As an evangelical, though not associated with the National Evangelical Association (NAE), I was saddened and surprised by the bombshell events this past week concerning Ted Haggard, NAE President and Pastor of Colorado Springs' New Life Church.
Early last week, a man on Denver radio claimed he had sex with Haggard for three years and sold him methamphetamine. Initially, I didn't believe the charges. First, no evidence to corroborate the charges was made public. It looked like the media was an irresponsible and willing participant in a politically motivated attack. Second, the charge of Haggard buying meth seemed outrageous and over-the-top.
But then, Haggard admitted buying meth from the man (but throwing it away) and getting a massage from him in a Denver hotel (but no sex). Suddenly, the outrageous became credible and the irresponsible became responsible. Haggard's admission to some facts raised suspicion that he was hiding much more. To his credit, Haggard has now confessed. His letter to the church, read Sunday, humbly seeks forgiveness.
Some might say this incident shows why Haggard--and others like him--should be honest with themselves (and others) and not be ashamed of who they are. I think everyone should admit who they are--but then look to Scripture (and God's people) to see if who we are lines up with what God calls us to be. And--as Gordon McDonald writes at Out of Ur--if we can't admit what we are, God will lovingly arrange the events and do it for us.
What Interim Senior Pastor Ross Parsley told the New Life Congregation on Sunday was good:
"Listen," he said, "we all feel worse than we did a week ago. But we were worse off a week ago. Today, we all are more obedient, more repentant, more transparent than we've been in a long time."
God have mercy on Ted Haggard. I sure do.
UPDATE: Opinion from Jon Swift and advice to pastors from Mark Driscoll