D’Souza and World magazine: What does scripture say about reporting on sex?

The recent fall of Dinesh D’Souza from the presidency of the evangelical King’s College has multiple killer angles. One conservative … Continued

The recent fall of Dinesh D’Souza from the presidency of the evangelical King’s College has multiple killer angles.

One conservative evangelical institution taking down another. Heated (so to speak) debates among religious conservatives about what constitutes infidelity. But to this reporter, the best question is: Why are some evangelicals criticizing World magazine for reporting on D’Souza’s sex life, rather than confronting him privately, as scripture suggests? Does journalism contradict the Bible? Is there no room for a serious, hard-core evangelical Bob Woodward?

AP

This Feb. 1, 2007 file photo shows Dinesh D’Souza in Williamsburg, Va. The conservative scholar behind a high-grossing film that condemns President Obama resigned Oct. 18, 2012 as head of an evangelical college after a report about his engagement to a woman while still legally married to his wife.

News that the well-known political conservative was engaged to someone but still married to someone else was reported by some who would seem like his natural allies – the leadership at World magazine, a publication by, for and about political and Christian conservatives.

It immediately triggered debate, even among some traditionalists, about what, exactly, D’Souza did wrong?

He resigned last Thursday from the small, evangelical New York City college following reports in World that he had been traveling with a woman who was not his wife. D’Souza says he has been separated from his wife for two years, and introduced the woman as his fiancée, but that did little to quiet things down.

So is the issue that an evangelical figure was divorcing? There are disagreements even among conservative evangelicals about what constitutes legit grounds for divorce. Or was it that World reported that the 51-year-old was sharing a hotel room with his fiancée, a charge D’Souza denies?

D’Souza said in a statement that he “had no idea it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced,” but this raises the question: What if he was not sharing a room with her, would any apparently romantic contact be considered alright?

Warren Smith, who reported and wrote the article, told me today that many traditional Christian organizations would consider it “highly irregular and often forbidden” to travel with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse. Smith said the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association forbids opposite-sex co-workers even to be alone in the same car.

To me, of course, it’s intriguing that World is hearing from Christian readers who are challenging the publication to explain why it published an article and didn’t follow the scripture of Matthew 18, which says Christians should deal with sinners initially in private: “Point out their fault, just between the two of you.” If that doesn’t work, take someone else along, and then take it to church leaders.

But how should an investigative journalist apply that? Especially one at World, which is in the process of trying to raise its profile as a must-read publication for conservatives?

Smith told me the editors at World take scripture seriously, but felt Matthew 18 did not apply because D’Souza is a public figure, the alleged hotel-room sharing was at a public event (a conference), and because World’s staff were unable to figure out who D’Souza’s regular pastor is.

But, I asked, are there situations and stories you wouldn’t publish because you feel scripture tells you to work it out privately? Smith said he thinks World’s process isn’t unlike the one at secular newsrooms like the Post, where, for example, reporters don’t identify victims of sexual assault by name.

That said, he seemed mildly skeeved out by comparing World too closely to the MSM.

“I hope and believe yes, we probably pay a little more attention to the specific guidance of scripture than does the newsroom of The Washington Post. But many principles in journalism – transparency, concern for truth – biblical values”

Written by

  • edbyronadams

    This is an amusing article.

    ” would any apparently romantic contact be considered alright?”

    The entire article smacks of enforced Victorian morality. Even Ms. Boorstein uses the quaint “romantic contact”. Getting hung up on the sexual proprieties just makes the entire evangelical movement look small. At least they could concentrate on the deeper issues of fidelity to publicly taken promises.

  • malusk03

    “Getting hung up on the sexual proprieties just makes the entire evangelical movement look small.” See John 8:32.

  • vmbland1

    I am so happy that this righteous christian had this fall. These bible thumping christian evangelicals are not even on the same page. They are a joke and a disgrace to Christianity.

  • purdyjack

    For a man who holds himself out as an intellectual and conservative Christian to say that he didn’t know there was anything wrong about being engaged before a divorce is decreed is astonishing. Also, nothing I have read indicated that D’Souza ever told anyone in his evagelical circle that he and his wife were divorcing. , which makes things even more problematic.

  • Dixie Suzan Davis

    Having attempted to make sever postings here of Bible verses, it becomes clear that while the question is claimed to be —What does scripture say about reporting on sex?— quoting scripture on this question is an impermissable act. I shall attempt no more intrusions in displays of scripture on this topic. Scripture shall remain in the closet and mute.

