As more developments arise from the revelation of Ravi Zacharias’ predatory sexual behavior we see the destructive nature of sin and evil. I tend to not write about current controversies, anyone who follows this blog knows that I prefer to discuss controversies that were settled via Ecumenical Councils in the early church, but I digress. What Ravi did, and systematically and willingly covered up for years, is inexcusably evil. Reading the report detailing his actions was sickening, but something almost equally sickening is seeing how many people defend Ravi on social media. If you read the comments on an article about the fallout, you will inevitably see comments comparing Ravi to King David, or someone will argue that if we denounce Ravi we need to denounce King David. What people need to realize is that there’s a glaring difference between King David and Ravi Zacharias. You see, those who are comparing the life and fall of King David to Ravi categorically misunderstand repentance.
“those who are comparing the life and fall of King David to Ravi categorically misunderstand grace and repentance.”
Here’s the thing, everything Ravi did, everything he said, every story he told about God was done from a position of being opposed to the Lord. It doesn’t matter what he said, if anyone was saved or convinced it wasn’t because of Ravi, it was in spite of Ravi (Phil. 1:15-18). His abuse was a grievous sin with lifelong ramifications for the survivors, but it wasn’t his only sin. Speaking about Christ and teaching in a public ministry role is dangerous (James 3:1) and shouldn’t be done lightly. He proclaimed the high things of the Lord while rejecting Him as evidenced by his life, every shred of evidence points to him being a 2 Peter 2:20-22 man:
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
Ravi lived a wicked life. There is no way around that. Having moving gospel stories, apologetic acumen, and an international ministry means absolutely nothing without Christ. He did evil, reprehensible things that showed he did not follow the Lord. Honestly, if you can walk away from reading the report without coming to that conclusion, nobody can convince you otherwise. But be warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”
So what is the difference between King David and Ravi Zacharias? It’s simple; David repented and clung to the Lord while Ravi entrenched himself in his sin. Here is Ravi’s statement after Lori Ann Thompson told others about Ravi’s abuse:
“Let me state categorically that I never met this woman alone, publicly or privately. The question is not whether I solicited or sent any illicit photos or messages to another woman – I did not, and there is no evidence to the contrary – but rather, whether I should have been a willing participant in any extended communication with a woman not my wife. The answer, I can unequivocally say, is no, and I fully accept responsibility. In all my correspondence with thousands of people in 45 years of ministry, I have never been confronted with a situation such as this, and God and my family and close friends know how grieved I have been.”
For those unaware of the story, Ravi lawyered up and then settled with Lori Ann Thompson out of court, signed her to an NDA, and then absolutely trashed her publicly. His response to being called out for evil and sin was more sin. No repentance, no seeking forgiveness, no change occurred in the final days of Ravi Zacharias. He had a terminal diagnosis and never once apologized, sought forgiveness from any of his victims, and therefore, never truly repented. He flat out lied to everyone.
After David’s egregious sin against Uriah and Bathsheba, he was confronted by a prophet. The prophet called David on his sin (2 Sam. 12). Compare David’s response to Ravi’s from the following selections from Psalm 51:
“Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin! (1-2)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (7)
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit. (10-12)
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.” (14)
“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God”
May none of us compare Ravi to David. Some of you may be thinking “But God is merciful and the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for the sins Ravi committed” and you would be correct. Christ is utterly sufficient for those who repent and believe in Him alone for salvation. However, those who don’t repent of their sin, and live a life of hidden or public wickedness are not trusting in Christ. God is merciful. King David is in the presence of the Lord at this very moment, but He is also Just. So, while I can’t speak on behalf of the Lord for the state of Ravi’s eternal condition, his willful acts of rape, abuse, and cover-ups don’t point towards conversion and ongoing sanctification in his life.
God is merciful, but mercy completely disjoined from repentance is enablement. The life found in Christ is a holy life, without HIm we will never be holy, and without holiness, we will never see God (Heb. 12:14). Don’t compare the life of David, sin and all, to Ravi’s. David went to the Lord for forgiveness, Ravi went to his lawyers.
David publicly repented of his sin through Psalm 51, Ravi went to his grave privately clutching his sin. David proved his repentance because he never committed that sin again, Ravi continued the behavior until he died. Let us all, like King David, run to the Lord.