Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ted Haggard's open letter to his home church answers much, but not all

This letter from Ted Haggard was released to his New Life Church family this morning. The below copy is typed in by me from a fax copy, so any errors of spelling or typing are likely mine rather than Ted Haggard's. I offer it without commentary, except to say it is moving, honest to a degree unusual in these sorts of cases, yet does not answer what exactly it is he is confessing to. (Having five children who such information couldn't help but impact may have something to do with that decision at present.) I trust those questions will be answered in the near future. Ted Haggard indicates there has been a long-term problem with sexual sin, which may involve additional revelations. That also one expects will be explained in time, and would I hope kindle a deeper, more intense conversation among evangelical on how to create both transparency and accountability.

The letter (again, with potential errors due to my typing):

--


November 5, 2006

My Dear New Life Church Family,

I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.

I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.

I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart's condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.

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.

The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church's overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.

I created this entire situation. The things that I did opened the door for additional allegations. But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on their relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It was created 100% by me.

I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance--I consider that confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.

I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things.

  1. Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.
  2. Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused all this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.
  3. 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 actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn't violate you; I did.
  4. Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God's faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I've created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.
Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I'm sorry I've created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.

Ted Haggard

17 comments:

Wendi said...

Personally, I wish Ted would receive help from someone who deals with sexual gender issues specifically as he seems like a tormented man who has been struggling for years with these issues. I understand the two natures that war within the Christian, just read Romans 7. My prayers are with Ted, Gayle and children.

Koelpien said...

While I don't know much about Ted, I do find it curious as to the timing of these revelations.

Can the downfall of this man who is a semi-major figure in the hot-button culture wars, a week before a (hopefully) seismic election shift, be purely coincidental?
Almost as much as a coincidence as the sentencing of Saddam three days before our election.

Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Trott, I know you got to be too smart to buy this. "The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry." PURE BS, man. The accusations made were that he was doing meth and having sex with the hooker, he did both of those things, why is he trying to split hair? He's still a liar, nothing has changed. When are you christians going to start cleaning up your own houses and stop buying this garbage? Just wait till the parade of gay hookers comes out on him, and they are coming, trust me, more are coming forward.

Jon Trott said...

anonymous...

Yep, there is likely a lot more "ugly" we're going to see. Ted Haggard has hinted that this sin has at least sporadically been going on for a very long time. So sure, maybe there are more gay prostitutes... or straight ones? Same with drug use... maybe he's even addicted. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that porn addiction is behind all of this. All that said, true compassion (not "let's just forgive and forget") does dictate for Christians that we give repentance and healing for him a chance... just as we would want it given to us.

Jon Trott said...

Kolpien,

The timing of the revelation re Ted Haggard was not coincidental, but neither was it a conspiracy (as one very well known evangelical darkly hinted early on). Mike Jones, the former prostitute who Ted apparently both had sex and bought drugs from, said he intentionally revealed it right before the election due to Haggard's involvement with the anti-gay marriage bill on Colorado's ballots. (I'm paraphrasing his exact reasons.) But unfortunately I thought Mr. Jones' most salient point was his best: That Ted Haggard in campaigning for an anti-gay bill while indulging in homosexual sex was being a hypocrite. "And that's not right," he summarized.

As far as Saddam's sentencing... do you really think that will make a difference one way or the other? I sense President Bush hopes it will. Somehow, I don't think so. Now if we suddenly were to produce Osama bin Laden, well... THAT would smell to high heaven like conspiracy to me.

Anonymous said...

"The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry." There were two accusations against him. Meth use and gay sex. BOTH ARE TRUE. This is a Swaggart style apology he has made, and his letter today is filled with a lie ^ see the first sentence .. he's still lying! He tried to lie his way out when the story broke and he's lying now, this time, to his congregation. He did meth and he had gay sex, period. Trott I'm disappointed, you were my hero with Mike Warnke story, I was hoping for something more juicy from you. ;-D take care, man.

Anonymous said...

http://www.harpers.org/SoldiersOfChrist-20061103288348488.html

"He was always on the lookout for spies. At the time, Colorado Springs was a small city split between the Air Force and the New Age, and the latter, Pastor Ted believed, worked for the devil. Pastor Ted soon began upsetting the devil's plans. He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church; his whole congregation pitched itself into invisible battles with demonic forces, sometimes in front of public buildings. One day, while he was working in his garage, a woman who said she'd been sent by a witches' coven tried to stab Pastor Ted with a five-inch knife she pulled from a leg sheath; Pastor Ted wrestled the blade out of her hand. He let that story get around. He called the evil forces that dominated Colorado Springs—and every other metropolitan area in the country—“Control.”"

Jon Trott said...

Anonymous, you kill me. I ain't gonna trash the guy when he's down, the facts are partially out and very sure to emerge fully (truth works that way). But I will grab onto the theme of that quote: "He called the evil forces that dominated Colorado Springs—and every other metropolitan area in the country—'Control.'"

