September 15, 2019

The Church Can’t Hide Its Sexual Brokenness

UPDATE: D’Souza has resigned.

The conservative evangelical churches in the United States have a serious problem. While continually expressing opinions in public that come across as moral policing of our decadent culture, Christian groups and leaders also keep being beset by their own sexual sins and public scandals.

Two cases in point in the news this week:

Dinesh D’Souza, Married President of The King’s College, Faces Questions Over New ‘Fiancee’

Dinesh D’Souza, president of The King’s College and a well-known evangelical author, faces questions from his board over his relationship with a woman he introduced as his fiancee in late September, according to World magazine.

The problem? D’Souza, who has experienced a “meteoric rise in the evangelical world,” is still married to his wife of 20 years, Dixie.

World reports that D’Souza and his wife filed for divorce on Oct. 4, but D’Souza appeared at a September speaking event in South Carolina with a “young woman, Denise Odie Joseph II, and introduced her to at least three people as his fiancée.”

So, how’s this for bad judgment?

According to World Magazine, “About 2,000 people gathered on Sept. 28 at First Baptist North in Spartanburg, S.C., to hear high-profile Christians speak on defending the faith and applying a Christian worldview to their lives. Among the speakers: Eric Metaxas, Josh McDowell, and—keynote speaker for the evening—best-selling author, filmmaker, and Christian college president Dinesh D’Souza.”

So far so good. Conservative Christian encouraging other Christians to live as conservative Christians in the midst of an unbelieving and immoral world.

The problem? D’Souza was at the conference with a woman who was not his wife, a woman he publicly introduced to others as his “fiancée,” and with whom he openly spent the night in a hotel room while at the event.

You can read the whole story at the World link above.

I’m not here to condemn D’Souza. He is accountable to his own board and those in his sphere of influence. But how stupid can a Christian leader be? Good grief, Dinesh, at least have the common sense to sneak around!

* * *

Lawsuit Claims Evangelical Church Hid Abuse Claims

The AP reports:

Three female plaintiffs claim an evangelical church group covered up allegations of sexual abuse against children, failed to report accusations of misconduct to the police and discouraged its members from cooperating with law enforcement, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed in Maryland state court against Sovereign Grace Ministries, a 30-year-old family of churches with about 100 congregations. Most of its churches are in the U.S., but it also has planted churches in other countries.

The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members. The alleged abuse happened in Maryland and northern Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s. The lawsuit accuses church representatives of permitting suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution and forcing victims to meet with and “forgive” the person that had molested them.

“The facts show that the Church cared more about protecting its financial and institutional standing than about protecting children, its most vulnerable members,” the lawsuit claims.

As with the Roman Catholic priest abuse scandals, the crime is a serious problem, the cover-up even more serious. Any group that names the name of Jesus and does not give priority to loving and protecting the most vulnerable among us earns not my judgment, but Jesus’ own condemnation: “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18:6, NRSV).

* * *

Folks, Christians are no more or less broken and capable of sinning than anyone else in this world. Simul justus et peccator — we are simultaneously righteous and sinful until the day we are glorified.

It is time to stop pretending. It is time to stop saying we have the answers and can rise above the moral degradation of our times.

All we can do is look to Jesus. We have no room to boast. We have no room to claim any kind of transformation that makes us “different” from our neighbors. We are not different. We are human. We fail.

It’s not about transcending sin. It’s about admitting our own sinfulness, naming our own sin, being harsh with ourselves and being kind and loving and forbearing toward others. It’s about being forgiven, again and again and again.

Comments

  1. I have read and enjoyed Dinesh’s books. This saddens me.

  2. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I’m not here to condemn D’Souza. He is accountable to his own board and those in his sphere of influence. But how stupid can a Christian leader be? Good grief, Dinesh, at least have the common sense to sneak around!

    “Stupidity is like Hydrogen. It’s the basic building block of the Universe.” — Frank Zappa

    All we can do is look to Jesus. We have no room to boast. We have no room to claim any kind of transformation that makes us “different” from our neighbors. We are not different. We are human. We fail.

    Problem is, CM, that resembles one of the standard Spin Lines (along with “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”) that gets trotted out every time an Evangelical Celebrity Leader gets caught.

    While if it were anybody else (non-Celebrity rank-and-file in the church or anyone outside of it), there’d be fist fights among the Righteous over who gets to cast the first stone.

    • What I hope is different is the line, “It’s about admitting our own sinfulness, naming our own sin, being harsh with ourselves and being kind and loving and forbearing toward others.”

    • So, HUG, you want to throw stones because he’s a hypocrite? It sounds like you’re saying that because he’s conservative, he doesn’t deserve any sympathy or charity.

    • “Stupidity is like hydrogen. It’s the basic building block of the universe.” It’s hard to imagine a statement more smug than that one. But Frank Zappa was nothing if not smug.

