Monday Morning Insights

Photo of Todd

    The Last Temptation of Ted Haggard

    The Last Temptation of Ted Haggard

    It's the most telling and honest article about the Ted Haggard scandal to date.  Actually, it was like someone spiked Ted's drink before he granted an interview with GQ.  I think the drink was spiked with 1/2 truth syrum and 1/2 grain alcohol that provided for a very candid and disturbing article.

    The candid and disturbing:

    - What really happened in the scandal that took Haggard down (at least the current version).  Warning:  It goes into some very graphic details.

    - Haggard's fall not only included homosexuality, but pornography and the use of crystal meth.

    - Haggard says that others involved in this scandal (accusers, participants, and his original overseer team) will all end up publicly repenting, just like he already has.

    - He and wife Gayle refer to the church he founded as "the old Soviet Union" and the Gulag.

    - Haggard says if he was 21 in this society, he would identify himself as bisexual.

    - The only question Haggard wouldn't answer was "Do you watch porn anymore".  The response:  "Now we're gettinginto what should happen between me, my wife, and my therapist."

    - The picture of Ted kissing his wife in the hot tub, along with his family (and daughter in bikini) was just a little over the top for me.

    I know I will get emails for even mentioning this article at MMI.  I get no joy out of typing the above.  Actually, it makes me sad... and angry.

    Sad, because... well... this whole situation sucks.  Sin is so ugly.  And secret sin... when it is hidden (as it was in this instance, for years), has so many levels, becomes so mixed up, and so hypocritical.  Rarely, do we see anyone who has lived a secret sin life for this long, be able to fully come clean, repent, and accept the seriousness of their action.  That is the case with Ted.  Here's a line in the article that I wish I would have written myself:

    Ted may be telling the truth, but his peculiar brand of self-victimization and protestation—in which every "I messed up" is followed by a "but... "—makes it hard for people in Colorado Springs to believe that he's actually sorry for what he did. One former New Life member expressed what seems to be the general sentiment surrounding his resurgence: "I think Ted genuinely loves God, and I think he has a sincere interest in helping people, but I don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth."

    Wow... that sums it up for me.  The repentance seems to take a back seat for me whenever the self-victimization and the 'but...'s come in.

    This also makes me angry because I know that this story is in GQ, and it will only reinforce stereotypes of Christians.  Having more details behind what went down with Ted's fall only show how serious a hypocrite and sinner he was.  I don't see much redeeming quality in that for Ted or the reader.

    But there is redeeming quality in it for those of us who work in the church.  We must not allow sin to ravage our lives.  You may not have the popularity and following that Ted Haggard had; but you do have people watching you.  If you work at the church, people expect a higher level of personal integrity and purity from you.  And when you fall, you'll fall hard... whether you're in a church of 50 or 10,000.

    If you're reading this as a church leader, and your way in over your head in sin and there's no way out... you've got to find a way.  It will be so much easier if you get help for yourself before someone else finds out and mandates that for you.

    So... take Ted's story as an example of the need of personal integrity.  As a pastor, you're honesty, integrity, and personal testimony are all you have.  When you lose them, it's a slippery path to nowhere.  While none of us may fall as fast and hard as Haggard, it's an important warning to check our motives, to keep our lives pure, and to not make excuses and allow sin to grab a stronghold in our lives.

    QUESTION:  What could be your downfall?

    Take some time today and consider this:  what could be your downfall if you aren't careful.  Maybe for you it's not sexual at all... maybe it's another area:  integrity or honesty.  Maybe it's financial impropriety.  Maybe it's drugs or alcohol.  Maybe it's that you really don't want to be a pastor but you really don't know what else to do.  We all have an area that could take us down if we gave in to it.  it's important that we're honest with ourselves about what those areas are.  If you need to talk with someone (a friend, your spouse, a counselor) about this one thing... do so today.


    Like this story? Get MMI in your Inbox Every Monday Morning!


    if you want a Globally Recognized Avatar (the images next to your profile) get them here. Once you sign up, your picture will displayed on any website that supports gravitars.

    1. Peter Hamm on Fri, January 28, 2011

      Thanks, not so much for the article, but for the introspection that you are encouraging.

