Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"He is 'completely heterosexual' "

I must admit, this leaves me wondering what "completely heterosexual" means:

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is ''completely heterosexual.''

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.

''He is completely heterosexual,'' Ralph said. ''That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing.''

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

''If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly,'' he said. ''We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened.''
As I've said before, I'm less troubled by Ted Haggard's sexual preferences, or even his sexual identity, than I am by his ecclesiology. Indeed, I'm still not sure why we make so much noise about sexual identity, if we are indeed spiritual, not sexual, creatures. There's a question of morality in sexual practice, and for me the issue with Pastor Haggard is more the matter of an extra-marital affair, rather than the gender of the other person in the affair. Our emphasis on sexual preference as a marker who identity is ultimately an emphasis on the material, not the spiritual. "He is 'completely heterosexual'" is a statement of identity, implying some kind of "clean slate" for Pastor Haggard, or at least fitness to be a minister of the Word.

But what does sexual identity have to do with one's humanity, with one's relationship to God? That's still the issue. Am I who I have sex with, who I desire in my sexual appetites? Or am I a creature of spirit and body? Which defines me? More and more, we prefer chasing the reductio ad absurdum which gives us a claim to power over someone else.

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