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Redeemer Bible Church

Unreserved Accountability to Christ. Undeserved Acceptance from Christ.

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love

Selected Scriptures

Beginning Wednesday, November 1, Americans became aware of a scandal
within Evangelical Christianity. The Reverend Ted Haggard, of the 14,000 member
New Life Church, and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an
organization that represents thirty-million Evangelical Christians around the country,
resigned as president of the NAE and pastor of New Life Church amid allegations that
he had had a three-year affair with a male prostitute and bought methamphetamines.

But initially, Haggard denied the allegations. He said, “I’ve never had an affair
with anybody. I am steady with my wife. I am faithful with my wife.”1 He also claimed
not even to know the man who reported the story to the press, Mike Jones, a former
personal trainer and gay prostitute from Denver, CO.

Then, as more information surfaced regarding the affair, Haggard changed his
story, admitting to “calling Mike Jones, buying methamphetamine from him, and hiring
him for a massage, but continued to deny Jones’s claims that he used the drugs or that
he paid Jones for sex.”2 He said, “I did call him. I did call him….I called him to buy
some meth but I threw it away. I was buying it for me but I never used it.…I never kept it
very long because it’s wrong. I was tempted. I bought it, but I never used it.”3

Finally, last Sunday, November 5, through a letter read to the congregation by

church leadership, Haggard admitted his guilt: “The fact is I am guilty of sexual
immorality. I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and
dark that I have been warring about it for my entire life.”4

What’s makes this all worse, is that Haggard publicly supported a Colorado
initiative to ban same-sex marriage. Mike Jones said he felt obligated to the gay
community to expose the hypocrisy of “preaching that marriage should only be between
a man and a woman, and…going behind his wife’s back [to see] a gay man.”5

And if this weren’t already terrible news, the timing made it worse. Right now,
Haggard can be seen in a documentary called Jesus Camp, which is…

3 Ibid.

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


a film about the religious training of children in Pentecostal seminars….In it, he is

seen telling a crowd, “We don’t have to have a debate about what we [should]
think about homosexual activity. It’s written in the Bible.” Shortly after that,
Haggard looks mockingly into the camera to say, “I think I know what you did last
night. If you send me a thousand dollars, I won’t tell your wife.” The crowd
responds with peals of laughter.6

Well, the “peals of laughter” haven’t stopped with Haggard’s church—only, the
laughter hasn’t been at the expense of the “sinners”; it’s been at the expense of
Haggard and the broader evangelical community. A tour of the late night talk show
circuit would have found Ted Haggard and evangelical Christians as the punch line.

Everything we’re so often accused of was laid bare before a live studio audience
with the television world looking on. Perhaps the most biting commentary came from
Jon Stewart on The Daily Show:

Reverend Ted Haggard…resigned his post…after admitting to a three-

year…relationship with a gay [prostitute]. <Pause> Ah…oh…and he also
purchased and used crystal meth. Cause if you’re the head of a gay-hating
organization and you’re having a gay affair, why not go nuts? What are you
gonna say like, ‘Jeez, I’m—uh—datin’ a gay [prostitute] there, but—uh—drugs. I
dunno; I might get in some real trouble with my constituents.

John Stewart concluded his “report” with this: “Haggard was exposed by a male
escort named Mike Jones who said he was troubled by the hypocrisy of Haggard’s
public support of a Colorado initiative to ban same-sex marriage. And you know you’re
in trouble when you’ve ceded the moral high ground to a drug-dealing prostitute.”7

I must admit that as I watched the clip of The Daily Show’s coverage of the
Haggard scandal, I found myself feeling a sense of satisfaction with Jon Stewart’s
scathing indictment. I thought that not only did Haggard deserve to be lambasted by a
political satirist, but we did, too, the entire evangelical church, a church that approaches
issues like homosexuality with a sense of moral superiority and almost hateful glee. So
as I watched, I felt like Stewart’s sensibilities were right on the money. I thought, “That’s
well put and thoroughly deserved.”

We have yet again brought reproach upon ourselves, validating negative

perceptions. Late night personality, Jimmy Kimmel’s description of the Haggard story
reflects, I think, the general attitude. He described it as “another sex scandal involving a
right wing hypocrite.”8


Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


This is all to say that if you’re here this morning with the same general attitude,
you’re not alone—I am, too. We deserve to be mocked and reviled and scorned. We
deserve it.

