Another One Bites The Dust
In a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, the senior pastor of a thriving evangelical megachurch in south metro Denver confessed to sexual relations with other men and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.
A month ago, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Doug las County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.
Now, the 54-year-old Barnes joins Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.
"I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video, which church leaders permitted The Denver Post to view. "... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."
His wife, Char, cradled his hand.
Unlike Haggard, who had the ear of the White House, Barnes is not a household name. He is a self-described introvert who avoids politics, preferring to talk about a Gen-X service at the nondenominational church he started 28 years ago in his basement, church officials said.
Barnes and Grace Chapel stayed out of the debate over Amendment 43, a measure approved by Colorado voters last month defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
In their only talk about sex, Barnes said his father took him on a drive and talked about what he would do if a "fag" approached him.
Barnes thought, "'Is that how you'd feel about me?' It was like a knife in my heart, and it made me feel even more closed."
When Barnes experienced a Christian conversion at 17, it gave him a glimmer of hope. But his homosexual feelings never went away, he said. He said he cannot accept that a person is "born that way," so he looks to childhood influences.
Barnes said he asked God many times why he was called to ministry, to start Grace Chapel, carrying a "horrible burden."
I actually feel kinda bad for this one... He wasn't political, he wasn't railing against gays, or campaigning to enshrine antigay bigotry into his state's constitution (as Ted Haggard was).
I hope this experience helps him grow some self-esteem.