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November 05, 2006

Catching Up on Evangelical Licentiousness

Ted Haggard officially removed as pastor for sexually immoral conduct: Since when is getting a massage sexually immoral? I mean, that's all that happened, right? Hmmmm. I guess the church was no less convinced by that particular explanation than the rest of us. Personally I think the real issue here would have been not the fact that Haggard got serviced by a guy, but that he apparently cheated on his wife while doing so. Sure, common adultery is not as (heh) "sexy" as hot religious conservative/man whore m4m action, but it's a lot more problematic for Haggard's relationships. I suppose it's possible that Haggard got clearance from the missus for this sort of thing, but all things considered I sort of doubt that.

While we're on that subject, here's a rather vile comment from another pastor about why Haggard may have been getting his pulpit polished by another man:

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

If only Ms. Haggard had dressed up as a burly lumberjack or maybe a leather boy from time to time, ol' Ted wouldn't have felt the hunger for man flesh! Yes, I'm sure that's it. I sure hope if Ms. Haggard ever meets this fellow, she gives him a healthy punch in the testicles.

Update, 1pm: Haggard comes clean, without much in the way of detail:

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," [Haggard} said.

The entire letter is here (pdf link).

I think the implication here is that the "dark and repulsive" part of Haggard's life is his desire for men; I, on the other hand, would venture to say that the dark and repulsive part of his life was that his own fear of that part of who he is caused him to punish, in his words and his deeds, at the pulpit and beyond it, those who did not reject that same part of themselves. It's sad; sad for him that he had this self-loathing, and sad for all the gays and lesbians who have their lives burdened, indirectly and directly, by Haggard's self-loathing. Nor are they out of it, since the anti-same-sex marriage amendment Haggard helped get on the ballot in Colorado has yet to be voted on. If it passes, will gays and lesbians find it in their heart to forgive Haggard his role in its passing? It's an interesting question.

Posted by john at November 5, 2006 10:16 AM

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Comments

AliceB | November 5, 2006 10:35 AM

Well, you know, when a man strays, it's *always* the woman's fault. Eve and all that. Can't trust 'em.

Janice in GA | November 5, 2006 10:44 AM

Over the years I've noticed that strongly religious types tend to have pretty vigorous libidos. Not sure why this is. Maybe strong passions express themselves all across the spectrum? Or trying to toe the line in one area causes emotions to bubble up explosively in others? I know correlation is not causation, but still...

John H | November 5, 2006 10:58 AM

Well here is a picture of Gayle Haggard with her husband. Yes, it really looks like she's 'let herself go'.

Hopefully Mark Driscoll will make Keith Olbermann's list of Worst Persons in the World...

Jon | November 5, 2006 11:13 AM

In the churches I've grown up in, the pastor being caught lying about an affair would get him removed, no matter whether the prostitute he went to was male or female.

It's not even the affair; that's likely forgivable. It's that he lied about it. (Which, incidentally, is the reason I was upset about Clinton; If he'll commit perjury over a blowjob, what else would he lie about?)

Sure, everyone has things they don't tell other people, but when you make a big point of it, it destroys trust.

mythago | November 5, 2006 01:20 PM

I really think it is more the gay than the adultery. If Haggard was seeing prostitutes or had a mistress, well, y'know, even the mightiest man can fall temptation to the prey of women's wiles, women being one rung up from Satan on the moral worth ladder. But Teh Gay is a whole nuther ball of, er, wax.

I also wish Mr. Driscoll would keep his whining about his lack of sex with Mrs. Driscoll between the two of them. Ew.

Hugh | November 5, 2006 04:23 PM

How long before he "admits" to an "alcohol problem", and is admitted to rehab?

John Scalzi | November 5, 2006 04:28 PM

Well, I think he'll admit to a meth problem first, don't you?

mythago | November 5, 2006 05:08 PM

Nah, Foley just did that. It would be so copycat.

Steve Buchheit | November 5, 2006 05:21 PM

Well, I think there will be beds available in the alcohol rehab after all the check-outs on Nov. 8.

Jon H | November 5, 2006 07:33 PM

I'm guessing Mr. Driscoll found a torn-out ad for a gay escort on his pillow last night.

Tripp | November 5, 2006 09:46 PM

Janice,

strongly religious types tend to have pretty vigorous libidos.

It might be that some people who dislike their libidos are drawn to certain religions as a means of controlling the urges.

It is kind of like the psychiatrist asking "Are you troubled by indecent thoughts?" The strongly religious might answer "Yes, but through the power or prayer and faith in God I am coping with them" while the rest of us would say "to tell the truth I rather enjoy them!"