Hypocrisy and Truth

At the same time, not every criticism leveled against evangelicals in the wake of
the Haggard scandal is warranted. In fact, this is precisely the problem with scandals
like this—they tend to obscure the real issues involved. They tend to be viewed as
proof that the positions of evangelical Christians on issues like homosexuality are

They kind of say, “See, that’s what you get for believing that homosexuality is a
sin. You get a guy who represses his perfectly natural desires, forces himself to get
married and have five kids, live a double life in the closet full of unnecessary guilt and
shame, and become the spokesman for religious hypocrisy and ignorance.”

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Hypocrisy does not invalidate
the truthfulness of our beliefs. To think this is irrational.

Picture a mother puffing away on her twentieth cigarette of the day telling her
daughter that it’s wrong for her daughter to smoke because smoking causes cancer.
There is no question in this scenario that the mother is a hypocrite—she is telling her
daughter to quit the very thing the mother is refusing to give up. But this does not
change the fact—the truth—that smoking causes cancer.

So hypocrisy in us does not invalidate the truthfulness of our beliefs.

The same goes for Ted Haggard. His belief that any sexual behavior outside of
marriage between one man and one woman is forbidden by God is his truth claim. Just
because he lived in a manner utterly contrary to this belief by engaging in what he
understood to be the sins of adultery and homosexuality, does not necessarily make
that belief false. Hypocrisy, though incredibly powerful, can’t make a truth false.

The Sin of Homosexuality and Love

Of course, the question is whether or not homosexuality is wrong. The reason I
don’t say that the question is whether or not adultery is wrong or using crystal meth is
wrong is that most people already believe that adultery and drug abuse are wrong.
These days, however, the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality is up for grabs.

Though it may seem implausible, the Bible is clear. Homosexuality is

wrong…and not just homosexuality in the sense of promiscuous homosexuality, but
homosexuality in all its forms.

Please don’t stop listening to me. I know that my saying this may make me look
like an idiot and undermine anything I am about to say. I would especially appeal to any
of you who are gay or lesbian. I would only ask that you would hear me out.

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


Since I believe the teaching of Scripture that homosexuality is a sin, something

that’s wrong, the reason I would tell you to turn from it is for your own good. The
Apostle James says that when sin is fully grown it brings forth death (James 1:15). Sin
leads inexorably and inevitably to death. Therefore James says later “that whoever
brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a
multitude of sins” (James 5:20, ESV).

In other words, whenever I believe that something you’re doing is a sin, I believe
that it will ultimately result in the misery of death. So when I tell you that you’re sinning
and that you should turn from that sin, I’m telling you to do so (in my best moments) not
because I think I’m better than you are, but because I care about you, because I don’t
want to see your life end miserably.

So the reason why an evangelical pastor will say from the pulpit that
homosexuality is a sin and call on practicing homosexuals to turn from their
homosexuality is not because we hate gays. To the absolute contrary, it is precisely
because we love gays that we would tell them that homosexuality is wrong.

Think about it. Is it loving to warn someone of the miserable consequences of

their destructive behavior or to sit idly by as they plunge headlong into destruction?
Well, I think the answer is obvious.

Now, what if you were to add to their condition that they were convinced that
what they were doing was actually a good thing, that it was right? Does this mitigate
our obligation to love them? Absolutely not. In fact, it makes it greater because if they
think that it’s okay to continue on their current path when in reality they will suffer for it,
we have to take the risk to do the difficult thing and love them out of their delusion.

The problem with Ted Haggard’s approach to the sin of homosexuality was not
that he was a secret adulterer and homosexual while at the same time condemning
homosexuality per se; it was that his hypocrisy fueled his lack of love.

Rather than turning from his homosexuality to the loving and forgiving arms of
the Lord Jesus Christ, he turned to a form of self-justification and rationalization. By
coming down hard (mercilessly and mockingly) on homosexuality, he tried assuage his
guilty conscience. But adding the sin of hypocrisy did not absolve him of his sins. It
plunged him further into his lies and deception and lovelessness.

Ted Haggard’s hypocrisy blinded him to the reason why he or anyone would
even tell a gay man or a lesbian that his or her behavior is sinful. We tell them that what
they are doing is wrong because it is loving to do so.

So when we evangelical Christians call on those who practice homosexuality—or

any other sin for that matter—when we call on unforgiven sinners to turn from their sin,

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


we are doing the most loving thing we know how to do and following the example of
Jesus Christ.

