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Responses to some comments on "The Haggard Episode and the Case for 'Gay Marriage'"


By Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary 

Nov. 14, 2006



I greatly appreciate your article on Ted Haggard. Thank you for your concise and helpful commentary. I would like to counter, however, your belief that he should be restored to his position of minister someday. While full forgiveness is good and right, and while he may certainly restored to a place of useful Christian service, he ought never to be restored to the role of pastor because trust has been breached and will never be fully restored. Those to whom he ministers will always—consciously or not—remain braced for another failure. The memory of Haggard’s secret life will linger like a summer evening shadow. The church’s decision to bar him forever is the right one; they are taking into account the greater good of that church body, not just the good of Haggard. 


Lydia Brownback



Dear Lydia, 

Thank you for your thoughtful response. My own take is that a willingness to consider restoring Haggard in the future (I didn’t specify time—it could be a year or many years) is as much for the greater good of the church body as it is for Haggard. If even Mrs. Haggard is able to retain Mr. Haggard as her husband, and ultimately to work toward the restoration of trust, why should the church be any different? I don’t agree with the philosophy that “once trust is breached it can never be fully restored.” I believe that Jesus commends/commands a certain “holy gullibility” with respect to accepting the genuineness of a confession of repentance. A refusal to trust is a refusal to accept the genuineness of a confession of repentance. Peter denied the Lord and he was restored—indeed, he was restored to leadership of the mission to the Jews. 

I hope this helps to explain my views. 






Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. He can be reached at



  © 2006 Robert A. J. Gagnon