(CNN) -- Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard says he contemplated suicide after his relationship with a male escort was revealed in 2006, resulting in his being fired from the influential megachurch that he founded two decades ago.
Rev. Ted Haggard tells Oprah Winfrey he still struggles with homosexual urges but says he is not gay.
Haggard told talk show host Oprah Winfrey on Wednesday that the scandal forced him to work through his "issues" with homosexuality.
"I was dying. I had settled in my mind exactly how I was going to commit suicide," Haggard told Winfrey. "I was preparing, and in my life, Jesus came to me and he said, 'Now, now I can save you.' "
The interview also addressed the latest scandal involving the embattled pastor. In a statement from Haggard that Winfrey read at the end of the program, Haggard denied having "physical contact" with a second man whose allegations of an inappropriate relationship with Haggard surfaced recently. Watch Haggard's accuser speak out »
Haggard, who appeared in the prerecorded interview segment with his wife and two of his three children, said he continues to struggle with homosexual urges but insisted he is not gay.
Haggard continues to have "sexual thoughts about men, but they're not compulsive any more, and I do have temptations, but they're not compulsive," he told Winfrey.
He said one therapist described him as a "heterosexual with homosexual attachments," and he admitted to struggling with homosexual urges all his life.
"I do believe I don't fit into the normal boxes," Haggard said. "I do think there are complexities associated with some people's sexuality, but it just wasn't as simple as I wanted it to be, because I was so deeply in love with my life."
But, he added, "I had this other thing going on inside of me too."
Haggard founded the Colorado-based New Life Church in his basement in 1984 and oversaw its growth to a megachurch with some 15,000 members. After the scandal, he was fired from the church in 2006 and also resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals -- a group that says it represents millions of people in 45,000 evangelical church congregations nationwide.
His fall followed allegations from male escort Mike Jones about a sex-for-money relationship that involved drugs.
"When it first started to happen, I lied about it because I was so ashamed, and it was the first time that that dark area of my life that I had worked so hard to keep secret and fight against was coming to the surface," he told Winfrey.
"I thank God, though, that in this process, I am where I am now and that accusation and the scandal had a lot to do with that," he said.
The interview aired as Haggard tries to combat the latest allegations. A senior pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said Monday that the church agreed to pay the second man -- a 20-year-old church volunteer -- in exchange for his pledge not to talk publicly about the relationship with Haggard.
After the taped segment, Winfrey read a statement from Haggard about those new allegations.
"Even though there was never any physical contact, I have regretted my irresponsible behavior," Haggard said, referring to allegations from a man he identified as Grant.
"I apologized to Grant, my family and the church two years ago. I now ask him again for his forgiveness as well as the people of the church," Haggard said.
In the past three weeks, the man told New Life Senior Pastor Brady Boyd that he was considering going public with his story because Haggard was portraying himself as a victim in an upcoming HBO documentary called "The Trial of Ted Haggard," which is scheduled to air Thursday.
|Most Viewed||Most Emailed|