When will men stop abusing women?
Sadly, history has demonstrated that not only does sexual abuse occur in the world, it also occurs at the hands of men who supposedly dedicated their hands to the ministry of Jesus Christ. The latest and perhaps most shocking case of sexual abuse in the apologetics movement is that of now deceased Ravi Zacharias. I am sure most of you have heard of him and perhaps even heard some of his sermons over time. To many, he was a spiritual father.
Over the past few months, the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) has been working with law firm Miller and Martin to investigate the claims of more than a dozen massage therapists that the famed apologist was engaging in “sexting, unwanted touching, spiritual abuse and rape”. For those of you who are unaware of the term “sexting”, it is the act of using a telecommunications device (usually a mobile phone) to send explicit material – often sexually descriptive language and images.
The recently released RZIM statement said in part, “We are shocked and grieved by Ravi’s actions. As Ravi Zacharias was the founder of our ministry and the leader of our staff, community and team, we also feel a deep need for corporate repentance. To be victimised by unwanted sexual contact, advances and behaviour is horrendous. It is diametrically opposed to everything we believe about the value of dignity of every single person. We believe not only the women who made their allegations public but also additional women who had not previously made public allegations against Ravi but who identities and stories were uncovered during the investigation.”
Ravi used RZIM’s discretionary fund called “Touch of Hope” (an unfortunate name now that these allegations have come to light) to pay for much of his indiscretion. The apologist also used several phones and kept numerous email addresses, none of which were accessible by anyone else at RZIM. He argued at the time he did so for “security reasons”. The Miller and Martin report stated, “The end result was that no one at RZIM would have had administrative access to his devices or email communications.”
I will not repeat the graphic details of the report here. Needless to say, it is heartbreaking to hear the stories of many women who were sexually assaulted and then manipulated into remaining silent. How on earth that man could then stand before a crowd and preach morality is beyond me. Yes, we are all sinners. But to me, one of the worst things you can be called as a Christian is a hypocrite.
One accuser stated that Ravi spiritually manipulated her, pressuring her into remaining quiet about the alleged abuse. She claimed he “warned her not ever to speak out against him or she would be responsible for the ‘millions of souls’ whose salvation would be lost if his reputation was damaged.” The investigation also led to the discovery of a host of explicit photos – many of women much younger than him. A review of his four phones found Zacharias engaged in numerous “text and email-based relationships with women who were not his wife.”
In addition to the revelations, it has also come to light that a woman who accused Ravi of sexual misconduct in 2017 was telling the truth. To protect himself, he tried to sue the woman, claiming she was attempting to extort him. Ultimately, despite the counterclaim, the woman received a settlement for the wrongful actions perpetrated against her. The next step is likely to involve compensation for the victims. We pray God’s healing upon them as well. What they endured was horrible and no man should ever engage in sexual misconduct of the kind described, especially one who supposedly devoted himself to the Lord’s service.