Tomorrow is the first day of Catalyst, and today Nate Johnson and I from Leadership went to Atlanta for the pre-day of "labs," Catalyst's term for their workshops. This year's theme: "The Tension Is Good."
Several of the labs I attended were thought provoking, including Gayle Haggard's account of her own crisis when she learned of her husband, Ted Haggard's, moral failure, which was widely publicized three years ago. Gayle described the anger and betrayal she felt when she learned the sordid details, but said she realized, "This is my moment to confess to the whole world what I really believe." This was not a time to abandon her faith, so she asked, "What is Jesus telling me to do?" She said the only thing she saw from Jesus was love and forgiveness. "And I can't just say it; I have to do it." So she has stayed with and stood with her husband.
She lamented that the church is often a difficult place to admit the need for help, especially for its leaders. "The church should be a safe place to admit temptations, sins, and struggles, but in many cases it's not," she said. "And so until it is, it's important for leaders to find someplace safe to confess these things and get help."
Yes, there is indeed a tension here: the degree to which leaders can publicly air their temptations and sins. But total transparency and complete disclosure, in some setting, is essential. Despite the problems of the formal confessional, as the Catholic Church has witnessed in recent years, the need for honest confession, on a regular basis, remains.