Thursday, December 21, 2006

Accountability or Recognition

Would Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes have been spared their recent troubles if they had had better accountability measures -- ones that would allow them to share what's going on inside. That's quite possible. Being a pastor can be lonely and stressful. Burnout is common (when my first issue of Sharing the Practice comes out -- probably in February -- we'll have an excellent article on burnout and its causes). Having a group of fellow travelers who can listen and affirm and guide one in ministry is a great idea.

Such is the focus of this morning's LA Times article by Stephanie Simon (Melissa Rogers beat me to posting and commenting on the article). Simon writes:


"No one has proposed rethinking the theology that homosexuality is a sin. Instead, there's a growing consensus that the church must do a better job of helping pastors resist all immoral desires, such as a lust for pornography, an addiction to drugs or a lifelong same-sex attraction."

"Seminary professors, Christian counselors and veteran clergy say the best way to help pastors fight temptation is to get them talking — even about their most shameful secrets. They don't want a sordid tell-all from the pulpit each Sunday. But they would like pastors to bare their weaknesses and admit their lapses before a small group of "accountability partners" — friends committed to listen with empathy, then rebuke or advise as needed."

But, once again, is that the issue? Is it just an issue of accountability? Or is it a matter of theology and the need to change it. Interestingly the one example they provide of accountability shows a pastor, another Colorado pastor, who ultimately embraces his gayness. The person quoted from the ex-gay ministry Exodus International reinforces this through his own denial. I realize that sex can be addictive and that there are sex addicts groups, and I'm assuming that gays can be sex addicts, but the issue here isn't one of addiction but of shame. If one feels shame that is reinforced by society (and religion) they will not admit to who they are and likely will end up in trouble.

So, while accountability is important, recognition of reality is even more important. Then we can deal with the culturally imposed guilt and come to an understanding that will bring wholeness to people, to churches, and to society as a whole.

2 comments:

Anthony Venn-Brown said...

I think you've made a good point about sexual addiction. From my personal experience and working with others who are same sex attracted and christian it is the suppression hatred and denial of thier sexuality that causes the addiction. When we come out and begin to live with integrity about who we are.....stop all the lies and deciept then there is no place for the darkness to exist.

Living as an openly gay person gives you great freedom.......and that doesn't have to mean being promiscius....but it does mean no more shame or fear.

Anonymous said...

I wouls like to know if churches that are strong 'Word' based,
rightly dividing the Word that it cleanses us, santifies us, into His image....have this same problem.
I was from the denomination New Life in New Zealand, associated with Ted Hagggard. I thought our/their theology enabled them to
walk in the flesh and be greedy, little gods etc etc....the men I heard preach seemed puffed up with a lot of pride.
I warned friends of this and said,
many of these men will fall, and they seem to be all falling in homosexuality. Then came Ted.
Can anyone answer my query of the churches that really teach the Word, and that we obey that Word,
like not storing upon earth, being content with what you have. etc etc
Paula