Thursday, February 08, 2007

Haggard Tragedy

Could Ted Haggard be more tragic? Not because he's's just an innate orientation whereby one is attracted to people of the same gender. It's perfectly natural (at least for those who are gay). Not because he had an affair with a sex worker...that may have been painful or embarrassing for his family, but his mutual, consensual relationship with another man was probably harmless enough. Not because he lost his position of influence in fundamentalist circles...the hypocrisy of condemning a lifestyle that he was living should have damaged his credibility. No, the tragedy of Ted Haggard is that he believes he has received legitimate counseling and the thinks that counseling has left him straight.

You see, Haggard received counseling for three weeks. Not three months. Not three years. Three weeks. Three weeks is not a therapeutically significant period of time. And, I don't know the credentials of his so-called counselors, but I doubt if they have been certified by the American Psychological Association as psychotherapists (or, if they have, the APA must surely now be embarrassed).

The "counseling" has left Haggard with the conclusion that he is and always has been straight and was simply "acting out" during his homosexual affair. Of course, this has not restored Haggard to evangelical leadership. And my guess is that this 3 week exercise in denial has only given Haggard another excuse to hide his true feelings (whether he is homosexual or bisexual) and to hate himself for having them. Neither Haggard, his family, nor the faith communities he once led have been well served by the bizarre notion that legitimate therapy can take place in less than a month and that therapy of any duration can change one's innate sexual orientation.

I have great respect for the behavioral sciences and those who practice the mental healing arts. But I have no confidence that Haggard has genuinely accessed any such healing art or science. The result of his counseling isn't any real healing, but more likely continued denial, self-deception, self-loathing, and pain that could have been avoided by appropriate therapy, self-acceptance, and a rejection of homophobic prejudice. I don't know how this will all end for Haggard, but my guess is that it won't end as well as it might have had he benefited from real counseling from a qualified therapist over a respectable length of time.

1 comment:

Pastor Peters said...

Did you hear that he and his wife are planning on going into the counseling role together? I mean, not return to the church but actually do secular counseling.

It makes me cringe. And Anna Nicole Smith is dead. What a bizarre world.