On The Fall of Ravi Zacharias

What does what happened to Ravi mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and fall out.

Not too long ago, RZIM released a statement saying that it looks like allegations of sexual misconduct against Ravi Zacharias are true. I am sure some of you are still skeptical, but we can’t do all of our own investigations into Ravi and for the sake of argument, since RZIM is saying it and I have no reason to think they would want to make up something about the founder of their organization whose name is on them, I want to ask what it means. Even if you don’t think the claims are true, consider it at least a for the sake of argument discussion.

Concerning Christian truth, it really means nothing ultimately. Ravi was a man like any other man. Christianity did not stand or fall on him. If your faith was built on Ravi Zacharias, you built it on the wrong man.

Concerning ethics, well that’s a different matter. It’s not that any ethical truths stand or fall with Ravi. What matters for this is how one should live their life, especially if they’re in a ministry capacity.

Regardless of where they stand on the issues, I am convinced someone would have to be a fool to think we don’t live in a sex-crazed society. Even as I do something simple like play Words With Friends on my phone, something even my wife’s grandmother does, I see ads popping up for games that are meant to appeal to lust in some way. It has really become unavoidable.

This is also one reason men especially need to be careful. We are not the only ones who can fall in this area, but it seems we are more prone to falling. It’s one reason why when Allie has been in the facility getting treatment, unless they were related to me or with someone else, I have not allowed a woman into the apartment. I do not drive alone with other women unless they are family.

Apparently, Ravi didn’t live up to the sexual ethic along the way somewhere and sadly, his ministry will suffer for it. For my part, I keep thinking about a lady who heard him speak who was a skeptic and when asked on the way home what she thought of the talk said, “I wonder what he’s like in his private life.” Sadly, we now know that private life wasn’t consistent and if your private life and public life are inconsistent like that, your witness for the kingdom will suffer.

Not only that, but anyone connected with RZIM could suffer. What about the memory of Nabeel Qureshi? He traveled frequently with RZIM. Will this damage his reputation even though he quite likely had nothing to do with it or even knew about it? Time will tell. It’s not fair if it does, but sadly, it’s what happens.

We also sadly remember a man’s failures much more than we do his successes. We remember fondly King David’s battle with Goliath in the Bible, but what’s the next story everyone remembers if it’s not the first one? David and Bathsheba.

Earlier this year, it’s believed that Mike Adams committed suicide. Sadly, when I think of him now, I don’t think of all the good he did, but remember how he died, which seems to be common with people who commit suicide. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. When people fail, we remember it.

In some ways, you could say our society delights in it. Perhaps we think it makes it easier for us. “Hey! If Ravi Zacharias can’t live this kind of ethic out, surely I can’t be expected to!”

None of us is off the hook though. We’re all expected to honor our bodies and those around us properly. Perhaps when one gets in a position of fame, which is a kind of power, then one becomes prideful and thinks they are above the rules and can hide indiscretions.

We can’t.

This is not to say the Christian ethic is easy, but it is possible. It’s doable. There are plenty of people who do it. You and I have never heard of them, but they do it. Several people save sex for marriage and stay faithful to their spouses. Several people can still avoid pornography.

Watch a sitcom or movie today and it will look like everyone, including the women, want nothing more than to jump in bed immediately and have at it. Everything also always works perfectly. If there’s one piece of advice I give guys who are virgins who are about to marry concerning this, it’s to consider everything you see in movies and TV because it’s totally unrealistic. Unfortunately, this also does set up a norm.

What is needed is for our society to really think about sex and sexual ethics. You might think we do that already. That’s the problem in our society isn’t it? We all think about sex too much. No. It’s really the opposite. We think about it too little if we do at all.

Oh we dream about it. We fantasize about it. We talk about it, watch it, and just plain do it, but think about it? Hardly. We don’t think about what it is, what it means, and what it’s for. Very few of us have a worldview of sex. We could just see it as a happy accident that the universe worked out this way to give us this experience.

It’s even worse though if we’re Christians. If we are, we should realize God is the one behind all of this and seek to want to know why he made the system the way He did. It’s all His idea after all.

We also need to build one another up in this. We absolutely need to have other Christians to hold us accountable. I have Christians I can talk to about my struggles, including while it is that my wife is away at this time. It is either my passions are going to control me or I am going to control them.

But it is doable. One can control their passions and in the end, for the sake of the holiness of sexuality, I am convinced it’s worth it.

As for Ravi, it’s hard. For me, Ravi was my first apologetics hero. I look over and see the gift that he had given to me and my wife on our wedding day hanging on my wall right now. I know I have several of his books on my bookshelves. It doesn’t mean what is in them is false. Still, perhaps everything he wrote will be viewed with more suspicion now because of his own personal sin.

That is a tragedy.

And yet then, I think of the saying, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Scripture tells us if anyone thinks he stands, he needs to be careful lest he fall. It further tells me I want to live by the Pence/Graham rule as much as I can. We all have only one shot at building a reputation in life. When my time is done and people look back on my reputation, I hope it will be something that people will be pleased with. I hope even my opponents intellectually would be able to say that though they disagreed with me intellectually, I did live my life honorably.

And to my friends who have been supportive of me over the years and been my confidants and mentors, I thank you greatly. When I was with my folks this past weekend for Christmas, I showed my Dad the final speech of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory with him receiving the Nobel Prize with his wife. He said something in it along the lines of how he used to think his accomplishments were his own, but they were also the accomplishments of those who stood with him, including his biological family and his family of friends. I fully say the same thing. Everything I do here is not mine alone.

I have played the Final Fantasy games for most of my life. What you learn from those in one sense is you need a party. No one fights alone. I don’t either. My friends mean everything to me and I am grateful to them all and hope I can be just as good a friend to them as they have been to me.

In the meantime, pray especially for Ravi’s family. One can hardly imagine what they are going through with these revelations coming out. Then learn to watch yourselves. If you are in ministry, do so especially. Your failure would have far greater ramifications than that of many others. Be careful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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