Dec 162006

Of course everyone’s heard the big story about Ted Haggard being forced out of the closet when his regular hustler finally “turned him in.” It now appears the founding pastor of another mega-church in Colorado has also had to confess his sin.

In the case of Haggard, he was simply dishonest about the situation right to the very end. On top of that, he’d made himself a leader in the konservative kristian kook movement, and railed against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, etc. He got what he deserved.

In this case, I’m a bit more sympathetic, but still somewhat torn. Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County gave a video statement to his congregation saying he’d engaged in infidelity and gay sex over the years. From what I can gather, Rev. Barnes was not nearly the conservative firebrand that Haggard had made himself out to be. In fact, I’m given to understand that much of the media had a problem even finding a file photo of Rev. Barnes. Most of the commenters to the Denver Post article say they never recall Barnes preaching a sermon with a political agenda, and his church reportedly stayed out of the Amendment 43 debate.

In his video Barnes speaks about knowing he was different as early as five years old. He also talks about the only “sex talk” he ever had with his father. Barnes said his father took him on a drive and talked about what he would do if a “fag” approached him. Like many, Barnes had a conversion experience around 17 which he expected would “cure” him. He got married and went into the ministry…all in hopes that would be the thing that would end his homosexual feelings.

Most all gay people of my age or older have been through some of those experiences…always hoping and expecting that you’d just start feeling “normal.” Despite what those of Haggard’s ilk preach, we who have been through it know it doesn’t change. We can pretend, and live a lie…but the feelings don’t go away.

Barnes expressed hope for a future where one can “be who you are” and be accepted and loved in the Christian community and also spoke about “separating some of the teachings from Scripture” from Jesus Christ. An Associate Pastor of the church said he wasn’t sure what Barnes meant, but Barnes told him that he believes God views homosexuality as a sin. 

So that’s where my sympathy gets somewhat tempered. As is often said, God doesn’t make mistakes. If that’s true he wouldn’t make people gay if it were a sin. Paul Barnes, of all people, should know this is who he is. He continues with the self-loathing and self-hate. After all this, it’s time to come out.

Also, in some of the messages left by church members, they talk about Barnes’ coming out on his own. That is not exactly true either. He only came out after there was a threat to out him. Apparently each year, as is required of the staff of his church, Barnes affirmed that he was “living the moral and ethical teachings of Scripture in my public and private life.”

I know no one is perfect. If there’s ever been an example of that, it’s me. Barnes apparently did great work and helped a lot of people, but now, when he has the chance to help himself, and even more people by example, he still hides behind outdated beliefs. I hurt for the guy, but he’s only going to continue to hurt himself and those around him so long as he continues to deny who he is and tries to be something he’s not.

  2 Responses to “Another Pastor Goes Down in "Flames"”

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  1. Can I just say thank you? I read so many comments on the Denver Post article that hurt me, they were so hateful and angry. I know the church has really screwed up a lot in the past, and I know that we deserve a lot of the bad rap that we get. But this, this was open and kind, and you have no idea what that means to me. I attend Grace Chapel, and many of the comments on the article hurt because of that as well. People too often have associated Paul with Ted Haggard–who he is nothing like. Thank you so much for being respectful about all of this. You have no idea how incredible that is.

    one correction I would make though–I wouldn’t exactly call ours a mega church. We aren’t quite large enough for that. Again, thanks.

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