Haggard Sex Scandal Could Damage Evangelism and Revival

The head of the US Life Action Ministries has voiced his concerns over the impact that the Ted Haggard scandal will have on evangelism and revival.

Pastor Ted Haggard was a leading evangelical in the US until the weekend when he confessed to "sexual immorality" amid accusations that he had indulged in gay sex. Following the accusations, Haggard stepped down from his position as leader of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the 30m-strong National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) last week.

"My heart is breaking over the reality of what Ted is facing and evangelicals as a whole," says Byron Paulus, the Executive Director of Life Action Ministries, in a report by Mission Network News.

Paulus fears that the problem may be more deeply rooted than many Christians realise, something that will come as a shock to most Christians if he is right. "It's probably more widespread in the hearts of God's people than perhaps we want to admit or acknowledge."

According to Paulus, many evangelical Christian leaders could be share the fate of the married father-of-five Haggard. "Some 70 per cent have viewed pornography. We cannot expose ourselves to that level of sin and not allow it to ultimately affect our behavior. This is a huge issue."

Unfortunately, Paulus says, this will have an impact on outreach because the, "lost world is watching our lives".

"They're looking to see if we're authentic, if we're real, if our walk matches our talk." He adds, "I think every time, frankly, that our walk does not match our talk, it becomes a deterrent, it becomes a wall and a barrier."

But Paulus can still see hope in the future as he expressed his desire for Christians to learn from the Haggard case. "Let's use it as an opportunity for us to search our own hearts. With the integrity of our hearts and honesty and transparency, God is going to begin to do something powerful."

Paulus says, however, that many evangelical churches stay clear of messages about confession of sin. "There is no revival apart from repentance. That's not a popular message. It's not an easy message, but it's the only message that brings about an outpouring of the Spirit of God and it's that outpouring of the Spirit of God is our only hope as a nation today."