Given that I’m a gay conservative blogger, everyone seems to expect me to write something about Ted Haggard, who, earlier this week, resigned his position as president of the National Association of Evangelicals when an escort accused him of paying for sex and buying drugs. I would really rather not write about yet another man with apparent homosexual tendencies engaged in behavior that is clearly wrong.* Why does it always seem that those with the most unusual gay proclivities are those who get the most media attention?
It would be nice if the media paid more attention to the gay men involved in monogamous relationships — or those choosing to forego sexual relations for a time while they pursue such relationships. Oh, but those stories aren’t particularly interesting to the scandal-mongering media.
My first thought when I read the story about Haggard — after he had confirmed that he paid a prostitute for massage and drugs — was how terribly lonely this man must be. Married to a woman, with a family and having reached the top of his profession, he still sought out sex and drugs, trying to fill some hole in his life.
I might have more compassion for this man were he not married. In marrying his wife, he vowed to be faithful to her. And by seeking a sexual relationship outside that relationship, he cheated on her, likely causing her much pain.
The media has focused on Haggard’s hypocrisy as it that were his only sin. To the MSM — and others on the left — it seems that whenever they learn of the sexual shenanigans of a social conservative, particularly one as outspoken as Haggard, they focus on the hypocrisy angle, as if this one individual’s hypocrisy proves that all such conservatives were hypocrites and their values empty moralizing. Yet, with the media’s narrow focus leaves out so much about the values of evangelicals and the emotions of the alleged hypocrite.
Most evangelicals are very sincere in their beliefs — and their values. Just because one man violated his own marital vows — and acted contrary to his words does not condemn the entire evangelical enterprise.
Yet, Mr. Haggard’s actions show that when one has a strong sexual/emotional attraction to members of his own gender, that attraction is not easily overcome, even by those of strong faith. It’s too bad Mr. Haggard didn’t realize that when he married his wife — or take his own experiences into account when he spoke out against homosexuality.
Mr. Haggard’s problems weren’t limited to his loneliness, though I would daresay that was at the root of them. He exaggerated his own importance, claiming he had participated in regular weekly conference calls with the White House (a claim left-wing blogs have made much of — even as the White House denied it).
Mr. Haggard is obviously a very unhappy man. Despite rising to the top of his profession, he looked outside his marriage for a physical connection to fill some kind of void in his life. He is not the first man to do so. And I would not fault him for doing so had he not pledged fidelity to his wife (and had he not spoken out against homosexuality).
There is more to the story that the MSM tells. They choose to focus on only one aspect, more interested are they in besmirching a whole movement than in telling the true story of a man who remained very lonely despite his great professional success. Ted Haggard’s story should remind us that there is more to life than rising to the top of your profession. Such success is meaningless if we lack a fulfilling emotional life — as he obviously did.
When we don’t find that emotional fulfillment, we often seek it out in sexual substitutes. For the physical closeness of the sexual act provides a simulacrum of the intimacy we all, in the deepest parts of our being, truly long for.
Yes, Mr. Haggard is a hypocrite. But, his hypocrisy is not all there is to his story. He is also a very lonely man. And his failure to understand his loneliness has brought shame to him — and much pain to his family.
It’s unfortunate that those in the media so focus on the hypocrisy that they lose sight of the human aspects of this story. And the real meaning of our sexuality. Most individuals with sexual/emotion feelings for others of their own gender cannot overcome them by trying to wish them out of existence or by labeling them a sin. For these feelings are one thing which draws us to our fellows. And an indication of the emotional bonds we need to leave a fulfilling life.
It’s too bad Mr. Haggard dismissed such longings as sinful. For had he not, he would certainly not have risen to the top of the evangelical profession, but he might have otherwise found a more fulfilling life, certainly with less public prominence, but likely with more private fulfillment — and more peace of mind.
-B. Daniel Blatt (AKA GayPatriotWest)
*While I believe prostitution raises serious moral questions, I don’t think it’s wrong per se. What is wrong here is his infidelity, paying a prostitute for sex (if that was indeed what he was doing it) while married to a woman, violating his vows to her.