The Power of Denial and Acceptance


With so much flying around regarding the Ted Haggard scandal, I pray that we do not forget those who are suffering the most; his wife and children. For their sake, I pray that there will be acceptance and love shown to Haggard and his family. The dark reality is that we are all capable of such failures and to attempt to tear down someone in a state of pain and embarrasement is neither helpful nor loving. With that said, I also pray that there will soon be honesty and full disclosure, at least with his wife and kids, so that the power of denial can be broken and for redemption to begin to take place.

The reason why I’m suggesting there is yet to be complete honesty is because I don’t believe Haggard’s version of events to be consistent or credible. His first response to the allegations by Mike Jones was that he didn’t even know him. When Jones produced phone messages that Haggard left on his answering machine that refer to purchasing drugs, Haggard then changed his story and not only admitted to knowing Jones but also admitted to buying meth only once, then immediately throwing it away. Haggard also admits to recieving a massage from Jones but denied any sexual relationship. Mike Jones worked as a male escort who only advertised his services in gay periodicals in the Denver area. Obviously, not all of the information is clear at this point, but it’s certainly not looking good for Mr. Haggard.

In the end, we must pray for honesty, acceptance, healing and redemption, not just for Haggard and his family, but for us all. If we can find it within ourselves to offer acceptance to all, then denial becomes unnecessary and redemption is within our grasp. An associate pastor at Haggard’s church says that “we stand with him” as they should. He is a hurting brother in need of the support of those around him. But the question must be asked if whether or not a stranger who was a homosexual meth addict had strolled into the church off of the street would recieve the same support. Sadly, largely due to the environment in the evangelical church to which Haggard has contributed greatly, they would not recieve the same acceptance and love currently being readily given to Haggard by his congregation. Hopefully these unfortunate circumstances can help lead the evangelical church to re-examine their relationships with those they tend to demonize and marginalize.

Andrew Sullivan has done a very nice job covering this story as it unfolds on his blog. If you don’t know much about Sullivan, he’s a very interesting man who provides a very relevant perspective to this issue. He is a openly gay Republican and a devout Catholic who lives with the HIV virus while writing a blog for He’s recently released a book title “The Conservative Soul” and I highly recommend you check it out. Here’s a quote from his blog regarding the Haggard scandal:

I’m afraid I feel for Haggard. This is what happens to a man psychologically and spiritually destroyed by actually advancing a lie he knows to be a lie about homosexuality as a “chosen lifestyle” while being gay himself.

His denial of reality, his inability to cope with the world as it is, is often part of the same fundamentalist psyche we see exhibited at all levels of the Rove machine – and, dangerously, within the president himself. Denial is a very powerful psychic force. When combined with addiction, it can fuel destructive behavior. In a human being, it can destroy a person, a family, a marriage, an entire life.

Other relevant articles on this story:

Haggard’s Downfall– The Revealer
The Colorado Springs Gazette


3 thoughts on “The Power of Denial and Acceptance

  1. Hey Zach,

    Very well-said. I also just noticed his church ousted him from leadership as of tonight, I think (over at does that change how you feel about their acceptance of him, or what are your thoughts on the latest developments?

  2. Zach,

    I would write that I am amazed at how eloquent your thoughts are here, but that would imply that I don’t normally think that you are eloquent (which would not be true).

    “In the end, we must pray for honesty, acceptance, healing and redemption, not just for Haggard and his family, but for us all. If we can find it within ourselves to offer acceptance to all, then denial becomes unnecessary and redemption is within our grasp.”

    What a powerful statement and one with which I agree wholeheartedly. The great problem of the church is that we see others as different rather than as the same. Same brokenness. Same struggles. Created the same with the image of our Maker stamped within us. If we would only see people from that vantage point it would necessitate that we treat them the same.

    I applaud you for showing Haggard the same grace that you show to those who are more like yourself.

    Now get busy and finish that album so that you can go on tour again and hang out with us in Seattle.

  3. It seems to me that there are two highly unfortunate aspects of this story. The first is that it is primarily a political story, and the second is that Haggard’s church is choosing to throw him under the bus and not pick him up out of the gutter.

    Its unfortunate that this is primarily political because Haggard may have found healing in his congregation otherwise. What if he had avoided political change–avoided the gay marriage issue–and had sought to serve and love homosexuals and aids victims in tangible, grassroots ways. Because of his choice, he is rightly being labeled a hypocrite. If it were the case that Haggard had addressed such issues through tangible loving methods and not reactionary politics not only would this not be a national story, but he could also say, “Hey I did do these awful things. I have been struggling to find healing not only for myself but for others with these struggles for a long time.” Instead, he is the picture of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do.

    The political issue further complicates things because his church will not help restore him. It took less than three days, and certainly a lack of all evidences, to opt for “dismissal and removal.” I suppose when the pastor is not a member exercising his gifts along side all the other members, but is the show pony you bring out to meet everyone’s felt needs each Sunday, that kind of move is actually rational. What isn’t rational is saying we are removing Haggard from our church in order to “advance the Gospel,” which is something I have heard on a few local TV interviews (I live in Colorado). What is the Gospel if it is not bandaging up the broken? Taking everything away from a man who has served a community for 20 years after 3 days of bad press is cowardice and shameful. The only worthwhile thing I have read is here:
    But I wonder how much of this is lip service.

    All these things are highly unfortunate for Christ’s bride is again rightly mocked for hypocracy, legalism, and a lack of love. May God protect all those who hear this story.


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