Last night I watched Jennifer Knapp on Larry King Live. I wanted to watch because I knew that Ted Haggard would also be on. I’ve become a post-scandal fan of his after watching his journey through his documentary on HBO and seeing him on a couple of other shows. He claims to be rid of the gay, I don’t now how I feel about that, but it’s his life, and if he’s happy and being honest, that’s what it’s all about. What I didn’t know is that a pastor from a mega-conservative church in San Diego would be there with his invisible gavel to pass judgment on what he repeatedly referred to as “Jennifer’s lifestyle choice.” Larry asked him at one point when he chose to be straight. At first he tried to spin it into “I chose my wife to live in a godly marriage,” etc., but then when Larry clarified that he wanted to know when the pastor chose boys over girls, and all he could say was, “I naturally knew.” Larry let it drop from there and I wish he hadn’t. The point is, PASTOR (and I won’t use his name b/c I don’t want any link), it’s NOT A CHOICE.
The worst part about this guy is that he was nothing but a brainless, cliche-spouting machine, who actually busted out “Adam and Steve.” No joke. I swear that he prepared for the interview by fanning through a stack of bumper stickers at a Christian bookstore. Then he had the gall to have this, hang-dog, I speak for God and it’s SO HARD, false humility about him that just added to my irritation. The absolute arrogance to say that as a white American male in the twenty-first century, I have arrived at the correct interpretation in the English, is beyond me. Other faiths aside, this is a complete disregard of centuries of scholarship by men and women who have arrived at many different conclusions based on the cultural and historical lenses through which they view scripture. When William Carey wanted to go do missions in India, he was told that it would be against scripture to do so because the Great Commission was only intended for the disciples and didn’t apply to them. Contemporary scholars now would call that an erroneous interpretation. Why, after all these years, are we in our time now suddenly right about everything?
John Calvin said that scripture is to be experienced more than understood. I don’t think all academic approach to scripture is wrong, but I think we lean too much on it and manipulate the outcomes for our own purposes. Using scriptures whose exact interpretation is unclear to support our own cultural taboos falls into that category. Richard Foster said it’s a lot easier to argue about scripture than to submit to it. Scripture is to be approached with humility and used carefully. It is not a weapon to be used against people who don’t fit into your picture of “Christian.”
Today as I thought about this pastor I actually began to feel sad and a little sorry for him. He’s trapped in a big box with a small god. His god is manageable, easily manipulated, easy to understand, and can be summed up in short declarative sentences. I don’t want a God like that. If God made sense, what’s the point? I might as well go ahead and be God. Ted Haggard spoke very clearly about people needing to be allowed to go on their own journeys with God and let God do God’s job of conviction and I couldn’t agree more. People who claim spiritual authority and then who won’t let go and allow God to work are to be feared. It’s a big indicator that they are not at all interested in God’s agenda, but in perpetuating their own. I pray that people like this will quickly lose their seats of power and authority and learn what it is to follow a God who makes no sense.