Donny Pauling is a former porn producer turned Christian speaker and radio host. Recently, he sat down with Ted Haggard, the former Evangelical megachurch pastor who was caught in a sex scandal with a homosexual escort.
Ted was grilled by the media, the church, and the political left. As a preacher who threw his hat in with the religious right, especially with respect to traditional marriage, I can’t say he probably didn’t deserve most of it.
Ted was exposed as a hypocrite, a hypocrite who cheated on his wife and children and betrayed the trust of his congregation. But Ted’s story doesn’t end there. He, along with his wife and children, are walking a long and humbling road of redemption together.
I’m ashamed to say I had written Ted off. I thought he was just another in a long string of exposed hypocrites who had simply hijacked the church to serve his own political agenda and make a buck in the process.
I was wrong.
Donny’s interview with Ted is lengthy, but it’s rich and thought-provoking. It’s broken into three parts which you can find here, here, and here. I’d encourage you to take a look at it if you were at all impacted by the Haggard scandal when it happened.
There’s one excerpt I’d like to highlight, though, and it’s Donny’s conclusion to the interview, and remember, this is a former porn producer talking:
So that others won’t point fingers later when they come out, I’ll tell you that Ted and Gayle are working on book, and yes, he’ll profit from such a book deal. BUT you should know that Ted and Gayle weren’t in ministry for the money. They didn’t have a whole lot of it, and their reserves were almost entirely depleted by living on them these last three years. A book deal will POSSIBLY restore their retirement fund to the place it was before. Ted has, amongst other things, worked as a door to door salesman since his scandal broke. He’s held menial jobs to support his family. I won’t begrudge him making a few dollars to restore his retirement fund. It’s easy to pass judgment when one isn’t wearing the same shoes as another, but I’ll tell you this: I sat and had conversations with a broken man. Believe me, I can recognize one when I see him… I’ve been that person. I AM that person. Ted and I both are following a path to restoration.
And it is a beautiful road.
Ted and Gayle’s story reminds me that when we write people off as hopeless, we betray the fundamental message of the Gospel. We’re all broken people, and we’re all walking the same road to restoration. We can never afford to forget that.
(Oh yeah, Ted’s also on Twitter. You can follow him here)