Does Pastor Ted need to meet Father Ted?

I am writing about the latest high profile evangelical to be caught with his pants down, a powerful American with links to the White house. Pastor Ted was actively preaching against gay marriage while apparently indulging in gay sex with a male prostitute.

How many times have we witnessed Christians from this tradition struggle to practice what they preach? How many times do they have to live with double standards? Why? Are the standards to high? Perhaps the person just has weak morals and values? Or perhaps the theology is wrong?

Now we all make mistakes – in fact the making of mistakes is one of the best ways of learning. But are we allowed to make mistakes in some theological power houses?

I wonder if the deep rooted theological position of dualism is to blame for this. This position understands things in terms of – black and white; right and wrong,; secular and sacred; in and out; sinner and righteous; saved and unsaved; good and bad etc. This root leaves little space for flaws, mistakes and embracing your shadow. This type of theology encourages a split personality and a lack of authenticity and intimacy. Dualism gives little space for personal development and leaves the individual with little self-awareness and an inability to face the real difficult issues that reside in who we are.

14 thoughts on “Does Pastor Ted need to meet Father Ted?

  1. Inasmuch as dualism is a recognition that there is both good and evil then I don’t think that dualism itself is the problem.

    However, I do wonder if there is a big problem in what we (the church) think good and evil is. It seems to me that we constantly fall into the trap of thinking that good or evil is what we do, when it appears that Jesus said that it is where we are, it is what is inside that is good or evil.

    The essence of evil is to be separated from God, the essence of good is to be united with God. Out of this separation we then do things that can be seen as evil acts, or out of the unity we then do things which can be seen as good acts.

    Our tendency is to think of the acts as being the problem – not what is behind them – and also we tend to have a hierarchy of sinful acts, each more evil than the last. This is rather a big hypocrisy as 1) we think that the evil in us as less than that in others and 2) we think of ourselves as better than others as a result.

    Christ said that it was the internal attitude that was the problem in Matt 5:21-22
    21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.

    This is a change from judging the act to judging the ‘heart’.

    Combine our methods of judgment with church structure and desire for power and I think that you have a scenario that leads to the sad situation of people like Pastor Ted, who was put on a pedestal, maybe liked the power, and supposedly turned out to be worse than the rest of us.

  2. Yes, Mark I totally agree with your thinking.

    I agree it is what is going on within us that counts. I have heard it said that the original sin is dualism / separation – the job of salvation is to make whole, to bring us back together, at one with our self, god, each other and creation. The enemy is not out there but in here. Dualism tries to seperate saying he is good and she is bad where we hold both within us.

    Jesus talks about loving our enemies – often I have enough problems loving myself. But perhaps Jesus was talking about loving the enemy within, the parts of us we don’t like, the parts of us that we have tried to hide and reject. Perhaps culture and the church has encouraged us to hide the real us, our real desires because they are pronounced as sin or unacceptable. Until we are able to embrace our whole selves, our shadow, the bits we hate within ourselves then perhaps those bits still control us. In Psychology terms we like to present our ego to the world the bit that we think looks good – often the real us and the creative energy is locked away in the shadow side – It sounds right that God is more interested in our shadow then our ego.

    “The moment of conversion come when you are no longer able to maintain the image that once contented you� – Simon Parke

  3. the one thing that occurred to me when reading about pastor ted, was, if he had confessed what had happened would that have changed anything. You know we encourage peole to confess things before god, and if they do then how can we be judge and jury ovr them. If we confess, and are truly osrry, god forgives, doesn’t he, that is what Ihave been tought, and what I teach, so if God forgves and is prepared to move on, then where does that leave us as humans.
    As for juding our actions, what is within surely drives what happens without. so if we have God within that hsould drive our actions, but the reality is, and I ma sure hat God knows, and udderstands, is that regardless of how we are with our relationship with God we are sitll human, and will still do things wrong, that god may not like, and htere is no hierarchy or sin in gods eyes I don’t think. so yes, it is easy to condemn others, withut removing thank plank from our own eyes.
    Even as Christians we are so quick to judge others, without actually loving them first, and not actually looking at themselves.
    The balance to this is we do need to be careful about examining ourselves, because I lso don’t beleive in destroying ourselves. When Christians say that aren’t worthy, they talk rubbish, because if they weren’t worthy then Jesus crucifixion was worthless in its actions.

