Saturday, February 10, 2007

Healing for Haggard

This week Ted Haggard's spiritual counselors announced that he was "completely heterosexual." Just three weeks into his regimen of reparative therapy Haggard claims God has healed him of his brokenness and it is now his "choice is to be married to his wife and love her and be married to her for the rest of his life." While even members of the Exodus International Ex-Gay movement question such a quick cure, many within conservative religious circles are claiming a victory for God and the power of healing.

But, is Ted truly healed? The Christian tradition is filled with stories of healings, tales of binding up the broken and restoring them to wholeness. Healing is an integral part of our faith story that promises a holistic integration of body, mind, soul and spirit that leads to abundant life. Healing in this way is not a cure but rather a reorientation of one's life that brings them in closer relationship with themselves, with others and with the Divine.

Yet Haggard's healing seems to only perpetaute his own brokenness and that of his family. Rather than drawing him nearer to himself, others and God, Haggard's cure creates nothing but alienation...alienation from the person God created him to be, alienation from his partner and family, alienation from an honest and open relationship with God. Life in the closet can never be made whole.

For many religious conservatives his healing represents evidence of the ability to change the nature of one's sexuality through altered behavior. If Haggard abstains from gay sex then he is in fact "completely heterosexual." The problem with theological systems like these that perceive orientation as a "practice" or "behavior" is that they not only distort the nature of sexuality as an integral part of our very beings, but they also dehumanize and objective others by reducing their humanity to a particular behavior. Yet this view of humanity is not consistent with our faith tradition. As Christians we believe that we are made in the image of God, as persons of sacred worth. When we are named only through our behavior and acts, we become less human, less like the image in which we were made.

Healing can only come when we accept who we were made to be and are restored to wholeness in the image of God. We pray for Haggard, his family, and so many countless others who continue to lead broken lives under the oppressive weight of bad theology. We pray that together we might create a world in which we seek and find healing and wholeness, drawing closer to one another and the Divine.

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