Oprah Winfrey discusses sexual identity with Ted & Gayle Haggard

Today’s Oprah Winfrey Show gave Mr. Haggard a lot of time to describe his sexuality. Haggard’s wife joins him in this segment where they discuss ambiguities of sexual identity.

It is notable that he says he was not cured because he doesn’t view his same-sex attraction as a sickness. Also, he believes his SSA is a part of him and not due to demons. It is clear he continues to believe homosexual behavior violates his faith but he is quite open now about his experience. I liked his statement that he cannot put himself into a category. Doing so would be untrue to his experience now.

57 thoughts on “Oprah Winfrey discusses sexual identity with Ted & Gayle Haggard”

  1. I am aware of individuals having sex with people they are not attached to in any way or want to be attached to in any way – the sex satiates a temporary impulse and then is not thought about in any kind of positive way afterward, sometimes causing self loathing or repulsion. I am not sure if this is what happened to Ted Haggard but it is a possibility.

  2. I had not considered that the X might even be being considered to be added (sorry, bad english). Imagine…two supposedly opposing sides having more in common than not! Both sides would be leading by example together that diversity works both ways. It would be fascinating to see how it would all work out. What would gay acceptance of so called ex-gays do for greater straight acceptance of gays, if anything at all? Could it possibly be in a gay person’s best self interest to accept ex-gays? Hmmmm……..

  3. Funny thing is outside of this forum I don’t refer to myself as ex gay. I am just Mary who used to be gay and now isn’t. Most people get that. Gays do not. I think my very liberal mom is even beginning to get that idea. My straight friends wonder if I could ever be with a woman again and I always say “Well – yeah under the right circumstances I suppose.” But they get the idea that that part of my life is over. It is what it is or was and now things are different. I do think it is different for women than men.
    The courtesy of the gay community only extends so far as you share the exact same beliefs as do they. Sort of like the conservative christian world of yester year. Same monster – different name. You know how the finger wagging looks. Only the gays are wagging their fingers at us and saying “You’re still one of us!: Like they won’t let us go or something. I’d like to join the group and all, but they need to add the X.

  4. Carole, Mary–
    Good points by both of you. But, of course I’d say that, since I agree. LOL. I wasn’t rying to start a debate about what we call it here…I was trying to show the emptiness of past assertions :”You know, if only they wouldn’t call themselves ex-gay and mislead people. If only they weren’t political. If only they simply wanted to live their life as they believed without cramming it down peoples’ throats…then I’d have no trouble with them.” So here’s Ted rejecting the label. Humbled and crushed not on any political warpath. Not being over assertive at all…just wants to figure out the best way to live his life. LOL. But do people have ‘no trouble’ with that as they asserted previously? Far from it.
    Ted rejects labels but that’s okay, Jayhuck has one for him. (If you take the label ‘ex-gay’, they are against you…but, if you don’t take it, they have one of their own design ready for you.)
    LOL. Good luck with that ‘X”‘ on the end of GLBT. I dreamed of that possibility back some 30 years ago. I was actually referring people who didn’t share my beliefs to the local MCC or Wingspan but then I learned, that even when they had a client who believed essentially as we did, they did not extend the same courtesy. Not only would they not refer but they’d discourage people who had heard about us and wanted to check us out.

  5. Carole,
    Totally agree. Doesn’t matter what we (ex-gays for lack of a better word or phrase) say or do, gays just want us to stop being who we are. They may say “Oh no. That’s not it. We just want you to tell the truth.” But everytime we tell the truth they say that isn’t the truth enough. And if we really get down to to it – that we don’t want to live the way they live, or label the way they label themselves, or assign anyother term, phrase or ideology – then gays are not happy. The only “truth” gays want to hear from ex gays is their own gay “truth” – and I personally just cannot do that because it would be the truth to me. It seems that anything I say about internal changes, outwardly changes etc… get twisted, turned, skewed through some gay lense that there seems no way to make progress in the conversation.
    As a liberal, who supports gay rights and gay people, I am appalled at the lack of tolerance and diversity being expressed by the gay community (as a whole) towards those who are different in opinons and lifestyles. I remember when back in my day as a young gay activist all we were asking for was tolerance – not agreement, not hatred, not all of those things that happen to those who are different – just a place in the world. Now all of that seems to be what I am asking for as an ex gay. Funny – how the tide has turned and gays are still yelling “Unfair!” I turthfully think that that whole GLBTQ community ought to add X to their letters because those of us who are X gay have more in common with them than those who have never been down the road.

