The allegations against Ted Haggard make my heart sick. But there is an irreducible complexity to the Kingdom of God that puts everything into perspective–the last shall be first, the lost shall be found, the mighty will be tumbled, the meek will inherit the earth, everything meant for harm will ultimately be used for good, the tomb is empty.
The allegations against Haggard have our airwaves and newspapers and the Internet atwitter–the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, a staunch advocate of conservative political values, a White House political ally on the religious right in a homosexual affair with a gay prostitute? Is it a “November surprise” and part of a media conspiracy to hurt Republicans? Will it depress evangelical turnout on Tuesday? What will the White House say? How about other religious conservative leaders? Has the hypocrisy of Christians like him finally been exposed?
Who cares? Screw politics. This is about something far more important than an election that history will not remember. This is about the eternal and the spiritual. This is about the Jesus every Christian is to love more than breath.
Jesus’ earthly representatives have a long history of blowing it. First, there is Peter…and then every other disciple follows his lead. From then until now we have all been pretty poor representatives of Jesus. (There are some notable exceptions to the contrary. But that is why they tend to be called saints or heroes of the faith. Gandhi famously said that were it not for the actions of Christians, he might have been one himself.)
Ted Haggard may or may not be an exception, no matter what the news brings in the coming hours. But since he has spent so much time lately focusing on politics, his private sins may further involve Jesus in matters that Jesus might well have wanted to avoid.
Certainly, if this is a made-up attack, Christian political leaders will be decrying how the media aided and abetted a homosexual’s attempt to suppress the evangelical vote, and they’ll be exhorting Christians everywhere to send a message by voting like never before. Then again, if the allegations–or any part of them–are true, then Democratic strategists will be talking about Christian hypocrisy (again) and knowing they won’t have to say too much at all, because Christians will just stay home from the polls.
But so long as the conversation remains a political conversation, Jesus loses.
In the coming days and weeks, every true follower of Jesus should strive to remember one thing: that their primary purpose is the Gospel. No one, I think, would agree to this more than Ted Haggard. It is, after all, his life’s message.