The Tribute That Virtue Pays to Hypocrisy


David Frum rises to the defense of  "a major American religious figure" (Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals) facing "a sensational but to-date unsubstantiated allegation" (that he enjoyed the services of a male prostitute with a side order of methamphetamine), making an argument like the one I suggested the other day: Better a hypocrite than a thoroughgoing sinner. But that argument assumes gay sex and drug use are sins. (Frum goes further, suggesting that anyone who thinks prostitution and drug use are wrong must, to be consistent, think they should be illegal; presumably he must also support a ban on gay sex.) One could argue that Haggard's extracurricular activities, combined with his fundamental decency, weigh against the idea that having sex with other men or using methamphetamine recreationally is inherently wrong.

If it weren't for Haggard's belief that homosexuality is a sin, perhaps he would have been openly gay and never would have married his wife (in which case he would not have committed adultery). If it weren't for his belief that drug use is a sin (combined with the legal prohibition of the drug in question), he wouldn't have had to buy methamphetamine surreptitiously. He could have been a model citizen who happened to be gay and who liked using stimulants occasionally. Would he be less moral in that case, or just more consistent?