WHY I STAYED is a new book written by Gayle Haggard. She is the wife of Ted Haggard. Ted Haggard was the pastor of a 14,000 member church that he founded early in 1985. He was also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals. This is one of the leading Christian evangelical organizations in the United States. He and Gayle have been married for over 28 years. In November of 2006, it was brought to light that Ted had been involved in a homosexual relationship and had also used drugs during that time. The relationship went on for about 3 years.
Things came crashing down as the media became aware of these allegations. After many denials, even to his wife, the details emerged and many of the allegations were true. Many more allegations were only that, fabrications with no merit whatsoever.
The story is that of Gayle and the things she faced throughout this ordeal and following.
I find it is much deeper. It tells the story of a church doing its best to protect its reputation and doing great harm to those it purported to love and care for. I feel that this poison of self-righteousness exists in many churches today.
I pastor a small church in rural America. Prior to my current pastorate, I have been hurt more by so called “Christians” in the churches I was pastoring than at any other point in my Christian walk. I’ve seen my children treated as lepers when we have moved and they enrolled in a “Christian” high school. When it was time for lunch and my daughter had her lunch tray, she would go to a table to join her classmates. At that time, they scattered like a covey of quail, leaving her to sit there alone. She has overcome this at least in part due to her loving husband and Christian friends from her college days. Her personal relationship with the Lord is deeper now that it was earlier, but I know that hurts remain.
Why does the church “shoot its wounded?” We are admonished to forgive. To love one another. To restore a brother if he has been overtaken in a sin. If there is sin, how does the church set itself up as a much stricter judge than the King of Kings? If there has been remorse and repentance and it is genuine, why do we continue to punish?
I’ve seen church boards that have taken the issue of divorce to crazy lengths. If a pastoral candidate had murdered his wife, he could become a pastor, but if he was divorced, all of a sudden he is unqualified. No questions regarding circumstances or the background that was involved. But a quick jump to judgment.
This is part of what happened to the Haggards. Ted was a guilty sinner and because Gayle was married to him, she was declared guilty as well. Somehow, she was supposed to be aware of Ted’s every movement.
WHY I STAYED reveals the background of what happened to Ted and Gayle Haggard and their children during this time. It also shows the value of the marriage commitment.
More importantly, it shows the loving restoration of unconditional forgiveness by a Heavenly Father that sent His Only Begotten Son to die for you and me. To die for Ted and Gayle Haggard.
If you have ever been hurt by a church or by fellow Christians, I think that this is a must read. I know many that fall into this category and I know men that have left God’s call on their lives because of the pain that was involved.
I have forgiven the ones that have hurt me and my family and have moved on. If you are struggling with any of these hurts from your past, I recommend this book.