Colorado Springs' New Life Church just announced that it has fired Pastor Ted Haggard for his "sexually immoral conduct." The much publicized meth and gay hooker scandal has elicited a little bit of soul searching and a lot hemming and hawing from Haggard's fellow Evangelical leaders, but perhaps the most ridiculous response came yesterday from Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hills mega-church-wannabe. Writing in his personal blog, Driscoll offers his fellow pastors "some practical suggestions" on how to avoid the type of temptation that consumed Pastor Haggard. And near the top of his list?
"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."
Uh-huh. Leave it to a fundamentalist Evangelical preacher to have such a profound understanding of human sexuality. Or as the inimitable sex columnist Dan Savage so aptly put it:
"I'm sure Ted Haggard is saying something along these lines to his wife right now: 'Oh, honey... I wouldn't have been having those meth-fueled ass-banging sessions with that gay hooker if you hadn't have let yourself go like that!' "
Of course, using Pastor Driscoll's line of reasoning one would suppose about two-thirds of married, middle-aged Americans -- men and women alike -- to be meth-addicted homosexuals. Hmm. I haven't looked at the statistics recently, but that figure strikes me as just a tad high... at least, outside of Colorado Springs.
But scroll further down Pastor Driscoll's list and you'll find some more useful suggestions on how to avoid temptation. Like a pastor should never travel alone, or freely give out his cell phone number, or hang out at places where he might come in contact with "lonely people"... you know... like at his own church. Pastor Driscoll also advises against keeping "a secondary email account from which to build a secret identity." Personally, it never occurred to me to create a secret identity, but I suppose the prospect must have some appeal to joyless, rigidly moral, puritanical hypocrites like Pastor Driscoll and his colleagues.
But mostly what I've learned from Pastor Driscoll's sage advice is that becoming a pastor is a great way to meet women. (And men, I guess.) Apparently, the ladies think pastors are hot:
"I have, however, seen some very overt opportunities for sin. On one occasion I actually had a young woman put a note into my shirt pocket while I was serving communion with my wife, asking me to have dinner, a massage, and sex with her. On another occasion a young woman emailed me a photo of herself topless and wanted to know if I liked her body. Thankfully, that email was intercepted by an assistant and never got to me."
Pastor Driscoll has been "blessed with a trustworthy heterosexual male assistant," and I'm sure he was equally thankful to intercept that scandalous email. Praise the Lord.
Wow. Mega-church preachers are like rock stars -- there's sexual temptation lying behind every pew. With office perks like that, even a secular Jew like myself might consider becoming an Evangelical preacher, except, unlike Pastor Driscoll, I'm not into all that kinky stuff:
"How can we proclaim that we are new creations in Christ if we continually return to lap up the vomit of our old way of life?"
If I ever find myself alone in a room with Pastor Driscoll, remind me to stay off the meth.
[Read more from David Goldstein at HorsesAss.org]