Ted Haggard Speaks at a Church About His Gay Affair

Today morning, Pastor Ted Haggard will be speaking publicly about his dalliances with gay male escort, Mike Jones. It’s the first time he’s speaking in front of a crowd about his scandal (though a documentary about him did air on HBO earlier this year).

He’ll be speaking at Elevation Church in North Carolina:

Young pastor Steven Furtick said on his blog that Haggard’s appearance would be a chance for “the story of the deception of sin and the forgiveness of God speak for itself” and to “serve as a salient reminder of the devastating results of disobedience, and hopefully, the beginning of a personal healing process for many hurting people.”

The article states that “Many congregants openly identify as gay or lesbian” at Elevation Church. I wonder how that works.

How can so many gay or lesbian people go to a church where Ted Haggard will be held up as an example of a man who fell from grace because he acted on his homosexual desires? He is an extreme example, of course, but Haggard’s not being brought in just because he had an affair. (You don’t have to look that far outside any church to find an example of that.) He’s being asked to speak primarily because of the homosexuality issue.

Is this church accepting of gay people who want to have relationships wth same-sex partners? Are they supportive of marriage equality? I doubt it. Just like other churches, they make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral. I’d love to know why gay people attend that church…

I did like this headline, though: “Ted Haggard gets Elevated. Again.”

(via Pam’s House Blend)

  • Eliza

    Looks like Elevation church is hip & edgy in style & delivery, but conservative in beliefs. Maybe some new customers of this rapidly growing church missed the latter part in responding to the church’s appeal. (And probably a fair number of them do buy the message that they’re sinful & need correction.)

    But also, check out the first 2 minutes of this video of one of Pastor Steve’s recent sermons. Those cuffs! Those buttons! The outline of the chest visible through the shirt! Some of those mannerisms! He’s a married Christian man but if this clip is representative, one can see how some might mistake him as gay-friendly.

  • Richard Wade

    Furtick says that his church is not taking a soft stance on sin, believes all sex outside of marriage is a sin, and he’s “not going to condone any particular lifestyle.” For that, read, “Gay is sin.”

    So he’s basically cleaning house.

    His hip and trendy style has attracted many young people who wrongly assumed their sexuality was going to be accepted among the flock. I think Furtick realized that having too many fags in the pews is going to turn the bigot base away, and that’s where he gets most of his income. This indirect way can get rid of the gays without an overt condemnation.

    Nothing personal, you understand. It’s just a business decision. It’s the economy. Companies all over have to get rid of their liabilities and keep their assets. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got another news interview in five minutes and I have to get my hair just right. Oh, and please leave by the back door.

  • Martin Cauvin

    “Just like other churches, they make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral.”

    Just looking for some clarification. I presume you say this because many churches teach that homosexuality is a sin. If an accurate description my question is: Is it wrong (immoral) for the churches to teach this and thus “make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral.”?

    MC

  • Larry Huffman

    “the story of the deception of sin and the forgiveness of God speak for itself”

    Ah…I get it. Ted was just deceived. By what…his own libido? Deceived by the way his god allegedly made him?

    Please…does it not seem like fundamentalists are getting more and more tangled up in their own rhetoric?

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    Hemant wrote:

    Just like other churches, they make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral. I’d love to know why gay people attend that church …

    Hemant,

    I would recommend Be Not Deceived: The Sacred and Sexual Struggles of Gay and Ex-Gay Christian Men by Dr. Michelle Wolkomir (Centenary College Sociology Professor).

    Michelle’s book is based on her grad school research on gay Christians (Metropolitan Community Church) and ex-gay Christians (Exodus and related groups).

    Michelle describes members of both groups as having similar dilemmas — gay people who have a conservative Christian world view that considers the Bible to be very important and Hell to be a very real possibility in the afterlife.

    The MCC folks approach this problem through Bible study — digging into the original Greek, Hebrew, etc so the MCC folks are convinced that the Bible verses used against them are misused when used to condemn loving, consensual, monogamous, adult same sex relationships. The passages are used to condemn gay folks are really speaking about other sins (inhospitality, exploitation, etc).

    These sorts of relationships are OK and the MCC folks view any attempt to “change” or “convert” gay folks to “ex-gay” status to be fundamentally wrong and sinful.

    The Exodus folks approach the gay-Christian dilemma from a different POV — they still consider homosexuality to be a sin but it’s not some sort of “uber-sin.”

    Since the conservative Christians in Exodus teach original sin doctrine and that everyone is sinful in some aspect of their life, this approach actually is more helpful for these Exodus folks than past tactic of throwing folks out of churches because they were gay.

    But the faith-based repairative therapy does lead to problems and isn’t effective.

    You can find more info on Michelle’s book here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Be-Not-Deceived-Struggles-Christian/dp/0813538211/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240785057&sr=1-1

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    CORRECTION – Steve wrote:

    These sorts of relationships are OK and the MCC folks view any attempt to “change” or “convert” gay folks to “ex-gay” status to be fundamentally wrong and sinful.

    When I wrote “these sorts of relationships” I was referring to non-exploitative relationships and not the ones associated with exploitation. That may have been unclear in my first post.

  • Eliza

    Martin Cauvin wrote:

    “Just like other churches, they make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral.”

    Just looking for some clarification. I presume you say this because many churches teach that homosexuality is a sin. If an accurate description my question is: Is it wrong (immoral) for the churches to teach this and thus “make LGBT people feel inferior and immoral.”