  4. It makes me think that the biggest sad thing about stuff like this is when the close friendships that we really need fail to keep people on course – perhaps because we lack those friendships. What we all need is people we can trust, people close to ourselves, people we can be honest with and not fear rejection or condemnation. It seems clear that Ted had mixed feelings about what he did, he just didn’t have the support to do the right things (whatever they were).

  5. We recently had the discussion “if there is a secular where is it? Where can it be that God is not?” I wonder if the dualism that James raises and Friendship needed that Mark raises are closly linked. I get emails from the guys doing the Lonnie Frisbee film – a story of a hippy preacher. I am struck by the honesty of the sixties hippies and Jesus people and publicness of this, and now we are more in shadow and only honest to those closest (sometimes). Anyway David who made the film said this which echo many of the thought so far “Finally, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to comment on the Ted Haggard situation that parallels some of the issues in the documentary. Besides feeling tremendous compassion for a guy who in obvious turmoil, my thoughts turned to what he said once he came to grips with his sin, that he was a deceiver and a liar.

    I thought about those words since he uttered them, and thought that I might sell t-shirts to try to stem the delusions of adequacy that seem to have overtaken so many Christian circles. Haggard’s words – “I am a deceiver and a liar” – would be in the center, and then underneath in any one of five neon colors, the words “ME TOO” emblazoned in bold lettering. We’d sell dozens, but probably should sell 30 million.

    Don’t kid yourself. That book we claim to follow says we ALL fall short. Nowhere does it say that some miss the mark by a lesser distance.

    Be good, or at least close,

    David Di Sabatino

  6. When I think of these issues I am trying to work with views from a theologically and Psychological perspective which can sometimes get confused – so forgive me if what I say may sound confusing.

    I feel sorry for Ted, sorry that he was unable to be true to himself. But I feel angry that because he is out of touch with his inner self he has caused pain to his wife, children, the gay community, his church and the many who trusted him. At the end of the day he has to take responsibility for himself and the pain he has caused.

    I also still feel that the system is to blame – the entry point into faith systems is often to say a few words (sinners Prayer). It remains a head / rational system – isn’t the Alpha course like this?
    But Jesus entry point seems to be interested in transformation/ change/ repentance / a turning around, which seems to talk about something much deeper including a physical lifestyle change. Jesus challenged the rich man, Zachaues, women at the well and of course the Pharisees and many more, it wasn’t a head thing.
    My sense of a starting point of change in the individual includes the following points
    • ‘Before we can surrender ourselves we must become ourselves, no one can give up what they do not possess’ Thomas Merton
    • The things that convert you are the things you can’t do anything about. The things you can’t change, control or fix.
    • The I am a deceiver and liar is the stating point of a journey – we can only be saved / helped when we are honest with ourselves. We can only be found when we know we are lost, we can only be given sight back when we realise we are blind, we can’t be born again until we die first.
    • Jung’s view was that people should not be given this sort of power in dealing with over people until they were at least 35.
    • Jesus was 30 before he started any public ministry.

  7. One thing that your comment brings up for me James is the issue of dealing something that you believed was wrong (regardless of whether it is wrong or not). Take the drugs that Ted had taken – I think that it is very likely that, as it is illegal, he didn’t think that he was doing the right thing, however, he did not manage to deal with it, in fact he tried to hide the truth. He may have felt the same way about his sexual behaviour too (seeing as he has not been in favour of gay marriage), but I don’t know.

    I do see that we fall short in being supportive of each other – you seem to feel the same way. Ideally Ted should have been able to talk it through with someone and indeed deal with it, but in general we tend to let each other down in that area. We all have problems, we all need help, we tend not to be able to get it, until it is a bit on the late side!

    If we are to be constructive then we have to ensure that we are giving our close friends the support that they need, we need to have the time for them and focus on relationships and not building up our careers, churches etc.

    I like the points you give at the end of your comment James.

  8. I love that Merton quote james. In many ways brings us back to your opening about dualism – Conversion can never be a one off thing, but partof a daily journery. Perhaps dualism is at the root of a conversion theology that dislocates the rest of the faith journey from ongoing journey and the root of the unwillingness to accept that as we understand ourselves and God more our theology becomes less black and white and needs to shift and change as we grow. Even if we have the faith of mustard seed we will need to change.

