I listened to part of the letter that the Rev. Ted Haggard sent last Sunday to his congregation confessing his violation of what he and his church believed. He spoke of a life-strong struggle with what he called a dark and repulsive side of his nature. The man poured out his heart in sorrow and shame. It was heart-breaking to hear, Members of his congregation expressed their deep shock and grief but offered to forgive him.
What I did not hear anybody say was that he was the victim of an oppressive culture and an oppressive religion that would not allow him to be the person he actually was. Therein lies the deepest tragedy of all. He was forced into a life of conflict and struggle, that eventually lead to deception and finally exposure. All this suffering was the result of bad religion in a prejudiced culture. The answer is not simply in forgiveness and reconciliation but more deeply in liberation from false and destructive ways of thinking about sexuality.