October 19, 2012

Jesus Loves Dinesh D’Souza, Too

Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

The conservative Christian community was shocked when World magazine broke a story about The King’s College president and cultural commentator Dinesh D’Souza. According to the exposé, he was at a September 28th apologetics event where he introduced a Denise Odie Joseph II as his fiancee. This surprised attendees since D’Souza had been married to his wife, Dixie, for nearly 20 years. World alleged that he shared a hotel with his girlfriend, but defended himself to concerned conference organizers since “nothing happened.” California court records showed that he filed for divorce on October 4th, nearly a week after the confrontation. State law declares that there must be a six-month waiting period for divorce.

D’souza fired back with his own comments in a Fox News editorial. Not only did he deny the charge that he shared a hotel room with his fiancee, but he also accused World editor and former King’s College provost Marvin Olasky of having a vendetta against D’Souza’s position as school president. D’Souza complained Olasky “vehemently opposed my candidacy” and resigned from the provost’s office in protest.

In a Christianity Today feature, D’Souza tried to explain himself more explicitly to the evangelical world. “I did not have any idea that it is seen as wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced even though separated,” he confessed. The quotes also revealed quite a bit of self-rationalization: “My purpose was to put our relationship on a legitimate and honorable foundation. I’m a college president at King’s and a public figure as a Christian apologist, and I thought it very important that any woman I appear with have a legitimate relationship with me.” He also struggled to defend his reputation, declaring, “It’s absolutely not the case that [pause]…Look, the issue here is that World is attributing to me an admission that I never made—is attributing to me a quotation that I never said. That to me is the problem…They are just claiming based upon my non-assertion that I did something that I didn’t do.” Thanks to mainstream media attention, the entire situation entered soap-operatic levels of drama. A particularly vicious report indicates that Denise Joseph was formerly married herself.

Thus continues a sad situation that injures many. D’Souza’s decisions have hurt himself, his wife Dixie, his fiancee, his ministry, and everyone tied to the King’s College (this includes a current IRD staffer and a former IRD intern). How strange to Christian ears to hear that D’Souza didn’t know it was “wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced even though separated.” He says this to people involved with the FAMILY Research Council and Focus on the FAMILY. Mr. Olasky may have some vendetta against Mr. D’Sousa, but the improprieties and immoralities are pretty astounding.

In this situation, there seems to be a disconnect between public persona and personal piety, where one has to struggle against temptation and sin. There is always a great risk when one becomes a culture warrior first and foremost. For this breed, Christianity is a thing to be used–a thing that does not speak, invade, or intrude into one’s life. Instead, it functions. In short, Christianity becomes an idol. This squarely clashes with The King’s College’s mission. D’Souza has since resigned his post.

The example of D’Souza highlights two important features of the church and the Christian life. First, there is a radical call to holiness, a standard to which the corporate Body of Christ keeps its members accountable. We see in the Epistle of St. James that teachers are held to a higher standard of accountability (often because of messes just like this). Read Mark 9:42-50. Our Savior gave fire-and-brimstone warnings about the destructiveness of sin—it were a better thing to cut off a hand or pluck out an eye than to sin.

And what D’Souza has done qualifies as sin, even in a liberal translation of biblical marriage. More traditional Christians believe that divorce is only an option in cases of adultery or abuse. However, IRD Fellow Alan Wisdom offered his very helpful commentary on the subject:

Even if one grants that divorce may be necessary in limited circumstances–very limited, if one takes Matthew 19/Mark 10 seriously–the priority up until the minute the divorce is final should be on seeking reconciliation with the spouse from whom one is separated. That’s why it is ALWAYS wrong to foreclose reconciliation by starting a new relationship while still married to another. Besides, relationships “on the rebound” are usually ill-fated, because they are typically a way to avoid dealing with the failings that caused the previous relationship to break up, leaving those unaddressed failings free to rear their ugly head again at a later time. The divorce rate for marriages that begin as adulterous affairs is 75 percent. Ultimately, our guide in all these matters is the love of Christ for his church, which is to be the model for our marriages. Christ always seeks reconciliation, until the very end. He never casts us aside for someone he likes better. We may separate ourselves from him, but he is always ready to take us back.

