20061103

they eat their own

i received a few emails today asking me about this whole ted haggard thing. most wanted me to share my views, and some wanted me to share more then my views. but, i have done neither in emails. let me share why -

in reading the reports of what has happened to ted, i have been shocked [though i should not be] by the reaction of other people claiming to be "pastors." some placed themselves above such a thing while others just wanted to distance themselves from haggard. some are claiming how "heartsick" they are over the allegations, yet none of them are truly standing with him. now, some may be "behind" him, but none are "along side" him. Instead of standing along side of him and his family, they are running away, or standing in the back ground - kind of the way evangelicals do when ever one of their own is wounded. over the past i have come to the conclusion that many leaders in the evangelical church simply eat their own when they are wounded.

i know the drill, because it has been the same drill over and over again; every time an evangelical seems to "shake" the same things happen. first, they put on a "united front" [never lasting more then a few hours[; then they run for the hills as soon as things heat up. soon there will be a power play in both the church and the nea - and they will toss ted aside like an old rag. they will offer little but "prayer" and bloated talk about how God can bring him back to "the right path." but never once will they make even the slightest effort to help him in his time of need. they will claim they have forgiven, but they will always look at ted with an eye that focuses on judgment. they will say they will help, but little will be done to truly help.

over the past years i have seen this with others in the evangelical community. those who "fall" become the butt of evangelical jokes and sermon illustrations by pompous pastors and "christians" alike. evangelicals claim so much about being a "bible people" and yet i would venture to say forgiveness for ted is not forthcoming.

i believe the possible outcome is less on ted, and more on us as a christian community of faith [even thought i am not evangelical] - do we forgive and help, or do we judge and feed on the carcass? do we offer of ourselves in honest, or do we offer him up for sacrifice? do we actually walk along side him, or do we walk away? are we willing to do anything to help as needed or are we simply going to offer lip service?

as i see it [being a post-evangelical] this is the way it can go - this is not on what ted did, but on how the evangelical community reacts to ted's needs. because, if there is one thing i have seen over the past - they do eat their own.

7 comments:

Andrew said...

Hello, John:

I guess I'm living in a coccoon because I didn't know anything about the allegations until I started catching up on my blog readings this morning. The Christian blogosphere seems abuzz with the discussion. Like you, I guess I'm not too shocked about the allegations. Like you, I think forgiveness is the mandate for any Christian, evangelical, post-evangelical, zen, fundamentalist, charismatic, post-charismatic, whatever. (Like how I slipped that reference to "zen" Christianity in there? Probably some readers would argue there is no such thing. Anyway...) Why do we need to split into camps of evangelical, post-evangelical, etc., anyway. Is Christ divided?

AC

P.S. - New post today on my new blog about the spirituality of punk, Never Mind the Bibles. I'm surprised I haven't seen comments from you over there yet, punk monkey that you are. :)

spamthewunderdog said...

I relate to what Ted is going through in a personal way that at this moment brings back horrible memories.

Well where do I start, my struggle with porn started, or I should say coincided with my journey of Faith. At 12 years old I started to read the Bible on my own (my dad was an athiest) and really started to investigate God, Jesus, Church and stuff. At the same time I wanted to know more about sex, so my dad (who owned a video store at the time) sat me down and made me watch a porno with him. After we were done watching it he said, and I can remember the words vividly "enjoy watching this stuff boy, because you will never ever be a real man and will never make a woman scream with pleasure like that, because you are just like your dad and have a small penis"...pretty harsh right?

So I started this long journey with porn in secret, not because of lust, but because (along with this incident) I had been conditioned to believe that I was not a real man. Essentially over the course of my teen years and adult life, I lived this life of darkness when I was by myself. Being alone with my own thoughts has always been a struggle for me. I had constant thoughts and voices inside me that said I was worthless etc...and in those times I would go seeking the things that would make me feel "manly". I would buy magazines, make phone sex calls, chat online, go to strip clubs, go to peep shows, go to adult bookstores etc...

I struggled with it for 22 years (I am 36 now). All during that time though, God was working on me as I journeyed in my faith. I was baptised at 15, joined the Church at 16, went to Bible College at 19, and have been involved in youth ministry in one form or the other since I was about 18. All during this time I struggled on and off with porn, only abstaining for short periods of time (less than 6 months) by pure will power at best. I would frequently fall off the wagon for a day or so, and maybe even go for a few weeks without porn out of nothing but guilt. I never had any accountability, or otherwise meaningful relationships to pastor me through these times.

In 2002 I got engaged to be married, and for the first time in my life I confessed this sin to someone...my future wife. Then I started to work at our Church as the Junior High pastor. This time was much like it was before, only with longer periods of abstinence (8 months being the lognest). In 2004 I was tasked to take over the entire youth ministry of our Church...and long story short...I crumbled. The Church was going in a drastic new direction, the budget was being cut, and I was expected to live under a higher set of professional expecations...I felt, once again, like a loser. Like I was not a real man, and had no authority to exert what I felt God was leading me to do...and...I...crumbled. For a period of about a month straight, I stayed late at the Church every night and used the computer at Church to view porn. Someone found out and confronted me, and eventually I was asked to resign...