  6. Carole, I think you’ve summarized it quite well.
    Is this not all about whether there is a God, and if so, if God’s image is male/authority/respect and female/power/love, and if so, are we created in God’s image, and if so, if God prefers human physical sexual intimacy to reflect his supernatural spiritual image, even if the world is fallen and even if the image here is far from perfect, and if so, if God nonetheless blesses and approves of human physical sexual intimacy which doesn’t reflect his image of God coming into humans but instead reflects an image of God coming into himself, if the physical reality of sex does in fact reflect or mirror a spiritual reality? Yes, a lot of IF’s there.

  7. What a giant mistake to go on that show. Oprah is not a Christian in that she has a very broad and wide view on how you can get to heaven and does not see that Jesus is theonly way. She obviously has a really different slant on the whole area of homosexuality. It was all quite unhealthy and unwise for the Haggards to do this interview.

  8. Eddy,
    I understand that from a Christian point of view, a “sin orientation” includes any form of sexual desires. — You can correct me if I’m wrong. — What gender is someone attracted to is not an issue for Christianity, as long as homosexual behaviour is not pursued and marriage integrates men’s and women’s needs.
    This way of seeing sexuality is at odds with how science sees it. First of all, because in the Christian view, there are two desirable outcomes: marriage or celibacy. Science does not impose any desirable outcome, because if it’s science proper then it doesn’t have any agenda or values to stick to. So what it does is look at the facts and say: some men are attracted to and aroused by women, others mostly by men. There’s no dictum here as to what it means: whether it’s sin or not, desirable or not — that’s nothing to concern scientists.
    Secondly, what’s more important to them is to make sure that, based on facts, they can get the truth out in the open. The worst outcome for scientists is to study people who hide their sexual interest or who fake their reactions, for whatever reasons (including values or jocularity). This is called volunteer bias and it’s one of the reasons why self report is not so reliable in measuring sexual orientation. The best way to gauge one’s sexual orientation right now is to measure their physical signs of arousal (erections in men, vaginal blood flow in women). There is a great deal of debate how it’s best to do that, including what types of stimuli they should be exposed to. Should they be soft, hardcore, matched according to culture, sexual experience, gender, etc, etc, etc? Many researchers try using a variety of means to see how participants rate them and how they respond to them. Designing an experiment is sometimes a feat of art as much as it is of science. The optimum designs get the most reliable and most quoted results in the field.
    Why did I explain this in so many words? Because what someone says about their sexuality speaks less than what they do. Sometimes the reverse is true. Whether their name is Haggard, Obama, Hasselhoff or Morrison, it doesn’t matter what they say they consider themselves. It matters what they did and do (and how they feel). As a matter of fact, if I were a scientist I would start from the assumption that they are lying and they are trying to hide their real nature. So I should come up with the best test to get the truth out despite their attempts to hide it. This is the way to do science and extricate the facts from people’s conscious attempts to shape them according to their bias. In this respect, sexuality comes from the inner side of a person that lies beyond their grasp, so no one can mold their primary sexual response (they can control their reactions and behaviour a bit.) But I’m not a scientist and don’t want to be one.
    So Haggard can say many things and people can project many things onto what he says, according to what they consider desirable. But the facts will remain the same. He slept only with men outside his marriage and now claims to be “a heterosexual with issues.” Considering his past behaviours, there are strong reasons to doubt he is now more likely to tell the truth than he was before the scandal began. As I said in a previous message, it is more likely that he saw an opportunity in this context to re-launch his career and re-establish his credibility by saying what other people want to hear. His statements can be taken as those of a charismatic leader who says what people are afraid to say because of social pressures impinging on them, but secretely wished someone would say it. This is what Ted Haggard is most probably doing right now, by using his past sexual record of cheating his wife with men to emerge today, live on television, as a martyr of his own struggles, putting himself out there for others to join in the catharsis. Thus, he gets the best of both worlds: he had a gay old time until recently (he took drugs too, right?) and now can get back in the business of being a public persona of complex sexual identity.

  9. In re-reading my comment , which is awaiting moderation, I see that one of my references was grammatically misleading so I wish to correct my language.
    One paragraph reads:

    One side seems not to understand that their internal message of “I must be true to myself and be who I am” stands in stark contrast to the message they are sending to others: -”Be who we want you to be, not who you want to be.”

    The “one side” to which I am referring is the side who questions the use of the term “ex-gay” by those who self describe in that way.
    My following paragraph begins as follows:

    These people have told others that they don’t want to be homosexual, that they weren’t happy being homosexual, that they much prefer the persons they are today, whoever that is.

