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Ted Haggard

How many of you saw Ted Haggard interviewed by Oprah?  The show was recently a summer re-run.  Then after that she did a follow up interview with Ted and his wife.  Kudos to both of them and their children.  They have stayed committed to one another and are working through all the pain and shame together.  How they are handling the crisis Ted’s exposed secret life and his ensuing ‘fall from grace’ is a living testimony to the ministry of reconcilliation.

The national travesty of unrecognized and therefore unhealed sexual violence reaps huge consequences.  Ted openly alluded to his own childhood sexual abuse.  In 6th grade he was still wetting the bed.  There was no help for him, and the seriousness of his spiritual/emotional cancer went unacknowledged.  He called it “the internal war inside of me.”   He did seek the counsel of spiritual leaders but was told what is so culturally typical; do more (e.g. church work, pray, read the Bible, etc.).  These are not bad things of course and can help a survivor cope.   We do not tend to tell those with cancer the same thing though.  We accept the diagnosis and that a doctor is needed.  Well, unhealed sexual violations are an internal, unseen cancer and they need special help.

Ted acted out his internal war.  He knew his secrets with drugs and homosexual encounters were a problem.  That was why he tried so hard to keep them secret.  We can connect the dots.  His acting out behaviors were directly linked to the developmental confusion and pain the abuse caused to his brain and heart.  Now, he is getting the help he has so desperately needed all these years, thank God.  He used coping strategies to do as well as he did in spite of such internal suffering.  They worked well for a long time.

The bride of Christ, our faith communities, needs to be educated about the prevalence of  sexual violence.  That is us.  We need to be educated about the damage such violence does to disrupt normal childhood development.  We need to be educated about the damage done to the brain any time someone has suffered sexual violence in any form.  When these unseen internal wounds go unhealed they leak out into all kinds of other problems.  We can learn to see survivors through God’s eyes, and not rely on our own limited sight.

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