I have been writing on controversies about Ravi Zacharias for some time. First we knew that there were some credibility issues, then some sexual allegations and then even more revelations.
The report on the full extent of what Ravi Zacharias did has been released. It is worse than what we thought.
We talk about this, not to bash Ravi (although his actions must be condemned) but also for what we can learn from his mistakes. None of us want the headlines with our name in them.
Much of the talk I hear is about how to remain sexual purity. We need to follow the “Billy Graham rule.” We need protective software on our computers. We need to invest in our relationship with our spouse. We need accountability partners.
I agree with all of that but that will only treat the symptoms. The problem with those suggestions is that the real problem is not sex.
The core problem for Ravi Zacharias and many like him is that of power.
Why did Ravi Zacharias do all the things he did? Because he could.
Ravi Zacharias had built up an organization of people who adored him and, I would go so far as saying, idolized him. They were willing to protect him from criticism and to build his public image.
Beyond the official organization, there were many who held him above the level of just a Bible teacher. He was a hero to many. And even now, with RZIM acknowledging the full extent of his crimes, some of his fans are still defending him.
hat we read in the report of what he did is of a man who did not just act on his sex drive but on his position of power. Those women should give him what he wanted because he was Ravi Zacharias.
This is not me beating up Ravi Zacharias. This has happened countless times before. We discovered that Jean Vanier used his role as a highly respected spiritual leader to gain sexual favours. The victims gave in because he was Jean Vanier and he had spiritual authority.
If it had not been sex, they would have found other ways to abuse their authority.
The Church has been gifted with some amazing leaders, preachers and teachers. And we should honour them.
But when we turn them into celebrities and place them on a pedestal, there is great danger. To them and to others.
If people feel obligated to give in to someone’s demands because of their authority or position, that is abuse of power.
The individuals are responsible for the abuse they commit. But the Church is also responsible to not allow a culture that creates celebrities that have unhealthy influence on others.
So yes, take measures to protect yourself sexually. But also think deeper about the structures that allow such abuse.