    2. Matt @ The Church of No People on Sat, January 29, 2011

      I saw Gayle at Catalyst Labs last year, and I have to say she gave one of the best talks of the whole conference.  Very compelling and convicting, and unexpected.  I don’t know what to think about that photo (the only thing I could pinpoint was the bikini, yes.)  It’s just…weird.

      Gayle’s biggest point was for us to look at how quickly Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, and any other celeb with a huge scandal is restored.  Then look at how a guy like Ted is treated.  The church is quick to condemn, but we are behind the curve when it comes to a speedy forgiveness.

    3. JJ on Sat, January 29, 2011

      But Todd, Pastors dont have honesty and integrity. That is why they need Jesus. The lack of honesty and integrity is part of the personal testimony. Perhaps a big part of why Christianity is less respected is that too many pastors are trying too hard to be seen as honest and filled with integrity. Maybe its time for churc leaders to be more open about their struggles and less condeming of others who struggle as well. After all, a good person would have little need for Jesus and Jesus and needing Jesus is what Christianity is all about smile

    4. Leonard on Sat, January 29, 2011

      Todd, the encouragement to look carefully at our own lives is welcome and biblical.  Thank you. 

      I am not against Ted, but to not embrace him as a moral and leadership authority is in his opinion to be against him.  I heard Gayle speak (via video) and was impressed at her commitment to her family and Ted.  But to compare Ted, Tiger and Vick is to show how skewed the Haggards thinking is in this matter.

      Tiger and Vick did not demand we accept them.  They both had more clear apologies.  They did not blame others.  They lost more money and status.  They are not the same. 

      I would have so much more respect for him if he would just quietly serve somewhere for a long season.

    5. Tony Myles on Sat, January 29, 2011

      I spent 8 hours with Ted Haggard recently that changed my life. I wept tears, both at him and for him. I’m not talking just up front stuff, but behind-the-scenes stuff.

      The bottom line:

      1) My impression is that Ted wants to continue to be a pastor, and that is motivating him to press forward before he seems ready.

      - Application: Where is that true in my life? What blind spots does my ambition for God create

      2) My impression is that the Church at large wants Ted to continue to be sorry for something that happened four years ago, and be sure he apologies for it all the time.

      - Application: Is there anyone in my life whom I won’t let “off the hook” for stuff they did? Should I, or shouldn’t I?
      - Application: Do I require people to

    6. Leonard on Sat, January 29, 2011

      I am a person who does not want Ted to continue to be sorry, I wanted him to stay in accountability… he did not.  Bottom line, he is not a victim but acts like one. 

      What if he had stayed in the humble accountability he agreed to at the beginning?  We would not be in this discussion.

    7. Tony Myles on Sat, January 29, 2011

      I wouldn’t disagree with you, Leonard.

      However, I would like to add that the Church at large (starting with me) needs to take ownership of our contribution or lack of contribution to a healthy accountability process. Again, at what point is someone considered “green lit” by the whole Church at large, versus that person continuing to have to apologize over and over again as if it just happened?

      We both know there is no clean answer to that. While that doesn’t negate my sense that Ted shouldn’t be in ministry today, it doesn’t negate our responsibility to ask and answer this other question.

    8. Christopher Fontenot on Sat, January 29, 2011

      You wrote “My impression is that Ted wants to continue to be a pastor…”  He has disqualified himself from this role in the church as well as any leadership position. Someone needs to tell him this.

      This man has no knowledge or love for God.  If he did, he would not be doing what he is doing knowing full well it does not glorify God one iota.  He is perverting Scripture and preaching another Gospel which is no Gospel at all. He has some repenting to do and none of it has anything to do with his past.

    9. Tony Myles on Sat, January 29, 2011

      Again, I don’t disagree with this comment.

      Let me throw out another bit of context, though.

      When is restoration “green lit?”

      For example, have you ever been in a situation where it felt like the people above you or around had a personal agenda versus a God-agenda for you?  While on the surface it appeared as though they were doing their job, but behind the scenes there was a lot of church politics?

      Now - imagine that those people are under national pressure and in the spotlight. Might there be even more potential for some of that?