    By “these people” I mean ex-gays. Unfortunately, my antecedent reference was incorrect so I hope this clears up any confusion about my references. It would not have been misleading had this second paragraph begun with “Some people have told others they don’t want to be homosexual, that they weren’t happy being homosexual, that they much prefer the persons they are today, whoever that is.”
    I hope this clears up any confusion about to whom I was referring in each of these paragraphs.

  10. On this blog I’ve read a great deal of discussion between those who object to the use of the term “ex-gay” and those who argue that a term cannot properly describe them nor should it. That seems to be the crux of much of these discussions.
    I’d like to make several points:
    The lexicon of a language, any language, often falls short of providing a word that expresses feelings. Those who consider themselves ex-gay have made it very clear that a phrase or a word cannot accurately communicate feelings. I understand that. Why others don’t understand that is unclear unless they are only pretending not to understand. If that is true, I would imagine they object for political reasons. I would imagine their objections are based on a fear that each time someone claims to be “ex-gay,” society will get the idea that people will believe that homosexuals can become heterosexual (even if most ex-gays don’t make such concrete claims). Thus, gays fear that society will believe, “If you really wanted to, you could change.” That’s the fear, isn’t it?
    It’s an understandable fear considering the history of the treatment of gay people and understandable in light of the fact that some segment of society still clings to the notion that gay people choose to be gay out of some perverted delight, that some segment of society still clings to the notion that the Devil is operating through gay people. However, it should be pretty clear that most people in this country do not cling to those notions.
    The Latin prefix “ex” simply means “coming out of” or “coming from”. Thus, those who say they use the term because they are coming out of a gay life are using the word literally, accurately. However, this term bothers some gays so they argue that the meaning of a “gay life” is up for dispute. Ex-gays try to clarify what they mean, yet the other side quibbles again over the meaning of words even though the average person watching and listening to the disagreement and the use of the term understands quite easily what ex-gays mean when they use the term.
    Ex-gays add that a phrase like “ex-gay” can’t capture their feelings, that they can’t be easily labeled, that it’s hard to “find a word that works,” yet the other side is unhappy with that explanation as well.
    Some gays seem most disturbed when someone who self labels as “ex-gay” tells us that he/she is happier now than when he/she was labeling as gay.
    What’s really going on here is that one side is upset by the other side’s decision to change or to try to change. It seems that one side would be happy if the other told the world that they really hadn’t changed at all, if they told the world that it’s impossible to change, if they told the world that they were going to abandon their choice to change. That’s really it, isn’t it?
    Not only does one side feel the other cannot be successful in changing, it’s apparent they don’t really want them to be successful. Ex-gays know that, and that is obviously very hurtful to them–that there are people pulling against them and that , at the very least, there are people who wish to silence them when they speak about their struggle and any victories they have had in that struggle.
    The subtext of the message from the other side is , “But you shouldn’t struggle–to “struggle” is to intimate there is something wrong with you, thus something wrong with us, and your decision to try to change is really an abandonment of us, and will wind up being an indictment of us!” The decision to change or to try to change by others scares gays for it reminds them of a society that told them, “It’s your fault or your weird family’s fault that you are like this, but you can change if you really try.”
    As an outsider, so to speak, a straight, it’s as if I am looking at a battlefield from above. Bodies are strewn all over the place. It’s a sad sight, and what both sides want, dignity, they will not join forces to find together.
    One side seems not to understand that their internal message of “I must be true to myself and be who I am” stands in stark contrast to the message they are sending to others: -“Be who we want you to be, not who you want to be.”
    These people have told others that they don’t want to be homosexual, that they weren’t happy being homosexual, that they much prefer the persons they are today, whoever that is. They’d like their dignity and they’d like respect by not having people telling them how to feel and how not to feel; they want respect by not having people scream that the word they call themselves is a misnomer. It seems that they are asking for the same respect and treatment that the other side has asked for from society.
    I find it ironic that people who have known the sting of words like “faggot” have chosen to make laughable a word like “ex-gay.” They have chosen to make a phrase which others have chosen to call themselves a thing of negativity.
    That is no different from what bullying teenage boys do when they take the word “gay” and utter it with a lisp, and make a limp-wristed gesture, and add a little wiggle of the hips when they say it. The word which some have chosen to call themselves, “ex-gay,” others who should understand the uniqueness of “otherness” deride. That is very sad.
    I suppose ex-gays could go around calling themselves “people who struggle with SSA” but then many gays would take exception to the word “struggle.” I suppose they could call themselves “people who wish to be heterosexual” but then some would tell them that phrase demeaned gays by suggesting heterosexuality was better than homosexuality. I suppose they could call themselves “people who have moved away from being gay” or “people who have decided they don’t want to be gay ” (I can just hear the howls of protest to that one) but let’s face it, these terms are too long for practicality’s sake and the other side wouldn’t like them any more than they like the term “ex-gay,” would they?
    Some ex-gays who are religious could call themselves, “people who believe the Scriptures tell them homosexuality is sinful,” and they could assign the acronym “PWBTSTTHIS” but that would be impractical, wouldn’t it, and the others would tell them they were interpreting the Bible incorrectly, wouldn’t they? Then the whole theology thing would come into play. There would have to be reinterpretation of their holy book to accommodate the thinking of the others and then would come an insistence that people believe in the reinterpretation and that would be a holy mess, (pun intended) wouldn’t it?
    So, it’s clear that no matter the term they use, the other side would find problems with something in it, wouldn’t they? What term has one side really left to ex-gays? None, really. Any term would face derision and that is what those who are ex-gay seem to understand, and so the whole conflict is not really about terms, is it? It’s about allowing others to be who they are. It’s about allowing others to feel what they feel. Hmmmm. Sounds like a familiar refrain that the other side should understand better than most.