  3. Clay Knick says

    So very true. We are all so broken & weak. Look to Jesus.

  4. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The plaintiffs allege a conspiracy spanning more than two decades to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members. The alleged abuse happened in Maryland and northern Virginia in the 1980s and 1990s. The lawsuit accuses church representatives of permitting suspected pedophiles to interact with children, supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution and forcing victims to meet with and “forgive” the person that had molested them.

    There are probably dozens of similar cases in the archives of Wartburg Watch. The “forcing victims to meet with and forgive the molestor” seems to be a common response. However, the “supplying them with free legal advice to avoid prosecution” is what really takes the cake. Not only not reporting, but actually giving free legal help to the pedo. Like I said, you’ll probably find a lot of accounts like this over at Wartburg Watch.

  5. The pious Right. So broken and weak, so focused on Jesus, and so willing … to pay good money to see D’Souza’s “Obama’s America,” which plays up the racist canard about the morals of a white woman who has sex with a black man.

    Feh.

    • Why yes, the Indian man is telling people not to trust the non-White man.

      There are plenty of problems with the Obama’s America movie, but they should at least be coherent complaints.

      • My point had to do with D’Souza’s depiction of the president’s parents, not with his ethnicity. I wish American evangelicals called each other out for racism as much as for their indelicate sleeping arrangements.

    • “…which plays up the racist canard about the morals of a white woman who has sex with a black man.”

      Can you back this up with something besides your own imagination?

      • Read his book, and please pay particular attention to what he says about the president’s mother.

  6. But if american evangelicalism admitted to its brokenness and spent more time humbly seeking forgiveness and repentance – then they couldn’t maintain the illusion of cultural war power… (And sexual brokenness is only the tip of the iceberg) – there are many other areas equally damning – if american evangelicalism got serious about all those areas – they wouldn’t have time for the cultural war or the entertaining self-centered hoopla that consumes most of church life…

  7. It is my sense that the root to this particular problem is the false concept of Christian maturity or godliness. When you believe that you can mature or grow and sin less and less, but in reality you don’t, you create a psychological “safe zone” where you are above the law. It must be the log and the speck thing.

    It always amazes me how comfortable the self confessed godly person is with outrageous sin in their private world.

    I remember a story almost exactly like this. I was in a college parachurch group that highly appraised godliness, We worked very hard to be godly. One of the middle aged staff men, whom we considered “a real man of God,” left one spring with his wife (also middle aged) and came back for the fall semester with a college girl (unsaved from what I observed but hot), and he was passing her off as his wife. We all pretended that it was the same wife he had left with the previous spring. It was one of the strangest and emotionally dysfunctional things I had ever witnessed, but as a young Christian I had to assume that this was how God worked.

    • It is horrible when our idols have clay feet. Our (Catholic) pastor in our Florida parish was arrested for stealing from the church to buy drugs for himself and his homosexual lover. It was impossible to ignore, even had we wanted to, as it was front page news and led the six o’clock broadcasts locally. Our sons were young teens, and we had to deal with their shock and disgust and sense of betrayal.

      [The previous pastor, an ex-Marine, saved our youngest son from trotting down the wrong path in life, and was his Confirmation sponser–for you non-Catholics, this is VERY unusual, but our son wanted to honor the man who turned his life around. Now he had THIS to deal with…]

      I had to keep reminding myself that whatever sin had occured the night before, the Mass and Eucharist this disgraced priest performed on Sundays was still, through the grace of God, valid. Our leaders may turn out to be serious sinners, but our faith and God’s church marches on….

  8. So D’Souza filed for divorce like, two weeks ago, and is apparently now engaged to someone else. All very tawdry, no doubt, but the sad fact is that many divorces are like that. If the pope can keep on preaching despite his much more serious sins (and probably crimes), I don’t see why D’Souza shouldn’t enjoy the same respect.

    • Gerald, it’s not so much the sin itself, it’s the public flaunting of it. What D’Souza did is the equivalent of hosting an open bar at a Prohibition party. He stood before a crowd and preached morality, then had his hosts escort him back to his room with his girlfriend. That’s downright insulting. At least pretend to care about what you’re preaching and writing about.

      • Did he preach about sexual morality? I thought his thing was politics.

        • It’s all part of the schtick — the moral bankruptcy of our culture. Even if that wasnt his specific topic, it is high on the agenda of his audience.

          • CM –
            I think you are guilty of baking differing people into one big pie here. To my knowledge D’Souza doesn’t go around thumping his Bible about Puritan morality so it is inappropriate for you to judge him as though he were Jerry Falwell. And how do you reconcile these two statements from your very same article???

            “Good grief, Dinesh, at least have the common sense to sneak around!”
            And
            “It is time to stop pretending. It is time to stop saying we have the answers and can rise above the moral degradation of our times.”

            So what do you want from D’Souza? Should he be a hypocrite or should he be open and honest that his marriage failed and he is moving on?

