RZIM confirms what Christianity Today revealed a few months ago: Ravi Zacharias touched many women inappropriately over the course of many years, mostly during his visits to massage parlors. I asked myself, Why was Ravi so naive to start massage parlors near his ministry headquarters in Atlanta? It reminds me the words of Nazi leader Albert Speer who said, ‘One seldom recognizes the devil when he is putting his hand on your shoulder ‘. Ravi failed to see the devil standing beside him when he opened two spas near his headquarters.
One former manager says that Ravi was spending way too much time with an Indian woman in one of the private rooms of the spa. Ravi enjoyed the friendship of both Billy Graham and Vice President Mike Pence. Ravi should have followed Graham Rule or Mike Pence Rule, which states, “Never put yourself in the company of a woman who is not your wife”. It might sound sexist but it protected the reputation of Billy Graham and Mike Pence from sex scandals. Ravi talked about Graham Rule many times but it seems he failed to follow it in his own life. To be fair, that rule is very hard to follow.
According to CT, three former employees complained that Ravi’s actions amount to “more than massage”. They reported that he exposed himself or touched his private parts before them or even touched them inappropriately. It is hard to imagine Ravi in such situations but it is possible.
Ravi traveled all over the world as an apologist. He wrote and talked about sexual exploitations, abuse and prostitution that occur around the world. Had he been checking into massage centers in cities he visited during these travels? Even in America, many massage centers operated by Chinese women are full of sensual activities. Under the guise of massage therapy, they indulge in sexual activities like ‘happy ending’. Was Ravi visiting these Chinese massage centers during his travels? We don’t know. Was he expecting these American girls go Chinese way when he sought their services in his own massage centers? We don’t know, but it is possible.
Why did Ravi start massage centers in the first place? Was he doing business? He was making millions from his ministry. Why would he need to invest in a massage center to make money? Or was the whole business plan carved out to get some sensual massages in your own spa by your own employees while managing them with sweet talk? Again, we don’t know.
Anurag Sharma was Ravi’s business partner. Was he a Hindu or a Christian? Can he give us his input in this matter? Ravi named one of his massage centers “Touch of Eden”. What was he thinking? The name itself sounds sensual.
What can we learn from this?
1. Do not visit spas: Now we might ask, is it appropriate for a Christian to visit spas and get body massage? Ravi had back pain issues and he used it to justify his massage therapies. Now, I also have back pain and I also travel around the world. In my experience, every time I thought of going to a spa, it was always a carnal desire, never about my back pain. I always imagined a cute blond rubbing my back. I might use ‘back pain’ as a pretext but God knows the intents and desires of our hearts. It is better to stay away from these places. If you really need help with your back pain, consider physical therapy or chiropractic therapy from a person of your sex. If you are a male, get massage from a male therapist and if you are a female from a female. That protects you from vicious temptations. So, the point is it is always good to seek body touching treatments from a person of your sex, not of opposite sex.
If Ravi really needed a female therapist, he should have taken his wife as a chaperone. That would have saved him from these allegations.
It is better not to go where there is nudity. Not long ago, one morning, I went to our local YMCA to swim. Their rule was to take a shower before you jump into the pool. I went to take a shower. I kept my shorts on because I hate disrobing in front of others. As I was rubbing my body with the soap, one older gentleman approached me with a smile. He was fully nude, with a pot belly and his genitalia hanging. He asked me, “Are you from India or Pakistan?” I replied, “India”. Then he asked me, “Indians and Pakistanis: why do you guys always fight? You are neighbors, you both eat chicken tikka masala.” I gave him a 10 minute answer explaining various factors. But I disliked talking to this fully nude male. From then onwards, I stopped even going to YMCA. Don’t expose your genitalia to strangers. There should be some privacy. Our English word ‘gym’ came from the Greek word ‘Gymnaseum which means ‘naked’. The Bible advises us to honor our bodies. It starts with covering our bodies with clothes.
2. Dress properly appropriate for a Christian: Some men and women are dressing like prostitutes. They tease men like Ravi, get touched and then scream, ‘I am sexually abused’. Yes, it is wrong for men to touch these women and vice versa. But they also have a responsibility to dress modestly without exposing their bodies.
2. Don’t touch anyone inappropriately. One day I went to a meeting in Orlando, Florida. During introductions, one woman came to me and said, ‘I need a hug’. So I gave her a hug. While hugging, her breasts touched my chest. It was a carnal experience. It is better to limit our introductions to ‘shake hands’. Women’s breasts touching our chests is not appropriate. I stopped giving hugs to members of the opposite sex after Orlando experience. Ravi should not have touched his massage girl’s inappropriately. He talked a lot about the sacredness of human beings.
3. Don’t do business in ‘body’ industry: At the end of the day, combining preaching and massage business don’t sound good. Christians should not be in ‘massage’ business.
4. Deceptiveness of sin: According to one woman, Ravi said because he is carrying so much ‘burden’ for others he is justified in seeking pleasure from her in the form of a sensual massage. This is the classic case of deceptiveness of sin. King David thought within himself, ‘Because I carry so much ‘burden’ for the nation of Israel, I am justified in having one soldier’s wife’. Doing great things for God never gives you permission to sin. That one sin brought down David; this one sin tarnished the reputation of Ravi forever.
5.Calibrate your conscience: The seriousness of our faith is reflected in the sacredness of our lifestyle. All things considered, Ravi was definitely not as rotten as Jerry Falwell Jr who was watching his wife engaging in adultery with another man or Jack Schaap, who was sinning with teenage girls. John MacArthur often talks about vanished conscience. When we lose our God given conscience, we commit horrible sins, often worse than unbelievers.
5. Sin has victims: the entire nation of Israel suffered due to David’s sin with Bathsheba. If their stories are true, these women will suffer the consequences of Ravi’s sins. RZIM might suffer loss of financial support and flight of its speakers. It is sad and heart breaking because Ravi and RZIM did great things for God.
6. End running Christian ministries like family businesses: It is a tragedy of modern Christianity that many Christian organizations like RZIM became like family businesses. Ravi, his wife, his son, his daughters, his sons-in-law, his sisters-in-law….all were employees of RZIM. When you surround yourself with your family members in ministry and pay them 6 figure salaries, there is no one you are accountable to. This practice should end.