Back when Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign was just getting off the ground and nobody was giving him any chance of winning the Republican nomination, Gingrich had the very vocal support of Pastor Jim Garlow.
As we noted then, Garlow had led the Prop 8 fight against marriage equality in order to save the “sanctity of marriage” and so it seemed rather odd for him to be throwing his support behind a thrice-married adulterer.
Now that Gingrich is among the leaders in the GOP primary, Garlow has penned a long email to evangelicals explaining in great depth just why he is supporting Gingrich and, by extension, why they should as well.
Garlow raves about Gingrich’s genius, his record, and even his “Churchillian fortitude” … but the crux of his argument is that he has spent more time with Gingrich then just about anyone and has had deep, spiritual conversations with him about his past failings and can assure everyone that Gingrich has repented, been forgiven, and changed.
People on the Left may scoff at this, Garlow knows, but those who are “spiritually mature” will surely “get it”:
During my private conversations with Mr. Gingrich, I discovered three things:
I found him to be remarkably and unexpectedly transparent – fully and completely acknowledging his spiritual failures, responding to my very personal questions with unflinching honesty. There was no attempt to “whitewash” transgressions. He did not defend them. Nor do I defend them. As it relates to Mr. Gingrich’s past sins, I merely state that were there no sin, there would have been no cross. We all need the forgiveness the cross of Jesus brings. I was once asked a strongly worded question from a nationally known investigative reporter with one of the three major networks, while in their studio in Washington, DC. “Given Mr. Gingrich’s past, and the fact that you are a pastor, why do you associate with someone like him?” the reporter asked. My answer is that, as a pastor, I look for people like Mr. Gingrich. I am a pastor and I have the privilege of telling people who acknowledge their sin that the cross of Jesus provides healing and forgiveness.” In my meeting with Mr. Gingrich about this delicate issue, he made one particular statement that I asked to share with others, thus making it public. He agreed. Here it is: He stated, “On my bleakest days (referring to his indiscretions), I knew that my sin was sin.” Why is this significant? I spend much of my time trying to persuade people that “sin” still exists, and what they are doing is sin (a most unpopular word). Some pastors won’t even use the word today. God does. So I do as well. If a person knows that their “sinning is sin,” then they are halfway toward receiving correction and forgiveness. An additional insight I had was that, as I conversed with Mr. Gingrich, it appeared to me that he understood the difference between forgiveness (which occurs in an instant) and restoration (which involves an arduous process).
Furthermore, Mr. Gingrich was profoundly tender during our conversation. I realize the radical secularists, and Mr. Gingrich’s detractors in general, will attempt to poke fun at this statement, but discerning people will know that this fact is truly significant. Allow me to explain its importance. He placed no blame on any other person(s). Blame shifting is common in failed marriages. As one who has counseled many in the midst of divorces, I listen intently for language that would indicate a failure to take responsibility. He evidenced none of that. He placed no blame on his former wives or anyone else. He shouldered the blame. He spoke very honoring of the wife who bore him two daughters. And when he spoke of his daughters, he teared up. He enjoys a superb relationship with his two daughters and his grandchildren. I have talked to one of his daughters at length about this topic. This is not the same man who is now characterized by his critics as the “bull-in-the-China-shop” type Gingrich who led the House of Representatives in the 1990s. People change. And – if he was as forceful as some say he was – he has changed.
In addition, he was quite teachable. When I probed him on some aspects of bringing “spiritual closure,” he responded with thoughtful and reflective questions, wanting to include the person who is serving as his spiritual advisor. Since I do not “want anything out of him” if he becomes our next president, I have no reason to pander. I have confronted him (privately) on some issues, and I have found him to be very teachable. He has never been defensive. Not once. Wise is the man who surrounds himself with many competent counselors. It appears to me that Mr. Gingrich has done and is doing that.
I cannot know the motives of all Mr. Gingrich’s critics, but it appears that one of the reasons some are fixating on his past marital indiscretions is because they do not want to attempt to deal with Mr. Gingrich’s solutions for America’s present day problems. The obsession with past deeds is to distract the discussion for present day crisis that America now faces.
Allow me to ratchet up a bit. I have spent more time with Mr. Gingrich on this issue than 99.9% of the people who will read this email. I have dealt with people with moral failures, sins and mistakes since 1969, when I accepted my first job as a (youth) pastor, 42 years ago. I am not a novice at dealing with people needing to walk from unrighteousness to uprightness. Out of respect for confidentiality, I will not reveal more about my conversations with Mr. Gingrich. But I need to make a summary statement on this: At the risk of being misunderstood, I would suggest that I am in a better (pastoral and otherwise) position to evaluate his present status than most. I have grown weary of “long distance” attackers who have not invested any time with him privately on these issues, yet who consider themselves to be self-appointed experts on his actual spiritual condition. They need to know “his heart,” and they badly need a fundamental course in hamartiology (the doctrine of sin) and soteriology (doctrine of salvation).
In my evaluating his present spiritual status, I made an unusual request of Mr. Gingrich. I asked him if I could worship with him – at his church, the Basilica, in Washington, DC. I am an avowed Protestant evangelical. Mr. Gingrich worships in a Catholic Church. Our worship preferences are substantially different. But we worship the same God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why did I want to worship with him – at his church? You can learn much about a person when you worship with them. You can, if you are spiritually attuned, sense much. I observed him in this tender environment.
Secularists will likely mock this idea, out of their own lack of understanding and discernment. But I was there. I worshipped with him. I saw a man who humbled himself before God. Those with spiritual dullness will not grasp the importance of this paragraph. The spiritually mature will, in contrast, “get it.”