  11. And those that have hopes for heterosexuality also have conflicts with therapies that would include provocative images of the opposite sex.

  12. I agree with you for the most part Evan 🙂 And Eddy – yeah – it wouldn’t be right to ask certain ex-gay men to look at such images!

  13. There’s an error inherent to the notion of orientation. I have a sin orientation. Saying that I have one in those words would sound awkward but , believe me, I do have a sin orientation. I share this in common with all people, yet psychology hasn’t yet defined it as a category. Although religion and religious thoughts are a part of most people’s basic approach to life, psychology, as a general rule, doesn’t go there.
    So, psychology decides it would behoove them to categorize sexual attraction and to identify people by those attractions. That’s fine with me. Whatever floats your boat. But, they took no hard thought to religion or religious thought as they did this. They have not only defined homosexuality but they’ve also pronounced the condition unequivocally ‘good’. That’s a serious disconnect with the thousands of people who have homosexual feelings but believe that homosexual activity is sin. You can label me whatever you want but you’ll have to carry the sign. I have religious conflicts about wearing that sign personally so you won’t see me carrying it.
    So here, we’ve been talking about Ted and his interview. Ted received lots of mail…people telling him what box he belonged in…and, none of the boxes, including heterosexual, felt like one he was comfortable labelling himself by. Can’t he be in that place? It wasn’t a psychology themed episode; it was a personal journey piece. Ted’s journey–and Ted has experienced that he doesn’t find a fit in any of the prefabricated boxes. Why is there a need to judge him for being in that place?
    I’m chuckling about that ‘simple test’ to determine orientation. It doesn’t allow for religious beliefs. Thousands of ex-gay men wouldn’t take such a test–why would you submit yourself to new and purposely provocative porn-type images when you’re ‘trying to quit’? Is the label that important? Is anyone’s ‘need to know’ that bad?

  14. redorchd,
    I have read this perspective on sexual identity and it’s interesting to consider, but it should be based on facts if true. I have two questions for you:
    Do you think gay men are struggling with opposite-sex attractions?
    Do you think straight men force themselves to have erections for women and restrain their sexual arousal for men, while gay men do the opposite?

