This article was sponsored by “The Faith of Mike Pence.”
When Mike Pence met his future wife, Karen Whitaker, it was love at first sight. However, when she offhandedly said he was her “number one,” the future vice president, knowing his own human frailties, asked her to put God in that position instead.
Leslie Montgomery, in her recently released book “The Faith of Mike Pence,” chronicles how the two originally crossed paths during a service at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Indianapolis.
The author told The Western Journal it was kind of a fluke Pence was attending mass there that day in the fall of 1983, because while he had been raised Catholic, Pence had become an evangelical Christian during his undergraduate college years.
By this point in his life, as a student at Indiana University law school, he regularly attended a nondenominational church.
When he saw Karen playing the guitar and singing during part of the service at St. Thomas Aquinas, Pence was smitten.
Afterward, he caught up with the elementary school teacher in the parking lot and said he knew how to play the guitar and would like to join the church’s musical team.
Karen matter-of-factly told him who he needed to speak with, but Pence otherwise did not seem to be making much headway.
Nonetheless, through their brief interaction, he did learn the name of the beautiful woman standing before him and that her sister Sheryl was also a student at Indiana University law school.
That was enough.
Pence’s lifelong friend Jay Steger remembers just how taken his buddy was with Karen from day one.
“He’s enthralled with her. It was really love at first sight for Michael,” Steger told Montgomery.
“After he talks to her he beelines over to my office, which is only about three blocks away, and literally talks for an hour and a half, describing everything about her — her hair, her brown eyes, the way she played the guitar, the kind of guitar she played, and so forth.
“After this went on for [so long], I said, ‘Michael, how long did you talk with this girl?’ He said, ‘Two or three minutes.’ I threw him out of my office at that time and said, ‘I’ve got work to do, get out of here!’”
Through some coaxing at the registrar’s office at his school, Pence managed to get Karen’s sister’s phone number, and he was on his way.
Karen picked up when he called, which caught him so off-guard he immediately hung up.
Pence then summoned the courage to call back and learned Karen was watching her niece and nephew.
She invited him over for dinner and to go ice skating with them. It was their first date, and things would progress quickly over the next months.
“When we started dating,” Karen Pence said, “I remember saying something to Mike, something silly like, ‘Oh you’re my number one.’ And he stopped right there and said, ‘You know what? I’m probably going to disappoint you if you make me number one in your life.'”
“What he was talking about was you need to have God as number one,” she explained. “Jesus needs to be number one in your life. [Mike] doesn’t mind being number two, but he just said, ‘You know, I’m human and I’m going to let you down.’”
Nine months after they met, Pence asked Karen to marry him.
“Anticipating the proposal, Karen had the word ‘yes’ engraved on a gold cross. When Mike proposed, she promptly took it out of her purse and presented it to him,” Montgomery wrote in her book.
In an interview earlier this month, Pence said, “Other than my decision to put my faith in Christ, my decision to ask Karen Whitaker to marry me has been the best decision I ever made in my life.”
Steger agrees that the man who would become a congressman, Indiana’s governor and the vice president chose well.
“Karen was a smart, highly talented young lady, valedictorian and pilot, who was ready to be side-by-side with him, evenly yoked for the journey they shaped together,” he said.
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