Ted's ideas on spiritual warfare (also reflected in the "Jesus Camp" movie and his appearance there) are deficient in my opinion. He, like many evangelicals teaching on the topic, tended (tends?) to place evil outside the camp. In reality, as even the most cursory reading of Scripture shows, the battle between good and evil has its epicenter within the Church, or at least its focal point there.

To think our main purpose is to battle homosexaulity, fight drugs, or (closer to home for me and my liberal leanings) agitate for more low-income housing, is to take our eye off the ball (like the Bears did yesterday!). The inner war is the first war, the war that takes place inside me today. Will I set aside the sins that so easily entangle me and run a good race, *part* of which is to also love my neighbor? Or will I fight enemies "out there" while being trashed by the ones in my own psyche?

That is a very painful reality that I think Ted's current situation underscores.

chris said...

"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."

This section reveals a man who knows he has a "problem" it doesn't show a sense of powerlessness. In other words, he's saying "I was caught and I confess it's a problem I need help with."
A problem is a surmountable obstacle that demands only a solution. A car that won't start is a problem.

A history of sexual unfaithfulness reveals a life out of control! While addicts can only really be self-diagnosed, Ted needs to give up on all the "sometimes I walked in victory" and "the public person I was wasn't a lie; it was just incomplete" verbage and learn from the myriad of recovering persons who freely confess total Powerlessness!

Anonymous said...

"One day, while he was working in his garage, a woman who said she'd been sent by a witches' coven tried to stab Pastor Ted with a five-inch knife she pulled from a leg sheath; Pastor Ted wrestled the blade out of her hand. He let that story get around. He called the evil forces that dominated Colorado Springs—and every other metropolitan area in the country—“Control.”"" ------
That's shades of Warnke, Trott, shades of Warnke. Pastor Ted made up that story about the "evil witches" attacking him, where is the police report? This guy's entire ministry is built on lies.

Pastor Z said...

That's pretty heavy.

I give him credit for finally coming clean and though I really don't know anything about him or his ministry outside what's been published in the papers these last few days, I will join with others in praying for him and his family.

It's a humble reminder that we all walk a razor's edge and that we should be honest about our weaknesses and temptations. There is NO saint who is without sin, save for Jesus Christ the very Son of God.

Wendi said...

Coming from a Pastor's family that was almost yearly ripped apart by our father's chronic sexual sins and emotional manipulations I believe I can speak from experience. We moved so many times to escape the heat of his bad behavior, on to the next unsuspecting church! Finally, my mother was able to let go and live after 23 years of his "sin and repentance" cycles. (In those days Christian women DID NOT divorce.)
Recovery only favors the honest, humble and tenacious. My father was none of these and ended up killing himself a few years ago. Such a waste! Such a misery! I only prayer that Gayle and the children do not have to go through this same "sin/repentance" cycle too many times. Ted's lack of straight shooting honesty does not bode well and I only prayer he can put his pride and his former position aside to receive correction and true healing.

InversionLR said...

I had never heard of this man before this storybroke. All of us, myself included, struggle with issues that could undermine our ability to be a reflection of God's power in our world. The impressive thing about this issue is the godly and humble way the leadership of this church have pursued Ted with restoration as their focus, not vindication. In many situations church leadership trys to spin the event and distance itself from this process. I am praying for Ted and his family. Maybe God can use this honesty and transparency to bring the discussion about sexual additction in the church beyond the guilt and shame many of us feel - moving it into a healthy, grace filled arena thereby debunking some of the powerful nature of this crippling sin.

Lainie Petersen said...

Great. This article claims that religious right leaders such as Lou Shelton "knew" about Haggard's behavior, but " . . .weren't sure how to deal with it."

This is not helpful. How many other "leaders" are one press conference away from being exposed?

Eric Pement said...

I have read and heard a lot about this story, but Jon, your site is the first and only web site I know of to print the full text of Ted's letter of repentance to his congregation.

Maybe I wasn't looking hard enough, and it's probably in other places, too. But for me, I had never seen this before. Reading all that Ted had to say is a "plus" for me, and although it didn't answer all the details, it provided some additional background that I found helpful. Thanks for the post.

Jon Trott said...

Lainie, thanks for that link. I have used it as the basis for a new blog entry.

PD said...

Amazing how sin can hurt so much yet can be so forgiven. I thank God that his grace and mercy is everlasting for Ted, his family, and all of us. I was grateful to see the grace displayed by the church yet the expediency with how they dealt with it. And oh the lessons for all of us. None of us are above sin, all of us need Jesus and His love, and I'd rather preach his love and grace then against the vices of this culture. I'd rather give the answer for the pain then fight against those causing it. Yet still - its amazing to see how God's grace extends to us all. Oh how he loves you and me...
I pray for Ted and his family - may you be truly healed and experience God's forgiving and cleansing power.
Pastor Dan
Brooklyn, MI