.<>My opinion is that it is neither helpful or therapeutic to focus on the negative, hone the use of sarcasm and criticize the church – the body of Christ – however imperfect it might be.Am I wrong?<>IMO, yes. I think if one doesn’t point out the negative, then there can be no growth, there can be nothing learned. Both Jesus and Paul pointed out things that were wrong.Plus, I’d say most of the criticism is not directed at the big-C “Church” (the body as a collective); it’s at the small-c “church” (the institution…”Christianity Inc.”, if you will).I think to get a proper sense of the rationale behind this blog, you ought to read the archives.

  7. Wow – seems like a change happened in his life…and I for one am also kind of glad that he stepped outside the boxes of his own religion to find out more about the bigger picture of his life. I could care less about the documentary (but I will watch it if it comes out) – I appreciate the honesty Ted shared…that’s tough to do. I admire him a bit also – seems like someone I could talk with on a very normal level. Did Ted’s church spurn him?

  8. Why is it whenever anyone says anything remotely tongue in cheek about the church, one automatically assumes one must have been “abused” or “neglected” by the church?Focusing on the negative is actually what is sometimes needed–calling a spade a spade, if you will. While it is nice to focus on the good that a religion can do and the residual fuzzy warms such ruminations can bring about, how is the church to learn about its mistakes, foibles, stupidity (dare I even say hypocrisy?) if one doe snot criticize it when it fails?Additionally, as an atheist who left the church many years ago (simply to point out that not everyone here lurking and commenting is a Christian bashing Christians), the church holds very much power and sway over the everyday lives of a lot of people, for good and for ill. For this reason alone it is VITAL that the church (and various subsidiaries and off-shoots) be held accountable for everything it says, does, preaches, teaches, and otherwise endorses. (I’d quote the “with great power” line here, but it seems that would be a bit over the top…)

  9. Steve, thank you for sharing this, I’m really blown away by Haggard’s story. I hope that it can inspire grace, though it’s likely to do little to affect the stuck-in-the-mud stupid church people.

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