President Obama said it best at the January 12 memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shooting: “As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”
The president’s words also speak to the war of words surrounding homosexuality. So many of us are quick to condemn those who proselytize against gay people — charlatans who peddle a “cure,” “pastors” who say God hates us, churchgoers who “love the sinner but hate the sin.”
That’s not to say we’re too quick to condemn; these actions against us deserve denunciation. But imagine how much further we’d get if we pointed fewer fingers and refocused on the movable middle — the folks who might not yet be with us but who are willing to engage in conversations.
You might be surprised to hear that Ted Haggard is part of that movable middle. After all, he is the same megachurch founder who, after being caught using crystal meth with a male escort, announced that he wasn’t gay — but “heterosexual with issues.”
But when senior editor Andrew Harmon went to Colorado, he met a Haggard who claims to be a new man with a new church and a new approach to homosexuality. Haggard’s sexual identity might sound crazy to us. But rather than trying to “cure” him of his “heterosexuality with issues”—or convince him that it doesn’t exist—let’s take the president’s advice. Let’s talk to Haggard. Let’s take advantage of his evolution on our issues—and of his access to so many far-right Christians who have yet to evolve.