I haven’t met Ted, but I have heard him speak live back at my school in Nigeria and like many others I had great respect for the man who led many Christians in their profession of faith. He sounded simple, without the high sounding rhetoric that accompanies pentecostal messages, and made himself very clear in his moral assertions. He moved me with the fact that he wasn’t obviously trying to impress his listeners with a well researched faith message coloured by much scriptures and anecdotes. That is my closest memory of Mr. Haggard. I was still in Nigeria when I heard of the messy details that came to the limelight and his subsequent confession, which caused even the churches in Nigeria to wriggle in distress like someone with stomach trouble. The disdain that filled the mouth of many Christians was enough to deny the knowledge of Ted’s existence and for a while we may even want to claim he wasn’t a Christian at all. Many people labeled him as a hypocrite and a disgrace to the faith, while others crucified him with much blasphemy and such vitriol that I wonder if this is the same man they, only moments before, had quoted and referenced as an example of a great mentor. How are the mighty fallen! I must confess that I was also taken aback by the news and trust me, I kinda wanted to pass my own comments, but I held back.
A question that arises from all this is if it happened to Ted, who is next? For a man that rose to such status and power in society, yet could have such a free fall from that point gives us a hunch that there could much more of such men and women walking the corridors of our history even now. But a stronger point to be made is that we seem to be transfixed on those personalities who command a lot of public attention now and forget those who will walk into fame tomorrow. Famous men were once not famous, and who cared about them then? No one! If Ted had confessed to his weakness when he was pastoring a 20 man congregation, will it be a subject of national disdain? Of course not! So there is beauty in being small and unknown, for then are the greatest opportunities to make your life better, for fame weakens your frame. A friend once said to me “Reginald, celebrate now that you are small and seemingly inconsequential.” And in my quiet meditation of this matter, my Father asked me take those words to heart because the more influential you become, the greater the penalty for your misconduct, the higher you get, the more dire the recompense for sin. Now see what Haggard is going through for issues unsettled in his small days.
It is very easy to run commentaries and create a concept out of Haggards’ story and forgetting that each one of us has an opportunity to learn from what he gives to us. He is not presenting to us a topic for endless debate, nor a chapter in history to paint black a people in society, but a chance to look at the path we tread and alter our course or end up in the same destination. Many of those who point fingers, hiss make him a byword have messier lives that are unimaginable. I was once with a guy that I knew of his personal story of sexual struggles, yet he referred to Ted as a disgrace to Christianity. He suddenly was blind to his own devils and celebrated the global renown of Ted’s own devils, forgetting that devils grow and outgrow their hosts. What it is for Ted today, maybe my turn tomorrow, if I willingly trudge the same road as Ted did. Now tell me who doesn’t have issue to deal with? What man is there who doesn’t undergo sexual pressures and temptation? If everyman’s heart were like a logo on their t-shirts, who will walk freely around? I have repeatedly said if our hearts were like a cloth we could wash daily and hang on the ropes to dry, many will only dry or pick theirs up when no one is watching because of how ugly it looks. There is a Ted in every one of us. Any time we think of Ted, it should be a reminder that no one is exempt from life’s laws, and there will never be any secret that goes unrevealed, not matter how skillful at concealing issues a person may be. One day, your secrets shall be made known. It’s just a matter of time.
On The Oprah Winfrey show today, Ted declares that he is a free man. He shares that he had asked God to do whatever it takes to set him free from the inner ugliness, and part of him knew that the process may be one that will break him totally. And yes it did; big time!!! As I watched Oprah throw questions at him that sometimes appeared cynical, and listened to Anderson Cooper emphasize his disgrace, and hear Rick Sanchez gleefully raising the story, as well as Alexandra Pelosi feeling satisfied in creating a documentary from his story, I smile to myself. Little do they know that they are mere instruments of time in creating a law that they must also be accountable to. Most of them in their attempts to find a story to report have made a shear mockery of the whole incidence. His church also did not help matters by addressing it the way they did. I leave that matter for those with better judgment.
My whole interest in this dialogue is to raise a few issues to think about. For everyone I have met (I must state here that I have met so many) and talked with on their same sex passions, I found out that they have had a history of sexual abuse from an older person of a same sex. For those who have the problem of nymphomania (women) or satyriasis (men), which are forms of extreme sexual desires, I find that they were also sexually abused when very young. Ted also reveals that he was abused by an older man when younger, as well as having some boy play at a younger age. If in almost all cases as I have witnessed, there is a link between early abuse to older struggles, then we cannot just ignore our past experiences as a mere instance. Most of you reading this now can seriously relate to what I am talking about, and what you are going through is traceable to some past happening when you were very young or even at an older age. I once spoke with a friend who was dealing with pornographic issues. He shared with me that he became suddenly drawn to pornographic materials a few years after he had stumbled upon his older cousins’ adult magazines. Certain images stuck to his head, and he later began to explore and process those things he had seen in there. This I also found out is not just limited to sexual habits, but in almost all areas of character deficiency. For some it has to do with the inability to control their temper, while for others, it is a strong compulsion to lie when there is even no reason to. It really has nothing to do with who people know you to be, and the image you have built for yourself. It happens because you are still as mortal as any living man. Becoming a divine personality does not in any way unclothe you of your mortality.
Therefore irrespective of your personality and your attainments in life, you have and are fighting your own battles. This should humble you and give you a sense of delayed judgment towards others. You have a right to condemn actions, but you are not qualified to condemn persons. Jesus himself said: “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Even Paul in the Bible says this:“Judge nothing before the time…”. Therefore my friends, concern yourself with your judging you and not another man. There is so much going on in your life that you can’t afford to concern yourself with another persons’ shortcomings. When others fall around us, we should look at what made them stumble, so it doesn’t also make us stumble.
Some in the US like Oprah are saying that he should stop denying his gay nature, for that is who he is. They claim his refusing to accept who he is and living that way is his real trouble. But I ask them that judge after this manner, if you have a craving to murder, should you accept it? If you have an insatiable appetite for food, must you accept that as who you are and eat yourself to death? Does not nature itself create the laws that guide its functioning? Nature even shows us that in magnets, like poles don’t attract. So if a man craves for another man, we should accept that as natural? For what I call the law of complete cases, If all men were to engage only men, and women only women, what will the world turn to? Those who face homosexual tendencies are not wicked people, neither are they unacceptable. Like others they are simply humans whose own battles are their sexuality, just like those dealing with anger in their lives. Just like we love our children, but do not approve of all they do, God also accepts everyone, but doesn’t accept every conduct. Every child who will change for the better must subject himself to the discipline of the parent. So also as we seek to get better in life, we must subject ourselves to the discipline of God and His directions for us. However there is a growing lawlessness in society that we are suddenly accepting wrong as right and claiming the individuality of morality. Yet we fail to see the downward spiral society is assuming.
Let’s think about it, are you better than Ted? Because you haven’t been subject to a public embarrassment are you more privileged? You know the answer. So while Ted again and again presents us with what history is replete of, let us not fall into the error of judging that which we have not the capacity to judge. Rather let us fix our eyes on what really matter, getting our lives thoroughly straightened out. For we do not determine how much influence we will command in life, although we have a part role to play. For when fame comes upon us, it will bring with it the Sword of Damocles and we cannot determine then what our portion will be. We had that opportunity when we were not answerable to anyone but ourselves. Now that we are answerable to everyone under our influence we have no choice the severity of of their judgment.
Part two later….if necessary.