If you have a Bible, turn with me to John 8:2-11. If you don’t have your own, you
can find it toward the end of the pew Bible on page 78.
Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were
coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the
Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the
court, 4 they *said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very
act. 5 "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You
say?" 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing
Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they
persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin
among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again He stooped down and
wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning
with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center
of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no
one condemn you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn
you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."

Here we have a situation of scandal—an affair, a woman caught in the very act of
adultery. According to the Law of Moses, she deserved to be stoned, as stoning was
the penalty for the sin of adultery. Here, however, the Jewish leadership was not
interested in the public good. Verse 6 says that they were saying this, testing him,
so that they might have grounds for accusing him.

Jesus defied them, at first refusing to answer their question, and instead
stooped down and with his finger wrote on the ground.

But they persisted in asking him and to their question gave one of the most
famous answers in all of Scripture: He who is without sin among you, let him be the
first to throw a stone at her (verse 7).

At this, they realized their hypocrisy and left one by one from the oldest to the
youngest. Then Jesus speaks to the woman in verses 10-11. Read them again with
me: Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one
condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn
you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

This statement from Jesus neatly (and perfectly) encapsulates how we should
approach all the unforgiven sinners we know, wherever they’re at.

Our attitude first must never be condemnatory. We must not be judgmental,

thinking that we are somehow better than the ones we’re confronting with the truth. We
are no different; we have guilt before God as well, even if that guilt is not in precisely the
same area, even if we have not sinned in exactly the same way.

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


Second, we must confront sin. Jesus doesn’t simply say, “I do not condemn
you.” He says more; he says, “Go. From now on sin no more.”

Knowing what God says about sin and its dire consequences it would be
incredibly unloving of Jesus (and of us) to sweep sin under the rug. Sin is wrong. It
must be referred to as wrong. Sin is something that we should avoid, because to
continue in sin will result in dire consequences.

So at their best, Christians do not call on non-Christians to turn from their sinful
behavior because it irritates us that people do bad things, but because we know by
Scripture and by experience that sin is deadly. In fact, there’s not a single sin listed in
the Bible that believers, Christians do not still struggle with.

Christians Still Sin and Need a Savior

We commit sexually immoral acts, including pre-marital sex, adultery, bestiality,
pedophilia, and homosexuality. We struggle with materialism—covetousness, envy,
and greed. We struggle with malicious motives, ruthlessness, hatred, uncontrolled
anger, impatience, and irritation. We broadcast other people’s secrets and sins—we
gossip and slander. We struggle with insolence, arrogance, boasting, haughtiness, and
every form of pride. And there’s not a Christian kid—from toddler to teenager—who
doesn’t still wrestle with being disobedient to her parents.

We cheat. We steal. We get drunk. We lust. Above all, we fail to keep the two
greatest commandments: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to
love our neighbor as ourselves.

What makes us Christians different from non-Christians is that through no merit

of our own, we have been made to see that all sinful behavior is an affront to an
absolutely pure and just God. That it is rebellion against the one who made us and
takes care of us. That it is, if you will, a manifestation of shaking our fist at our maker
and judge.

And because sin is rebellion against a perfectly fair and just God, we recognize
that our guilt will not go unpunished. God will never clear a guilty person—never. In
fact, what we learn from the Bible is that because we have rebelled against the laws of
the judge of the universe, we will be condemned at the Day of Judgment, the time of
reckoning at the end of the world. And our punishment will fit the crime—we will endure
eternal misery and anguish to pay the full price for our sins against God; for according
to the Lord sin is a violation of an infinite obligation.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul puts it like this: “Do you not
know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the
kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). And Revelation 21:8 says that “for the
cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and
brimstone, which is the second death.”

But it is not only that we Christians have been made to see that our sin is an
affront to God and that continuing in it will result in eternal punishment, it is that we have
been made to see the way of escape. We have been made to see that if we
acknowledge our sin and purpose in our hearts to turn away from it, turning instead to
faith in Jesus Christ, we can be spared that punishment.

We have come to see that God does not take any pleasure in seeing anyone
suffer in hell, but that his justice demands it—his justice demands that he not let the
guilty go free. So what he has done is to send his Son, the one who is God in the flesh,
to take upon himself the punishment we deserved. Jesus was punished in our place so
that God could consistently manifest his character—his just and loving character.

