Remember Ted Haggard? He was president of the National Association of Evangelicals, pastor at a megachurch with 14,000 members, a spokesman for the culture war, a go-to guy for television documentary-makers who wanted a comment about the rapture, someone who was always quoted on the dust jackets of popular evangelical books and…What else was it he did? Oh yeah.

Got caught in a gay, methamphetamine-using affair.

That was in 2006, and he has spent the last few years coping with that reality. The mighty [culture] warrior has fallen. I’ve read that he’s selling insurance now.

But recently, he went on Oprah — which is pretty much a sure sign that national forgiveness is on the way — and said something startling: He’s a “heterosexual with issues.” (Read it here.)

Haggard went on to say that he used to believe that his sexual attraction to men was demonic. Not so anymore, he said — now he believes it is part of who he is, and that Jesus loves and accepts him as he is anyway.

It’s also important to note that Haggard told Oprah that he still believes that homosexual activity is a sin, and that he still believes the way God wants things is in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Despite his affair, he’s still married, and all indications are he plans to stay that way.

I think that on the whole evangelicals are way, way, way too obsessed with homosexuality and turning gays into boogeymen. That’s why I think they need to hear this, from one of their own. Haggard was one who used their propaganda, fell from grace and now has come out and said, “I still think it is wrong, but I’ve discovered in a real and personal way that this issue runs a little deeper than just wanting to be kinky.”

I don’t think he’s trying to justify past actions. I think he’s realized what a lot of gay Christians have struggled with through the years. I’ve known a few (statistics tell me I’ve known more, though if I did they were quieter about it) — one of them was able to keep his faith and remain celibate, the other has left the faith entirely because of the church’s rejection and another kept practicing until leaving the gay relationship.

Haggard has been the last one in that list, and now I think he’s probably the first.

May God bless Ted Haggard, whichever one he is.

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