***

We must hope and pray for better things from Dinesh (whom I used to know years ago). And we should pray also for the young woman who is involved with him. She may have a low view of herself, thinking the best she can do is another woman’s husband. God has better plans for her too, we must believe.

For the second element to be mindful of, let’s return to Alan’s statement: “Christ always seeks reconciliation, until the very end. He never casts us aside for someone he likes better. We may separate ourselves from him, but he is always ready to take us back.” This is good counsel for us in the Christian community, too. Remember the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35. We have been forgiven our debts; we must forgive our debtors. Our King has issued his servants a drastic call to mercy.

We need to seek proper reconciliation with D’Souza—I hope there can be repentance and correction from harmful error on his part and that the Church will continue to reach out to him and try to minister to him. This cannot happen if he clings to all-besetting, death-bringing sin or if Christians hurt by his actions do not extend the hand of forgiveness and peace. Thankfully, grace has a tendency to invade the lives of the offended and the offender, whether the two human parties want it to or not. I pray D’Souza turns away and could find full fellowship once again. It’s the Church’s job to embody Christ in our call to faithful holiness and in our extension of mercy.


  • Ben

    (In order not to further bias anyone’s perception or misrepresent the situation, you might to refer to Denise as “fiancee” rather than “fiance”)

    • http://theird.wordpress.com theird

      Ben, thanks for catching that!

  • Ray Bannister

    Reading the news about Dinesh felt like a kick in the groin – which, to be honest, is a sensation I’d like for him to feel right now. I’ve read, and loved, every one of his books, enjoyed his frequent appearances on TV and radio. He’s one of the best minds in the conservative world, and look what a stupid and immoral thing he’s don. This “pre-divorce engagement” is not only wrong, but downright insulting to the people who are his biggest supporters. Did he honestly think that it was OK among Christians to get engaged while still married? As for his beef with Marvin Olasky, I don’t know what lies behind that, but for him to deride Olasky for breaking the story. is kinda missing the main point, isn’t it? (Had I been in Olasky’s shoes, I might’ve let the story ride till, say, past Election day.) Also, I think we all understand that men are MEN, even if they’re Christian, and the matter of whether he was or was not sharing a hotel room with his “fiancee,” I think we can safely say that when a man is planning to dump his wife for another woman, he’s already taken the other woman for a few “test drives.” Dinesh, we, your fans, are Christians, but we live in the real world, and we understand male sexual nature more than you might realize.

    Yeah, I know, to err is human, but still . . . It reflects badly on all of us. I’m hoping he will lay low for several months, and certainly I pray that he won’t go slightly crazy and turn into the next angry, spiteful, Christian-bashing Franky Schaeffer.

    • Anon

      It is definately not acceptable, in Christian circles, to be “engaged” whilst still married as that would mean one has not separated unto reconciliation and pretty much forces a closed door situation. But he appears to be surprised by this, and why should we be surprised, as incredulous as it sounds, when there are different degrees of liberalism in most places in society including christendom

      However, I don’t agree with the statemnet:

      “I think we can safely say that when a man is planning to dump his wife for another woman, he’s already taken the other woman for a few “test drives.” ” That is pure speculation and an assumption and so we cannot “safely say” anything with regards to that. He introduced a woman as his fiance whilst still married and that is not acceptable and we have clearly established that. It is not acceptable that anyone accuse him of taking a “test drive” unless he confesses (he denies it) or there is evidence. Even sharing a room in my opinion isn’t evidence of a “test drive” although it is inappropriate, however, I would understand speculation at that stage. As it stands he claims they had separate rooms.

  • Mack

    Yes, Jesus loves Mr. D’Souza, but not nearly as much as Mr. D’Souza does.

    May God preserve us from fame, fortune, and fashion.