          • The sarcasm thing does sometimes get by me.

  9. His horrific racism and dishonesty is fine. But naughty sex?!?! Won’t somebody think of the children!!!!!!!!!!

    • Donalbain, can we deal with one thing at a time here, please. And like I said to Gerald, it’s not so much the “naughty sex” as it is the brazen way D’Souza acted. Can we at least pretend to care about morality if we’re going to be all up on our high horse about it with our words?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        This was a “flaunt the mistress in public” BEFORE the divorce was even announced. Amid Christian Culture Warriors whose obsession is Enforcing Sexual Morality. (On everyone else? Maybe D’Souza got a free pass because his mistress was FEMALE, so that made it OK? After all, it’s not like he was one of THOSE…)

        And the timing makes me wonder — did his wife start the divorce action AFTER hearing about her husband’s little stunt?

      • I think it is very telling that the Evangelical political machine can accept a racist, but not a man who has naughty sex.

        • I would agree that is a serious blind spot in US Christianity.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            More like tunnel vision than blind spot.

            With the additional factor of “how else can Paragons of Sexual Morality get their porn fix? Juicy! Juicy! Juicy!”

            Christians are just as screwed-up sexually as everyone else, just it shows in a different direction.

          • But most people who are sexually screwed-up engage in unwise, ill-considered trysts behind closed doors (or watch other people!) They don’t parade their peccadilloes (and here I consider being gay equivalent to being straight, i.e. not screwed-up) out in the open. They usually don’t try to intertwine the sacred with sex. They don’t try to foist their shoe fetish off on non-fetishists like the chastity brigade does.

  10. Is it really at anything like an epidemic?

    At least in the cast of the Catholic crisis most of these cases were years ago – and an institution inherits the flaws of the culture in which it operates [it is wrong for an organization to deny or not be aware of this]. But in the 60s, 70s, and into the 80’s [at least here in the USA] *everyone* turned away from these kinds of issues. If the same scrutiny was turned towards the public schools of the same years I can only imagine the scope of the scandal. I personally can recall numerous incidents that would be jumped on *today*, but then things were different [I can recall a teacher who had girls sit on his lap for better grades, and everyone knew about that]. This certainly doesn’t excuse anyone at all – but focusing this as an issue rife within any unit of culture is simply incorrect. This kind of disgusting garbage was everywhere you looked [unless you did not want to see it – which was the position the culture in the USA was in].

    I also partition guys like D’Souza into a category of ‘political operatives’. I recently saw him in a debate, he is gifted and brilliant [and trounced his anti-religion opponent (although she just was a very good debator)]. But he certainly isn’t a “preacher” in any common sense of the word. I’m more disturbed by the union of religion and polotics than I am about his girlfriend(s). The church has an important role in criticizing the practices of the state and its policies; but Dinesh and his brethren want a church-endorsed state, which can only be ugly. Where is the guy at the debate who represents Christianity without political aspirations?

    Generally I just dismiss people who use those like Dinesh or perverted Catholic priests to denounce ‘faith’. I really do not believe there is a crisis. There will always be a bad apple. And someone who denounces the message because of the messenger had no real interest in the message. Christians shouldn’t allow themselves to get as flustered as they sometimes do by this kind of nonsense. Then the political operatives [of whatever team] win. Lets talk about the message, and the merit of the message, and always always push away from talking about the messenger [which would also help avoid the cult-of-personality]. Lets talk about ideas, not people. We’ve got way to much cult-of-personality in Christian land. That opens us up to attacks against the messengers [which are all crappy stinky human beings, such as me]

    > Simul justus et peccator

    +1

    > expressing opinions in public that come across as moral policing of our decadent culture

    Most who don’t like what you say or believe will somehow move what you say into irrelevance. It is easier than considering it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened to people rail about those crazy fire-n-brimstone legalist Christians who would have all women wearing head-scarves. It is an argument against a cartoon. If you believe in write and wrong, in the virtue of chastity or modesty, in the virtue of considerate and respectful speech – then you are a fire-n-brimstone legallist to many people who do not agree with you. Because I do not want state mandated funding of contraception then I am a participant in the “War on Women”. One reason these things are interpreted this way is because *we*, the Christian community, have been too tolerant of the operatives within our midst which are not of us, but desire to use us, in their pursuit of power. They’re presence poisons the conversation, they push sides to extreme perspectives. Every time I hear someone railing about Muslim extremists and how their clerics do not denounce them [which isn’t true, but again – perspectives], all I can think is pot-kettle-black. Christianity needs more, and more aggressive, in-fighting. We need more theologians on tour, in churches, and in debates, out front – and many fewer political operatives. Writing books that sit on shelves isn’t good enough. The best way to address this ‘crisis of credibility’ is to raise the level of the conversation. The disinterested will be bored out of their minds and dismiss it as irrelevant, but the ‘seekers’ would have a reason to show up.

