Friday, February 09, 2007

hot topic

The latest news on Ted Haggard has got me thinking. Thinking about homosexuality, and religion and politics clashing, and the Christian church in all of its not-exactly-glorious glory.

Of course, Ted Haggard was a pastor in Colorado Springs who was forced to acknowledge his "dark side" when a male prostitute revealed their ongoing relationship to the public at large. This all happened just 3 months ago, and now Haggard has made a statement saying that he has realized that he is completely heterosexual. And he is going to be a psychologist.

Yeah...I'm not so convinced. First of all, what kind of a qualifier is that, to say you're "completely heterosexual", and why is it so important? And how could it possibly be true after 3 years of an illicit relationship with another man, within just 3 months of being put on the spot for it? Did they drain the gayness out of him with a tube? Does he have a split personality? I'm afraid that all of the assumptions underlying this man's Christian viewpoint have forced him into a corner, where he can either find a new way to repress his feelings, or be more honest and just completely lose his family, his friends, and his mind.

I don't feel qualified to make any kind of statements here about the general Christian stance on homosexuality, but I get so frustrated to see people make arguments in this backward manner, where the conclusion is already there, and we just have to justify it. For example, "homosexual marriage is wrong, and we can see that's true because so many homosexuals have promiscuous relationships or relationships that end". (Um, has anyone checked up on heterosexual relationships lately?) Or, from a different perspective "Christians are idiots to believe in God, because obviously God doesn't exist". I had a professor last year, who was so determined to be right about God and science, that it didn't matter what kinds of arguments he used to reach his atheistic conclusion. At least think through what you're saying before you say it- seriously. I have no respect for this type of debating, no matter what someone's conclusion is. It becomes obvious very quickly that you don't know what you're talking about, when all that matters is this one thing you're sure you believe in.

And this is what I think Mr. Haggard, and other Christians, are doing with many arguments. It is absolutely not an option for him to consider a homosexual lifestyle, so he must try to extract it at all costs. But how safe is he from the situation he just got into at the end of 2006? It reminds me of the movie Saved, and the attempt to "reprogram" the gay character, even if it means that his girlfriend sleeps with him and ends up in the midst of a teenage pregnancy. We can't consider the possibility that there might be another option to this whole dilemma.

I remember a guy from Focus on the Family coming to speak in chapel when I was in college, and he's essentially a "reformed homosexual". He spoke to us about how, growing up, he lived a gay lifestyle, but was basically cured of it and brought into Christianity. In some ways, I guess I'm happy for him. The way he described it, he was obsessed with his weight, was doing drugs, was sleeping around, and according to him this all stemmed from a bad relationship with his father. So if he was able to overcome a bad family relationship and live in a healthier way, then good for him. But of course his Christian mentor saw no other way to reform him than to cure the homosexuality part itself. I just wish Christians would give this more than 3 minutes of their time. And some do, but many don't.

To attempt to be entirely honest with myself, I try to think through different situations that I could be put in and see how I would react to them and why I might react that way. To be completely honest, I don't think I would be devastated or anything to find out that my kid was gay (which is actually a pretty big statement coming from a devout Christian). But also to be completely honest, I don't think that I'd feel comfortable being in a church where members were gay, and fine with it, and practicing, I guess. I definitely don't think I could handle gay clergy. And trying to figure out why I feel that way is a big mystery. Is it because it's just a basic Christian assumption with no backup except history and tradition? Is it because I just really can't imagine an Orthodox Christian church having to deal with this? (Although I am positive they have had to deal with this, I just haven't seen much of it.) Or is it because of some underlying genuine aversion to the idea, which is grounded in more than just circumstance? God, I know how many people I could potentially offend by saying all of this, but I think it's important to be honest and hope that it will stir up some sort of respectful dialogue with people who disagree with me.

I guess all I know is that I'm glad I haven't had to deal with it personally. I really don't know what Ted Haggard is going through, and so I can't judge him too harshly. But I hope that he's not being forced into a corner that he can't maintain. And I hope he thinks twice about becoming a counselor before he's spent more time really learning something from this experience- something I don't think could happen in 3 months, especially when he wasn't the one who decided to reveal the issue in the first place.


JN1034 said...

This is a really beautiful, compassionate post. Thank you for speaking from your heart, not from legalese or doctrines. And your George Eliot, Adam Bede quotation is very true, very profound. You're ceratinly blessed in many ways.

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