  • Ben Welliver

    I have to side with Ray on this one. Granted we don’t KNOW for sure if D’Souza took his “fiancee” for a “test drive,” but he’d have to be a highly unique, highly self-controlled man if he hadn’t done so, and this whole incident would seem to prove he is a bit lacking in self-control. Whether they had a “test drive” or not is not the issue, of course, the point is it was just plain wrong to go around introducing his “fiancee” while still married.

    And Mack, you’re right: a lot of self-love at work here, Mr. D’Souza got pretty full of himself, figured (like a lot of prominent Christians) that God would overlook adultery.

    As I was reading about this incident, it occurred to me that though episodes like this do harm the church, they are small potatoes compared to the liberal clergy who, Sunday after Sunday, preach a message not even remotely in keeping with the Bible. I guess I’m saying that, stained as he is, I think DD is still one of our spiritual family, a brother who went astray, not an enemy. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  • http://www.paynehollow.blogspot.com Dan Trabue

    and so [they] incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not

    They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless…

    ~St Paul

    Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered…

    Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler

    ~from Proverbs

    …sigh…

  • J P Logan

    Commenting on something that has become national news is not “slander,” and what’s been in the news is hardly a “secret.” Saying that a prominent Christian should not have committed adultery is not “gossip.” Your Bible quotations do not even remotely apply to what has been posted.

    You must get one BIG self-righteous stratospheric high coming on this blog and smirking at people who don’t see the world exactly as you do. Whatever any of us posts here is WRONG in your eyes. What a burden it must be to be so PERFECT and have to share your universe with those evil Christians.

    A nationally known evangelical figure has been caught in sin. I would think you’d be satisfied with that by itself, but no, when we discuss the topic, you get the added pleasure of calling us “busybodies” and “slanderers.”

    Other than saying “Dan, you’re so smart, I agree with you completely on everything,” what could anyone say on here that would not provoke your sarcasm and a stream of Bible quotes that don’t pertain to what’s being discussed?

  • http://www.paynehollow.blogspot.com Dan Trabue

    Entering a reasonable conversation, with respectful questions and answers, give and take, treating me and me treating you as a brother in Christ? That would be not-smirk-worthy.

    I don’t usually engage in sarcasm too much on these sorts of places (trying to save that for my friends). I usually just try to raise questions and those questions often go unaddressed. In fact, I usually don’t say you’re wrong, even, just raise questions and sometimes say, “Well, I don’t find that argument to be very compelling.”

    I do find it interesting that you are criticizing me for doing EXACTLY what this whole website is about, my brother (or sister). The main difference being that I offer my opinions in a respectful way, I don’t try to “kick out” those who disagree with me or treat them as not part of the family of God. I generally just say, “Hey, here’s another opinion,” or “Here is a question that point brings up…” I don’t see how that is any worse than the status quo for many of these posts, and yet you never criticize the IRD. Could that be a double standard, possibly, JP?

    As to whether or not this is gossip, I’d just ask you to consider the Golden Rule: If your son or daughter were engaged in a personal misstep, would you want blogs across the nation raising questions about “Well, where did SHE sleep that night? I bet he “tried her out…” ya know what I mean…”? Does this not seem gossipy and unseemly and lacking in love to you?

    It does to me.

    I don’t know D’Souza, I’m guessing he must be on a different “side” than I am oftentimes, and yet, I wouldn’t want to see an enemy treated this way, much less a brother in Christ. I think the Proverbs fit pretty well. If you don’t, if you think dissecting a fellow Christians apparent public failing is good Christian fodder for discussion, have at it. Do you mind if I disagree?

    Peace.

    • Ben

      Dan, your second post helps clarify your intent. In your first post, I think you may have come across differently than you intended. Simply posting scripture passages without offering any thought on where and how someone ignored the passage does not allow much room for opinion or discussion. Any reply to you could only guess at any questions you were raising or points you were making. (I think your original intent was to indicate that the article author or commentators or both were gossiping/slandering, though only your second post brought any clarity.)