  15. Eddy, Jayhuck,
    I’ve just read your exchange re Haggard’s orientation and I can say I find it very interesting, because each of you comes from a different background and has a different take on what orientation is, which is reflected in your arguments.
    I think there is a way by which his orientation can be estimated, based on facts. The mainstream scientific view right now is that men’s orientation is betrayed by their erections, mainly the product of sexual arousal. If a man gets erections with men or watching men but not at all or almost none with women, then he is homosexual. If the reverse is true, he is hetero. Bisexuality would mean almost equally strong sexual reactions to both men and women.
    Now, let’s consider the facts, or what is closer to facts. Haggard was accused of and admitted having sexual encounters with a number of men over the years. There is no mention of any affair with a woman, on the other hand, but his wife said that they had their ups and downs in their marriage sexually. Considering that he only had sex with men outside his marriage, this behaviour betrays his primary drive, that his biggest sexual motivation is towards men. Clearly he had a problem with self-control, but that lack of self-control did not betray his attractions to other women. He’s been in a marriage for many years, which makes sex mostly bland over the years. I think his wife’s statement on their sex life may be part of her being supportive rather than an actual fact. His affairs with men can be considered as close to facts as scientific facts are, because they have been reported by both partners. I don’t think anyone would assume Ted Haggard had sex with men because it was unsatisfactory.
    To sum up, I think we wouldn’t make a big mistake to assume that he is primarily attracted to men, enjoys sex with men and a lot less so with women if any. On the Kinsey scale, he should be a 5, which means he is ‘predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual.’ This type of men is usually considered homosexual in most scientific studies, including those on sexual arousal (they usually say “we dichotomised reports” considering that who scores more than incidentally homosexual cannot be heterosexual, that is Kinsey 0, say 1).
    I should mention that bisexuality is not considered a fact based on studies on men’s erections right now. It’s considered a fact by researchers who take into account something other than erections, stuff like reported attractions, attachment, behaviours, when they rate their subjects’ sexual identity.
    So, it’s most likely that this debate is mostly cultural, not scientific. For whatever reasons, Haggard feels motivated to redefine his sexual identity right now, in the wake of a few events – including the global media exposure of an elected president with a biracial background- which press for more inclusiveness, generally speaking. It’s very likely that he is trying to give his personal story (and career) a new lease of life by recovering his shameful past with this new perspective on sexual identity based on inclusiveness. His wife was actually stressing this point during the show, saying that all people can be confused sometimes, everyone is struggling with some part of themselves, etc. She was doing mainly the same thing as him, trying to make sexual identity a relative concept, which is not.
    Empirical studies have shown that heterosexual men have erections for women, while homosexual men have erections for men — that is a fact which is reflected in most participants’ declared sexual identity. I don’t think that sexual arousal can be effectively learned or unlearned. Whether or not one considers science to have the last word on sexual identity, these are the facts. I’m sure some can even go so far to say that sexual arousal in men has nothing to do with their identity, but science is only looking for objective measures that can provide predictions, not for stretching its own findings according to changes in the general culture.

  16. I once had a friend that said that when it came down to it, humanity as a whole did not have a sexual identity. That heterosexuality and homosexuality did not in fact exist. That the closest it came to a label would be bi sexuality. Part of the human experience is sexuality. We are sexual by nature and by putting labels on ourselves we are boxing in what would otherwise come naturally. It is arguable that society it self has put the pressure to choose one gender over another. That part of society stemming from the church. Arguable the “bible” is what degrades homosexuality because it does not promote the churches need to reproduce to make more little churchlings.

  17. I will stop here Eddy to agree with you that it doesn’t necessarily need to be in a box before we can talk about it!!!! 🙂 Obviously, the lack of “appropriate” boxes hasn’t stopped the talking though

  18. Good points. Ted Haggard isn’t attacking psychology; he’s simply going through a very personal struggle and, after considering all the labels people were offering him, he rejected them saying they don’t fit.
    It sounds as if he’s even rejected the label ‘heterosexual’…so he’s not trying to be dishonest. Many don’t like the label ‘ex-gay’–and I’m quite sure Ted would reject that label too–but why must we put it in a box before we can talk about it? Why can’t Ted go without a sexual-identify label?

  19. Okay. I have no idea what this site is other than a friend showing it to me. I have not paid much attention to this, however I got sucked in at the whole psychology is man made argument.
    This in itself starts to argue along the lines of Scientology which argues that psychology does not exist. This in itself frightens me to a level I cannot divulge on this.
    Jayhuck makes a valid point that I think is being overlooked. The bible was in fact written by man. Even more so, it was translated by british monks whom at the time were the only form of law over the masses through the church. The bible was written (translated from various other forms) to serve as law. So, one would see how this would have been written to suit the wants of those in power at the time and adapted over the years for the same purpose. Those that were afraid of sodomy merely because of what it might mean if they practiced it. People forget when they don’t study history what would happen to those that practiced homosexuality. And this was only because of fear populated by those in power (ie. the church)
    So, to say that psychology is man made (when anyone who has studied medicine would know to be inaccurate) and not consider the fact that the bible (a form of literature) is man made (please explain how it is not) is deluding them self. Study history my friends. It teaches more than we can possibly imagine.

  20. No – Eddy- I’m trying to say I’m good with this – sort of excited with the idea – just respect the labels I want to use for myself, k? 😉 I’m making a list of them now

  21. more correctly–you may have issues with it but don’t tell me what I can’t use.
    I don’t tell you not to use psychology; I try to say don’t push it too far. The issue of mutual respect is key.

  22. Oh yeah he has the right to do whatever he wants – but you can’t use the argument that psychology is man made when the Bible was also – that’s all 🙂

  23. Doesn’t change the main point that he has chosen to live a life where his religious beliefs take precedence over psychological ones. He’s living by what he believes not by what you believe. Does he have the right to? It’s really that simple.

