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)