    • They weren’t all years ago. The bulk yes, but there have been instances in the past couple years. In the 80s, I remember a local teacher had been abusing his students. He was turned over to the authorities, his name was put in the paper, he was fired… This did not happen all that often in the Catholic church crisis.

      Also, schools do not have the authority to withhold the Sacraments from parents who “refuse to forgive” their child’s abuser as occured in the Davenport diocese (part of their settlement involved putting all their docs online. Depressing reading).

      If the churches cannot act with the integrity of the Nabisco board (just as an example of a corporate entity in the secular world) then why should it be given any kind of consideration? And with the Catholic church I am unsure one can separate the message from the Church. It’s easier to separate the message from the church when speaking of churches with congregational governance since typically it’s a smaller population of people who have presumably chosen to be deaf, blind, and mute as a group.

      The other problem is that Christianity’s message has become muddy. What is it? How does it make sense in the modern world? Animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is a foreign concept in our world. Yet it is at the heart of the Penal Substitution theory which supposes Jesus in the place of the lamb. PS is the most common soteriology expressed in modern Evangelicalism and even some of the main line churches.

      If one supports treating a woman’s medication, if prescribed by a physician, and regardless of what it’s for; different than one would a man’s medication, then isn’t one treating women differently? Hasn’t the decision indicated that women’s medical issues (and contraception is a huge part of that for young women) are not as important as other medical issues. And doesn’t this mindset indicate that employers have a paternalistic right to direct the lifestyle of their employees.

      • Are you equating contraception with necessary medications? Medications that should be covered are ones that a person must take as a result of a physical condition. Contraception is different since it is something that should be taken as a result of a person’s lifestyle choice. If someone chooses to have sex when they don’t want a pregnancy then they should choose to pay for their own contraception.

        Demanding coverage for our lifestyle choices is ridiculous. If that is how we are going to operate then I want coverage that provides me with a free parachute & helmet should I choose to take up recreational BASE jumping. After all, I can’t afford the thousands of dollars and base jumping without them would be deadly.

        • You can’t know, unless you’re also prepared to violate your employee’s privacy, just why they are talking meds. So you don’t in fact know that it is a lifestyle decision (e.g. wanting to have a happy, normal married life with her partner) or if, in fact, she suffers from a medical condition that the prescription can also treat. You also don’t know what damage another child might do to her body. And, as the employer, I doubt you want your employee to take maternity leave all that often, so there’s that, too.

          In my opinion, employers should not know whether or if their employees are receiving medical care, what if any scripts they are prescribed (with the exception where the med would impact one’s performance), etc. If a doctor writes it, and the insurance company accepts the claim, then the employer does not need to know. And insurance companies seem pretty happy to cover contraception since the cost of one complicated birth will cover thousands of women’s normal care.

          • The issue of medically necessary birth control is covered in insurance policies similar to the way non-elective versus elective surgery is covered. What is “necessary” is up to the doctor and the insurance company to decide. That is different from a law that demands that all employers provide health insurance that covers contraception and abortion for people based on lifestyle choice. What a person chooses, they should also choose to pay for.

          • Laura Blalock says

            I can kind of see requiring that contraception be covered like any other prescription. Even a woman who is taking it for birth control may at the same time have wretched menstrual cramps that it really helps with – been there done that.

            But requiring it *without a copay* is kind of weird, since there are all kinds of life-saving meds that AFAIK aren’t required to be covered like that.

            I cynically wonder if it’s to make it easier for minor girls to get, since their parents won’t be getting a bill for it.

    • Not everyone was ignoring child abuse in the ’80s. In the secular world, there were a many cases of prosection of it, and even several that went way overboard and caught up innocent people in witch hunts about the issue (eg. McMartin preschool, or the Dunn case in the book “Mean Justice.”). But the point is that in the outside world there was a growing awareness and a willinness to do something about it. Not so in the church. As with so many things, they were light years behind. This was true of both protestant and catholics from what I can see.

      The body of Christ, that should be at the forefront of justice for the most vulnerable, badly trailed the “secular” authorities on this matter.

  11. In the interest of full disclosure, D’Souza is denying the veracity of the story, below:

    “A recent article in World magazine gives the false impression that I, a married man, had an affair with a woman Denise Joseph at a Christian conference in Charlotte, N.C.,” D’Souza writes in a recent op-ed for Fox News.

    “The article alleges that I shared a hotel room with her and introduced her as my fiancé. Finally it states that I filed for divorce only on the day I was confronted about my conduct by intrepid reporter Warren Smith,” he adds.

    D’Souza flatly states that the allegations aren’t true and offers a laundry list of reasons why:

    1. My wife Dixie and I have been separated for two years. Dixie approached me and demanded this [a separation] before I came to King’s College to become its president in late August 2010. I informed the chairman of the college about this at the time. I also informed the reporter who wrote the World article, Warren Smith, but he deliberately left it out of his piece, even though it is entirely relevant to the context.