    It would be refreshingly consistent if these Christian churches would follow Jesus’ teachings about the sin status of homosexuality, or, failing that (for example, if they can’t find any teachings by Jesus about homosexuality actually being a sin), perhaps they could treat gays and lesbians according to Jesus’ example of how to treat people who are reviled or are outsiders in the culture. Not based on Paul’s comments, since the religion isn’t actually “Paulianity”, but based on Jesus’ example (with tax collectors, & so on).

    IMO, the stuff in the NT about judging people & about how the sinners & unbelievers were going to get it in the end has been horribly harmful. Many churches seem to feel it’s their job to do this judging, in place of Jesus-God.

  • Vincent

    This post reads a bit too negatively for me. The article doesn’t really explain this particular church’s stance on homosexuality. The church is pretty obviously against sex outside marriage. While there’s nothing particularly making me think they support gay marriage, some Christian churches do. I attended my sister’s gay church wedding in September.

  • Eliza

    Vincent,
    It’s great that your sister was able to have a church wedding.

    I also hadn’t been clear, from the original post and the links provided, as to this church’s position, so I went looking. Here’s the 3rd sentence at the “Basic Beliefs” page of Elevation Church’s website:

    Although our approach is anything but traditional, we believe in and maintain a conservative theological position.

    It’s quite unlikely they support gay marriage, much less accept homosexuality.

  • grazatt

    Steve Caldwell, are you saying Exodus is a good orginazation?

  • Claudia

    The MCC folks approach this problem through Bible study — digging into the original Greek, Hebrew, etc so the MCC folks are convinced that the Bible verses used against them are misused when used to condemn loving, consensual, monogamous, adult same sex relationships. The passages are used to condemn gay folks are really speaking about other sins (inhospitality, exploitation, etc).

    I leave open the posibility that “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” is a mistranslation or a later addition. I doubt it, because such a thing would be known, but it could be. Otherwise my feeling is that the MCC people are bending over backwards in order to live true to themselves while still holding on to their religion.

    I looks more like a rationalization than anything else. People who cannot let go of the concept of hell but know that they cannot change who they are, so they delve into their holy book searching for a way to be gay and not go to hell.

    Mind you, I most CERTAINLY prefer this approach to the emotionally harmful Exodus approach. At least the MCC people recognize that gay people do not choose their sexuality and seek to help people to accept themselves. I just am not very convinced that you can really do this while holding on to Christian doctrine.

  • Matin Cauvin

    Eliza,

    I’m a little confused (nothing new there).

    I think I understand what you are saying in regard to my post. I am confused about what the congregation in the orginal article is specifically doing that would be contrary to your thoughts? Or are you speaking generally? And no longer about this congregation?

    MC

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    grazatt asks:

    Steve Caldwell, are you saying Exodus is a good orginazation?

    No — I’m saying that Exodus groups are “less bad” than the commonly held Christian view that being gay is the worst possible thing in the world and churches should throw all the gays out of the churches. Compared to that, Exodus is “less bad” IMHO.

    The folks in Exodus ministries want to keep their religion and stay in their religious communities.

    Since they are not being thrown out, shunned, or otherwise cut off from their church and their community, they find this to be a positive thing from their perspectives as gay and conservative Christians.

    From my outsider liberal and non-Christian perspective, this may seem like a poor choice and perhaps even a destructive choice. But it’s their choice to make.

    Even the gay-friendly MCC approach has its problems in that it promotes an oppressive heteronormative standard of sexuality where gay and lesbian folks should emulate the relationship patterns of their heterosexual neighbors.

    Michelle’s book is worth reading because her sociology field work gives us some insight into the folks who end up in gay-affirming evangelical Christian churches and in ex-gay evangelical Christian churches. She explores why they join the gay or ex-gay Christian groups.

  • http://thomaswhitley.com Thomas Whitley

    I heard about Ted Haggard being at Elevation on Friday from a friend who used to attend and was quite shocked as I am familiar with this church and know how conservative they are.

    I have not watched the video yet from the service, but just to clear up for other commenters, Elevation is certainly very conservative. They are a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, though their name conveniently leaves that out.

    They are very hip and that has attracted many, but I’m not so sure about the quote that says that “many congregants openly identify as gay or lesbian.” However, having only attended a few times I am certainly not a reliable source for the make up of the membership. I just know that those whom I know that attend and are very involved in Elevation are extremely anti-homosexuality.

  • Brooks

    No — I’m saying that Exodus groups are “less bad” than the commonly held Christian view that being gay is the worst possible thing in the world and churches should throw all the gays out of the churches. Compared to that, Exodus is “less bad” IMHO.

    I somehow doubt they’re that much “less bad” seeing as how they support the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda: http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2009/03/open-letter-to-the-exodus-international-board-of-directors/

  • SaintThomas

    I have an idea why LGBT may attend a church that is not affirming… It’s like when blacks wanted to go to a school that was all white! They knew they wouldn’t be welcomed, they knew they would be made second class, but they wanted the best education! They wanted to stand against being segregated! The LGBT community has their own bars, their own clubs, their own thrift stores, coffee shops, churches, etc. There is still a need for all that, but it isolates and doesn’t allow the straight community to see LGBT people worship and live life just as they do. I say gays nee to stay in the church and show them there is a Christian lifestyle not a homosexual life style! I know my mom is straight and so is Paris Hilton, but their life styles are very different! Stay strong brothers and sisters, influence your local church by showing up and showing how you live life.


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