Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dobson revises his comments

Here is the statement from Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family:

"All of us at Focus on the Family are heartsick over the allegation, not yet confirmed that Ted has had a private life with a homosexual for several years. We will await the outcome of this story, but the possibility that an illicit relationship has occurred is alarming to us and millions of others.

Ted has been my close friend and colleague for many years. He has been used mightily to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Colorado Springs and around the world. He will continue to be my friend, even if the worst allegations prove accurate. Nevertheless, sexual sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual, has serious consequences, and we are extremely concerned of Ted, his family and his church.

We ask that the Focus on the Family constituency and Christians everywhere pray for Ted and his loved ones. Our hearts to out to all of them. Perhaps the allegations are false and the circumstances are not as we have heard. Either way, the situation has grave implications for the Cause of Christ and we ask for the Lord's guidance and blessings in the days ahead." (From KRDO.com)

Dr. Dobson lost his first and second co-hosts to extra-marital affairs. One of his staff members who headed up the department which provides support to so-called "recovering homosexuals" wound up dancing in a gay bar and was discovered the same month that Mike Trout left due to the revelation of his affair.

It is striking that in the places where people ought to be the most capable of sustaining the kinds of commitments evangelicals pride themselves on, the mighty fall so visibly. Does that make us revise our thinking at all about what constitutes being a "recovering from sin" person? Do you find yourself wondering how able any pastor is to sustain a "pure" life?

If you haven't listened to any of Ted's comments (both denials and admissions), you can find them on video at CNN.com.

His qualified admission is almost intolerable since we have to also see his wife sitting in the passenger seat of the car with him. She looks to be in agony. He has a kind of "I'm a cooperative, nice, reasonable guy" truculence that is so odd! His church continues to stand by him.

I thought to myself how shocked and scared I'd be as a wife. If the allegations of sex with a male prostitute are true, he's been having risky sex behind his wife's back... which means she's been exposed to the possibility of STDs and AIDS without her knowledge. To me, that would be the deepest violation of all - that my husband would risk my life behind my back.

What a mess.

4 comments:

SusansPlace said...

I watched the video with his wife last night. The smile on his face was so odd. He talked as if he was talking about someone other than himself. I kept looking at the wife, looking at her eyes....knowing that her stomach must be tied in knots.

Really sad.

I didn't know about all the scandals at "Focus on the Family". One does wonder if Christianity really makes a difference in how we live our lives.

Susan

Dave said...

Just before logging on here, I was running through the TV channels and saw a few televangelist guys doing their thing, preaching from various Bible passages, talking about prophecies yet to be fulfilled and using many of the theological phrases and images that take on the characteristics of cliches when I hear them with this Ted Haggard story in mind. I am not personally familiar with Haggard's preaching or teaching, so I don't have a strong impression of what his major themes or message would be - I think of him more as a "face" (and quite a memorable one at that) - probably the most I ever heard him speak was on that Barbara Walters special about heaven and the afterlife a year or two back... Even then, with somewhat limited exposure, I wondered about the guy - he seemed so slick, so canned, and just a bit odd. More recently, I saw a brief clip from the "Jesus Camp" documentary that showed him preaching and mugging for the camera - his routine there reminded me of Paul Lynde! So I wonder just what it is that made Haggard such a superstar in his genre.

But I can't see how Haggard's fall won't have a devastating impact on the faith and conscience of many people, maybe in the millions...? I don't know, really, how this is all going to shake down. But how can it not reflect poorly on the credibility of organizations like Focus on the Family and all the affiliated groups, writers, media ventures, etc. who are so closely connected with the cause that Haggard represents? To me, this is a much worse scandal than the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals of the 80's. Both of those men could be seen as aberrations from "mainstream" evangelicals. Even though Haggard seems to have had his own "cult of personality" around him, he hadn't gone so far out on that limb of making himself the clear star of the show. His ministry had all the marks of legitimacy and seriousness that Bakker, with his theme parks and time shares, and Swaggart, as the epitome of the vainglorious holy roller, didn't bother to spend time cultivating. And it does make a difference in the minds of many that Swaggart and Bakker got involved with women rather than men. Add the meth thing too... just incredible!

You make the point about the people who ought to be the most capable of maintaining their moral and ethical commitments failing so badly. It does make me wonder how much longer groups like Focus on the Family will be able to sustain their image as "the experts" on moral and ethical issues. I haven't seen them in this way for many years now... in fact, I've regarded Dobson as a flim-flam guy for a long time, just on account of his regressive views of child development and how to be an effective parent.

The video clips of Haggard that have been released over the past few days are chilling because they demonstrate just how accomplished he's become at using techniques to phrase and sell his version of truth to audiences to suit whatever purposes he has for each occasion. I suppose that he is as caught up in the twists and turns of his own deceptions as anyone in all of this and it may take quite an extensive unraveling process before he is able to lay everything out plainly enough to figure out where he's really at.

Susan's comment is much more concise than mine, but the question is worth pondering - does all this God-talk and pious exhortation of others and ourselves have any discernible impact at all in shaping our character? Would we all do things along the lines of what Haggard did if we convinced ourselves that we could get away with it?

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your columns Julie.

This is to respond to another post though, to a person who wondered if this will reflect badly on other evangelicals, like James Dobson and the "fine work" (fine propaganda) of the people in FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, at least regarding homosexuality.

I lived in Colorado Springs for 10 years, 1990 to 2000 and listened to Dobson speak on TV and radio many times. He always had some very practical pop psychology advice about misbehaving teens etc. When it came to anything to do with homosexuality, he dispensed the absolute worst falsehoods, with just enough of something credible, to make gullible people believe it.

Dr. Dobson, with his little sanctimonious self-righteous half smile...used to kill me, because a lot of people would actually believe his lies, which he backed up with the most spurious pseudo-science. Mostly funded garbage from evangelical researchers with an agenda to tote -- that homosexuality is a sin and damaging to the individual as well as all of society. Of course, he'd sometimes throw in something rational from the AMA, or whatever, always out of context and twisted. He's a master manipulator, when it comes to anything about gays or homosexuality.

Right now, Dobson is probably just trying to figure out how to move in for the kill on New Life and their funds and power, and the lost lambs.

Everything about the heirarchy in evangelical christianity is like politics; smoke and mirrors. All about power and money, when you get as big as Dobson is. Sad but true that only the smaller preachers can keep truly focus on Jesus and community.

Behind the scenes, at one point, Dobson and Focus generated the bulk of their fame and fortune on spreading fear about homosexuality. They prey on people's fear of homosexuality. They really cleaned up during the AIDS era.

julieunplugged said...

Hi Dave.

But how can it not reflect poorly on the credibility of organizations like Focus on the Family and all the affiliated groups, writers, media ventures, etc. who are so closely connected with the cause that Haggard represents?

This is why I can't stop writing and reading about this story. His spectacular fall from grace has to make many feel totally duped! How can the man of prayer (and he was a HUGE believer in prayer) not triumph over his sins?

I just read an interview with Mike Jones (the accuser) and it was interesting to get a feel for Ted through his eyes. The layers of deceit are much deeper than we even know.

Julie