Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Overview: Three Posts Coming

[Crossposted from Street Prophets]

Ted Haggard's fall has been fascinating. It has rightfully called up many questions of orientation, marriage, sex, obsession, obedience, works, grace, mercy, and unfounded faith in other human beings. All the more so for me perhaps because I am a sexual addict and understand daily that struggle against "part[s] of my life that [are] repulsive and dark".

Some of the comments at Street Prophets have been good, bad and ugly - and some have succeeded in including all three. Last Saturday I was certain I was going to discuss (1) the Biblical view of marriage between followers of Christ. I promised to do so in response to these two comments: this one:

Here's the deal, JCH : No, I don't think that because someone went into a marriage with illusions means they can suddenly decide to negate the union when cold hard reality hits them.

If anyone could have bailed for that reason, it should have been me when Dana came down with cancer. I was 6 years older than him and had had HIV for 10 years longer than him when we met, and my expectations were 1) newer medications would get us through and 2) I'd be the first to go.

Didn't work out that way, yet I STUCK TO MY COMMITMENT.

But cancer, and his f....d up family, and our illusions were externals.

The internals are that our relationship was founded on the TRUTH about ourselves. Both gay men, both desiring monogamy, both HIV+ - and some other details that are not relevant here.

Externals will always change, that's the nature of existence, but some internals never will (in a given lifetime), and we must make peace with them, or live our entire lives in vain, in service to lies and denial. It is highly unlikely that exclusive orientation (hetero OR homo, and not to be confused with acts) will change in the course of one's life, though it is possible to pretend otherwise and lie convincingly to oneself and others. (I'm intentionally leaving the inherent ambiguity of bisexuality out of this discussion).

Haggard took a vow in direct and irreconcilable conflict with the truth of his internal nature. His relationship with his wife was, is and will forever be a LIE. I flatly refuse to believe that God holds ANY vow so sacrosanct that it cannot be broken when predicated on falsehood, especially SELF-deception. If you honestly believe God does, then I want no part of that God, because He values Appearance over Truth, something Jesus repeatedly preached against.

The only thing I will say at the moment is that I want to examine this definition of internal and external - I do not agree. Wolfie's love, integrity, and unwillingness to abandon Dana were all, of course, internals. The contrast in this week was my pastor talking about a follower of Christ who divorced his wife because she got a double mastectomy after her breast cancer. The other comment in the same thread was this:
"He gave her title to his sex life"?

Oh really?

I'm a former lawyer. I have some idea of what "title" means in a legal way. And I can tell you that the average 22 year old (that's how old Haggard was when he got married) had no idea of what "legal title" was, nor did Gayle Haggard know what she was getting.

I've never seen this kind of thing expressed in the Bible. I think you're reading the American property owning system back on to your belief that marriage is basically sacrosanct, hard to break up except in cases of adultery, that sort of thing. I don't think this is fair to married people to do that.

I did give the scripture in that thread; but the question I probably will never be able to look at is: Did Gayle Haggard know? My wife knows more about the adultery that broke up my first marriage than my first wife knew; knows that I had homosexual lovers before that (both of these the day I proposed); and knows I now struggle with pornography (something I never had problems with before 4 years ago). Why assume Ted Haggard has not, in the past, opened up these struggles to his wife? Do you think she wouldn't have married him and had 5 of his children if she knew? And, are you sure his homosexual desires pre-dated his marriage to Gayle? Of course, some of this is wrapped up in the next coming post.

After Haggard's public confession, I was certain that I was going to discuss (2) my sexual addict's view of what Haggard said. I believe at the moment this will develop as a counter-point to "Ted Haggard Embraces More Lies, Continues 'repulsive and dark' Path"; and will probably mostly center around:

I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life.

For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.

Through the years, I've sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn't want to hurt or disappoint them.

The public person I was wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe. -- Ted Haggard

These statements have so much truth in them about what I and other sex addicts who are followers of Christ experience that I cannot let the other post stand as an explanation of this situation. I am also sorry that this part of Haggard's statement was not included in the other post
Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and, actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his action will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn't violate you; I did.
This all impacts the third coming post.

The last topic floating around in my head is the concept of early orientations (general) [this post isn't going to happen - the other two sucked the life out of it]; whether we can assume God made us that way; and, in the case of Ted Haggard and myself, whether it is acceptable that we have been led by the Holy Spirit to see our orientations as "repulsive and dark" even though others see their similar orientations as "God-given". If I see my orientations from earliest childhood - that oppose scripture - as coming from "the world, the flesh, or the devil" (and not from God), then am I "living a lie", or am I "self-loathing", if I choose to carry on an ongoing struggle with things that are part of my basic personality which I believe are wrong. Also, more deeply, shouldn't followers of Christ, to some degree, loathe their "self" if it conflicts with the revelation of God, either through scripture or the Holy Spirit? As Paul said:

Romans 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
and the triumphant answer in the next chapter [pardon the long quote - I just couldn't find the place to cut this passage off]:
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I am going to leave this here with just the pre-knowledge to y'all that I will be posting on the three topics above between today and tomorrow; and invite you, in comments to this post, to give me some insight into what you see in these three questions - because, frankly, I am not, especially on the topic #2 and #3, sure what I am actually going to write today and tomorrow.

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly