Haggard, homos and hypocrisy

David Frum hits the salient point:

It would be a strange reading of the Christian Bible, or any moral tradition, to conclude that in order to avoid hypocrisy we ought to embrace shamelessness. These are not easy issues, and perhaps I should have advanced my conclusions in that previous post more tentatively than I did. And of course, this whole train of thought may well be utterly wrong.

But let me finish with this thought. Suppose I am wrong and that Andrew [Sullivan] and his readers are right. Suppose hypocrisy is the worst of all possible misdeeds, and that it is a very, very grave offense for any of us ever to pretend in any way that we are better than we actually are.

Is this terrible sin of hypocrisy confined solely to the realm of sexuality? Or might it reach more widely and include more areas of the human experience?

Suppose for example that you were a writer who strenuously praised “doubt” as the fundament of intellectual integrity – while yourself speaking always in self-righteous certitudes?

Or suppose that you told your readers you valued empiricism above all things – while yourself eschewing research and fact-checking?

Or finally suppose that you condemned everyone who disagreed with you as dishonest – while yourself mischaracterizing or misrepresenting the words of others?

I haven’t been particularly interested in the Haggard affair anymore than I was with the cases of Michael Jackson or the guy who played the principal in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Tracking who likes to put what where just isn’t high on my list of priorities, although I wonder if those who are so very excited about the outing of an evangelical pastor will be quite as enthusiastic once the not-so-secret predilections of a certain Senator from New York are exposed to the public.

(If you ever want to see the true picture of horror, watch the faces of both Hannity and Colmes when Gennifer Flowers casually drops the L-bomb on their show. Too bad YouTube wasn’t around then.)

In any event, while hypocrisy is undeniably wrong, I respect the way the situation was handled by both Haggard and the organizations he formerly led. After some initial evasions, Haggard absolutely did the right thing by admitting his error, resigning from his position and asking for forgiveness from the members of his church. He sinned, he is repenting and he will be forgiven and welcomed back into the church… although hopefully with the caveat that he will not again be trusted with a position of spiritual authority.

(I do note, as a few gay men have commented, the only real surprise is that so few appeared to realize that Haggard might have some issues in that particular area. I wasn’t even close to being the only one to see those beady eyes combined with the huge smile and find myself thinking “wait, they thought he was straight?”)

But we are all hypocrites. I know I am, and a lifetime of experience suggests that you are too. We all nurture our hidden desires and hide our secret sins. The only individuals capable of always holding to their standards are those who don’t possess any at all. This is why a revelation of hypocrisy is meaningless with regards to the verity of the standard being hypocritically violated; if murder is immoral, then it is immoral regardless of whether the murderer genuinely believes he is committing a moral act by murdering or not.

It’s not often that I’m in accord with David Frum, but his logic is unassailable here.