Ted Haggard, schadenfreude case of the day, has apparently been found guilty by his church of committing "sexually immoral conduct." Not that this was surprising: the only question was how quickly the hammer would fall. (Pretty damn quick, I'd say.) Almost as rapidly, evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll's response to the drama, in the form of "practical suggestions for fellow Christian leaders," has been the subject of considerable commentary on the liberal blogs. (I heard about it through DK (not me!) at Talking Points Memo, who pointed toward David Goldstein's excellent commentary the Huffington Post; naturally, Dan Savage has also commented). Still, the kicker paragraph in Driscoll's post is worth repeating:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.I forget what the Song of Songs says precisely about methamphetamine but I'll look it u . . . . Hey, wait a minute. Did Driscoll really write "lean over the plate and take one for the team"?
Yes, he did.
Meanwhile, let's not blame poor Gayle Haggard for this. For one thing, judging from the publicity shot for her book A Life Embraced: A Hopeful Guide for the Pastor's Wife, she's not let herself go at all. In an interview promoting the book, she gives a clue as to where the responsibility ultimately lies:
God met me, spoke to me, and helped me as I sought Him. I learned to lean on Him and He so satisfied me that I felt increasingly free to love my husband and to participate with him in ministry and the life and calling God has given to us.Meanwhile -- and here's the connection that's not a connection -- in my own denomination, a woman has been installed as Presiding Bishop.
Let's say Ted Haggard comes out as a gay man but wants to continue as a Christian minister. (I think that, whatever his future career, he's not making anybody happy, including his soon-to-be-ex wife, as a closet case.) There are places for him to go. Maybe he should try working with Christians who are more accepting of human difference.