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About one week ago, I read this post by Daniel Gonzalez, who had received and watched a copy of the documentary "The Trials of Ted Haggard", which was to air for the first time on January 29, 2009. Having forgotten this (and having no television of my own), I was pleasantly surprised when a friend called this evening asking if I wanted to watch it.
After watching the documentary, I was left with two overarching impressions:
1) Ted Haggard deserves better than what he has been given. He is a man who wishes the best for his family and who now struggles to provide a good life for them. The media continued to harp on him long after he was reduced to constantly moving around Arizona and being unable to secure a full-time job. Being barred from re-entering the state of Colorado where their home was located, the family finally had to take out a loan on their home simply to move from a hotel room into an apartment. As a grad student I have trouble with moving often, earning little money, and having uncertainty of the future. I cannot imagine having to deal with all of those things, but seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, and having to provide for a family at the same time. (Note: I don't mean to sound like I approve of what Ted did, nor sound biased in his favor. I simply empathize with this man who has fallen from the highest places in evangelicalism to now be little more than a shell of a man.)
2) The Christians in Ted Haggard's life are poor reflections of Jesus in the world. That statement took a long time to write, because it is more charitable than I feel. In fact, I felt outright anger at the injustices directed toward Ted Haggard. Ted had preached in New Life Church a gospel of forgiveness to the sinner, saying in a clip in the documentary that the church was meant to deal with the business of redeeming sinners in this world. Instead, New Life Church put the Haggard family into exile, requiring that he never step foot again into the very church he helped found. Even St. Paul speaks directly against the actions of New Life Church in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, which was a continuation of 1 Corinthians 5. Where there has been repentance, the sinner is to be brought back into the fold, and to do it so as to not cause him too much grief and sorrow. New Life Church has failed miserably at this; not only has Ted Haggard publicly confessed and repented of his sins, but he has suffered far more grief and sorrow than he deserves. These Christians will have much to answer for on the day when they are before Jesus.
My final observation is that throughout the video, I could not help but realize what a painful and unfair position he was placed into by fellow Christians (homosexuality is such a "big" sin that you will be instantly cast out, and he had been bred by society into shooting for the normal hetero life), and how my and my husband's own experiences somewhat parallel the experiences of Ted Haggard in regards to being exiled from our Christian communities. No matter how many times I have heard the justification, exile is an extreme form of un-love. It is a testament to Haggard's character that while I may have grown bitter to the evangelical movement and simply left it out of disgust, Haggard has stuck with it despite all the rejection it has heaped on him. May God have mercy on him and his family.
If you wish to catch a viewing of the show, a full listing of the times can be found here.