      I’m not suggesting that Ted’s former church did this. However, I’m pointing out its potential, because he seemed to indicate that was the case. Again, my sense is that wasn’t the case across the board, but with a few key individuals. I raise this to ask this question: 

      ** By whose authority is someone restored or not restored back into ministry? **

      Again, I spent a number of hours with Ted in an interesting capacity recently, and this is a big question in his heart and Gayle’s heart - namely, “If I sense God is calling me to do something, but others around me have a hard time with it, who do I listen to?” Theologically, we can spend all night arguing that.

      Again, I think Ted wants to be a pastor, therefore he (in my opinion) is microwaving a restoration process that should look more like a crock pot. So where does the authority in the Protestant church at large exist to interpret the Bible in this manner? We’re not a Pope-run system, and we all feel a sense of authority to interpret the application of the Scriptures on this that we would attribute the Holy Spirit, or our sense of calling, or other means.

      ** Here’s the big punchline, though - Ted believes he does, too. **

      And if I want to allow myself to have that authority to interpret the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit, can I allow the Lord to handle Ted Haggard’s sense of authority on this as well - right or wrong?

      I’m reminded of the parable where Jesus told his disciples to not worry about tearing the weeds up until harvest time. I’m also reminded of the parable where he spoke about weeds choking seeds.

      What an amazing tension we live in theologically on this. Our righteous emotions will want to dominate this discussion, to be sure.

    10. esme on Mon, January 31, 2011

      I like your labor health

    11. Pastor Randy on Mon, January 31, 2011

      Ted Haggard can be restored when he repents and is genuinely saved.  He continues to justify his sin proving he was never genuinely converted in the first place.

      Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  1st Corinthians 6:9-10

      Notice it says, some of your were.  In other words they renounced their sin and turned to Christ.  Ted Haggard is NOT renouncing his sin, he is still clinging to it and somehow believes that makes him more Christ-like.  I believe Ted Haggard has come nowhere near overcoming this sin and has no business around any pulpit in any church.  He is a tare amount the wheat and will continue to defame the name of Christ until he repents.

    12. Tim on Mon, January 31, 2011

      Love your original comment! It would do us a good to take a look at our lifes and evaluate. As a Pastor for the last 11 years I was a Ted Haggarad fan, truly it was hard not to be. My statement probably more of a question about his accountability is this.
      Did he not write his own by laws and set up his own process of accountability in case something like this would happen?
      I Just think he should have stayed in submission to the process which he created, it was part of why he was so respected because of his integrity.
      I believe that we need to forgive him, but to let him off the hook as in forget about it. Even with Tiger and Vick they were forgiven but it will never be forgotten because trust was broken.
      Just my thought. He set his own process up and chose not to follow through.

    13. Serving Strong on Mon, January 31, 2011

      This story is a bit bigger than most of the stories of moral failure in ministry leadership. But however big or small the story, the first word of the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first chapter begins with… CHOICE.

      May our ministry leaders (and those who follow) make God-led choices everyday, all day.

    14. Tony Myles on Mon, January 31, 2011

      Great thought, Tim. I agree - even if a person disagrees with a process of restoration they have to go through, or struggles with its length, stay with it.

      The goal can’t be to restore your credibility, though - the goal has to be to simply honor Jesus. It’s up to Him if there is ministry on the other side of that, for no one can engage in a process like this to simply get their job back.

      Here’s the problem I/we face - when we know this, we know how to give the “right” answer even when it’s wrong. Sin is always easier to spot in other people, but hardest to see within ourselves.

    15. Dane Gressett on Mon, January 31, 2011

      Already four years?  Wow.  My take away?  Sober realization that little compromises will catch up with you and create a monster.  It can happen to anybody. 

      My impression on the continuing debacle?


      Wheat and tares growing side by side (leave them alone and God will deal with it).

      “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom.”  ‘But Lord we preached in your name and drove out many demons…’  And He will say, “Depart from me you who practice lawlessness…”

    16. Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >

      Post a Comment

    17. (will not be published)

      Remember my personal information

      Notify me of follow-up comments?

    Get MMI in your Inbox Every Monday!