Some of you will remember the "Ted Haggard scandal" of more than three years ago. He was the pastor of one of the largest mega churches in America and the leader of the powerful National Alliance of Evangelicals. He was a spokesman for conservative Christian America and even had the ear of George Bush. But the dreadful secret of his double life came to the surface when a male prostitute decided to blow the whistle on Haggard's secret homosexual life. Haggard disappeared off the radar after "resigning" from all of his positions. I was hopeful that he would find true repentance and live the rest of his days in obscurity.
Unfortunately that was not the case. Last year, Haggard emerged from obscurity and generated a media circus doing a lot of interviews and giving "his side of the story". Today I have posted two videos. The first one is of Ted Haggard being interviewed by Larry King. The second video is of another person who has struggled with the same area of sin as Haggard. The point here is not sin nor do I wish to focus on this. I have one hand wrapped around the giant redwood tree protruding from my eye as I write this post. The real issue here is true repentance. An extension of that is the issue about God being glorified through our brokenness. Watch these two videos and see if you can "spot the repentance" and decide for yourself which video is most God glorifying.
What makes the Gospel so glorious is the contrast between God's Holiness and our utter depravity. Rationalising behavior only serves to blur that gulf and deprives God of the glory He can get out of changing someone's life.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
And for the record, the guy in the second video is my hero! That is a big part of what being a real man is all about. Glorifying God in human weakness, taking the full blown blame for sinful actions rather than painting yourself as a victim, and renouncing sin as insidiously evil rather than taking the edges off it. Good on ya Jason - amen and amen!
Just recently (July 24, 2010) Haggard was quoted in the Wall Street Journal where he:
acknowledged grave lapses of judgment in the episode he refers to as "my crisis." But Mr. Haggard also said that in his sorrow and shame, he accepted too much guilt after the scandal broke. "I over-repented," he said.
Haggard's innovations don't seem to end with re-inventing himself as a victim. He is also using his time inventing new words like "over-repented". What that means or how it is possible completely eludes me. I know some people will call for my blood over my "insensitive" and "uncaring" comments. Let me be clear, I am not trying to position myself as better than anyone else. What I am saying is that true repentance comes from godly sorrow over sin, not therapeutic excuses. Haggard presses on however and has even planted a new church in Colorado Springs (of all the places to choose) repositioning himself as a victimized pastor ministering to hurting people. Portraying ourselves as victims when we have sinned may court the favor of the media but it does not capture God's merciful attention:
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)