  24. Um sorry Eddy, but man also created the Bible 🙂 We can go on an on about divine inspiration and what that means, but men still wrote it 😉

  25. Let’s not forget also, that due to his evangelical background, he views psychology as a tool of man not his master. Man created psychology; psychology didn’t create man. So let’s not ignore that Ted feels more inclined to line himself with the view his Creator has for him. When psychology’s terms don’t match with God’s, Ted will choose God’s.

  26. We cannot, however, ignore Ted’s upbringing, his evangelical background, and the disdain that brings for terms like gay or bisexual – to do so would be negligent on our part

  27. The crux of the problem here Eddy is in the question: when do we stop entertaining people’s desires and whims for a certain label, and when do we start practicing science? That is not a question I can answer – because labels are not precise – they also are fraught with problems and imprecise definitions – but they STILL serve a purpose. So if we let people call themselves whatever they want on their own time – well, I suppose that’s one thing – when we actually try to bring science into the equation, I think that’s another matter-

  28. Rejecting being labeled is as old as – well, perhaps, labels themselves – the problem is labels serve a purpose. Of course its easier to let everyone decide how they want to be labeled Eddy – btw, I have several labels I want to apply to myself – lets make them so shall we? 😉

  29. I think it’s more interesting that you can’t accept that he rejects being labeled. After all, it is his life isn’t it? He’s living it. He knows its nuances. I get it that labelling things seems to be a very big part of psychology; conversely, self-identity is a very big part of the Christian experience. So, when you’re talking, feel free to call it your way–and acknowledge that it’s your way. And, when he’s talking, let’s give him the freedom to call it his way–and acknowledge that.

  30. Eddy,
    Sorry – bisexual fits pretty darn well – its interesting he can’t accept that label and instead decides to come up with one of his own – hetero-flexible, or some such nonsense – LOL 🙂

  31. …an indictment of homophobia.

    And homophobia is not that simple a matter either 😉 thanks Dave 🙂

  32. David,
    1, wondering if you’re thinking that ‘gang rape, mob rape, using sex to intimidate and control and subjugate” is a more accurate focus of the Sodom/Gomorrah story. (Aside: I think it’s disgusting that he offered them his daughters in place of the angels)
    2, not sure fundamentalism and literalism are as much the concern as the sad fact that natural unregenerated people like to have a group to pick on or put down, just like the kids on the playground calling other kids names AND that it’s undeniable that the image of God is both male (authority, respect) and female (power, love) and it’s about glorifying God’s male and female image, and that there’s something about men having sex with men being a picture of /glorifying a God coming into Himself rather than God coming into us (Christ the groom and Christ the bride, instead of Christ the groom and Church the bride, etc.)

  33. @ Mary,
    The movement to normalize and support the presence of practicing Christians who struggle with SSA as full members of the Church.
    A church full of all kinds of sinners, serving and belonging…A truly Christian kind of Diversity.

  34. @Jayhuck,
    Glad to help.
    “…an indictment of homophobia.”
    Not that simple, if truth be told. People struggling with sensations in a context of culture and values and personal goals all constrain on the “free expression of homosexuality.”
    Labelling that constraint as homophobia is beyond simplistic.
    “Brokeback Mountain” is culture, contrived, and hardly science and probably a poor representation of human experience.

  35. To Restate Two Questions to the Blog:
    Can we reteach the story of Sodom and Gomorrah so that the homosexual distortion is no longer the focus?
    Has fundamentalism and literalism so emphasized our interpretation of scripture that this story has been terribly simplified and in so doing, intimidated members of the church with SSA into silence?

  36. David,
    When you talk about TH doing nothing for the movement – exactly, what movement are you talking about?

  37. Jayhuck–
    I’m unclear as to the origin of the quotes re Haggard. You mentioned that a friend ‘culled this from an HBO special’…are the quotes from the special? Or are they his, or another reviewer’s, take on the special?
    If it’s actually from the special, then HBO has already stated their conclusion. If it’s from a review, it would help to know who the speaker was and if they had access to the entire video or if they were instead reacting based on what they’d heard about it.
    Haggard spoke to the reviewer’s conclusion in his talk with Oprah. He revealed he got lots of advice-filled letters from both sides all wanting to squish him into a pre-labeled box they had handy. But none of the pre-made boxes fit!!!

