#MeToo, Ravi?

I have been deeply troubled by the reports surrounding the sex scandal of the late Ravi Zacharius, a famous Christian Apologist. As an apologist, I felt I needed to contribute to the conversation because it has shocked the apologetics community. But as a woman, I wanted to write about it because I have a sense of righteous anger towards this particular kind of scandal. Why? Because for centuries, women have been victims in this area, often being viewed merely as “objects of gratification,” for far too long.

When the #MeToo movement hit, it began to gain momentum in 2017 during the Harvey Weinstein scandal. I was shocked at how many women I knew personally that hash-tagged this on their social media platforms, uniting in a shared, and sadly, common experience. I hash-tagged right along with them. There is simply too many of us. It’s tragic.

It goes right back to the Garden of Eden. That was the first expression of “the battle of the sexes,” and it’s morphed into all kinds of perversions since then. This is sin. This is why, without the transformational power of the Holy Spirit to help us not want to sin, we’re doomed to continue.

What about Ravi, then? Did he not have access to that same Holy Spirit? Why did he not become transformed by the third person of the Trinity? Did he not see how his actions were sin? As he lay dying (he passed away in May, 2020), did he repent? I don’t know. Maybe Ravi did recognize his sin, and was so addicted to it, that he saw no way out, but to lie about it, foolishly trying to save his ministry. After all, it had become huge. In this attempt, Ravi’s fears have become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. 

RZIM (Ravi Zacharius International Ministries) is now is changing. The ministry has laid off many of its staff and is turning its focus to a grant-making charity for a season, helping organizations that care for victims of sexual abuse. In light of this scandal, this is honorable, and one way to distance itself of the attachment to Ravi, a once highly-honored name. 

The only name that should be highly honored is that of Jesus Christ. That is why I am forever thankful for Jesus, the One who finally corrected misguided behavior of how women should be treated. It is to His example we must look on how to treat women. 

Jesus’ model is the best one. He kept His disciple group small, poured Himself into a relatively obscure group of people who then poured themselves into others, as well, creating a ripple effect of cultural change. He allowed Mary to sit at His feet. This was a major cultural shift! In ancient Jewish culture, sitting at a Rabbi’s feet was only reserved for male students. By doing so, Jesus was declaring Mary to be His disciple – a female, how scandalous! And the fact that Jesus first appeared to women at the empty tomb was also God’s way of validating women as the first eye-witnesses to the most important event in human history.

We also should focus on this discipleship model, where all are encouraged to grow in Christ in a small group format. A smaller model provides more accountability. These mega-star preacher models, that have dominated Western culture since the Billy Graham days, are proving to be poor ones to follow. Too many times the pressures of such popularity and fame are heavy burdens to bear for anyone—most people don’t do well with it. 

Ravi was quoted as saying the burdens of his ministry were challenging, and this is how he justified his sinful behavior, never mind that he abused women in the process. (See Christianity Today’s article on the full report.) There is no excuse for abuse. None. Yet, the objectifying of women continues.

Justice is being done for the women who feared their voices would be silenced by RZIM. Women’s voices need to be heard, never silenced. As such, I’m grateful that these women victims, abused by Ravi, have finally been heard. God has revealed these sins, and changes are being made. 

I am praying for healing, for justice, and for a better system of holding leaders accountable. I think the “mega-model” is failing, and I pray that we, as a Church, get back to the way Jesus did it — small discipleship where there is greater accountability. Let’s stop putting these preachers up on pedestals!

And to the women who have felt unseen… please know that God sees you, He is for you, and He is with you. (Gen. 16:3; Romans 8:31; Joshua 1:9.) 

This scandal will not stop me from using apologetics as a needed form of discipleship in the Church, but it does remind me that we all need a close relationship to Jesus, and to others who will hold us accountable to pursue purity as a virtue and reject any perversion of it. We need God, and each other, in order to battle the sin within us all.

Finally, forgiven people must forgive. And I will. In the meantime, there is a season for everything, and right now, I am angry over the harm done to these women, and the loss of the integrity I thought Ravi had, which could overshadow all the good things that he did during his apologetics ministry. I pray that is not the case.

May we all learn to become better witnesses to a world that needs hope, giving grace to each other, and staying accountable so that we, too, don’t fall victim to the snares of sin that so easily entangles. 

How does this scandal affect your views of the work done by Ravi Zacharius?


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