Sin, Secrets, and Sexual Abuse…How Do We Respond? (part 1)

Ever since when, in the Fall of 2020, the story emerged that Ravi Zacharias had been accused of sexual misconduct, I’ve thought and grieved about it a lot. When the full report commissioned by RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) was released on February 11, 2021, the truth about what Ravi had done was much more grievous and devastating than I had imagined.

For years before his death, Ravi was a go-to Christian apologist I would cite whenever I wanted to make a point and needed better words than I could come up with myself. Ravi was unbelievably intelligent and articulate, and had a way of presenting Christianity and the gospel that I admired. It was gentle but direct, humble but confident, loving but unquestionably biblical.

When the huge and hidden part of Ravi’s life was exposed after his death, it was heartbreaking. I have to admit, and I’m not happy to say this (but it’s honest)… My initial heartbreak was at having to process sadness and disappointment about the actions of someone whom I had admired so much. My initial heartbreak was not primarily focused on the women who were victimized by his unimaginable behavior. I am grateful for the eloquent and sensitive men and women who have written and advocated on behalf of Ravi’s victims. My tunnel vision was not intentional, but it was certainly there.

So, as I’ve been mulling over this whole awful situation for a week now, I’ve been thinking, “Is there anything I can say to weigh in on this that hasn’t already been said? Is there anything I could contribute that is helpful or necessary?” I’m pretty sure the answer to the first question is “No.” Tons of articles, blogs, tweets and social media posts have been written about Ravi and what people feel/think/believe about it. Anything I write will be at best a rehashing of something someone else has already said, and maybe better.

As for the second question, whether my contribution would be helpful or necessary, I’m not sure. But if there’s anyone who reads this and it spurs you to think more deeply and honestly about sexual brokenness & how it relates to responsibility, ownership, grace, the gospel – and how the Church has struggled to effectively address all of the above – then maybe there’s value in it.

I was listening to a podcast from Christianity Today about the report on Ravi, and one of the people on the podcast referenced a thread of tweets from a Twitter user named Samuel D. James (@samueld_james). I want to use his tweets, which are concise and very true, as a jumping off point for some of my own thoughts.

Samuel first tweeted:









I want to talk about these two extremes one at a time.

  1. “That could never be me.”

Other ways I’ve heard people articulate the first phrase include:

  • “I would never do something like that.”
  • “I have my problems, but that’s really messed up.”
  • “What kind of person would do something like that?!”

I love how Samuel succinctly reminds us that to say any of the above minimizes the heinousness of our own sin. I would add that making any of the above claims for ourselves is naïve, prideful, dishonest, and dangerous.

My own experience with sexual addiction showed me with painful clarity that just because a person hasn’t done something YET doesn’t mean it will never happen. Sexual sin, sexual addiction, unwanted sexual behavior – whatever way of referring to it is most comfortable to you – there’s one thing I know to be true about it.

It doesn’t stop where it starts.

Once we begin to deviate from the beauty of God’s design for sexuality, we start down a path where we expect sex to provide something for us other that is unrealistic and unhealthy. There are multiple reasons a person might start down that path. For some sex is the comforting or coping method adopted early in life to sooth trauma or pain. For others, the pursuit of sex is a self-focused pleasure quest that doesn’t start out seeming to hurt anyone. For still others, it can be much more sinister, an evil desire to dominate and degrade other people.

No matter what a person’s back story, or the initial explanations for what starts us down that path, we do not typically come to a point where the deviation plateaus. Sexual brokenness/addiction does not become static, or status-quo. It is either getting worse or it is getting better.

So, to make statements like “That could never be me” is false and careless. Not to mention the spiritual implications. I almost shudder when I hear people making comments like this. I can imagine our spiritual enemy and his forces saying, “Yeah, I’ll take that challenge.” The person who “minimizes the heinousness” of his own sin invites spiritual attack that he is never prepared for.

To read Part Two of this post, CLICK HERE.

Awaken is a Birmingham, AL based ministry walking with individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness & addiction. Our goal is to help people experience hope, connection, and healing through the gospel and the recovery process. For info on how to get help for recovery, including our recovery meetings (in person or virtual), contact us at!