      Posting passages with no comment, to me, comes across as eschewing clarity or discussion. Until you support your interpretation of a passage, simply quoting scripture does nothing. Probably, nobody here thinks (or thought) they were gossiping. Your second post explains why you think some of what’s been said is gossip. That is probably needed most times. (Though sometimes maybe a simple reminder of scripture is all that is needed for people to realize they are gossiping, on the internet, I’d bet you need more :).

      It does seem that when something has already been brought out into the open, discussing how we should respond or think about it can be appropriate. When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus, he rebuked the hypocrisy of the men there, and admonished the woman in love. He didn’t just ignore it. So much is public these days with the internet and television. I don’t think this blog is trying to publish D’Souza’s sin. Rather, it probably assumes most readers have heard of it and wants to discuss various aspects. Just as we should know when a presidential candidate lies about something, when a well-known Christian apologist does what D’Souza has, there is an appropriate way to respond and discuss. There are many instances in the Bible of the church needing to publicly excommunicate or rebuke a brother or sister. Most of the time that is in the context of a local church, but in our day, I think an at large response is sometimes appropriate. (Obviously, the details get fuzzy.) Part of the purpose of any public discipline is to warn the church of the consequences of sin and to remind us to be vigilant in our own lives.

      I think you’re right that not everything which was said here was helpful or good. Pointing out exactly what was gossip or slander, though, is necessary. As for the initial response to you, the last three paragraphs of it were fit for the dunghill ;). It is unfortunate that people respond that way, though, honestly, I didn’t know how to take YOUR first post itself. I wondered if I was seeing “self-righteousness.” :) Thank you for your helpful and civil response! I hope my thoughts are enlightening. We all need each other, self-righteous bigots or not. :)

  • http://www.paynehollow.blogspot.com Dan Trabue

    Thanks for the helpful thoughts, Ben. I thought my intent was obvious and I guess it wasn’t. Point taken.

    As to D’Souza, or any person “caught up in sin” and publicly exposed, my idea is that it is best to let the person’s immediate family and faith community deal with it. I find this whole “look what he did” circus atmosphere of exposed sins unsavory and, well, gossipy, rather what it looks like is condemned in the Bible.

    One man’s opinion for all that it’s worth.

  • http://Nowebsite D’Souza

    What puzzles me is DD, a Christian of vintage standing (whether Catholic or any other denomination that believes in Christ), saying that he did not know that another arrangement while still in marriage, is wrtong. Does any Christian denomination accept or overlook such arrangements? DD’s knowledge of the tenets of whatever faith he is professing appears to be incomplete.

  • The Jones

    Well done, Barton. That was excellent.

  • Lou de Louzada

    Do we know if Olasky followed Biblical procedures of dealing with this issue before going public with the allegations?

  • K Smith

    I would like to believe that D’Souza didn’t really share a hotel room with his “fiancee,” though the situation at the hotel as described by the conference organizers makes that seem unlikely. But I wonder why he hasn’t posted the receipt for the second hotel room. It wouldn’t eliminate the criticism, but it would certainly reduce it (it would be a defense against the adultery charge, at least).

    And I’m amazed that D’Souza was getting his moral guidance (regarding the new engagement) from his lawyer, rather than a pastor or other mature Christian. Did the head of The King’s College really not have a relationship with anyone who could and would explain to him what an engagement before finalizing (or even filing for) a divorce looks like to theologically conservative Christians? Seems like a failure of the college’s board to provide appropriate oversight.

  • Ben Welliver

    I think we’re overlooking the obvious regarding D’Souza’s “ignorance” about pre-divorce engagments: his brain had shut down while another organ took over. Whatever his friends/advisors may have told him was a moot point. Yeah, it does seem bizarre that someone so wise and so rational could behave this way, but it wouldn’t be the first time an intellectual goes off the rails due to his libido. I knew an evangelical seminaryprof (taught ETHICS) a few years ago who went slightly cuckoo when he turned 50 – guy with the nerdy demeanor of George Will threw away his career and marriage over some 27-year-old that got him extremely excited. These things happen. Welcome to earth.