By trusting in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins, sins that we have come to
hate for the affront they are to God, for the misery they are to us, and the punishment
they deserve—by trusting in Jesus to save us from our sin, we no longer face the Day of
Judgment with fear. We know that if we continue to confess and forsake our sins, God
will continue to forgive us and cleanse us from our sins.

The difference between Christians and non-Christians when it comes to sin is

that we no longer want to continue in our sin and instead want to live to please God and
experience his forgiveness.

Christians of all people know that there is no sin that we turn from to God that
God will not lovingly and freely forgive. Ted Haggard preached that to his congregation;
I think he forgot to preach it to himself.

Avoiding Our Own Hypocrisy

For this reason, no matter what distance we may want to keep between him and
us in terms of his approach and his hypocrisy, we don’t want to be guilty of hypocrisy

I have really been thinking of this with relation to my own life and ministry. I have
been a minister for a little over twelve years. So far, my service to God has not been
rocked by scandal, which is wonderful. It is wonderful that I have not committed
adultery in twelve years of marriage and ministry.

But there’s a danger in this—a massive danger…

Not because I have lived a life free of scandal, but because I could deceive
myself into thinking that I have not experienced scandal because I am fundamentally
different (can I say “better”) than Ted Haggard. I could become self-congratulatory: “Oh
God, thank you so much that I’m not like Ted Haggard. Thank you that I’ve never had
an affair and taken illegal drugs with a gay prostitute.”

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


Do you know something? I am absolutely no different from Ted Haggard. He

and I are the same. We are both men who wrestle with and succumb to temptation.
God has protected me from scandal, that’s true, but it’s not because I’m better than
Haggard, it’s not because God loves me more than Haggard, and it’s not because my
theology is better than Haggard’s. For some reason, a reason I may never know, God
has not allowed me to fall into such sins, sins that would disqualify me from pastoral
ministry and bring reproach upon the church.

The danger, when God protects us from egregious sin, is hypocrisy. So we

cannot on the one hand espouse the forgiveness of sins (all sins) in Jesus Christ and at
the same time condemn Ted Haggard for his. To do so would be to make ourselves
guilty of the same sin that has made evangelicalism a laughingstock yet again.

In fact, in the middle of his story on the Haggard scandal, Jon Stewart showed
clips from other conservative evangelical leaders, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell
clearly distancing themselves from and not showing much solidarity with the fallen
leader. Rather than coming to Haggard’s aid, these leaders felt the need—a need I
thoroughly understand—the need to create space between their ministries and his.

The problem is that without also running to Haggard with the love and
forgiveness of Jesus Christ, we become the hypocrites we are always accused of being.
“Jesus will forgive you if you come to him in faith, turning away from your sins. That is,
unless you commit sins that are really bad and make us look like fools.”

I’m not saying that this is what Falwell and Robertson are proclaiming, but I am
saying that this is the impression we can easily give if we’re not careful to remember
that God forgives sinners who come to him in humility.

But there is another kind of hypocrisy, the kind of hypocrisy we see in the
mocking and scorn of comedians like Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel. It is the
hypocrisy that shakes the head and wags the finger at people failing to live up to the
standards they set for themselves.

I call it hypocrisy because their mockery betrays that they have not understood
their own condition before a holy God; they have not recognized that although they may
not be characterized by the extremes of Ted Haggard, they, too, have not lived up to the
God’s standards; they have not even lived up to the standards for justice that they
espouse for themselves! No one lives up to the standards—we are all hypocrites. As
one pastor has said, “It’s only a question of degree.”

Yes, Ted Haggard was a hypocrite, but so are you, and so am I. We’re all
hypocrites. But thankfully there is a remedy for hypocrisy—they’re called repentance
(turning from sin) and faith (surrendering your life) in Jesus Christ.

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn


So this morning, my word to you is the same as Jesus’—it is my word to Ted

Haggard and to all of us who sin (which is everyone in this room).

Turn from your hypocrisy. Turn from all your sins and run to Jesus Christ for
forgiveness. God sent him to save us from our sins. So he will accept you and will
never condemn you. He will give you the grace and power to say no to all your sins,
from hypocrisy to homosexuality.

Please don’t leave this morning without getting things right with God.

Redeemer Bible Church

16205 Highway 7
Minnetonka, MN 55345
Office: 952.935.2425
Fax: 952.938.8299

Ted Haggard, Hypocrisy, and Love © 2006 by R W Glenn

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