So there were new allegations against Ted Haggard (remember him?) last week, and somehow I missed them.
In light of a new documentary on Haggard, directed by Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Nancy Pelosi!), a former member of Haggard’s former church has come forward with allegations that he and Haggard had a non-consensual sexual relationship that did not include direct contact. Basically, he’s alleging that Haggard sent him unsolicited, sexually explicit text messages, and at one point masturbated in front of him in a hotel room.
Haggard has acknowledge some impropriety – again with the vague acknowledgements.
Haggard also appeared on Oprah (all the clips of this have been removed from YouTube) and Larry King Live. This is a clip of him discussing the appropriate label for his sexuality:
He spends a lot of time talking about how he is working on his struggles with homosexuality, which appears to me to be a fairly standard response for many evangelicals. What bothers me is this statement (at the 2:17 mark in the video):
“When there is a homosexual man that has something go on with a woman, people don’t demand that he come out and admit that he’s really a heterosexual. And I’ve had a very satisfying relationship for 30 years with my wife.”
The implication here, of course, is that a heterosexual man shouldn’t have to admit that he’s really homosexual if he’s had “something go on with” a man. And further, his relationship with his wife, which he declares is “satisfying” proves that he couldn’t possibly be homosexual. Except that he forgets something: if the relationship with his wife has been satisfying for 30 years, why did he engage in extra-marital activities? Clearly there was a need not being met within the relationship he had with his wife.
And then, at around the 2:55 mark, Larry King asks Haggard, “Still get attracted to men?” And Haggard responds pretty clearly, “I have thoughts from time to time, but not compelling ones.”
Understand something: I’m not intending to paint all individuals who consider themselves Christians with the same broad stroke. But there exists, within the spectrum of Christianity, a group of like-minded individuals who believe that homosexuality is a sickness, a sinful temptation to be overcome. Ted Haggard clearly belongs to this group – and I find it difficult to understand why he (and others like him) believes that simply halting the action means the “sickness” has been cured. Especially within a Christian framework, where it is often taught that committing a sin within your heart is the same as committing it with your body, the fact that he’s stopped actively engaging in sex acts with men doesn’t mean that he’s stopped desiring them – a fact he openly admits in his response to King’s question. And I would argue that sexuality is not clearly defined by what you do, but rather by what you desire.
I think, generally speaking, that Ted Haggard would be a happier person if he a) stopped worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of him, b) stopped trying to fit himself into a box (as he’s already indicated he can’t do) and c) stopped trying to make money off his predicament. And it would be nice if he’d stop trying to be a role model for those troubled young men and women who want to find a way out of the pit of despair that is homosexuality. Clearly, he’s not the best spokesperson.
And I’m fairly sure I’ll never understand why this country is so entirely obsessed with sexuality.