from the November 07, 2006 eNews issue
Ted Haggard admitted to "sexual immorality" this week - without going into detail - and has been removed from his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and as pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The news of his relationship with a homosexual male has shocked and deeply saddened the evangelical community in America, and - like David with Bathsheba - "hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14)."
Haggard wrote a letter to his congregation, apologizing for his actions and accepting all responsibility for what he had done. He said,
…There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.
Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.
The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.
He did not make excuses. He did not say, "Oh, my behavior wasn't so bad." He recognized the depth of his sin and failure, and willingly agreed to step down from his positions of leadership.
Aside from his apology, however, Haggard said something in his letter that every church leader in the country, and indeed every Christian, should take note of. He said, "when I stopped communicating about my problems." In other words, when he stopped being honest, when he stopped making sure he stayed accountable to somebody, that's when he lost the fight and slid into the pit.
James 5:16 says, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Ted Haggard was a major Christian leader in America, a public figure, and a spokesperson for the evangelical community. Not only did his position require great responsibility, it also required great protection. The Enemy of our souls knows how to exploit our weaknesses to his advantage, and we as Christians, and especially Christian leaders, must have people praying for and with us constantly in order to defeat the efforts of that Enemy.
Every single one of us has an area of vulnerability through which we can easily be tempted to sin. We may struggle with anger, or laziness, lust, or pride. We all have our Achilles heel, our thorn in the flesh that keeps us humble and aware of our need to totally depend on Christ. But, if we do not communicate with one another about the areas where we struggle the hardest, then we won't get the prayer and assistance we need.
Christian leaders are not more holy and immune to temptation than the common Christian man or woman in the pew. This is a reminder that all of us need to pray for our pastors on a regular basis, and for any Christian leader in our lives. We need to keep careful watch of ourselves and make sure that we have trusted, mature Christian brothers or sisters (men should meet with men, women with women) with whom we regularly gather to share our struggles with temptation and the areas in which we need prayer. We need to pray with our spouses on a regular basis, and remain transparent. As the body of Christ, we must take care of one another - we need each other (1 Cor 12:12-27).
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; Hebrews 12:12-15a
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
The news of Ted Haggard's sin grieves the Christian community, but it also serves as an important reminder; Christ alone is holy, and only he gave us a perfect example. Christianity depends on faith in Jesus Christ, not in evangelical leaders. Christ is the solid rock on which we stand, and we can have confidence in Him alone.