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What Ted Haggard's fall could teach Christians
Posted By Jesse Lee Peterson On 11/17/2006 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all my adult life.
– Rev. Ted Haggard
By now most people have heard about the story of the Rev. Ted Haggard, the conservative evangelical minister who admitted to having a sexual relationship with a gay male prostitute and to buying methamphetamine.
Rev. Haggard headed up the14,000-member New Life Church, based in Colorado. Haggard was also president of the National Evangelical Association, influencing some 30 million Christians. Ted Haggard – married with 5 children – fought for a ban on same-sex marriage this past election until he was “outed” by the prostitute.
After admitting to some of the allegations, Haggard agreed to temporarily step aside as the head of the church. But he and his wife were later informed that the church board has recommended he be permanently removed.
Haggard has since been in seclusion and is being counseled by several prominent ministers. Upon his departure, he wrote a moving, from-the-heart apology, which was read to an emotional congregation. He wrote in part:
For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.
Through the years I have sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. …
When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. …
I can’t help but wonder, what if instead of removing Rev. Haggard, the church had allowed him to stay on and share his testimony about this “darkness”? Wouldn’t his testimony equip Christians with a deeper understanding of the spiritual battle we all face?
This is the core issue that needs to be addressed openly with all church members, not hidden away in secrecy.
Haggard’s judgment and anger opened the door to allow evil to enter into him at a time when he didn’t realize what had made a home in him. This evil spirit drives Haggard and drives most people, until they repent and are born of the spirit of God.
Mike Jones, the homosexual prostitute who exposed Haggard, is a tool of the devil. If this person had true love for his fellow man, he would have approached Haggard and encouraged him to stop his sinful and destructive behavior.
Jesus Christ said we must be born again. When you’re born of the spirit of God, you can do the things that are good and righteous and turn away from evil. In contrast, most Christians today believe that one can be “born again” and still sin. Yet when Haggard sinned, he was held to a different standard.
I’m not saying what Haggard did was right, nor am I trying to justify his actions, but I believe that allowing this man to openly discuss his struggles will benefit Christians greatly.
In reality, overcoming sin is not only possible, it is commanded:
No one who is a child of God sins because God’s seed remains in him. Nor can he sin, because he is a child of God. This is what distinguishes the children of God from the children of the devil. … (1 John 3: 9-10)
I pray that Rev. Haggard would surrender himself totally to God and ask God to give him insight and understanding to overcome this spirit that has made a home in him, causing him to do the things he doesn’t want to do.
In Ephesians (chapter 6, verse 10), Paul describes “The Spiritual War” this way:
… For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world. … That is why you must take up all God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day. …
Like most Christians, Rev. Haggard did not know how to fight this spiritual battle. The demons plaguing Haggard plague us all. We all do things we’d never want exposed as Haggard’s darkness has been exposed. We must recognize this, and come to “know thyself.”
To isolate Rev. Ted Haggard is in essence to condemn him – and it robs Christians of the opportunity to find freedom from their own sins.
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