Are you happy now? Finally you learnt something bad about Ravi Zacharias. A Canadian woman, Lori Anne Thompson alleges that Ravi Zacharias ‘groomed’ her into an online inappropriate relationship. According to Christianity Today, she and her husband met Ravi in October 2014 at a conference in Ontario. They exchanged emails and started to communicate with each other. In the beginning, it went with simple things like ‘how are you?’, ‘how is everything?’. But later it became more carnal. At one point, he asked her for her naked photos.
Lori and her husband demanded 5 million dollars from Ravi Zacharias, who then sued them for extortion of money. When these allegations made public, Ravi was forced to respond. He said, “I have learned a difficult and painful lesson through this ordeal. I failed to exercise wise caution and to protect myself from even the appearance of impropriety, and for that I am profoundly sorry. I have acknowledged this to my Lord, my wife, my children, our ministry board, and my colleagues.”
When he was asked whether he solicited her explicit photos, Ravi took shelter under ‘Non Disclosure Agreement’. He said “All communication with both of them has concluded, and the legal matters have been resolved. However, at this time, unfortunately I am legally prevented from answering or even discussing the questions and claims being made by some, other than to say that each side paid for their own legal expenses and no ministry funds were used.”
After a short battle with cancer, Ravi died on May 19, 2020. Now, Lori Thompson is seeking release from the Non Disclosure Agreement from RZIM and Ravi’s family. Where is this going? Are we going to learn more truth about this sexting scandal? Will Lori Thompson demand more money in damages from Ravi’s family and RZIM? Is more legal trouble brewing for RZIM from Lori Anne Thompson?
What does this all mean to us who loved Ravi so much? I have followed Ravi’s ministry since I was a teenager, when my dad K.Yohan took me to his meetings in Bangalore. Ever since, I enjoyed listening to his great sermons. I met him a few times, asked him questions, and shared my thoughts. I cried when he died. When I looked at his life, he was flawless.
Lori Thompson said, ‘Ravi betrayed my trust. I looked at him like a father figure. I have a husband and three children. This is hurting my relationship with them. Ravi has three children. They are precious to him. How does he feel if someone violates one of his children?’
What Lori Thompson said is relevant to our discussion. We love our children dearly. We cannot tolerate if someone violates one of our children. Against this backdrop, how to digest this news that Ravi Zacharias was involved in a sexting scandal with a married woman?
The Word of God helps us in this matter. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We are all sinners by nature. At the center of Christianity is a holy God who became one of us so that we might become holy. Lord Jesus Christ wants everyone of His followers to live like Him. Adultery? Don’t even look at a woman lustfully, let alone touching her or taking her to bed (Matthew 5:28). Our Lord put very high standards before us. His apostles also gave strong warnings against sexual sins. Consider 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
The will of God is our sanctification. First comes salvation of our souls. Then comes the sanctification of our minds and bodies. We should abstain from sexual immorality. We should control our body, not yielding to the lusts like the Gentiles who do not know God. The Gentiles or unbelievers do not care about sexual immorality. For them, everything is moral if they obtain consent. They will praise the virtues of fornication, adultery, orgies, pornography, homosexuality, and if current disintegration continues, even pedophilia in the near future. They do not have a moral framework to live by. As we read in Romans chapter 1, as the unbelievers move away from God’s truth, they defile their minds and corrupt their bodies. Their reprobate minds will indulge in all forms of sexual morality.
If we read the Old Testament, it enlists every sexual sin the Gentiles practiced. God punished the Gentiles and later the people of Israel for practising such sins. As the epistle of Jude records,
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:7
I am sure Ravi knew all these things. Yet, he did not take precautions and indulged in cybersex with this married woman. Today many atheist websites like Hemant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist are making fun of Christianity by publishing this news. Probably Ravi asked the Lord for forgiveness for these activities.
What can we learn from this scandal?
- Don’t just be a preacher: Practice what you preach. James 1:22 says, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. God expects us to practice the Word of God we preach. Let us take more steps in that direction.
- Sin cannot be contained: Ravi and Lori probably thought to keep it just ‘verbal’. But it soon morphed into visual. Phone sex soon became pornography. We cannot play with sin. We cannot control sin. It controls us. There are no masters of sin, only slaves. Jesus said, Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34). Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? (Proverbs 6:24-29). We cannot contain the fire of sin. Our uncontrolled passions will burn us down.
- Remember your sin will find you out: Ravi probably thought his sin would never come out: Lori Thompson most likely would continue this sin without her husband’s knowledge. Me too movement probably made her guilty of her sin or she is convicted by the Holy Spirit. She came out and exposed Ravi Zacharias. God warns us in His word, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23)
- We bring dishonor to Lord’s name: Ravi was among the most prominent of evangelical leaders. We were all proud of him. The atheists were afraid to debate him. But by indulging in this sin, Ravi brought dishonor to Lord’s name.
- Let us humble ourselves: When people wanted to stone the adulterous woman to death, Jesus warned them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’ (John 8:7). We all committed different sins at different times of our lives. While it is important to rebuke the sins of Ravi, let us humble ourselves that we too failed many times in our lives.
- Let us continue to love Ravi: I,like many, loved Ravi for many decades I knew him. I still love him. It breaks my heart to write these words. But our love for Ravi should not change. I still believe that Ravi was a great man of God. Yes, he failed when he engaged in cybersex. But we should forgive him and move on. The Bible is full of saints with moral failings.
- Let us continue to learn from Ravi: In my library, I have many books written by Ravi. The sins of Ravi should not impede the great ideals he taught us. Christian ideals are greater than Christians. Thomas Jefferson vociferously condemned whites mingling with blacks. Yet, he had no problem impregnating his slave girls in the shadows of his farm. Jefferson’s great ideals of liberty are greater than Jefferson. Similarly, the great apologetics and Bible truths Ravi preached to us are greater than Ravi. So, let us continue to learn from listening to his sermons and reading his books.