  38. Thank you David – there are many incidences of ADDICTION found in heterosexual relationships, yet we do not look to the orientation there to explain the problem – in the same way we shouldn’t look to the orientation in SSA relationships to explain addiction either.

  39. A friend of mine culled this from an HBO special to be done on the Haggard Family – I enjoyed parts of this description and like I’m sure others on here will, I took exception to a few things – anyway, here it is:

    The Trials of Ted Haggard” is a strange, disturbing, imperfect but in the
    end heartbreaking little film that may wind up being the most powerful
    indictment of homophobia since “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s not so much a
    documentary as it is a series of encounters with a man struggling to hold
    on to two mutually destructive identities: an evangelical who is not
    exclusively heterosexual. That he cannot let go of the latter and will not
    let go of the former makes him a tragic embodiment of the still-raging war
    between sexuality and religion.

  40. Mary,
    I agree with you. It is much more than just saying “stop being gay” or “stop sinning” at least in the sense that if one feels they are SSA and is looked at as a sinner for simply having those feelings. The feelings must be replaced with a sense of fellowship or a sense of belonging to the greater community, without focusing ones total identity on their SSA. It is like TH said, he is much more than his SSA and it is the other parts of oneself that need to be gotten in touch with, encouraged, and reinforced.
    I do not look at addictive in the pathological sense, we are all prone to one form of addictive behavior or another as a way to cope with the craziness of this crazy world. For some this addictive nature (or sinful nature) has the potential to cause more damage in our lives than for others or may be carried to a greater extreme in some than in others.

  41. There are those who see their identity as associated with their SSA who would be offended by the pathology implied in the term “addictive.”
    Why doesn’t Exodus have a more powerful voice than TH? Really, who cares about TH and what has he really done, over the long haul, for the movement?
    Can we reteach the story of Sodom and Gomorrah so that the homosexual distortion is no longer the focus?
    Has fundamentalism and literalism so emphasized our interpretation of scripture that this story has been terribly simplified and in so doing, intimidated members of the church with SSA into silence?

  42. Concerned,
    Agreed that any behavior, likes, dislikes can have addictive qualities. My words were not to be over stressed and really taken in the simplist form. A drug addict really needs drugs to avoid severe physical pain. Withdrawals are obvious, physical and once completed – completed.
    SSA is not always an addictive activity. For some men and women it CAN be addictive. The constant obsession, the need to have sex frequently to the point where it intereferes with the ability to work or keep other relationships etc…
    I was trying to stress that people with SSA need more understanding than “Just say ‘No”” to SSA. And that it is different than other kinds of sins in it’s qualities. It’s not a switch, or as simple as a moral decision. People with SSA have other emotional and attachment needs that are unique and rarely understood by those within the church. The church it seems has a desire for others to hurry up and stop being gay. That’s unrealistic.

  43. Mary,
    In so many ways once one acts on SSA feelings the behaviour can become exactly like drug addiction or alcoholism or any other form of addictive behavior. The only difference is that the chemical component of the addiction is in ones head in the form of dopamines and endorphines that often come from the experience of doing something that the person feels they should not be doing. In so many ways the excitement of the rebellion can be the most addictive experience one can have. Personally, I think this is what TH got caught up in, but if he continues on this very public path it will likely get him again.

  44. Well, on one hand, TH gets help and so does the victim. But the victim is legally bound to silence? And TH is not and profits from public exposure? That is an inequitable situation for the victim. Grant has more to overcome than just an incident (especially at a pastors indiscretion)
    I do value TH’s willingness to speak openly, honestly. It is something that the conservative church needs to hear. That there are people in the pews who are suffering and you cannot make a man/woman with SSA act or feel in a certain way because it makes you feel better. The church fails greatly when it comes to understanding sexuality. While I am not adovcating that homosexuality be treated as non sinful, I am advocating that as a sin it has it’s own unique characteristics. And it is important to come to terms with those. I find all too often that others want to wash over the unique qualities of SSA and call it just a sin. While it is in the churches eyes (equal and of no greater or lesser value – or at least should be) of other sins, to meet the challenges it presents with, we need more in depth and honest understanding of what is happening in the lives, thoughts, emotions of those with SSA. It is not the same as being a drug addict or thief.

  45. TH should get his life together in private…please.

    If he did that, he would have been much more credible.
    But he wants the limelight.

  46. Thanks Mary,
    Our culture is so flawed that it make “confession and repentance” an act of heroism. I think this is because we place so much value on our public persona that when we wound it by our own hand, the world groans and hopes for the rehabilitation of that public persona.
    Who gives a %$#@ about all of that.
    Grant deserves our support and compassion. TH should get his life together in private…please.

