Back in January, I wrote a column for Townhall.com expressing my disappointment that Newt Gingrich appeared to be waving the white flag in defense of marriage.
This time I come not to bury the former House Speaker but to praise him. In the wake of Senator Rob Portman deciding his son’s thoughts on sexuality are more important than God’s, Gingrich was one of several Republican standard-bearers asked to comment on the issue of marriage by the mainstream media.
And in an interview on CNN, Gingrich gave about the best answer a politician in his position possibly could:
”Well, my stance (on marriage) hasn’t evolved. I believe as the Bible teaches, marriage is between a man and woman. I actually think that marriage is between a man and a woman no matter what politicians decide. I don’t think they have the power to change what is a religiously inspired definition. I’m not going to second guess Rob Portman. He’s an old personal friend. I think when you have somebody in your immediate family who comes out, you have three choices: You can say, ‘I believe my principles so much, I’m kicking you out.’ You can say, ‘I still believe in my principles, but I love you.’ Or you can say, ‘Gee, I love you so much I’m changing my principles.’ Rob picked the third path. That’s his prerogative. I’m not going to second guess him. But I would also say that historically in the long run, marriage will be between man and woman, that’s been the definition for thousands of years and I don’t think politicians will change that.”
Gingrich may be Catholic, but this is an answer that even the Protestant reformer Martin Luther would’ve been proud of because this is grace and law at its finest. The fact it came in less 300 words to a culture with a short attention span is a bonus. Gingrich’s approach to this question in this particular interview is one that should be emulated by conservatives that will be forced to follow in his footsteps.
First, Gingrich clearly asserts the standard, and where the standard comes from. Instead of falling into the trap of using politically-correct terminology like “traditional marriage” Gingrich simply calls marriage what it is—“marriage.” If we didn’t already have a definition for marriage we wouldn’t have to argue over redefining it, so why do those who accept the proper definition preemptively volunteer to redefine it themselves? Gingrich also calls upon the Word of God as where he gets that understanding from. For too long we have been gun shy about doing this. The Word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, and it’s the best weapon we have. So why would we mothball it? Imagine a general that had a weapon at his disposal to devastate his enemy, but he chose not to use it in battle because it would offend his adversary. What kind of general would do that? Answer: a very bad one. Gingrich calls upon the Bible as the source of his belief, and does so in a way that doesn’t regurgitate “Christianese” but simply repeats reality: the Word of God created marriage and defines it.
Next, Gingrich refers to the highest law, or what our Founders referred to as “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.” He points out that no matter what politicians say they can’t change the definition of marriage anymore than they can change the definition of gravity. The natural law was here before they got here, and it will be there after they’re ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Again, for too long we’ve fallen into the Left’s trap by assuming things are defined by our opposition and not by the ultimate reality—what the Creator says.
Thirdly, Gingrich introduces grace and mercy into the conversation by refusing to personally condemn Portman but instead empathizing with him under these extraordinary and difficult circumstances. Regardless of how wrong Portman and his son are, they are still created in God’s image and deserving of the dignity that goes along with it. Instead, Gingrich correctly points out the three options we have when faced with an emotional challenge to truth. Besides, had Gingrich condemned or affirmed Portman that would’ve been the story and not the greater point he was trying to make, which he repeats.
And that greater point Gingrich repeats is that marriage is the purview of Almighty God alone, and thus it cannot change because He does not. Therefore, His standard will remain in effect for eternity, because He is God and we are not. This explains why when we align our ethics and laws with His we are blessed, and when we don’t we are not. That also explains why many of the exact same people who put us over $16 trillion in debt are the same people who magically believe they can redefine marriage.
There are some emerging conservative future stars that have given less than inspiring answers on this vital issue as of late. They would be wise to learn from their elder here.