A classic case of shooting the messenger emerged last week surrounding the revelation of an extramarital relationship of Dinesh D'Souza, one of today's foremost Christian apologists and conservative thinkers. Blaming the messenger goes back at least as far as Sophocles' ancient Greek tragedy, Antigone. A guard has to bring King Creon the bad news that one of his orders has been violated. The guard delivers the news after drawing the losing lot, and does so in fear and trembling, knowing full well, he tells Creon, that "no man delights in the bearer of bad news." In the play, the life of the guard is spared. But not all bearers of unwelcome news are so lucky.
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World magazine reported October 16 that the married-but-separated D'Souza had, during an apologetics conference, introduced as his fiancée a female traveling companion. (Denise Odie Joseph is also allegedly married--and younger to an uncomfortable degree--as well as an outspoken, if lesser known, advocate of conservativism.) D'Souza responded the next day by denying marital infidelity in an exclusive interview with Christianity Today. He also published a statement at Fox News that, first, took issue with some of the facts and then turned the tables on World. D'Souza accused the magazine of reporting the story as part of a longtime personal and professional "grievance" and "vendetta" against him, and characterized the article as "viciousness masquerading as righteousness." (Perhaps not coincidentally, shooting the messenger seems to be the same tactic employed in D'Souza's most recent work, the documentary film 2016. Based on his earlier book, the film attempts to advance conservative principles by discrediting one of the conservative movement's leading opponents.)
D'Souza concludes his response to the World story by saying, "Ultimately this is not just about [World editor] Olasky or even World magazine. It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching."
On this count, D'Souza is right. However, the secular world is not concerned, as D'Souza claims, with the question, "Is this how [Christians] love and treat fellow believers?" No, the secular world is frothing at the mouth at having yet one more example of hypocrisy from within the traditional marriage/family values crowd. For just one prominent fallen Christian can make secularism's point far more effectively than can all the arguments of the New Atheists and marriage equality activists combined.
It may be the way of the world to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but as Christians--even fallen ones--we know better. And D'Souza is only arguing himself into a corner by discrediting the messenger. For if the validity of a message hinges on the messenger's moral character, then D'Souza's entire career falls with this recent news.
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SOURCE: Christianity Today | Her.meneutics
Karen Swallow Prior