Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What the People Don't Know is Killing Them

I must admit that when I first heard about the Ted Haggard situation I felt more uninformed than shocked. Here was a man whom I had never heard of until this news story made headlines. His saga had captivated (I think it's an apt word) the media with its bizarre concoction of male prostitutes, drugs and lies. Frankly, all he really seems to be missing was the rock n' roll.

With that in mind I felt as though I knew very little about this man, his past, his church and the organization he is so involved in. It all seemed a little overwhelming, particularly when buzzwords like "Christian" and "homosexual" are thrown together like meaningless jumbles of Latin characters.

On the flip side, I think what kept me from being surprised was the fact that this type of problem is nothing new. Mr. Haggard's condition has nothing to do with the fact that he is a high-profile evangelical leader or that he has kept the company of male prostitutes. Rather it has everything to do with another, less popular buzzword "SIN". And therein lies the crux of the matter. As critical as it may sound, Mr. Haggard and I (and you, Smartypants) have something in common. Yeah, I am talking about sin. I would challange you, if you already haven't done so, to read the posting by Tim Challies on this matter. He put into words a few of the very thoughts that were in my head, and a great many that were not. Not wanting to duplicate an already excellent interpretation of how God's grace relates to this matter, I'll simply point you in the right direction. Check Tim's post out here.

Here is where I'll take a different road, though. After purusing the globeandmail.com this morning I noticed that an advertisement of sorts for a Q&A session with a Lorna Dueck, a Christian journalist who was responding to reader questions on the Haggard issue. Now here again, I don't know anything about Ms. Dueck, although I think I can safely say (after reading a number of her responses) that her and I would be in some disagreement on a number of Christian issues. That being said, I am not about to criticize her efforts in The Globe, as she is not the issue.

What I really want to touch on are some of the reader posts sent to Ms. Dueck. Frankly, I think she got the short end of the stick. All differences aside, there were very few posts with honest, logical tones and a lot more accusing Christianity as being problem. I guess that's how we like to do things though, we love to point the finger and jump on bandwagons without much thought or insight.

Here are a couple of excerpts that I thought particularly motivating.

One gentleman wrote:

"Needs a Saviour for what?

To save themselves from being lying hypocrites? To save themselves from treating the gay community in an intolerant, prejudiced manner? To save themselves from being cold-hearted, narrow-minded people who refuse to accept that every person deserves to experience and express love with another person, regardless of whether it's within a heterosexual or homosexual relationship?

Religious beliefs in this case are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem."

My question is, when are people going to stop treating the Christian community with a similar degree of intolerance and prejudice. In my opinion it's not Christianity, but the public perception of what they believe Christianity to be, that is the real issue here. People like this guy are really just spouting off neurotic rhetoric for the sake of sounding tolerant, when in reality they are espousing the same characteristics of intolerance that they so despise in others. More specifically though, I think that he entirely misses the point. I'd be willing to state that the real issue (the issue that the poster was to be responding to in the first place) isn't that Ted Haggard slept with a man, but that Ted Haggard is a sinner who falls short of the glory of God. If Mr. Haggard had only lied about stealing a chocolate bar, the sin principle in his flesh is the same, and the affront to God is consistent.

This next one made me laugh. This dude is living in Crazy-town. If sin doesn't equal news, then tell me what does.
""Sin" is not a subject for a national newspaper, nor should a televangelist be given a blog."

After that last exerpt you probably thought the hilarious tolerance-train was ending. Well how about this next superstar.
"I used to be an evangelical but was turned off by the anti-intellectualism of the movement...
I hope that his very public admission will allow Christian fundamentalists to grapple with homosexuality in a way that will produce a more nuanced understanding of it for them. Do you think Ted Haggard's story will force evangelicals to conclude that a homosexual orientation might be a permanent human attribute rather than a disease that needs God's healing?"

Question: is this poster grappling with something they'd like to tell the class about? I can't decide whether he's calling himself an intellectual or a doctor. Either way, I didn't think that it was a title that could be self-bestowed.

Since when was it incumbent of Christians to look at their Holy Bibles and remove all the passages that deal with issues in a manner we don't approve of. If we are really living like the Scriptures are true then we should be informing our minds from the Word of God rather than concluding from our human experience how it would be best to handle things. Certainly Mr. Haggard's public display will cause Christian circles to examine the issue of homosexuality, but I would hope that it would be in the context of the sin itself, rather than in gaining "nuanced understandings". No where are we called to get "in tune" with sin before we deal with it. That's not Christianity, that's stupid.

Clearly, there are many further posts, most of which don't get much more informed than the ones above. What I find most humourous is that the whole article was supposed to be a Q&A and ended up being something more of a FP&B (finger-point and backpeddle).

The thing we need to remember most is that we all are sinners regardless of the sins we have comitted. Ted Haggard was a sinner when he was born and unfortunately, his sins have become national fodder. I was a sinner when I was born, and by the grace of God, my sins are not public knowledge. In one sense though that's only half the argument. As Christians we are to be constantly vigilant against sin. As John Owen would say, "be killing sin, or it will be killing you." Them be words to live by.

Live like it's true.