I met Ted Haggard on my first national television interview just over a year ago. He interviewed me in a long line of guests that night. During my segment I talked with Pastor Haggard about teenagers and the need of reaching and training every young person who claims the name of Christ to know, live, share and own their faith. He seemed genuinely interested and excited about what Dare 2 Share was doing to reach the youth of America. Ted Haggard struck me as a man of God who genuinely cared about the kingdom of God and others.
Now that the scandal of an alleged three year long homosexual "affair" between Ted Haggard and a gay escort is unfolding on every news show and newspaper across the country, my heart is breaking. With every updated press release I get sicker and sicker. Here I am, just a few hours before a conference in Charlotte and I cant concentrate. This scandal bothers me badly as it should you.
Did he or didnt he? He admitted to buying drugs but did he take them or, as he claimed, throw them away? He admitted to getting a massage from this gay man but did he pay this man to have sex with him over the course of three years? Only Ted, Mike and God knows for sure.
All I know is this, either way the name of Christ is being dragged through the mud. One of the most influential Christians on the planet has been accused of a lot and has admitted to some. If the purchase of drugs was all that happened then thats bad enough. If drugs were taken then its worse yet. If homosexual sex was involved then thats simply horrible.
Theres no winner in any scenario. As a matter of fact there are losers all around. Ted Haggard loses credibility and maybe his position of immense spiritual influence. Teds family loses. The Christian community loses. But more than anything else the Name and fame of Jesus loses ground. In an already spiritually cynical culture more logs of doubt about Christianity are thrown on the fire of skepticism.
How should we as Christians respond to this scandal?
1. Pray. We need to pray for Ted Haggard, Teds family, New Life Church and, yes, Mike Jones (the gay accuser). We need to pray that, from the ashes of this scandal, there will be genuine repentance and restoration no matter what the actual sins and transgressions were. We need to pray for the name of Christ to regain renown in spite of this setback.
2. Be careful. Galatians 6:1 reminds us, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." That last sentence should make us all take heed. We need to watch ourselves. Maybe our sin is not in the meth or Homosexual category but we all have our battlefields where we wage war against our own spiritual nemesis. In addition to warning us this passage reminds us that our heart should always to be to restore the fallen brother. If there was sin and there is genuine repentance our sole goal should be to see his spiritual life and family life completely restored. Does that mean that, if there was flagrant sin, that Ted Haggard will automatically or eventually be restored to his position of leadership? That is for the leadership of Teds church and denomination to, under Gods guidance, figure out. We need to pray for them as they seek Gods guidance.
3. Remember that this is no laughing matter. I joke around alot on these blogs but not on this particular post. Why? There is nothing funny about this scandal. The name and fame of Christ are at stake with the watching world.
Pray with me, "Dear God, we lift up this situation to you. We pray that you bring the truth to light. Whatever that truth is we pray that you use it for your glory. We pray for Ted and his family. We pray for New Life Church as they struggle through this as a church body. We pray for the leadership at New Life to have your divine wisdom. We pray for Mike Jones to put his faith and trust in Jesus as his Savior. And, finally, we pray that, in spite of this scandal, your Name and fame will triumph. Forgive us for our own iniquities and sins. May we not live in judgment over others but judge ourselves. Purify our hearts, souls and minds. May our lives reflect the light of your Son in a dark and cynical world. Bring your light through this darkness. In Jesus Name, Amen."
Greg Stier is the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with youth leaders and students, equipping them to be effective in sharing the gospel. Greg is known for motivating, mobilizing and equipping teens for positive change. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries and the GameDay youth conference tour for 2006/07, please visit www.dare2share.org.