    2. I met Denise three months ago. We are not and have not been having an affair. Nor did we share a hotel room in Charlotte. Smith did not even ask me about this. Instead, Smith apparently deployed conference organizer Alex McFarland to call and raise the issue with me. I clearly told McFarland that Denise and I stayed in separate rooms. McFarland knew he didn’t have what he wanted, because he subsequently called me back and asked me again. I realized McFarland may be fronting for Smith, so I told him I didn’t have any further comment. I’m not sure whether McFarland is lying or Smith is lying, but one of them made up the quotation attributed to me that we stayed in the same room but “nothing happened.” This is pure libel.

    3. I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings. Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

    • Like I said, D’Souza is not accountable to me. I can’t quite understand, at this point, however, how there could be two such diverse stories.

      • So he admits that he is, or was, engaged, but denies that they had sex. I assume this to be bs. But after two years of separation, who can honestly blame him? As Dan Savage said once, relationships don’t necessarily start or end at convenient times. Isn’t love more important than petty legalism?

        • Laura Blalock says

          Why do you assume this to be BS? It may very well, be, but can the man not get the benefit of the doubt?

          If they are having sex, it would be adultery, so he needs to put that other marriage to rest. But if he’s telling the truth, that it was his wife who abandoned the marriage, then after two years making plans for some kind of future with somebody else is certainly understandable.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        A “Whose TRUTH?” situation?

    • Marcus Johnson says

      That’s a load of a lack of common sense on D’Souza’s part. Seriously, he didn’t think it wise to finalize his divorce before trolling the singles bars? Common sense says, “Marriage is not just about sexual or emotional commitment; there are also financial and legal obligations that are attached to that marital contract. Before I get into another relationship of any kind, maybe I should satisfy my previous obligations first.”

      Sorry, CM, I know it’s a little off-topic, but I’m trying to get my head around the argument which this man thinks his supporters are supposed to swallow.

      • The “trolling the singles bars” comment is over the top. You don’t know where or under what circumstances they met. It’s bad enough. It is unwise to invent circumstances that make it worse.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        So, let’s assume the best of circumstances. Maybe they fell in love while giving food to the homeless and teaching people in underdeveloped countries how to read. Maybe they never actually had sex. Maybe they only kissed each other with their right hands on Bibles. Regardless of the nature of his actions, D’Souza was still married, and he still had an obligation to his wife, to respect their marriage.

    • Final Anonymous says

      “I did not have s*x with that woman.”

  12. “We have no room to claim any kind of transformation that makes us “different” from our neighbors. We are not different. We are human. We fail.”
    Look, I’m not going to pretend we’re perfect. But neither am I going to rationalize away the promises and possibilities towards real transformation. What happened to being new creatures? how does that make us different?
    When Jesus said you ARE the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and when Paul urged us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, I don’t think we have the right to dial it back to “only in some theologically abstract kind of way that will have no impact on my life”.
    It is odd that many of those evangelicals who advocate strongly for secular governiance according to “biblical principles”, or even “peacemaking according biblical principles”, will be the first to throw in the towel and concede that their own personal transformation will not occur in this lifetime. Maybe there’s aspects of God’s love and grace yet to be explored.

    • We are no different in the sense that we are never invulnerable.

    • While I believe that Christ is doing a transforming work in everyone in whom His Spirit has taken up residence, I also believe that this transformation has to start and continue from a place of honesty and genuineness in order to have any value at all. And though we humans may be adept at wearing masks and changing our skins from public to private, God is not fooled, and He is not in the least bit interested in anything but the genuine article.
      That’s one truth that the church desperately needs to get a firm grasp on and keep at the forefront — the truth that the appearance of righteousness without the genuine God-instilled reality of righteousness has absolutely no eternal value. Actually, feigned or human-sourced righteousness is more destructive and damning in the long run than open or brazen unrighteousness. Open sinners defile their own minds and bodies and sometimes harm their neighbor in the process. Hypocrites defile the truth and damage or destroy the faith of anyone foolish enough to put stock in them.
      But, to one degree or another, we all play illusion games with God and ourselves. That’s the root of our disease. Our tendency to hide and put on fig leaves is much more dangerous than our carnal lusts and desires — or those things that incite our lusts and desires — and it’s the main enemy we should be fighting in our moral crusades.
      Unfortunately, encouraging and teaching honest humility doesn’t seem to be real high up on the priority list in the church world these days. And it’s certainly not something we’ve been insisting on when picking our leaders.

      • You hit the nail on the head. 100%

      • @Humanslug – agreed, and I’ll take it one step further: the hypocrisy comes when we secretly fear that Christ has NOT actually begun the transformation in us, and we therefore need to push the agenda and “fake it ’til we make it”. Or, we water down his words so that the transformation is more mystical and has no impact on daily living.
        But Jesus did not say “you will *someday be* the salt of the earth”, he said “you ARE the salt of the earth”. He was concerned more that we would lose the savor that we already have, not that we woudl fail to gain it in the first place.

