Ravi Zacharias & Oscar Wilde: Final Investigation Arrives

Ravi hid photos of hundreds of women on his phone, touched many inappropriately and even tried to rape one woman. New York Times and Washington Post published headline news about Ravi Zacharias sex scandal. RZIM published the full investigation report on this scandal. Indeed, what we guessed all these days is true. Ravi really committed these sins. It breaks our hearts. 

   May 19, 2020. It was my birthday. I sat down in my office and heard that Ravi Zacharias just passed away. I was devastated and cried for a few minutes. Ravi made such a lasting impression on my thinking and behavior. I was just 15 years old when my dad took me to Ravi’s meetings in Bangalore, India. I was impressed by his knowledge of the scriptures. Over the years, I met him a few times and had friendly conversations. 

   I moved to the United States in 2001. Wherever I go in America, when I tell people that I came from India, their first question would be, ‘Do you know Ravi Zacharias?’. I was proud of Ravi that he excelled among Christians in America and around the world. My library is full of his books. I watch his messages on Youtube. They were all great. And here comes the news that over the years Ravi was doing sexually inappropriate things in private places. 

    My heart became heavy and has been aching every time I remember Ravi. He had a great ministry and one secret sin ruined his reputation forever. Once upon a time, radio stations used to treat it as an honor to broadcast Ravi’s messages. Now they are dropping and canceling his broadcasts. Think about his family. His wife Margie. His children Sarah, Naomi and Nathan. His grandchildren. He loved every one of them so dearly. They loved him so much. They were proud of him. Now they have to live in pain the rest of their lives. Their great dad is not great any more. They have to apologize for their apologist father. Having lived in the glow of his light for many years, now they have to live in shame after his death. 

    Ravi wrote many great books. In one of his books, Sense and Sensuality, Ravi imagines a conversation between Jesus and Oscar Wilde. Ravi wrote these words in the introduction, 

“Few figures in literature merit both genuine admiration and profound pity as much as Oscar Wilde. He was a genius. Yet sadly, he floundered and struggled with habits and propensities that ultimately crushed him beneath their weight. As I read and re-read his biographies, at times my heart ached for him in his struggles, and at other times I marveled at the sheer folly with which he threw his life away. Like an object caught in the tension of two opposing forces, his body and mind were torn between the love of God and the enticement of the sensual.” 

                                          Ravi Zacharias, Sense & Sensuality: Jesus talks to Oscar Wilde 

Ravi scolded Oscar Wilde for not listening to God and giving into his lust and sensuality. Yet, if I were to write a book on Ravi today, I could write the same words about Ravi. 

  “Few figures in Christendom merit both genuine admiration and profound pity as much as Ravi Zacharias. He was a genius. Yet sadly, he floundered and struggled with habits and propensities that ultimately crushed him beneath their weight. As I read and re-read the news stories, at times my heart ached for him in his struggles, and at other times I marveled at the sheer folly with which he threw his life away. Like an object caught in the tension of two opposing forces, his body and mind were torn between the love of God and the enticement of the sensual.”

  He probably wrote his book on Oscar Wilde while a Thai woman giving him a sensual massage in his private apartment in Bangkok. I am not making fun of Ravi. He spent tons of days studying the life of Oscar Wilde yet he did not take time to control the ‘Oscar Wilde’ lurching in his own body into the subjection to the Lord.There is an Oscar Wilde in every one of us. We are caught in the tension of two opposing forces: Holiness of God and our lust for sensual pleasures. In Romans chapter 7, Apostle Paul talks about this 

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” 

   The apostle is describing the two opposing forces in our being: the desire to do good and the pull of the flesh. Ravi was visiting massage parlors over many years. More shocking is that he was exchanging nude photos even after his sin of sexting came to light. 

   Every worldview ultimately affects the sexuality of its adherents. Naturalism and atheism ultimately lead to defilement of the bodies of naturalists and atheists as Apostle Paul so eloquently describes in Romans chapter 1. “Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind”  Romans 1:28. Every worldview that does not have a place for God ultimately leads its adherents to possess a reprobate mind. The religions of antiquity had no place for God and their followers engaged in all sorts of sexual immorality. They invented child sacrifice as a means of getting rid of children born out of unwanted pregnancies. Our modern society invented birth control pills, abortion clinics as it separated sexuality from procreation. 

    When God called Abraham, he and all males in his family were ordered to undergo circumcision of their genitalia. It is where our rebelliousness against God is manifested most viciously as our minds become reprobate. The foreskin is cut and it becomes a permanent physical sign on the body of the circumcised. It signified the spiritual separation of God’s people from the godless pagans around them. But down the centuries, even though the Israelites followed the custom of circumcision as a ritual, its spiritual significance was lost on them. 

God spoke to them through prophets like Jeremiah. 

Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.”

God wants us to take away the foreskins of our hearts. Even though Christians do not observe Jewish circumcision today, they are still commanded by God to observe the spiritual circumcision. 

   This spiritual circumcision is a mark of our separation from the world. Outside heterosexual marriage, we do not sleep with other men and women, either in fornication or adultery, because we are separated from ‘the world’. We do not watch pornography because we separated from the world. We do not go to bars and indulge in drunkenness because we are separated from the world. We do not go to spas, expose our genitalia to strangers and masturbate in their presence because we are separated from the world. Yes, it might feel good momentarily to experience these sensual arousals but we disfigure the beautiful picture of God’s truth of spiritual circumcision as we indulge in those activities. 

   By our current modern standards these biblical standards might seem impossible to follow. But thankfully the Bible records the biographies of men and women who followed separation from the worldly lists. We have Joseph who declined the indecent proposal from Potiphar’a wife (Genesis 39:9). We have Job who made a covenant with his eyes not to lust after other women (Job 31:1). We have Tamar, the beautiful daughter of David who refused to sleep with Amnon because they were not married (2 Samuel 13). We have Apostles who led sexually pure lives after finding the Lord Jesus(1 Peter 4:1-4). We have St. Paul who exercised sexual purity as he preached to the church and the world.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9:27

That is the greatest danger for any preacher: Failing to keep his body under discipline and becoming a castaway after preaching to others. Ravi Zacharias preached about sexual purity to others, for which we should be thankful to the Lord, but he failed to practise what he preached. He created a cloud of celebrity around himself rather than confessing his sin to the Christians, his credentialing body, his family and his ministry board. 

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 

Our Lord is well aware of all the temptations we face in life. He provided us ‘ways of escape’ if we seek his will. It is obvious that Ravi spent more time building routes to news spas in his neighborhood rather than seeking ‘the ways of escape’ the Lord promised. 

Rather than being disheartened by looking at Ravi Zacharias and all his shortcomings, we should look to our Lord Jesus Christ who comforts us and gives us strength as we face our own troubles and temptations in our private lives. 

God bless,

Paul Kattupalli 

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