February 4, 2009

We have all heard the stories, and probably laughed and snickered about it at one point or another.  It’s pretty nice to see the warriors of the conservative agenda that seek to distort the gospel and preach their own propaganda of exclusivity fall. But we can’t bask in it too long, or we are just as bad.  The bible teaches to love those who hate us.  I’m not saying that he hates us, but he certainly has disagreed with our positions more than a few times.  We preach love and grace and acceptance.  We have to love and accept every one.

Pastor Ted has fallen. But it’s time we reach out to him and be the Love of God that we are meant to be.  Right?  It’s not only our duty and responsibility, but our privilege to do so.

In the past week or so, Haggard has been making the media rounds promoting an HBO documentary about his exodus.  And he is saying some very interesting things about homosexuality.  In the bigger picture, I am interested in what this means for the conservative church’s relationship with homosexuality.

While Haggard says he continues to struggle with homosexual urges, he insists that he is not gay.

I have sexual thoughts about men, but they’re not compulsive any more, and I do have temptations, but they’re not compulsive,” he told Oprah Winfrey.

He said one therapist described him as a “heterosexual with homosexual attachments,” [I call this hetro-flexible] and he admitted to struggling with homosexual urges all his life. ( see video at 2:09 )

I do believe I don’t fit into the normal boxes,” Haggard said. “I do think there are complexities associated with some people’s sexuality, but it just wasn’t as simple as I wanted it to be, because I was so deeply in love with my life.”  But, he added, “I had this other thing going on inside of me too.

I think my favorite comment was on The Early Show.  Harry Smith asks Haggard if he is cured of being gay.  Haggard responds with “No, because I don’t think I was sick.” ( see video at 5:48 )

Now, how does all this play into sexually politics and how the world and/ or the church see homosexuality?

First, I’d like to define a few things.

Queer: anyone what falls outside of the basic heterosexual lifestyle. Sort of an umbrella term.

Bisexual: persons that have sexual or emotional relationships with persons of both genders. (I think most queer people fall into this category, even if it is a rarity that they “go both ways”.)

Gay: persons that primarily have sexual and emotional relationships with persons of the same gender as themselves. (Often, but not always, refers to men.)

Lesbian: woman who primarily has emotional and sexual relationships with other women. (Why do they get their own category?)

Now the major misconception of bisexuality is that if you are into both men and women, you must have both in order to be happy.  Not true, unless you are practicing (hopefully ethically) polyamory. Why would committing to one person be different for bisexual people than in heterosexuals?  Sure, you may be attracted to people of either gender, but that doesn’t mean you are going to do something about it.  If a straight man is in a committed and monogamous relationship, is he going to suddenly stop noting the beauty of other women? Of course not, but it doesn’t mean he is going to act on it.  Same with bisexuals: committed is committed.  Why is that hard to understand?

Why does this matter?  Well, Pastor Ted does have homosexual compulsions and is attracted to men, and that is OK.  He has chosen to stay with his partner and honor his vows and his love for her. But that doesn’t mean he is less attracted to men, just making a choice.  That’s sorta the beauty of being lucky enough to be bisexual: you get to choose who you want to be with (as we all do), and have a pool of attractive possible partners–double the size of hetros!  But when you find that one person you want to be with, you choose them.  It can go both ways.  I know bisexual women who choose to partner with another woman, not because it’s a woman, but because of the person that woman is.

I think my point in all of this is that people should be seen as people and not for who they are attracted to.  This comes to the old argument about how we don’t choose who we are attracted to.  I’m sure you have heard this before, but here it is again: if you are reading this and identify as a straight person, think back to when you made he choice to be straight and to be attracted to the gender that you are attracted to.  Bet you can’t figure it out. It just sorta Is.  Well, it’s the same way if you happen to be queer.

Pastor Ted’s scandal is tragic, but the silver lining seems to be a more open mind about what homosexuality is and is not. It’s time the church got on board, took our collective heads out of the sand and really started to just love people based on the fact that they deserve to be loved, if for no other reason, than because they are children of God.

So take this as a call to arms online Revolution listeners….let’s reach out to Pastor Ted Haggard. Prayers, letters of support, grace and love. Invitations to your churches, cell groups, dinners, whatever. The church MUST show grace to one another.

“and if one member suffers, all members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all members rejoice with it” 1 Cor, 12:26