  13. I’m not here to condemn D’Souza. He is accountable to his own board and those in his sphere of influence. But how stupid can a Christian leader be? Good grief, Dinesh, at least have the common sense to sneak around!

    I’m interpreting this paragraph to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it seems rather contrary to the whole ethos of this site to say that it’s better for the guy to be sneaking around rather than be doing this in the open. It’s almost like a 1 Corinthians 5 situation. If someone is being flagrant in their sin and their church or whoever they’re accountable to isn’t doing anything about it, both bear blame.

    It is kind of surprising to me that this guy seemed to think he could simply get away with such a thing. But on the other hand, I guess it isn’t. These parachurch leaders kind of become like a version of South American dictators. They know they’re corrupt, and everyone else knows they’re corrupt, but yet they remain in power.

  14. Steve Newell says

    How do we reconcile the pastor who is divorced and behavior in regards of sex outside of marriage with what St. Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:1-7? Should we hold our pastors to this standard? If they cannot or will not live according to these standards forfeit the right to hold the office of Pastor?

    • I don’t believe Mr. D’Souza holds the role of pastor. He’s an author, polemicist, and college president, none of which seem to be affected by that verse.

  15. This is a pretty tame scandal. If he has been separated from his wife for 2 years, then seeing another woman is not unreasonable. The only fault I would have for him is he should have filed for divorce when he believed that he and his wife were irreconcilable, which would have been at the point he decided to start meeting women again. Waiting until someone writes an article criticizing his conduct is not rational from the perspective of avoiding harm to his own reputation.

    If he and his new partner did share a room, then that seems, again, to be failing to preserve his own good name for some reason. I mean, if he earns 10K a year speaking to Christians, it seems he could afford to get 2 rooms at the Comfort Inn just to avoid the appearance of scandal.

  16. You know what gets me…? Reading these stories and thinking about the common man at the bottom of the totem pole getting hammered for confessing their brokenness. I know my demons and I would never want to be in Christian ministry as I would feel that my demons would disqualify me. (That’s if I could get my derailed faith back on track!) But I’ve known too many stories of people at the bottom getting hammered, rejected, shunned, etc.. Here’s a sampling….

    1. Guy going through a divorce who was asked by his pastor to leave the chruch he was involved in. However, his ex-wife stayed active in that church.

    2. Guy who gave his testimony about homosexaulity in a mega church envirnment. He was warmly received- AMAZINGLY…but when he struggled more with homosexuality his family was drinking the Focus on the Family kool-aid. He eventually gave up and came out as a gay man.

    3. Various situations where guys hid, and covered up their difficulties with porn, etc.. Why they didn’t want to be hammered. And sometimes people who confess their shortfall get hammered. I fell into this catagory.

    4. People who gossiped and assumed, “so and so” must be gay. Many fundagelcials are notorious for gossip. When I was brand spanking new to fundagelicalism in 1999 in California. It was not more than two weeks of involvement and already I heard people gossiping that the worship leader in Crusade is gay. Today he has a family of three and is marreid to a great wife. But how wrong was that gossiping….

    So amidst all that you see what people on the top of the totem pole get away with. How sick it that? It’s actually depressing.

    • People in positions of power and influence enjoy special considerations that the lowly peasants of the world do not. It’s just they way things are in this fallen world. It’s true in politics, pop culture, business, and basically any large social structure made up of fallen human beings. While this ideally shouldn’t be true of the church, unfortunately it is most of time.
      But, unlike us, God is not a respecter of persons or their inflated egos. Scripture even indicates that He holds His shepherds to a higher standard than His sheep. And those who abuse their fellow servants will answer for it, sooner or later.
      But, as for myself, I have to be careful not to dwell too much on what other people have coming — or what I think some people deserve. I am not qualified as the judge of any man’s soul. All I can do is stay honest about my own sins and shortcomings, confess them as often as I can remember to do so, and maybe even make some progress on those occasions that I allow Christ to rule over my flesh and its desires.
      When the injustices and inequalities of this world get me down, I just have to remind myself that it’s not about who wins or loses or who gets away with what. Jesus won by losing, and nobody ever gets away with anything — not really. But we can live in His grace. And we can learn to measure our own value and to recognize the value of others according to the yardstick of His love.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      People who gossiped and assumed, “so and so” must be gay. — Eagle

      Just like high school.

  17. ‘I had no idea that it was considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to divorce, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings’

    Good grief! Has this man actually read the teachings of Jesus on this subject?

    • “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorence on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon… you know, cause I’ve worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time.”

      – George Costanza

    • Okay then, if we’re going to invoke him, then how do we feel about taking oaths?

