Weekend Reading: GQ's "The Last Temptation of Ted"

January 28 2011, 2:00 PM

When former evangelical megachurch pastor Ted Haggard became mired in a gay prostitution and crystal meth scandal four years ago, the allegations unleashed a "ball of biblical hellfire." At least, that's how GQ magazine's Kevin Roose describes it, in a narrative feature about Haggard's second coming. As you've likely heard, after wandering the Arizona desert selling insurance while seeking treatment, Haggard returned to Colorado Springs, family intact, to start a new church—and turn over a new leaf. Part of that includes carrying a GPS-activated cell phone so his wife, Gayle, can track his movements. "It's my responsibility to rebuild trust," he explains, "since I'm the one who screwed up."

Haggard is cautious in discussing Mike Jones, the Denver male escort at the heart of the scandal. Haggard denies having "sex sex" with Jones, but admits to buying drugs from him "five or six times," and that Jones "masturbated me at the end of it. That's it."

After explaining his porn habits, Haggard drops the real bomb: "Here's where I really am on this issue. I think that probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual." Roose asks, "So why not now?" Haggard responds, "I'm 54, with children, with a belief system, and I can have enforced boundaries in my life. Just like you're a heterosexual but you don't have sex with every woman that you're attracted to, so I can be who I am and exclusively have sex with my wife and be perfectly satisfied." Roose: "But what does it have to do with being 54?" Haggard: "Life! We live an ordinary life."