Can a 2x Adulterer Be Elected President?

NO WAY!!!  If conservatives want to see Barack Obama become a one-term President, they will not rally behind former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Nominating Mr. Gingrich would all but ensure the re-election of one of the weakest Presidents in our nation’s history.  Now, let me tell you what I really think about Newt Gingrich’s decision to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Mr. Gingrich may have been the brilliant politician and tactician behind the Contract for America which led to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the 1994 elections, but he is not a man who should be placed in the highest office in the land.  In fact, he should not be nominated by the Republican Party nor should he be supported by conservative Evangelicals and/or “Family Values Voters” in the first place.

As a Pastor, I fully believe in redemption, grace, and forgiveness.  God’s forgiveness comes when we confess our sins and practice repentance (1 John 1:9).  I’m not sure that Gingrich’s acknowledgment of his affairs rises to the level of Biblical repentance, but I could be wrong:

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them. I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.” (full article here)

If, as House Speaker, Mr. Gingrich was driven by his passion for his country to commit an extra-marital affair, one can only imagine the “passion” that he would have as President.  We’ve already been down that road with Bill Clinton.

I’m certainly glad that Mr. Gingrich “felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness.”  When any of us sins, we should seek God’s mercy and forgiveness. But, just because we have been forgiven (by God and others) does not mean that we somehow magically avoid the consequences of our actions.  I do not believe that Gingrich’s (or any other politician’s) multiple divorces automatically disqualifies him from running for President.  However, committing adultery in both his first two marriages (which may have contributed to the dissolution of those unions) should at least cause conservative Christian voters to refrain from casting a ballot for Mr. Gingrich (notwithstanding Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network’s advice to Evangelicals not to “write him off.”)

Apparently, Newt Gingrich does not believe his marital infidelities disqualify him from seeking the Presidency.  In responding to a question from Chris Wallace on charges that he was hypocritical during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski affair (because of his own extra-marital affair at the time), Newt Gingrich nicely compartmentalized his private life from his public life:

“No. I thought to myself if I cannot do what I have to do as a public leader, I would have resigned.” (full article here)

So, here is former Southern Baptist — now Roman Catholic — Newt Gingrich who appears to be saying that his own adultery, while serving as Speaker of the House, did not prevent him from being a public leader.  We can try to redefine leadership all we want, but if conservative Christians (and others) were arguing that Bill Clinton could not lead because of his affair with a young intern, then there is no way to make the argument that a serial adulterer — no matter how conservative — should be allowed to lead our country as President.  To make that argument would be the height of hypocrisy.  Of course, for those who supported Bill Clinton during his impeachment to now make the argument that Gingrich’s private life should somehow disqualify him from the Presidency would likewise be just as hypocritical.

For conservatives — especially Evangelical Christians — to give Mr. Gingrich a pass, they must answer this question, “Would you also be willing to give Bill Clinton or John Edwards a pass?”  Newt Gingrich may be a smart man in the world of politics.  He may be a brilliant conservative thinker.  He may espouse views that most conservatives could support.  He may even be forgiven of his sins.  But, the Bible tells me that he is a man who lacks sense.  For a man who wants to be the leader of the free world, that is a disqualifying character trait that will be impossible to overcome, no matter how smart you think you are:

“He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.  He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away.” (Proverbs 6:32-33 ESV)

19 comments for “Can a 2x Adulterer Be Elected President?

  1. Ron Hale
    May 12, 2011 at 6:06 AM

    Howell,

    Some things need to be said. Thanks for saying it!

    • May 12, 2011 at 10:28 PM

      Ron,

      Thanks. Some posts come easily and some require more work. This one was easy. If conservative Evangelicals (particularly Southern Baptists) are going to be consistent and not seen as hypocrites, then we cannot give a pass to politicians we agree with, but castigate those we disagree with for the very same “sins.” God bless,

      Howell

  2. May 12, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    One wonders, Howell, for whom you cast your vote in 2008, the confessed multiple adulterer or the faithful husband and father?