  9. Mark I agree about the authentic relationships – if we could create transparent safe relationships where we could talk about anything without a sense of being judged or fixed – I’m sure we would develop as more authentic congruent individuals and our communities would also increase in depth, love and compassion.

    Richard, I like the idea about dualist conversion. I was brought up on the old time ‘ark’ theology , as long as you are safe on the ark – life can’t get any better. So salvation becomes an event and not a process, and if you are not on the ark or like me – then you are condemned / bad/ evil / sinner etc. Definitely dualist.

  10. I do emember a lengthy debate that Richard was involved in a number ofyears back about whether conversion was a process or a pint, it caused quite a debate, and the more I think about it, and the more I go through life, the more it is blaitantly obvious to me that conversion has to be a journey, a process, as life itself is. We are constantly being changed, I am not the same as I was 10 years ago, nro am I the ame as I iwll be in 10 years time.

    As far as authentic relationships are concerned, and the fact that really they don’t ahppen, as we as humans do judge and let people down. I long for those relationshipswhere we can be open, even about the owrst things in our lives, and not be judged or condemned, but respected for openness and honesty.

    Is there something to think about here, that if we ourselves as Christians truggle with authentic true relationships, how can we build those relationships with people in communities who do not yet know the truth about the love of God.

    People in communities are going to be sceptical about how much they say, what they tell us, because they know awe know that people are judgmental and condemn all to easily.

    Can we possibly demonstrate that kind of relationship, in the same way that Jesus did, as he loved cared, and did not always condemn, ie the adulteress woman, peter cutting off ears, and so on.

  11. Hi Andy,

    Your comment about the church condemning and judging others – I’m sure this is how many outside the church perceive the church. People didn’t perceive Jesus like this – he didn’t condemn but was compassionate, most of his hard words were towards the religious of the day. I also wonder if some dualistic thinking has crept into your language, you said
    ‘Is there something to think about here, that if we ourselves as Christians struggle with authentic true relationships, how can we build those relationships with people in communities who do not yet know the truth about the love of God.’
    It seems to me that you are making an assumption that people outside of the church don’t know truth and don’t experience the love of God and that they can’t experience authentic relationships.
    In my experience I feel I have been able to create and experience more authentic relationships with people outside of the church then in – one of the reasons I think this happens is that there are no agenda to teach people things or the pressure of being a good witness!!

  12. Hi James,
    Not sure that I was actually making those assumptions about knowing truth or having that relationship with god, but I can see how mycomments can be read that way.
    I do accept your comments about having to be a good witness, but I have thought before on here about whether or not part of our roll in society as christians is as a teacher, and whether we should bae teaching people things. I am sure that as well as teaching we have things to learn, which is why I like Richards picture that he used to use about the triangle. About us and the people we are with starting at different points and going on a journey, and reachi a point.

    But I do still wonder whether or not authentic true relationships in the way that Adam and Eve had one with god can actualy exist today. I think from observations that society has become very synical, and also synical about the church, and the relationships there as well, but also society is synical about Christians relaitonship with god. If those wo believe in this idea of forgivenes, repentance, and a new beginning, don’t actually show it, which happens a lot, should we really be surprised that society doesn’t have those relationships at its heart either.

  13. Andy, I must admit I react to the role as a teacher in the old sense as the expert, one set apart, the knowledge giver, the truth keeper etc. Jesus didn’t come across as the expert, the knowledge giver but as a friend and met people where they were at in their mess – it was relational. He wasn’t set apart from them – he became one of us.

    Forgiveness is such an important factor to the message of the kingdom, a radical way of being – but I don’t think just Christians practice this way of being, that just Christians forgive, repent or have deep authentic relationships .

    I take your point about the church modelling this way of being and your sense that Christians are not doing this. My question is why? Ghandi more then most experimented with living the kingdom values and was frustrated that Christians were not following the principles of Christ.

    My view is that until we are able to be honest with ourselves then we will not be able to be honest with others. Until we can face our own faults and embrace our weaknesses we will not be able to embrace others faults. Until we realise that God loves our shadow more than our ego, then we will not be able to embrace the shadow in the other person. Until we stop thinking that we are better then others, more sorted, more together – we will be unable to have mutual authentic relationships.

    I believe that a way to a better world starts with me doing some serious work on myself.

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