The following is written by my daughter, Jess. She puts a lot of research into these and I, for one, am grateful. I think you will be, too. It is important that we don’t stay loyal to someone who doesn’t deserve our loyalty but, more importantly, it is important that we don’t sweep departure from core doctrines or gross sin under the proverbial rug. Our purpose in presenting this is to give you pause for thought as you process what we have heard about Ravi Zacharias in the past few months. We hope it is helpful.
Before I begin, I want to once again remind you of what I am not doing. I am not here to judge the salvation of Ravi Zacharias. He could have repented near the end of his life unbeknownst to the general public. God is the judge of his heart. What I am here to do is to dispel this notion that Ravi simply “struggled with sin like the rest of us.” It makes me angry watching the way the Christian community is brushing this under the rug.
Here is just a sample of the common responses I’ve heard or read over the past few days–
“Why do you judge as if you’re not a sinner?”
“Nobody is perfect.”
“He just lacked self control in his life.”
“We all struggle with sin.”
“You can’t judge him unless you are without sin.”
“He’s just another David.”
“We all could fall into sexual temptation if we aren’t guarded.”
I listened to the entire report (not the synopsis given by Christianity Today) on Ravi Zacharias. I don’t necessarily recommend reading or listening to it. It was difficult and disturbing to get through. But let’s just be clear for a second: This was not “just another sin.” There is no comparison to this and the sin we battle with as the children of God.
Ravi Zacharias premeditated the habitual sexual assault of multiple women for years upon years. He used ministry funds to support women financially in order to keep them silent. He bullied people who questioned anything into silence. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is disturbing on so many levels.
This is the kind of sin that characterizes the unbeliever in Galatians 5:21. It was a premeditated, sinful, and unrepentant lifestyle. This was not just a handful of times. This was not just a period of his life. This wasn’t something where he lost the battle with his flesh, gave into sexual temptation, and then repented and turned away from it (like David). He actively hid his sin instead of repenting of it. Any pastor or Christian leader would, without doubt, immediately be asked to step down if something like this was discovered about them in their lifetime.
1 John 3 tells us many times that we cannot continue in sin and be called the children of God. Hebrews 10:26 tells us we cannot go on deliberately sinning. Do we still struggle with sin? Yes, of course we do. But there is a BIG difference between struggling with daily flesh sins (knowing it’s sin, repenting daily, and striving to fight the battle) and habitually living in a sin that you hide instead of repent and turn from. Yes, we all sin. But we don’t pursue it, enjoy it, refuse to repent, and justify it for a lifetime if we are truly children of God.
Please keep in mind that there were red flags in Ravi’s ministry even before this. He was a guest at the Mormon Tabernacle in 2004 where he spoke to the audience as if they were fellow believers, not even taking the opportunity to share the Gospel. He was a guest on Joyce Meyer’s (very clearly a false teacher) show and praised her for being a “great Bible teacher.” His website states that the ministry “takes no position on doctrines of Catholic tradition, some of Ravi Zacharias’s favorite authors are Catholic. Yet he does recognize there are some significant doctrinal differences.” (Catholicism is a false religion.) It also states that they take no position on the age of the earth and he denied the need for belief in a literal seven day creation. His own testimony or sharing of the gospel never included sin and repentance. There is more I could share but I just want to make you aware that he wasn’t as biblically solid in his ministry as many people believe him to be.
So why does this matter? Why am I taking the time to share this with you? First of all, we are painting a very dangerous picture of Christianity. Yes, there is forgiveness. Yes, there is mercy. But only when you turn from your sin and repent. You cannot be a true child of God and live a habitual, unrepentant lifestyle of sin. The two are mutually exclusive. Acts 26:20 says to “repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” James 2:14-17 tells us faith without works is dead. John 14:23 tells us that if we love God we will keep his commandments.
Secondly, these women need vindication. We do not brush this off as nothing. They were systematically preyed upon and victimized by Ravi Zacharias. He used his “faith” to manipulate them (“you are my reward for serving God”) and his position to silence them. He must be rebuked publicly so that these victims know that this is not what Christianity looks like.
If we downplay this, not only are we guilty of distorting the Gospel but of perpetuating this horrible culture of silent sexual abuse. May it never be said of us.