      • Jesus: “…you have many husbands, and the many you currently have is not your husband.”
        Woman at the well: “Oh yeah? Well then, who is right about this random theological controversy? Should we worship over here or over there?”

  18. Southwestern Discomfort says

    I don’t understand why some of you are cutting this guy any slack. Because out here in the world, D’Souza looks pretty awful. I may be a former Christian turned agnostic, but at least one of my immutable rules is Thou Shalt Not Mess Around With A Married Person. I dumped a guy 30 years ago when I found out that he was married, had a kid and another on the way. I was furious when I found out.

    It’s truly ironic. The churches criticize single people like myself for having consensual relationships outside of marriage, or gay and lesbian marriages. But there’s no issue if one of the leaders decides he can introduce his new fiancee when he’s still married to his previous wife. At least let the ink dry on the divorce papers first!

    • Is it absolutely necessary to wait until the divorce is final? This might take years, and if the relationship is irreparably broken, what difference does it honestly make? Your experience was not comparable–your ex was “married” in the sense of having an ongoing marriage, and lied to you about it.

      • Southwestern Discomfort says

        Gerald, I can’t even believe you’re asking this question. Seriously. Do “Christians” have any sort of standards, or is it all “we’re all sinners forgiven by Jesus so we can do anything we want”?

      • Marcus Johnson says

        The difference is that a marriage, by definition, carries significant spiritual, legal, and emotional commitments. There’s nothing inherently wrong with acknowledging that a marriage is irreparable, and if D’Souza was not a professed Christ-follower, then I would be more than happy to shrug this whole thing off. But if he claims to be a follower of Jesus, then he has to set himself to a higher standard. That means waiting until the divorce is final, when there are no more financial or legal entanglements to another woman that might compromise a future relationship (even if he was not a Christ-follower, that would be a good idea).

        • Where are you getting your list of Christian laws from? I thought all this was supposed to be superseded…? If you say the Sermon on the Mount, then I hope you’ve been giving to all who ask.

        • Marcus Johnson says

          I’m not referring to laws; I’m referring to standards of behavior and conduct which, by the very nature of a true commitment to the spirit of the gospel, should be higher than the rest of the world. Or should he just do whatever he wants?

          I’m not sure what you mean by “superseded.” Christ said that he did not come to destroy the law, so these standards of behavior are not eliminated just because salvation is free.

          Your last statement is interesting. As it turns out, I actually have been giving more to those who ask. Long story behind that, however, whatcha got now?

          • It is interesting that right after Christ declares that we are Salt to the earth and the light of the world (whcih DOES sound like we’re to be different than non-salt, non-light), his prelude / warning is:
            For what I’m about to say next, DON’T think I am abolishing the law. (Matt. 5:17-20)
            Why does he need to say that? Because everything that follows this prelude sounds an awful lot like he’s abolishing the law.
            “You have heard it said… but I say to you”. Jesus isn’t just improving on some folk wisdom here. The “heard it saids” are all straight from the law.

        • I can’t see the relevance of when secular society says that “you are now divorced”. Divorce means someone sinned, and the whole mess of how the legal system sorts out that mess is pretty irrelevant as far as I see.

          If we want to understand divorce in the biblical sense, you could say they were biblically divorced the minute they separated. I mean, that’s the connotation of the word from ancient times, and that’s what it meant in ancient times. You split up. That modern society has overlaid this whole legal structure on top of the simple concept of “you split up” is rather a different thing.

          One might argue though that we need a higher standard from leaders. In the Orthodox Church, you don’t get to remarry if you are in the clergy. You choose: you want to get remarried, then you resign from leadership. You want to stay in leadership, then you don’t get remarried. Leadership is a privilege, not a right.

    • Laura Blalock says

      The man had to leave his job. Evidently it was an issue.

  19. You are comparing scandal #1 (a man separated from his wife) with scandal #2 (children being abused)? You can rattle on and on about all sin being equal, but some of the survivor’s stories from scandal #2 (SGM’s leaders) show how thoroughly ruined the children’s lives were while the perps were shielded. All sin will keep us from God, but some sin will also blaze a path of destruction so wide many will never fully recover in this life-time.

    By saying “we are all sinners” you are downplaying the degrees of affect a sin has on others. To obey God is to 1) love God with our all and all and 2) love others as ourselves. All sin means we are not loving God properly, but not all sins so thoroughly destroys others (in other words not all sin doesn’t properly love others) . To be in leadership (elder’s pastors’, etc.) means able to be responsible to other people, to love them properly means administering Godly justice (protecting the victim), not submitting to earthly authority (corrupt pastors). If that is not happening, the church needs to stop repeating the silly mantra “everyone sins” and start kicking the leaders to the curb, where they belong. The cover-ups are signs that these people aren’t doing well in their Spiritual lives, and are unfit to lead. Other are, so just boot the concealers out and allow those who can lead a church in. Stop endorsing these fools. They are a waste of every Christian’s time. CJ Mahaney deserves to be banished from pastor’s lexicons for, well, ever.

