Forgiveness in Colorado

You may have heard a few months ago about Ted Haggard, the Colorado mega-church pastor who was found to be using drugs and visiting with a male prostitute named Mike Jones. At first he denied knowing Jones. When some taped phone calls turned up, Haggard admitted knowing Jones but denied any drug use or sex. Eventually he confessed to immoral conduct and left his church. It's not entirely clear if he resigned or was fired.

The Haggard story got a lot of media coverage at the time because it was seen as hypocrisy. He had been a vocal opponent of gay marriage and was also a strong Bush supporter. All the news came out right before the November 2006 mid-term elections and quickly became a political issue. Haggard is now is counseling and out of the headlines. This week, however, the name came up in an unexpected way.

David Kuo reports in his blog that last Sunday Mike Jones, the male prostitute who outed Haggard, showed up at Haggard's church. How was he greeted? You might have expected some hostility, right? The church members clearly loved Ted Haggard and were crushed by the whole situation. It would be easy to lash out at the person whom they may think led their pastor into such a dark place.

In fact, Jones was greeted warmly by the church members. According to Kuo, Jones said that several people came up to him and said "God bless you." The associate pastor sought out Jones and told him "I believe God used you to correct us, and I appreciate that."

I really wonder what made Jones go to church that day. Did he expect to be attacked? Was someone maybe using him in an attempt to make the church look bad? Was he looking for some kind of reconciliation? I don't know. People go to church for all kinds of reasons. I think it is fair to say, however, that most gay prostitutes do not expect to be welcomed in conservative churches.

That's wrong. Christ taught us to hate sin but love sinners. We are all sinners in our own ways. Every now and then I see a bumper sticker that says "Christians aren't perfect - they're just forgiven." Unfortunately some Christians like to pretend they are perfect, and as a result people who need God the most are afraid to enter his house.

By welcoming Mike Jones, the people of New Life Church passed a test. Hopefully they will use the door he opened to continue helping him - by lovingly demonstrating how life with God can be so much better than the way he lives now.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post and terrific example of forgiveness. It would be neat to know why Mike Jones did show up at the church. We can only surmise. I like you blog, btw! Best regards.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, that anti-gay counseling works wonders. I went in as a black lesbian and after only 4 weeks came out a white hetero male! Amazing! I recommend it to anyone that lives the sinful and heinous life of a fag or dyke.

anjo said...

I still think that the church members are a bunch of hypocrites. If their pastor were not exposed they would still be holier than thou and spewing hate and venom against minorities specifically gays and lesbians ( since it is not kosher anymore to denigrate blacks, jews or women or gypsies in this day and age).

Oh ! FOR GOD'S SAKE GET OFF THE SEXUALITY BIT ALL YOU HYPOCRITE CHRISTIANS... who cares if the man is gay ,straight, bi or trisexual... just look at the world, poverty, war, environmental disaster, greed, hate , violence and this bunch of dodos are singing halleluja in their air conditioned church agonizing over one man's they even give a damn about millions of children going to bed hungry and millions more dying from lack of proper running water and basic nutrition? Do they care about how humans are abusing the earth and wantonly killing and abusing all the other creatures that God put on earth...they should be ashame of themselves driving to their stupid church in their plush SUV's ,dressed in their sunday fineries ...their children playing with toys probably made by slave labour in some 3rd world countries while they imagine they will go to heaven singing psalms and acting pious on Sunday and worrying about Ted Haggards sex life haaaaah

Anjo do Mundo
angel of the world
a citizen of the Cosmos

Patrick said...

Anjo, thank you for your comment. It sounds like you may have had a bad experience with some Christians. If so, I hope you will try to recognize that their actions reflect only on themselves. To assume all are the same in this regard is simply prejudice of a different kind.

I am not aware of any examples of Ted Haggard's church "spewing hatred and venom" against gays or any other minority groups. Their services are televised so it would be hard to keep secret if so. If you have evidence to the contrary, please share it with us.

As for the sick and hungry, there are too many of them in this world. Christians of all types work to help the poor in many ways. Ever heard of Mother Teresa? Salvation Army? Oxfam? Why are so many hospitals named after saints? Who built the first orphanages? What groups were helping people in New Orleans while FEMA was still unable to get its act together? To say that Christians don't care about the needy is simply not right. Could we do more? Yes, but we are at least doing something. What about you?

Again, Anjo, I'm sorry you have these feelings of bitterness. They aren't necessary. Christ can heal your pain, if you only ask. I will pray for you.