Now, even though I immediately felt this huge burden lifted from me. I wanted to get caught. Now people knew my darkness, and some were ok with me. But most abandoned me and branded me with a scarlet letter. I was persona non gratta. My pastor and elders all used flowery words, that any person would have translated as "hey, we will be there for you"...but they were not.

I went into counseling, and started accountability relationships. And I used the time to enter into a recovery group through settingcaptivesfree.com to work through my relationship with God.

Essentially I am no longer in an abstinance only phase...I am on a path now where those destructive thought patterns have been shattered and more positive ones have been put in their place. Yes, lust and depression still temp me, but because I have worked through my self-image issues, lust doesn't have anything to grasp hold of any longer. I drag those temptations in to the light and allow God to show them for what they really are.

Also, I have practiced some radical amputation of things in my life that allowed me to choose sin.
I never stay in a hotel room alone.
I never go out of town alone.
I do not have immediate access to our bank account.

I have installed both a filter and an accountability software program on my computer that my recovery group has access to.I do not watch TV in the house alone.

These steps are not a success in and of themselves...But they did allow me the spiritual and mental space to allow God to exist in the spaces that I used to fill with other idols.

Allowing that space to be God's was a big step for me, because before when I was innundated by all the thoughts and voices, it wasn't because I was crazy, but rather because I had not practiced the presence of God in my daily life. The desires for porn did not cease unitl I had properly grown my desire for God.

Initially the tool I used in my private life to create this space for God inside the space I had created by radically amputating things from my life was an online study called "The Way Of Purity", through setttingcaptivesfree.com. After I Completed that study by myself, I joined (formed) a porn addicts group and led a study through the printed version of the study. After about 9 months of freedom I decided to be formally trained as a mentor for SCF and that is where I am at today, studying to be mentor.

Now, I have taken the scarlet letter off my chest. God has granted me freedom and is seeking to restore me to ministry. All I have to do now is be attentive to God, and find the Church that he wants to restore that part of my life in.

But, let me go back a little. Why is it, that in my worst state...when I was broken, suicidal, and just plain out of sorts...why did I have to be the "bigger" person and go seeking "true" christians who would do what every Christian is called to do. To love me and be a safe place for healing to me.

Anonymous said...

really good thoughts here - thank you!

Craig said...

I had a further reflection inspired by a combination of this article and a reaction to ted at another church.

My Dad was telling me about the childrens story at thier church on sunday. It was a rememberance day theme where he showed the kids a poppy and asked what it meant and they said something about remembering the war. and then he showed them a cross and asked what it meant and they said remembering jesus. and then he worked in something about how that's why we go to church and it's good to go to church but some pastors now days are in it only for money, drugs and sex and he said that he didn't agree with that.

Of course everyone in the small country church thought that this was a great little sermon and no one thought any more about it.

My criticism, having just read your article and being someone who works at a homeless shelter, is that this type of talk is a bad model for christianity. Following the model that this paster is unintentionally creating, it would be his job to work with the good people and point out who the loosers are. It's then my job to work with the "loosers" (as society sees them) when they hit rock bottom.... if I was going to be evengelical about it, it would be my job to try to show them that the church or society is not that bad... How can things work like that?!? a kingdom divided against itself can't stand.
In a Bible college leadership course they taught us about working with the top 10% and that never sat well with me.
Don't believe the "good people", start your ministry with the (people percieved as) "loosers" first! that's where God is.

Rags said...

John,

This is a little scary. I put up a post on my site yesterday about shooting the wounded. You are talking about the same thing. This will be an interesting thing to see if the church discards Ted and Mark Foley, or restores them to a strong biblical relationship.

I pray for these men.

fatwrath said...

I’m not excusing Haggard. He's admitted he lied about the meth and there's probably more to the story that haven't come out yet. BUT I doubt Haggard's problems started out as the big, smelly, public problems he has today.

Haggard's got a beating coming, BUT the Church (a place of restorationa dn healing) has one coming as well. The real dirty little secret is there’s no vehicle in the Church to rehab Professional Christians. If a baseball player develops a knee injury, he can get help early and unless the injury is carrier ending, and he can comeback next season. For professional Christians, any rehab is very nearly carrier ending because they are not coming back to that church or that town or even that denomination. So professional Christians are very slow to seek help with their problems until they become big, smelly, and public.

My guess is he’ll be defrocked, go to rehab/counseling, fail to start his own church, and fade away into insurance sales.

Anonymous said...

Great point about the (lack of)rehab for professional ministers/leaders! It has long been a desire and concern of my heart, having served on church staffs, known a number of "ex-pastors", and seen such need for it (including my own). How would we go about creating these "cities of refuge"? I would love to be a part of such a parachurch ministry, perhaps including discrete retreats for those in ministry in active struggle, to provide prayerful support and possibly head some of the "falls" off at the pass. Any suggestions, thoughts?

Is it possible this also could align with, as Barna indicates in his latest book, the trend toward a redefinition of the organized church model? Perhaps some of these defrocked folks who very much love Jesus and are gifted and called to serve His Body, can shepherd some of these alternative Church organizations that are emerging and growing; i.e., home fellowships, intentional communities, etc. Perhaps we can find Acts 2:42 ways of supporting people in full-time ministry by pooling our abundant resources, without having to form megachurches and denominations. Surely in the service of a limitless God, there is boundless possibility...