We have another scandal. Yes, another scandal involving a well-known leader and gay sex. This one, according to Andrew Sullivan, the conservative writer who at one time was a George Bush supporter, is bigger than Foleygate. Seems there are some prominent opponents of same-sex marriage engaging in same-sex sex.
Ted Haggard, pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has resigned, following allegations that he paid escort Mike Jones for sex. Jones decided to out Haggard after he realized the minister was a hypocrite who denounced gay marriage. Haggard has confessed to buying methamphetamines and receiving a massage from Jones but continues to deny having sex with the man, claiming to be "steady" with his wife. He is also saying he was "curious" about the drug but didn't use it. Right! Anybody thinking, "I didn't inhale?" Anybody thinking, "Depends on the definition of massage?"
Haggard has been an unyielding defender of marriage as the union between a man and a woman. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, he worked to organize state-by-state opposition to same-sex marriage. But during this time, Jones said that he and Haggard, who paid him for sex, were having tryst after tryst.
Imagine if Haggard had chosen to deliver a message of tolerance to his congregation. That would have required courage. Instead, this minister, who is married and the father of five children, obviously believes that copping to drugs is a more acceptable admission than copping to homosexuality. How sad. Also, sad is Haggard's infidelity, the betrayal of his wife and children. What happened to family values?
It's a shame that Haggard's self-loathing dictates a denial that he is gay. It's a shame that society and our culture force men and women to live lies and skulk to the shadows to be themselves. It's a shame that we allow judgments of right and wrong behavior regarding sexual identity to stir us into partisan battles. It's a shame that this issue is a wedge that banishes other matters such as the depravity of war to a place of lesser importance in deciding elections.
Apparently, those who protest too vociferously and piously against gay rights are the ones who end up resigning to seek treatment or spiritual counseling for their behavior. If only they could be honest about their sexuality. If only their sexuality could be accepted.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)