Bryan Fischer
March 2, 2011
Newt Gingrich and 2012
By Bryan Fischer

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Newt Gingrich is evidently just days away from formally announcing his bid for the presidency in 2012.

Although it is a very difficult thing to say, I believe social conservatives and all those in the pro-family movement must have grave reservations about his candidacy.

I would have said nothing about this at all were Mr. Gingrich not intending to run for the chair in the Oval Office. But the issue must be faced square on because of the immense importance of what is at stake right now in our nation.

The number one problem in America is the breakdown of the nuclear family. This is a far more serious public policy matter than balancing budgets and equipping a first class military. Healthy societies are built on sound families,which in turn are rooted in stable marriages. It is impossible for a nation to have a peaceful, tranquil, prosperous people unless that nation is anchored in the bedrock of strong marriages and intact families.

Over 40% of babies now are born to single mothers, babies who will grow up without a father presence in the home. The situation is far worse in the African-American community, where a full 70% of babies are born into fatherless homes. This is a moral, social, and public policy tragedy of the highest order.

Children, boys especially, who grow up without a father in the home begin life with a severe handicap that often cripples them for life. Children with absentee fathers are six times more likely to end up in poverty, which means there are huge public policy and taxpayer implications for the breakdown of the family.

It's not just a private matter when taxpayers are expected to pick up the tab for food stamps, welfare, child care, subsidized housing, school lunches (and now breakfasts and dinners), and the cost of juvenile crime.

If America is to have a future, if our bright shining city on a hill is not to grow dark, then it is of paramount importance that we pursue public policies that strengthen the family rather than weaken it.

This must begin with the example set for the American people by the occupant of the White House. Regardless of my profound policy differences with President Obama — and trust me, they are as profound as it is possible for them to be — the president is setting an example of marriage and family that is worthy of imitation. By all accounts, he has been a faithful husband to his first wife and an involved and loving father. The conservative movement should not expect less from its standard bearer.

It would be a dismal thing indeed were the liberal torch-bearer in the 2012 campaign a far better example of family values in action than the conservative candidate.

This unfortunately brings us to Mr. Gingrich. Mr. Gingrich divorced two wives, the first of them while she was in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. According to CNN, he has acknowledged beginning an affair with the woman who became his second wife before he had divorced his first.

His marriage to his second wife lasted for about 18 years, and Mr. Gingrich divorced her about eight months after finding out she had a neurological condition that often leads to multiple sclerosis.

He then married his current wife in 2000, after admittedly conducting an adulterous affair with her for years. He was carrying on this affair while leading the effort to impeach president Bill Clinton for lying about doing the same thing.

Mr. Gingrich has come to a place of profound repentance for his marital misdeeds, and has renewed his faith in God. There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of his new-found faith nor to question the depth of his relationship with God. And he has written a brilliant book, "Rediscovering God in America," which stresses the importance of the public acknowledgement of God in our nation's history and institutions.

But actions have consequences, and his pattern of infidelity is only made worse by the fact that he divorced diseased wives to whom he had pledged himself "in sickness and in health...til death do us part."

John the Baptist famously rebuked a politician of his day for his problematic marital history, and Mr. Gingrich rightly comes in for similar censure.

King David of the ancient kingdom of Israel kept his throne after his adulterous liaison with the beautiful Bathsheba, but a consequence of his unfaithfulness was that the sword never left his house, never left the dynasty he left behind nor the nation his descendants ruled. There were lasting consequences to the body politic for his moral failures, no matter how repentant he was and no matter how forgiven by God.

Newt Gingrich has been forgiven by God for his adulteries. But the issue before the nation is not his fitness for heaven but his fitness for the Oval Office. His fitness for heaven is an issue between him and his God. His fitness for the presidency is between him and the American people.

He is a very bright man, a creative thinker, and a brilliant scholar who has much to offer the conservative movement in the realm of ideas. Perhaps that is where he is designed to make his greatest contribution at this time in our history.

The conservative movement needs creative, insightful thinkers like Mr. Gingrich to motivate and inspire us to better and more incisive public policy.

But with the American family in the desperate shape it's in, it is imperative that the next standard bearer of the conservative movement be a man who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to family values in deed as well as in words, a man who does not just talk the talk but has walked the walk.

Surely the conservative cupboard is not so bare that social conservatives cannot find a candidate to back who has met the minimum qualification for public service, fidelity to the wife of his youth.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer

 

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