Watching the harrowing tragedy of Ted Haggard unfold, I've been struck by a few things. First, I am so glad that there weren't millions of people watching me at my darkest hour. I've fallen off my high horse more times than I can count, and, for some strange reason, I keep climbing back up on it. I've never purchased meth and a massage from a male prostitute, but I've done plenty of other things that, in retrospect, appear equally depraved and just plain stupid. I know what it's like to be caught in a lie. I know what it's like to be embarrassed and humiliated by the depths of my own depravity. I know what it's like to stare up from the bottom of a pit I dug with my own hands and wonder if I could ever get out -- to long for the ability to fly backwards around the world, reverse time and undo what I did.
I just don't know what it's like to do that with the whole world watching.
I've also been struck by how much joy this has brought many people. Ted has officially been thrown under the bus by people -- Christians and non-Christians. People are questioning the sincerity of his confession, carefully analyzing his letter for clues as to whether he is really sorry for what he did or just sorry he got caught (as if they are privy to what goes on in his heart). People are speculating on whether or not this ongoing struggle of his is what fueled his passion for teaching his understanding of what the Bible teaches on things like homosexuality (and mostly they are applying truckloads of armchair psychology -- the kind they chafe against when applied to them).
The sad truth is that Ted has now reinforced nearly every negative stereotype of an Evangelical Preacher. A man is in shambles. A family is in ruins. A church is in confusion. A nation voyeuristically watches.
Mostly, what I've been struck with is something profoundly simple, something most of us tend to overlook in situations like this, something few of us want to admit but are forced to if we are to learn anything from this whole ordeal.
Sin is bad.
Sin is worse than we think it is.
Sin is the most awful and terrible of all things.
C.S. Lewis said that sin promises more and more while delivering less and less until it eventually promises everything and delivers nothing.
Sin corrupts everything it touches. It corrupts relationships. It corrupts the character of the one who sins, and it threatens to corrupt the character of the one who is sinned against. It's terribly contagious.
Sin is squarely in the center of what happened in the Ted Haggard debacle. And sin is what makes me want to pick the bones clean. It's far easier to analyze Ted's sin than it is to stare my own sin in the face and admit that there's little wrong with Ted that's not also wrong with John.
Sin is not a problem; sin is the problem
And it's deeply imbedded in me.