  47. I feel very sorry for the victim “Grant’ . The terms of these kinds of settlements should never be silence. If TH is allowed to go on talk shows, news shows etc… recieve compensation for his story etc… then the victim should have very right to defend in the public arena the EXACT recount of this man. All is rarely forgiven. The trauma to the surviving victim lingers for years or a lifetime. That some of the public applauds TH or boo’s him (either way) he is an audience grabber and is being compensated for that (I assume) That’s a lot of compensation for some really bad behavior that has left another in such emotional peril. Honestly, anything TH recieves in this regard – a percentage can go to his victims. JMO.

  48. @ Eddy,
    But not good…
    And the pressure on the other guy…to deal with it truthfully. He is a whistle-blower of a sort in the Christian community.
    We don’t need to prematurely praise the deceptive and disjointed leaders in order to protect Christianity.
    We only need to welcome the weary and the heavy laden….we don’t need leaders to do that.

  49. David–
    LOL. And thanks for pointing out that there were two different, very similar threads. I thought this one was that one…with the YouTube thrown in. I was commenting there and suddenly nothing would respond. I had to ‘Task Manager’ my way out and then didn’t get back to rewriting.
    I’m thinking that there was legitimate reason for not disclosing that to the public. Adding insult to injury for the victim. Even without the mention of a name, it could be figured out. So it was considered dealt with on all the appropriate levels. Not a conclusion…just a best guess.

  50. I wished they would have commented on the “I’m a loser” segment of the docu mentary. I’d like to know where that fits in his timeline. That experience of inner knowing…that God sought him despite his unrighteousness should have precluded the “I’m a loser” statement if it happened first. I’m hoping that since the Oprah interview is current and the documentary filming likely ceased a while back…that the inner knowing experience happened sometime after the “I’m a loser” statement was made. He sounds healthy. He sounds like he’s learned a few things.
    I appreciated his candor, even about things that make people roll their eyes. Speaking frankly of his belief in the possibility of demonic influence. It indicates he wasn’t trying to totally suck up.
    I appreciated the tone of the interview. If only we could learn to disagree here more respectfully–like Oprah and Gayle did?
    The bit about the different mail he got…I liked that. It helped to illustrate his position. Some were saying: say you’re heterosexual. Others were saying: say you’re homosexual. He felt like {excuse me, can we say it class?}…he felt like everybody was offering him a neatly labeled box that wasn’t a good fit.
    He’s clearly got a minister’s heart but I think it would be wise for him to proceed slowly. (If the “I’m a loser” statement came after the inner knowing, he ought not to proceed at all! That puppy has got to be reckoned with. You can’t give out emotional and spiritual strength if you barely have enough for yourself.
    Warren: Have you thought of contacting him? I think that just reading the SIT Guidelines would be a help and encouragement to him. Sometimes it’s enough just knowing there are people who understand and who don’t think you’re crazy.
    ALMOST!!!! Finger in the ‘Submit’ position and –remembered the ‘subscribe’. As usual, it was off the bottom of my page.

  51. I posted this earlier and am afraid it will be overlooked since there is a newer post on the same topic.
    From the site:
    After this show was taped, a former church volunteer, identified as “Grant,” leveled new allegations against Ted. Grant accuses Ted of performing a sex act in his presence and sending explicit text messages in 2006.
    Ted responds, writing: “Oprah, I did not reveal the relationship on your show out of privacy concerns—even though there was never any physical contact. I have regretted my irresponsible behavior. I apologized to Grant, my family and the church two years ago. I now ask him again for his forgiveness as well as the people of the church.”

  52. It takes some courage to do what he did, go to a wide-audience show and come out clean with his past. It’s also impressive how supportive his wife is after all the cheating she put up with. The part about defining himself without denying himself is the most interesting one. He insists on not being thrown into one box. However, behaviourally he cheated his wife only with men, which puts him into a category, whether he wants it or not. He speaks about not denying a part of his personality, not viewing it as a disease or a demon, but he only engaged in homosexual acts in that now undenied area. He didn’t cheat his wife with other women (too), which would have lent some credibility to his claim to ‘complex sexual identity.’
    Secondly, he seems to enjoy a lot being in the public eye. It’s possible that this is his primary motivation. He may try to capitalise on the Obama tide-turning moment, to use it as a springboard for his own rehabilitation, including pecuniary.

  53. I really enjoy his honesty. I know people want us all to say that we are gay but like he said you cannot be named something by someone else to satisfy their need to put you into a category and not embarrass them anymore, or to serve another person’s goals.

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