Campos: In a State of Moral Confusion
By Paul Campos
Rocky Mountain News [Colorado]
November 7, 2006
The sad case of Ted Haggard, the politically powerful evangelical minister from Colorado Springs who was forced to resign last week after allegations he had a sexual relationship with a male prostitute from whom he purchased crystal methamphetamine, has elicited some astonishing comments.
Perhaps the single most astounding reaction came from Mark Driscoll, a Seattle-area preacher who was recently named one of America's 25 most influential pastors by The Church Report. "It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go," Driscoll noted.
"They sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either."
As a practical matter David Frum's analysis of the situation is more disturbing, given that, at least for now, the David Frums of the world still have more political influence than the Mark Driscolls. A former speechwriter for President Bush, Frum now writes for America's leading conservative magazine, National Review. Here's his take on the Haggard scandal:
"Consider the hypothetical case of two men. Both are inclined toward homosexuality. Both from time to time hire the services of male prostitutes. Both have occasionally succumbed to drug abuse. One of them marries, raises a family, preaches Christian principles, and tries generally to encourage people to lead stable lives. The other publicly reveals his homosexuality, vilifies traditional moral principles, and urges the legalization of drugs and prostitution. Which man is leading the more moral life? It seems to me that the answer is the first one."
It seems to me that there's something about the topic of sex in America today that causes otherwise sane and intelligent persons to say crazy things.
On what conceivable moral scale is publicly acknowledging one's sexual orientation while taking a libertarian view on the criminalizing of drugs and prostitution (this is apparently what Frum considers vilifying "traditional moral principles") worse than spending a lifetime deceiving one's spouse for the sake of career advancement?
A few years ago a former professor of mine, a man who had been married for 30 years, revealed to me that he had left his wife for a male lover. He had been aware he was gay since he was a teenager, but he had gotten married anyway, because, he told me, at that time (the 1960s) marriage for men such as himself was "like becoming a monk."
One must not judge, but I couldn't help thinking how much better it would have been for the woman he married if he had actually become a monk (naturally I lacked the courage to tell him this). Not long after, I ran into his ex-wife at a social event. The subject on both our minds was not mentioned, of course, but the look of humiliation on her face as we spoke of trivialities is something I would prefer to forget.
Temptations we have never experienced provide us all with golden opportunities to engage in successful polemics. I literally can't imagine what it would be like to be someone like Ted Haggard, whose most basic sexual desires are at war with his deepest moral beliefs. (Unlike Mark Driscoll, who apparently believes that closeted gay men can be delivered from temptation by their sexually compliant wives, I'm at least aware that I have no idea what it's like to bear such a burden).
But it's a sad state of affairs when people advocate a moral code in which openly consorting with prostitutes is a worse sin than living a lie that requires the secret emotional betrayal of one's wife on a daily basis. Such a code could be called many things, but "Christian" isn't one of them.
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