I think a couple things are worth adding to Nancy’s very good and measured post.
The first is, hopefully, a bit of historical perspective. I don’t think Nancy is arguing that evangelicals could not or even should not support a divorced candidate, because we have, and I don’t see why we’d count out the idea of doing so again. His name, of course, was Ronald Reagan, and he ran against a born-again Sunday school teacher named Jimmy Carter. But there are some important differences between that former actor and the present-day candidate Nancy discusses, and you can see them if you read pretty much any biography of Reagan that mentions his life prior to becoming governor of California. Reagan did not divorce his first wife, Jane Wyman. She divorced him, and he was absolutely devastated. That doesn’t mean he’s blameless, but it’s worth noting that he neither instigated it nor wanted it. That, to me, evinces some respect for the institution of marriage. Conversely, I don’t see the same attitude in Senator Thompson. I just can’t hear President Reagan joking about his unwelcome period of renewed bachelorhood as Senator Thompson has about his between-marriage years. Once again, here is the Washington Post:
A case in point about Thompson’s undeniable allure: At an April 18 gathering of about 60 members of Congress, organized by Rep. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican, Thompson was asked about his dating history during the nearly two decades between his two marriages. In response, the one-time beau of country music singer Lorrie Morgan offered an honest assessment of his romantic history. “I was single for a long time, and, yep, I chased a lot of women,” he said. “And a lot of women chased me. And those that chased me tended to catch me.”
I know I am a fuddy-duddy, but I just don’t think that’s funny, and I don’t know too many evangelicals who would find the “allure” of such a mindset to be “undeniable,” much less indicative of a man who deserves their fervent support.
The second point I want to make relates to our place in history. Given where we find ourselves today, it seems to me that Nancy’s point is especially worth making. If there were not a sustained assault on the institution of marriage today, maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal for the GOP nominee to have an “untraditional” attitude toward it. But, well, there is–just look at the Slate piece Nancy linked, where the author even puts “traditional marriage” in quotes. That’s where our culture is today, folks–the very idea of man-woman marriage being traditional is contested. If we’re going to fight back–and especially if we’re going to win–we need a credible messenger on this point. Thankfully, there is one man in this field who has not only lived these values out, but also fought for them in the most hostile of places.