A week after a damning report confirmed that the late Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias committed spiritual and sexual abuse, there’s been a tremendous fallout from extensions of his ministry that say they will cut ties with the group.
But writing for Religion News Service, Kyle J. Howard delivers a harsh rebuke to Christian leaders who empathized more with Zacharias than any of his victims.
Without naming names, he notes that a number of pastors have said they could very well have ended up just like Zacharias… a statement that reveals more about them than God.
Instead of condemning the perverted secret life of Ravi Zacharias and empathizing with his victims, many leaders rushed to express a degree of identification and even empathy with Zacharias. From pastors to seminary professors, many declared that apart from the grace of God, they, too, would be like Zacharias. Some of these leaders even chastised others for not more readily identifying with Zacharias.
It is deeply troubling to see so many men, especially in ministry leadership, find a more immediate connection with abusers rather than the abused. For many of God’s people, especially women, this creates real concerns for their own safety in religious environments. If the only thing keeping a man from becoming a predator or abuser is God’s grace, then what happens if that grace fails like it supposedly did in the life of an exposed abuser?
In the Christian view, all of us are sinners; but not all of us are sexual predators. There’s a huge difference. Zacharias didn’t run a red light or tell a few white lies. He didn’t “fall into” a pattern of abuse the same way a curse word falls out your mouth when you stub your toe. The man made a series of deliberate choices over the years, knowingly abusing his power and authority over people to keep them quiet. He went out of his way to cover his tracks and maintain a spotless reputation in the public eye.
It’s hard to take sexual abuse seriously when it’s deemed just as bad as lying about how much you love your friend’s new haircut to avoid hurting their feelings. If sexual sins aren’t seen as evil, then nothing is truly evil.
It makes more and more sense how many of these same people could support and excuse the unrepentant abuser that is Donald Trump. Or maybe these Christian leaders really do believe that they could easily be the next Zacharias. In which case, the old adage is true: When people tell you who they are, believe them. That means removing them from the pulpit immediately.