Marianne | November 6, 2006 01:32 AM

This is a bit tangential, but I've seen a jillion mentions of the Colorado anti-gay-marriage amendment in connection with this scandal, and not a single mention of the pro-gay-civil-unions initiative on the same ballot. I mean, yeah, Haggard helped to get the first one on the ballot, and I don't think he even inveighed against the other one, but still! I keep getting the 'Colorado is that tiresome evangelical state with yet another anti-gay-marriage amendment on the ballot' vibe from everybody, and while it's *true*, we're also full of shiny happy people who want equal civil rights for people in same-sex partnerships! And until the election actually happens, who knows how things will actually turn out - I mean, everyone *I* know is against the dumb anti-gay-marriage amendment and will be voting *for* the civil union referendum (Referendum I) even while gritting their teeth about how we have to be all 'dudes, it's not marriage, honest, c'mon, please, show some sense here'.

sem | November 6, 2006 05:27 AM

Um, Marianne? I already did early voting, and unless my memory has failed me utterly (which is possible), it looks like the whole "marriage shall be permanently defined as between one man and one woman" thing was ALSO snuck in at the end of Referendum I. The whole "separate but equal" thing kinda rankles me, so... I voted against it, as well as the amendment.

Matt Arnold | November 6, 2006 10:21 AM

A pastor spent his whole life lying to himself by faith, admitting to everyone proudly that he was doing so, calling it a virtue, and making a career of unabashedly training others in the same life of reality denial. His congregation is surprised when he turn out to be (in his own words) a "deceiver and a liar". *gasp* What? Say it ain't so!

Why is anyone surprised? Am I the only one who sees the connection? Religious faith ought to have a far more serious problem with the perception of its credibility than it does.

Matt Arnold | November 6, 2006 10:53 AM

Here's the bumper-sticker version of what I just said.

It's not the scandals evangelicals are ashamed of that bother me. It's what they like about themselves that I mind.

Jon Marcus | November 6, 2006 12:16 PM

Interesting point I'm shamelessly cribbing from here: http://balkin.blogspot.com/2006/11/haggard-story-not-just-hypocrisy-but.html.

I've never really understood the "gays are a threat to straight marriage" concept. But for Haggard, that was true in a very real sense. He was tormented by his own homosexuality. Any acceptance of it of it presented a threat to his marriage.

I'm not saying that everyone who espouses this argument is a closet case. But I've got to admit it's going to cross my mind the next time I hear it.

Greg | November 6, 2006 12:25 PM

Just a note: it is entirely possible that Haggard's church believes what he is saying. The standard approach in these cases is that a pastor is disciplined for any behavior which looks morally suspicious. Now this might not extend to removal but in serious enough cases it usually will.

Marianne | November 6, 2006 12:32 PM

Sem, it rankles me too. Though it doesn't actually say anything about permanently, it's just stating the law as it already stands. But as much as separate but equal sucks, I have to think it's at least a little better than separate and decidedly, thoroughly, formally unequal. It's the bare minimum and it is a stinky, teeth-gritting kind of law, but it actually has a hope in h-e-doublehockeysticks of passing.

Tripp | November 6, 2006 02:40 PM

Jon,

I figure there are three groups of people who espouse the 'gay marriage threatens straight marriages' view.

The first group are the closet cases you talk about.
The second group are the followers who parrot the slogan without really thinking it through.
The third group are the ones who use this issue for their own gain.

When you come across a number two it can be kind of fun to confront them with reasoning and ask if they are a number one. That can shut them down pretty fast.

CJ-in-Weld | November 6, 2006 06:28 PM

Marianne and Sem:

Referendum I has exclusionary language you dislike, but the good thing about it is that it creates a statutory change, not a constitutional amendment. Maybe once people are used to the civil unions, people will be more amenable to a statutory change allowing same-sex marriage.

Or eliminating "marriage" altogether, and creating civil unions for everyone? Nah, too science-fictiony.

Lee | November 6, 2006 08:58 PM

Well, here's one that might interest you in becoming one of its High Priests.

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/31006

I know it is satirical but when it comes to religion, mankind is just as baffled with science and mystery that it causes rational thought to go haywire.

John Scalzi | November 6, 2006 09:13 PM

Thanks, but I already invented my own science fictional religion in Android's Dream.

sem | November 7, 2006 03:47 AM

Marianne and CJ-in-Weld:

You both make very good points, and, yes, I do see the realpolitik justification for Referendum I (even though, as Marianne pointed out, it is a "stinky, teeth-gritting kind of law"). As CJ points out, since it isn't an amendment, it can still be changed in the future... which means I should probably have voted for it. There's hindsight for you.

Kit | November 7, 2006 08:34 AM

'Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives.'

Considering how puritanical their husbands are, can you blame the poor women? It's not exactly easy to let your hair down with a man who thinks of sex as inherently dirty, pastor. Maybe if we heard more preaching about the Song of Songs and less about the Whore of Babylon, pastors' wives might cheer up a bit.

Unless, of course, their husbands are secretly wishing they were in bed with a man.

Considering just how humiliated that poor lady must be feeling right now, you have to marvel the man's ability to prioritise who gets his charity and compassion and who doesn't. Does he feel any desire to minister to her? To, at least, refrain from adding his insults to the harm her husband has done her? Nope, he takes the opportunity to get a dig in. And he calls himself a man of God.

Shame on him.

Anonymous | November 8, 2006 10:37 PM

He may be forgiven, but it might be a long time comin'. Count on "god" forgiving him first, swell supernatural entity that "he" is and all. One thing still irks me about the whole thing. Curiosity about meth? Where does that come from?