Why did a gay prostitute tell the media about the homosexual behavior of a leading Christian opponent of same-sex marriage on the weekend before an election, an election in which eight states vote on whether to maintain the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman?
Because he knew, first of all, that the media love to publicize the sexual lives of public figures. How else to explain the extensive reporting by the mainstream news media of the private sexual acts of a prominent sportscaster a decade ago — a basketball announcer, not a politician, not a religious leader?
But the main reason was that our gay prostitute knew the media are almost unanimously supportive of redefining marriage and therefore against all the states’ propositions to defend marriage’s definition. He and the news media hoped that publicizing that a major Christian opponent of same-sex marriage was secretly involved in gay sex could potentially undermine the movement to maintain the historical definition of marriage.
Now, of course, the sexual orientation of a person has no relevance to the merits of his pro- or anti-same-sex marriage argument. But the homosexual prostitute was certain that because the Rev. Ted Haggard was (allegedly) gay — or bisexual — this proved that:
- the reverend is a hypocrite; and therefore
- the movement to keep marriage defined as man-woman is a phony movement.
That both arguments are false is irrelevant to many, perhaps most, supporters of same-sex marriage. Apparently, they feel that since they cannot radically change society’s most important social institution through intellectual argument, or through the democratic process, or even via sympathetic judges, they might succeed by exposing any opponent who has same-sex tendencies.
So the first argument goes as follows: Show as many of the religious opponents of same-sex marriage to be hypocrites and you undermine the moral credibility of their efforts to keep marriage defined as man-woman. As Michael Jones, the gay prostitute, said (quoted in the Rocky Mountain News), "I felt obligated to get the information out about the hypocrisy of people who make these laws and those who support them."
This is intellectual nonsense. Even if every opponent of same-sex marriage were a closet gay, it would say nothing about the merits of their arguments. Moreover, being an opponent of same-sex marriage and a closet gay (if that is what Haggard is) has nothing to do with hypocrisy.
As defined by every dictionary I consulted, Haggard is not a hypocrite. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition) defines hypocrisy as "The practice of professing beliefs, feelings or virtues that one does not hold or possess."
But we know that the Rev. Haggard never professed a belief that he did not hold. He believed at the time of his same-sex activities, and he believes now, that gay sex is a sin. He readily concedes that, in his view, he was sinning when he engaged in gay sex. He may therefore be considered a sinner, a person who acted inconsistent with his own admonitions and a poor model for a clergyman, but he is no more a hypocrite than a reverend who teaches the Ten Commandments and dishonors his mother or father, or bears false witness or even commits adultery. Hypocrisy requires a person to believe that he is the exception to the rule that he espouses for everyone else; that behavior that is wrong for others is not wrong for him.
If everyone who violates a standard he advocates is a hypocrite, the word is meaningless. And worse, it makes it impossible for just about anyone to advocate moral behavior.
The arguments against redefining marriage, the central institution of society, are profound and decent, no matter what the sexual orientation of those who offer those arguments. The sexual confusion we will bequeath to future generations, especially among children, if the same sex is regarded from childhood as equally desirable as marriage partners, endangers society immeasurably more than global warming.
But while not a hypocrite, the reverend was extremely irresponsible. By not resigning from his position (for "family reasons," "personal reasons" or myriad other believable excuses) the moment he began his same-sex liaison, he endangered the entire defense of marriage movement, something infinitely more important than his staying in power, and, in my opinion, more sinful than his sexual sin.
That said, anyone who changes his mind and decides to vote against a proposition defining marriage as man-woman because a prominent Christian leader was exposed as privately engaged in gay behavior is not thinking clearly. Worse, he is rewarding the loathsome tactic of weekend-before-elections humiliations of public figures. One hopes that even proponents of same-sex marriage can agree that is no way to win elections.
In the meantime, however, those who argue for redefining marriage have their bases covered with ad hominem attacks. According to same-sex marriage activists, if you’re a heterosexual who opposes same-sex marriage, you’re a homophobe, and if you’re a gay who opposes same-sex marriage, you’re a phony and a hypocrite. Defenders of marriage should not lend credibility to these characterizations.