Newt Gingrich’s rise in the polls is bringing renewed scrutiny into his past. I have no problem with a candidate being fully vetted. It would have been nice if the mainstream media had done that to Barack Obama. Maybe we could have avoided the last three years.
Gingrich does have issues in his past, both personal and political. He has dallied with the idea of the individual mandate for health care. His concern for the environment led him to make a disastrous public service announcement with Nancy Pelosi, a move he now calls one of the dumbest of his life. Give him a check mark for acknowledging that one.
For those like me, whose concerns are grounded in the spiritual/moral climate of the nation more than the possibility of global warming, Gingrich’s marriages need special scrutiny. He’s now on marriage number three, and with each one he was seeing the next Mrs. Gingrich while still married to the current Mrs. Gingrich. That is, as we like to call it, baggage.
For some Christians, there’s no desire to look any further; he is to be dismissed for that part of his life alone. Yet we need to investigate more thoroughly. The story going around that he went to the hospital bedside of his first wife who was dying of cancer and presented her with divorce papers turns out to be an internet legend with no factual basis. How do we know? The daughter of that first wife has explicitly stated that it never happened. In fact, that former wife is still very much alive. That doesn’t relieve him of the divorce, but it seems she was the one who initiated it.
Christians are also people who should understand redemption. After all, isn’t that what we say has happened in our lives? We all were lost, and God’s grace found us. Has this occurred in Gingrich’s life? There’s some evidence to indicate it might have.
In 2007, he went on James Dobson’s radio program and confessed he had acted wrongly in his personal life. He then became a committed Catholic. He wrote a book about getting God back in our nation. Last week, when questioned about his past indiscretions, he commented that at age 68, and as a grandfather, he has a new perspective on life. He has matured.
Is all of this true? Our task is to watch carefully, point out any inconsistencies, yet not be overly critical. After all, we once were lost, but now we’ve been found by a God who continually offers his love and forgiveness.