Eyes of Integrity: The Porn Pandemic and How It Affects You
Chapter 2 – Pornified Church – How Christians Have Failed to EscapeHonorable Men
“The Neglected Elephant in the Evangelical Room”
Just before the summer of 2006, everything was going Ted Haggard’s way. He was the lead pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as well as the founder of the Association of Life-Giving Churches. He had been the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) since 2003. He was the go-to guy for Christianity, the public face of evangelicalism.
But Haggard’s public facade crumbled when allegations surfaced about his involvement with drugs and a homosexual relationship with a male prostitute named Mike Jones. Initially Haggard denied even knowing Mike Jones.
In the midst of the madness, trusted and well-known voices from Haggard’s evangelical world rallied on his behalf and defended him. As they did, Haggard must have known it was just a matter of time before it backfired and his trusted confidants would be cut o! at the knees and overextended, having walked the plank for him.
It was all true. As the media investigated and turned up the facts, Ted Haggard, the family man and pastor, who had used his platform to bark at homosexuals and crusade for family values, acknowledged that he had indeed purchased methamphetamine and had been sexually immoral with Jones.
On Sunday, November 5, 2006, a New Life Church pastor read a letter from Haggard that stated:
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you. . . . 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. . . . 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.
Two years later, after tearful appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live and a documentary about his fall, Haggard was caught in another scandal/cover-up. This time, a college student from Haggard’s church talked about his night spent in a hotel room with Haggard as he observed the pastor masturbate while watching pornography.
How could this happen? How could a man speak out so vocally against something in public while secretly indulging in the same thing in private? There are many layers to Ted Haggard’s fall, but most notable is the psychological phenomenon reaction formation. In Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, reaction formation is a defense mechanism in which anxiety-producing or unacceptable emotions are replaced by their direct opposites. For Haggard, who struggled with homosexuality, reaction formation led to his vehement opposition to homosexuality.