  • Jef Powers

    Christians not only violate their doctrinal prohibitions against adultery they are also ready at a moments notice to conveniently forget their prohibitions against publicly stabbing one another in the backs. Pettiness and hypocrisy have been the hallmark of the Christian Church since Judas got paid to rat Jesus out and Peter said, “who, me! I never heard of that Jesus character.” Even though human weakness is written right into their story they still like to tell everyone else to “act right.” Humility is the one thing the conservative Church has the least of. D’Souza, of course, was one of the worst offenders when it came to being all holier-than-thou. Presently, he’s just getting back a little dose of his own medicine. The idea of Karma is not a religious notion Christians are much familiar with, however, it wouldn’t hurt at all if the conservative wing-nuts of the tradition read up on the subject.

  • Dixie Suzan Davis

    Very odd, since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
    Quote—- Humility is the one thing the conservative Church has the least of.—
    Since you are not a Christian Church member, I bow before your personal humility Sir, a news comment above which sparkles with it in your display of modest opinion and estimate of your own importance.
    Are you advocating as a social practice the act of Judas in accepting money to ensure the death of Jesus? A wonderful opportunity currently exists for you, since the New Black Panther Party leader Mikhail Muhammad solicitated the verbal contract for kidnap/murder of George Zimmerman for the sum of $10,000. This being a form of Justice for Trayvon Martin. You could do a little one-upsmanship on Judas. Kill the intended yourself and receive a greater sum than Judas in payment. Since verbal contracts are binding, if Mikhail Muhammad doesn’t pay up you could sue hiim in court for the $10,000 and court costs for your successful murder. Possibly adding punative damages. A clear public display of not being a Christian hypocrite like Judas and also showing humbleness in a more attractive financial transaction.

  • Jef Powers

    “personal humility” ?? Is there some other type of humility a person can have of which I am unaware?

    Of course in addition to their lack of humility, conservative Christians are also short on basic erudition itself as well as the capacity to form clear points of argument.

    You’re not a fan of the Black Panthers? That may have something to do with the fact that you are “very white,” Of course, I am just speculating here, “Dixie”,

  • DRJJJ

    Put it this way, this administration has talked more about private sex lives than public debt-what’s wrong with this picture?

  • DRJJJ

    There’s room for one more!

  • Bob32

    really?

  • bigtexan2

    There is a Scripture which says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I appreciate D’Souza very much, but he should understand that traveling about with a girl friend (fiance) it not only making himself vulnerable to criticism, but certainly an unwise decision. Maintaining transparency with people is absolutely essential of every Christian and especially to a Christian leader. I hope D’Souza has learned something from this episode. WORLD magazine might also come clean about the personal motives it has for embarrassing D’Sousa. Do I understand correctly that the editor was on the Board of King’s College at the time D’Sousa was hired and voted against it? How much is WORLD trying to use sensationalism to boost its sales?

  • question1

    Most Christians can’t even agree on the particular translations of biblical instructions they have, let alone how they should be applied. Relevant point is the difference between the “Catholic” bible & the “Protestant” bible (good grief) & all the versions thereof.

    It”s always an amusing headgame to challenge those who see themselves as the guardians of morality in the morality of their actions. But since hypocrisy is human, I’d rather play Scrabble.

    Oh – Woodward would be writing epistles in biblical times & all you columnists would be copying scrolls. LOL.

  • Secular1

    DRJJJ you are birther bigot. When one of your own screws up you feel that is good enough for you to throw some un related aspersions on the president. You are a pathetic little person, crawl back under the rock you came from.

  • bflorhodes

    Excellent. Right where it belongs.

  • nancydancer

    Promise?

  • nancydancer

    DRJ – could you please explain just how this comment adds to the conversation – exchange of ideas and insights – about the article – which seems to be largely about Mr. D’Souza??? Do have anything at all to add to this topic?

  • Dagger82

    I assume you are not a Christian since you describe those with faith in lower-case. That is your choice, of course. I choose to discard your opinion as it has no relevancy.

    Perhaps you should become a judge. It seems you know everything about everybody. I’m sure your decisions will be popular with those that agree with your point of view. The rest of us ~ not so much.

  • Dagger82

    Spoken like a true Christian, vmbland1.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous