After it was disclosed Friday that New Life Church in Colorado Springs paid money to one of Ted Haggard’s longtime same-sex partners in 2006 in exchange for his silence, Exodus executive vice president Randy Thomas swiftly diverted attention from the church’s abuse of power and instead made Haggard out to be a sexual predator — even though the “other man” was in his 20s.

For better or worse, it has long been commonplace — in both conservative Christendom and Hollywood — for 40- and 50-year-old heterosexual men to seek relationships with 23-year-old women. That potential imbalance of age, privilege, and life experience is insignificant compared to the abuse of power committed by a church that, by its admission, offered untold sums of “compassionate assistance” on the condition that the sexual relationship not be disclosed — even as the church was publicly declaring in 2006 that it knew of no sex partners other than Mike Jones, Haggard’s middle-aged prostitute.

Contrary to Thomas’ claim, there is no evidence that Haggard’s newly disclosed male partner was any more “impressionable” than the average twentysomething woman. And since no illegal sexual activities appear to have happened, Thomas’s call for “proper justice” suggests that Thomas might support the re-enactment and enforcement of antigay sex laws against consenting adults.

Thomas — an opponent of self-disclosure and sexual honesty among homosexual men — expresses no objection to New Life’s attempted cover-up. Like New Life, Thomas equates “compassionate assistance” with secrecy.

For nearly a decade, Thomas and his peers at Exodus’ flagship Love In Action program have sidestepped and excused similar abuses of power against genuinely impressionable youths — perhaps because Exodus believes that secrecy and denial about sexual orientation is all the “change” that one ultimately needs.