D'Souza: The Real Problem

Last week, the conservative luminary Dinesh D'Souza resigned as president of The King's College, a New York City evangelical school, after it was revealed that he brought his mistress to a Christian conference, apparently shared a room with her, and introduced her as his fiancée -- even though he was still married to his wife of 20 years.

Andy Mills, chairman of the college's Board of Trustees told students, "God has a mighty future for Dinesh, but there are some things he has to go through first" -- which is evangelical-speak for "WTF was he thinking?!?"

What bugs me about this story is not right-wing hypocrisy about sex (which is old news) or that sex leads smart people to do dumb things (even older news). It's that, by focusing on D'Souza's timing, commentators are ignoring the main double standard at work here.

In the marriage-equality debate, Christian conservatives often talk about the sanctity of marriage, the Biblical definition of marriage, God's plan for marriage and so on. Christian conservatives also often get divorced, as D'Souza is finally getting around to doing. (There's nothing like a scandal to remind you to call your lawyer.) When they do so, the usual reaction from their brethren is to emphasize forgiveness, redemption, and so on. Witness Newt Gingrich.

I'm all in favor of forgiveness and redemption, and I recognize that divorce is sometimes the best solution for a bad marriage. On the other hand, I'm not a Biblical fundamentalist. If I were, I'd have a hard time defending (most instances of) divorce. After all, Jesus says forcefully:

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10: 11-12).

Notice that, according to this view, divorced and remarried people are not people who did sin (past tense) and then went on to have a "mighty future." They are people who are sinning, as persistent adulterers.

In other words, the problem won't -- or, at least for those Biblical believers who value consistency, shouldn't -- disappear once D'Souza's divorce is finalized and Denise Odie Joseph II takes her place as the second Mrs. D'Souza. Not unless the "mighty future" God has in mind for Dinesh includes his being an unrepentant adulterer.

That's not how evangelical Christians will treat the new couple, of course. Which is just further evidence that they are willing to hold other people to a standard of Biblical literalism that they would never tolerate for themselves.


And speaking of religion and the marriage debate, here's my response to the "Threat to Religious Freedom" argument, one of a series of nine short videos on arguments against marriage equality. Please share with your friends who are voting in MD, ME, MN, and WA.