Monday, November 06, 2006
The wages of sin
I know there are liberals around the country who are snickering at the crash and burn of Ted Haggard. Heck, I would have been snickering right there with them a few years ago. It is a special kind of comeuppance when it comes to light that a holier than thou kind of guy isn't.
But even as my knee jerk reaction might be to join the feeding frenzy, the Christian in me says that I must respond only one way: Prayer. I must pray for this tormented man. I must pray for his congregation, who is clearly in pain. I must pray for the prostitute, the wife, the family, friends, the Christian community and the gay community, too.
And I do have to wonder how this kind of thing happens. How can your personal faith be at such odds with your actual walk? How is it possible to have such a terrible schism in your life?
I think there are schisms in all our lives, though. We all talk one way and act another. I may not be out there betraying my spouse by consorting with prostitutes and taking meth, but in some ways, I too am guilty of hypocrisy. For example, I will just as likely watch murder and mayhem as entertainment on tv as I am to read a good book or spend time in prayer. I yell at my kids. I resent my husband. I gossip about a friend. I betray a confidence. I have spiritual pride. All of those things are sins, in one way or another. None of them bring me closer to God.
Haggard created a colossal wedge between himself and God. And over the years, that wedge hurt him and the people around him. I can't help but wonder if he would have been more able to handle this wedge if there was a tradition of formal confession in his denomination. I know, for me, confession can bring the light of God into the wedges in my own heart. I know people will still sin, but maybe the ball of wax doesn't get quite so big if they are able to speak it out loud to someone and receive absolution. Forgiveness. God's love. What strikes me most of all is the self loathing Haggard must have felt all these years. It makes me sad to think of it. Confession, at it's best, can help pull us out of that sin and show us that God cherishes us, even in our weakness. Haggard says that he has been battling this demon within him for years. Perhaps his mistake was trying to battle it alone.
You are the great healer. When we are broken, let us turn to you. Give us the courage to speak of our sins, repent, and let the light of your love cleanse our hearts.