Monday, November 06, 2006

On Ted Haggard and Control

Haggard called the "forces of evil" in the society Control. Control tried to have him killed in the form of a witch with a knife, he said, and it was Control his flock fought when pouring oil at sinful intersections in the city of Colorado Springs. He fought Control by having vigils outside gay bars and the houses of witches. And he believed himself successful in chasing out Control.

But it is really control he himself desired, yearned for, control over his own sexuality and more generally control over all sexuality. Hence this statement about his own sexuality in a letter that was read to his congregation after the revelations that Haggard had visited a male prostitute:

I am a sinner. I have fallen," Haggard wrote. "The fact is, I'm guilty of sexual immorality." Mike Jones' allegations, the pastor insisted, are not all true, but "enough of them are true."

"Part of my life is so repugnant and dark," Haggard said in the letter Stockstill read. "I've been warring against it all my life." He told of how he had sought counseling to address his sexuality, which he said cured him for spells. But then, he wrote, "the dirt I thought was gone would resurface ... the darkness increased and dominated." Haggard asked his congregation for forgiveness for him, and also for his accuser, who he suggested was inspired by God to reveal his "deception and sensuality."

Dirt and darkness. Sin. That is how sexual desire looked to Haggard.

Here is what I think: It isn't only homosexual desire that Haggard and others like him fear, but all desire. Because desire makes you weak at the knees, makes you lose control.

And that is why the fundamentalists control their women so tightly, why women must make a vow to be always available to the men who own them, really. Why women must not say no, ever, but must also never demand anything from the men. That way the men can always stay in control.

After Haggard's letter was read to the congregation, a letter from his wife was also read:

Haggard's letter was followed by one from his wife, Gayle, addressed to her husband's female former congregants. "What I want you ladies to know is I love my husband Ted Haggard with all my heart. I am committed to him with all my heart." Her words, which echo the guide to marriage the Haggards published earlier this year (still on sale here in the bookstore outside the sanctuary), inspired a standing ovation.

The term "committed" has a special meaning in the fundamentalist dictionary. It means to relinquish control. Ted Haggard doesn't have to worry about losing control over his wife, because she has committed herself to him.

The fear of losing control applies even more strongly to the comments of another pastor, the one from the Mars Hill patriarchal church, who in a long list of advice to pastors on how not to lose control (never travel alone, have a heterosexual male secretary with you) suggested that pastors' wives must not let themselves ever go ugly or be sexually unavailable:

"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either."

Men are to have control and women are to make it easy for the men to be in control.

Too bad that this doesn't solve the control over gay sex. Is this the real secret reason for homophobia? And the way it all links with the subjugation of women?