Dinesh D'Souza's documentary, “2016: Obama's America,” has grossed $33 million, making him one of the all-time best-selling documentary filmmakers. D'Souza stepped down from the presidency of King's College in Manhattan after admitting he got engaged to a woman before divorcing his wife of 20 years.
We know these facts from D'Souza himself: Three months ago, he met a 28-year-old woman. On Sept. 28, he introduced her at a conference as his fiancée. He did not file for divorce from his wife of 20 years until Oct 4. He claims to have been separated from his wife for two years, at his wife's insistence, but his wife never filed for divorce. (Some media outlets are reporting D'Souza's young woman herself is newly married -- but this has not been confirmed.)
By his own account then, D'Souza decided to divorce his wife only after falling in love with a young woman half his age. He denies committing adultery and makes this astonishing defense:
“I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced.”
At least, thanks to King's College and World Magazine, there still remains a world in which getting engaged to one woman while married to another raises red flags.
But the scandal in evangelical circles will be short-lived. We know how this story ends. Just ask Newt Gingrich.
D'Souza will jettison his wife. He will then marry whom he chooses. After a few years -- or most likely weeks -- the “scandal” will die down. Forgiveness will triumph for the powerful and important man.
And if this is the way the story ends, D'Souza no doubt wonders, why postpone joy? Why wait until you are actually divorced from one wife before announcing the happy news that you've given in to the urge to merge with a new one?
Adultery is a grave sin for Christians, but it's the sin of giving yourself a partial excusal from the sacred marriage vow -- of unilaterally taking back the gift of your body that you gave at the altar. So how exactly, from a Christian point of view, does breaking the whole vow publicly and explicitly make it better?
I could cite chapter and verse, but let me instead just cite a few examples from the studies published just this year on the harm that divorce causes.
A 2012 study in the International Journal of Public Health looked at 6,928 adults in Alameda County, Calif.. Adults whose parents divorce experienced not only “lowered well-being in adulthood,” but reduced “long-term survival.”
A 2012 study by Leslie Gordon Simons (et al.) looked at more than 2,000 college students: “Results indicate that respondents from continuously married families were more committed to marriage, and this commitment reduced the probability of risky sexual behavior.”
So Dinesh, by choosing divorce, you may not only put at risk your teen's life, health and faith in marriage -- but even her faith in God.
”Parental breakup is associated with religious decline among ... youth characterized by high levels of religious salience,” according to a March 2012 study by Melinda Lundquist Denton.
If we were really close, I would plead with D'Souza: Don't do this. Don't do this to your daughter. Don't do this to the wife of your youth. Don't do this to those former students of yours at King's College, young and idealistic and hopeful about marriage, scared and scarred by divorce.
If I were your mom from Bombay, I would say, above all, please don't do this to marry a recently married woman half your age that you've known just three months. It has “karma” written all over it.
I buried my own mother this summer.
Perhaps that's what makes me feel so urgently that time is just too short to let that wretched little imperious winged baby with the bow and arrow have his fickle way with you.
After all, is marriage such a horrible cross to bear?
With marriage, you choose one woman. You promise to love just her the way that God loves everyone, until death do you part.
So love her. Keep your vows close. Keep your people closer. Show your children, show other people's children, that in this too-swift race between love and death, which is all that our lives are, that love can be trusted.
If Christians could just do that and nothing else, it would transform our culture.
If we cannot do that, I fear, nothing else will.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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