    • May 12, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      William,

      With very little enthusiasm, I voted for John McCain. He was not my choice for the Republican Party nominee, but he was infinitely more preferable than Barack Obama. Would I vote for Gingrich or Romney (a Mormon) over Obama? Yes. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. But, in terms of primary politics, which my post was about, I don’t see how conservative Evangelicals could support someone like Gingrich. In times gone by, someone with Gingrich’s record of infidelity would be too ashamed to run for public office again. Alas, we seem to be where the Israelites were at the end of the book of Judges — everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. Thanks for the question, though. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  3. May 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I’m just tweaking you, Howell, and wish we were closer. I’d love to meet with you sometimes.

    But after evangelicals voted for McCain instead of Obama, the public understands that their family values are completely negotiable with respect to candidates for public office.

    • May 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM

      William,

      I figured you were just tweaking. I can’t remember whether or not you were planning on being in Phoenix this year. If not, maybe in New Orleans next year. Would love to get together and talk politics (national and SBC)! Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  4. Bill Mac
    May 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    This will indeed be an interesting race, to see if Christians care more about Christian values or Republican values, or whether they even know the difference.

    Having said that, I think having a true Christian president is a good thing, but not the only thing. Being a Christian is not, in my opinion, the primary qualification for being president. But this man has proven, again in my opinion, that his word means nothing. We don’t need that (again) in the White House. I think Christians need to be much more informed and discerning about their political choices. Many that I know think that as long as the next president isn’t Obama, then it doesn’t matter much who it is. Our standards are so low it is pitiful. As long as we will settle for
    “not a democrat” then we’ll continue to deserve what we get.

    We need much more than just someone “better than Obama”. We need a great president. Someone who is much more than just able to mouth conservative platitudes and whip up tea-party meetings. We need a statesman (or woman). Someone who can think on their feet, rather than stick to the script. Someone who has studied foreign policy, and monetary policy and domestic policy. Someone who is both intelligent and eloquent.

    We have to stop settling.

    • May 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

      Bill,

      I completely agree with your analysis. Right now, I do not see anyone in the Republican Party with the intelligence and eloquence that you mention. Perhaps someone will rise up, but I don’t see anyone on the horizon. People are so over-confident that Obama will lose a second term, but if we put up a Gingrich or Palin or Trump, we will most assuredly lose. As Christians, we can’t settle for the lowest common denominator candidate. That’s unacceptable. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. God bless,

      Howell

      • svmuschany
        May 12, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        Lets see, intelligent, well spoken, mostly moral (we all are sinners in some way) people off the top of my head.

        Herman Cain
        Tim Pawlenty
        Bobby Jindal
        Michelle Bachmann
        Mike Huckabee

        The problem is not with who is running for the GOP nomination, the problem is the self cannibalizing that is going on to get the nomination. The attitude and message coming from all candidates should be “I believe I would be best, but I will fully support 100% who ever wins”. Instead they (and we) are attacking our own trying to see who is “most conservative” rather than working together to get things done. Where as the liberal Democrats may complain about things that President Obama is not doing, the same level of cannibalization does not exist with them. They are stronger because they know they would rather have an imperfect president rather than a republican. If only the GOP and conservatives (including us) realized that it would be much preferable to have a imperfect (dare I say Moderate) Republican rather than President Obama for a second term.

        • May 12, 2011 at 8:08 PM

          I won’t disagree that it would be better to have an imperfect Moderate Republican than a second term for President Obama. I think the same level of cannibalization happens in the Democrat Party, especially when it is an open primary as in 2008. However, the Mainstream Media goes out of their way to downplay the differences among the candidates. I doubt that we will have a perfect candidate, but there are some that should not even be seriously considered. That’s probably who will wind up with the nomination. Thanks and God bless,

          Howell

  5. May 12, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    Will not be in Phoenix, probably not NO next year either. Maybe one of these days I’ll get out West. My wife has spoken for years about the summer she spent at Glorieta. I’ve never been there and would like to make the trip…sometime.

    • May 12, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      William,

      Glorieta is a beautiful spot. It is about four hours north of where I live. Have attended several events there. Only a 20 minute drive into Santa Fe. If you’re ever this close, you’ll have to come south to Alamogordo to see the White Sands.

  6. Milton Robins
    May 14, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    I couldn’t agree more here… Mr. Gingrich has too much baggage to even think he could ever realistically knock off this president.

  7. May 16, 2011 at 8:28 AM

    I’m putting my support behind Ronald Reagan.

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