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    November 13, 2006

    Hell Hath No Fury

    Posted by: Chris

    A thoughtful op-ed from yesterday's Washington Post looks behind the McGreevey, Foley, Haggard scandals and identifies how religious intolerance lies underneath all three:

    Our condemnatory attitudes began in the latter part of the Middle Ages. Until then the Christian church in Western Europe, and thus the general culture, had largely tolerated or ignored homosexual acts. But everything changed when Thomas Aquinas and other religious writers labeled not only homosexual acts but all non-procreative sexual behavior "unnatural." The Roman Catholic Church continues to promote this idea today.

    Not a remarkable revelation itself, but it comes from a United Methodist minister, who takes her own faith to task for advertising "open hearts, open minds, open doors" even as it closed all three to gay parishioners and their families. As a former Methodist myself, I feel her pain. But there's even one more twist to the column, as this particular Methodist minister knows of what she speaks:

    I was married to a closeted gay man for 15 years, and we had three children before the truth of his sexual orientation emerged. The emotional devastation of that revelation and our subsequent divorce has been profound for me, my children, my former husband, our extended family and our friends.

    It's way beyond time to hear from "the scorned women" who are the "collateral damage" behind the conservative religious teaching that gay people should treat their sexual orientation as a temptation to be overcome, and marry someone of the opposite sex.

    Gaylehaggard_1 Unfortunately so many, including Ted Haggard's wife, are too invested in their failed ideology to see what's best for them and their children, not to mention their closeted spouse. On the same day Haggard admitted to his church he was a "deceiver," here's what Mrs. Haggard said in her statement to the congregation:

    A letter from Gayle Haggard was addressed to the women of the church. She professed her commitment to her marriage and the church's teachings.

    "For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case," she wrote, drawing one of the morning's few laughs. "My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful."

    It's certainly understandable that even those wives and husbands who come to understand the societal forces that pressured their gay spouse into heterosexual marriage aren't the first to champion gay acceptance and equality. But Rev. Ermalou Roller, the author of the WaPo piece, offers a powerful explanation for why they should:

    Broken relationships with[in my own] family have been largely, if not totally, healed. But many people are not as fortunate. They, and our society at large, miss out on the fullness of life that is tragically denied to so many because the rest of us don't want to deal fairly and fully with such a difficult and embarrassing subject. Families are torn apart, careers ruined, gifts and graces underutilized, and lives destroyed. Thus, ironically, the anguish that gays and lesbians suffer because of their rejection isn't visited just upon them, as horrible as that is. It affects us all.

    Amen, sister Ermalou!



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    1. KJ on Nov 13, 2006 1:39:41 PM:

      I hope that the Haggards are able to get "there" by choosing authenticity which creates life and healing, and not role playing that leads to destruction of self and relationships. However, if that is to happen, it won't happen over night, and given the setting and circumstances, Mrs. Haggard's response is pretty much what I would have expected. She would do well to read Mel White's book, "Stranger at the Gate" which tells of another evangelical couple's experience under similar circumstances.

      Having grown up in an evangelical faith setting (We thought Methodists were "liberals"!), it certainly was not an over night process for me. It was only because I found community that affirmed my faith while affirming the health of loving relationships regardless of gender, that I was able to take the "dive".

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