Thursday, February 08, 2007


Much hay has been made of disgraced pastor Ted Haggard's annoucement that he is 'completely heterosexual’ following a three weeks of intensive counseling. Of course, the dominant media likes nothing better than the opportunity to poke conservative Christianity in the eye when hypocrisy or weakness is exposed. They find particular glee when it involves their pet topic homosexuality.

Homosexuality, according to the accepted definitions of those who are allowed to define such things, is something one 'is' rather than something one does. Ultimately they wish to define it as a genetic predisposition over which one has no control. This has been discussed at length at theosebes in the past so I will not rehash all of it again. I will point to a relatively fair presentation of the difference in perspective from the scientific point of view, this quoted from the above linked NYT article:
Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who is an expert on issues of gender and sexuality, said that while it was people’s prerogative to identify their sexual orientation as they wanted, the notion of being able to change that orientation was “not consistent with clinical presentations, but totally consistent with theological belief.”

“Some people in the community that Mr. Haggard comes from believe homosexuality is a form of behavior, a sinful form of behavior based on certain things in the Bible, and they don’t believe you can create a healthy identity based on sinful behavior,” Dr. Drescher said. “So they define it as a behavior that can be changed, and there is this thinking that if you control those behaviors enough, heterosexual attractions will follow.”

Now, it is interesting to me that someone such as Haggard can be married for years and have children in what appears to be a somewhat successful heterosexual relationship, but all of that is immediately discounted due to his dalliances with this male prostitute he hired. That activity is not a deviation in behavior (perhaps it was not in the case of Mr. Haggard), but rather it is always the homosexual behavior that defines the norm. If someone who is a homosexual has a heterosexual relationship then he is seeking to deny himself. Homosexuality always has the trump in this scenario.

When it comes to Haggard and his three weeks of intensive counseling one seems forced to choose between two options. Either he is very naive or else very arrogant. As he is a man who served churches for many years one is left with only the latter as a possible explanation. If we accept homosexual behavior as a sin--which I do--clearly this is an area of weakness for Mr. Haggard. One does not simply go to counseling for three weeks for any area of sin in one's life and pronounce it over and done with. If that was all it took to defeat sin then Jesus had no need to die on the cross, He only need have founded counseling clinics. I do think counseling is something Mr. Haggard needs. But I'm afraid temptation doesn't disappear with three weeks and wishful thinking, either.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never understood why Christians feel the need to engage the debate about whether homosexuality has a genetic component.

The Bible teaches us that all are born with a tendency to sin, and experience shows that each of us finds particular sins more or less tempting. Since we are all tempted to sin in any event, the question of whether a particular person's inclination to homosexual behavior is genetic is quite beside the point.

We are all commanded by God to resist the sin each of is tempted with, and He is equally ready to forgive each of us when we repent of our failure to do so. The genetic question is interesting as a matter of biology, but a red herring as a matter of theology.