The Ford presidency and personal legacy
For the past two days, the media has been consumed with the passing of former President Gerald R. Ford. Best known as the man who pardoned the disgraced ex-president, Richard M. Nixon, President Ford was not an idealogue. Nevertheless, it seems that he was the right man for the job at that time in America's history.
As an ignorant teenage liberal at that time, I had occasion to witness the Watergate hearings while recovering from a bicycle accident. And if anyone had asked me, I would have advocated for the utter destruction of Mr. Nixon. Today, considering the trivial nature of the Watergate break-in, it seems to have been much about nothing. Afterall, it's not as if classified national security information had been compromised, as is done routinely today by the NewYork Times.
We have learned that Mr. Ford was pro-abortion in a casual disinterested kind of way. We have also been reminded of each network's connection to the Ford presidency. Barbara Walters discussed interviews that she conducted with President and Mrs. Ford, in a way that is self-promoting as much as it is informative. Most of us tolerate this with hardly a passing notice.
Anytime that so many people are gathered, even if via television, some unscrupulous individuals will exploit the opportunity to make political gains. While they certainly missed few chances to point out Mr. Ford's idealogical agreement with liberal political doctrine, the media largely behaved themselves. Sadly, it was not a liberal leader in Congress who violated the lofty tenor of the event, but a most unexpected source—Ford's Episcopalian Minister.
Following his reading of the gospel message, Reverend Certain described a conversation that he had recently had with former President Ford regarding the possible split within the Episcopal Church over homosexuality—whether it is consistent with scripture or proscribed—and whether practicing homosexuals should be married in, or ordained by the church. According to Reverend Certain, Mr. Ford asked the Reverend to work toward unity. Ford reportedly told the Reverend that he didn't understand how the scission could occur within the church if everyone loved God and his neighbor as he should.
Those of us who have more than just a passing familiarity with scripture, recognize that unity does not trump righteousness in God's eyes. And the perversion of the doctrine of Christian love that tolerates evil is actually hate. Afterall, while Christ paid our penalty for sin through His death of the cross, He also gave us the ability, through His Spirit, to evict sin from our lives—a fact that does not interest those who ascribe to Reverend Certain's view. But what wisdom is there in offering penicillin to a man who continues to subject himself to syphilis? And how can any person claim to love God when he takes God's prize creation, mankind, and perverts him so? Or shakes his fist at God and spits in His eye?
No one loves God who hates His commandments. When speaking of those who engage in sexual immorality, Paul warns, "From such turn away." Christ and His Church hold out a welcoming hand to all who desire to become like Him, not to those who arrogantly continue to defy Him and pervert His words to excuse lives of sin.
By all accounts, President Gerald Ford was a man of steadfast personal integrity, in that he was the same man in private that he was in public. He was not, however, a man of high ideals or great conviction. Such men are centrists who do not take political risks, and often count friends on both sides of the political scale. But they rarely inspire others to greatness, and they are less frequently noteworthy as shapers of American history. Such was President Ford.