The Failure of Excommunication
This past week HBO aired Alexandra Pelosi’s latest documentary, The Trials of Ted Haggard. As this saga is once again brought to the public eye, Believers are forced to find a way to reconcile the actions of Haggard and his church with the principles that we espouse. No where, that I have seen, has someone been able to articulate as well thought out response as Mark Galli has done in his article Holy Laughter for Christianity Today (I highly recommend this piece; not only because it is thought-provoking and well-reasoned, but because he accurately describes what it is about this story that we all should recognize: the fact that we are all fallen creatures).
The tragedy of Ted Haggard does not revolve around his inability to practice what he preached, nor does it center on his sexual sin. Rather, the deepest heartbreak in this incident is the fact that his own church was not able to demonstrate the Gospel to a world that was looking on. Rather than embracing Haggard and showing him the grace that we all have found in Christ, he and his family were shipped out of town and told never to return.
His church’s response is absurd, yet, at the same time it is to be expected. We should not be shocked that they would want to sweep their “problem” under the rug and forget about it as soon as possible, because that is precisely the reaction that we all have with our own sin. Life is messy, and when one’s biggest failures are made known its messiness is all the more evident. We need to learn to embrace the work that Christ does through our mess, and in so doing, give the world a clearer glimpse of God’s attributes amidst our fallenness. We should all pray for Ted Haggard and his family, but let us also pray for the Body as a whole. That through this incident we will all learn how to better address the sin in us as individuals, and as a corporate body.