    Cry me a river over “gossip” and “dealing with this in-church”, Nope, because the church can’t seem to discern between “everyone’s a sinner” and “everyone’s a criminal” Not every sinner is a criminal. Deal with it and grow up. I really don’t care about some prof’s legal status (divorced/separated) at the time of a new relationship. That is in-house stuff. I do care about churches that are more concerned with making children “forgive” their abusers because “everyone sins”. That is beyond stupid – Jesus said “if anyone harms one of these little ones, better a millstone tied around his neck and thrown in the Ocean” or something and NOT “everyone sins”.

    • You are absolutely right. There is no comparison between the two scandals.

      I did think there was an interesting contrast, however, between systemic cover-up on the one hand and brazen indifference to what anyone might think on the other.

  20. This is part of a larger problem for sure. For all the talk of grace, there is a large segment of evangelical Christianity that is pretty uncomfortable granting or administering or allowing it to be lived out in messy situations. You can go to any number of ministry websites and blogs and see reams of posts on battling and killing sin and the pitfalls of various temptations, etc., but very little indeed about what to do when we fail at that. Combine this with the high public profile moral and culture wars, and it’s a recipe for the kind of thing we not infrequently see..

    DeSousa’s indiscretion was pretty brazen. Usually things don’t get that bold and obvious all of a sudden or in isolation; it makes one wonder what other problems may have been better hidden along the way, precisely because this is all part of a system that makes people fear even small failures.

    • CJ Mahaney’s indiscretion was far more brazen – he knew about it, it happened again and again, yet none of the elder’s, leader’s, principal’s etc. were removed from their positions.

      Had he been moved by the plight of the innocent victims in his church, he would have removed those overseeing the situation and replaced them. Instead, he ignored the cries of the innocent and spent church money and resources protecting the abusers, giving them legal council and having board members phone the parents of the victims and tell them NOT to go to the police. The victims got no help, no free counselling (unless you call making a three year old go to a meeting with her abuser to forgive him helpful), and were told not to tell anyone. Some people (which makes me think “cult” not “christian”) followed this cultic assvice and stayed silent – even then they received no counselling, help or financial compensation.

      Those who went to the police lost their church memberships, one woman, who had followed the church’s teachings on women’s “roles” and stayed home with 9 children ended up having to separate her children and send them to foster homes because her minimum wage job wouldn’t cover the rent or food. The church slammed the door on her because she went to the police on (in this case) her husband. That wasn’t submissive enough for these losers.

      Sorry, but that is a far more brazen disregard for scriptures than scenario #1.

      • I wasn’t trying to compare the two. Clearly apples and oranges, and covering up abuse is far worse than a goofy single indescretion such as DeSouza’s . My comment was intended to address the issue through the lense of DeSouza’s situation. There may be some commonalities in the underlying dynamic of righteousness culture, so to speak, but clearly the offenses are different.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      DeSousa’s indiscretion was pretty brazen.

      As brazen as other “Celebrities Behaving Badly” news items?

      Like the time in local news years ago when either Brittney Spears or Lindsay Lohan made a drunken 90mph SUV slalom run up Pacific Coast Highway against the lights. Yelling “Get in trouble? I CAN’T get in trouble! I’m a CELEBRITY!” And that anecdote says it all: “I’M A CELEBRITY!”

      • No, of course not, but then those celebrities aren’t setting themselves up as conservative evangelical spokespersons (at least not yet)!

        Not sure how everyone got so hung up on the relative degree of brazeness and associated (de)merits of the same. I think we’re all in need of some Saturday Ramblings to lighten us up a little. Only 36 hours or so to go….

  21. I quickly scanned the comments and did not see anyone post D’Souza’s response. (Sorry if I missed it and this is a repeat.)

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/10/17/2016-obama-america-film-maker-am-not-having-affair/

    It seems World Magazine’s agenda in this is not squeaky clean.

  22. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    UPDATE: D’Souza has resigned.

    Or was forced to resign after his stunt went public.

    • Now, now, I’m sure it was a mutual agreement. Though I found it odd that rather than just shed some crocodile tears and continue the party line of he needs to have some time to himself, at least 1 member of the Board decided to air some grievances with the media regarding how at least some of them did not care for the way Mr. D’Souza was doing his Presidential duties.

  23. Dinesh’s politics, as represented in his book and movie, are appalling to me. He is either ignorant, incompetant, or a liar. I’m beginning to suspect that his views have been calcuated all along to appeal to a certain crowd. It has been pretty lucrative for him – putting an faux academic veneer on the same old conspiracy trash. I can’t say that I’m sad to see him lose the respectability that he never really deserved. He is yet another example of American Christians arrogantly hitching themselves (and, in effect, Christianity) to the right of the Culture Wars. It is going to backfire.