This is Part Two of a post. In Part One of my post I wrote about the recent report on Ravi Zacharias’ sexual misconduct/abuse. To read Part One first, CLICK HERE.
The second extreme Samuel encourages us to avoid (in his tweet) is:
- “We’re all one step away from being him.”
Other ways I’ve heard people express similar sentiments to this phrase:
- “Look at all the broken people God used in Scripture.”
- “My (fill in the blank with your sin struggle) is just as bad as his sexual sin.”
There’s a big difference between saying “That could happen to me,” and “I’m one step away from that happening to me.” The first phrase indicates a self-awareness, humility, and solemnity over what sin can do in anyone’s life. But as Samuel points out, the latter phrase (I believe unintentionally) minimizes how egregious and horrifying Ravi’s actions were.
Do I really believe I am only one step away from mismanaging the funds people donate to the nonprofit I lead, so that I can use those funds to bribe/coerce women into having sex with me? No, I do not.
Do I really believe I am only one step away from gaslighting/manipulating someone – using prayer – into having extramarital sex with me and framing it as an “opportunity” from God? No, I do not.
Do I really believe I am only one step away from rejecting statements of concern from godly friends, then going further and punishing those friends for daring to suggest I could possibly be engaging in risky behavior? No, I do not.
I believe I have the potential to do all of these things, given the right (or wrong) set of circumstances and choices over time. God knows the list of things I did in my addiction is long and troubling enough. But it is one thing to say “That could happen to me,” and a very different thing to say “I’m only one step away.”
Ravi didn’t quickly, or overnight, get to the point where he abused women the way he did. It took more than one step for him to travel from being a man of consistent integrity (assuming there was a season in life when this was true) to a man who hid, lied, manipulated, mismanaged funds, mistreated, molested, and even raped.
Ravi had chances to ask for help, to confess his sin before it degraded to the point where it did. He didn’t ask for help. I believe I understand better than some why he didn’t. Asking for help is terrifying when you’ve done things that you know will damage or destroy your reputation or ministry. That’s why I never confessed. Once I knew certain behavior lines had been crossed, I knew I would certainly lose my job and it would result in rejection and public shame.
But I also understand this: I was still responsible to ask for help, and to accept the consequences that came when I didn’t. Another thing I understand: There are many others who have struggled with sexual brokenness that looked like mine in the early days, but who asked for help before it got out of hand.
I thank God that I was caught when I was, and that I had the opportunity to own my sin (even if not initially of my own choice). I also thank God that He intervened and caused me to be exposed before I did anything worse than I did. I would love to think there are certain things I “never would have done,” and while I can’t be sure, I know that the human impact of my sin – as devastating as it was, and as evil in God’s sight as any sin – did not take the same human toll as Ravi’s. I say this with all the humility I can…Ravi’s sin was not more sinful than mine, but it was definitely more hurtful.
That’s why the next tweet in Samuel’s thread was important and relevant:
Yes, we all need to repent of our sin daily. Yes, we all need to be honest about our dark potential should we engage with our flesh. Yes, we all need to confess our sins like anger, lust, and pride. We all absolutely need to do this.
But not everyone is “one step away from being” Ravi. We have to acknowledge the weight of what he did, because he didn’t take responsibility to get honest and to ask for help. This is the exact reason why it is so critical to ask for help.
We may never know the reason(s) why Ravi started down the path of deviation from God’s design for sex. It could be that he could have received help that would have prevented him from doing as much harm as he did. It could be that we could have come to understand that maybe there were events/traumas in his life that contributed to his choices. I wonder how many would have rushed to Ravi to offer love, support, and help for him to recover and heal from his sin, and sexual sickness. I would have been one of those people. Tragically, because this didn’t come out until after his death, we may never get that clarity, and we (all of us) are left with the mess he made.
Friend who is reading this while secretly struggling and trying to manage sexual sin… PLEASE…ask for help. You have not gone too far for redemption. You have not out-sinned God’s ability to forgive and restore. I cannot and will not pretend there won’t be consequences, but whatever they are, they are better than continuing down the path of destruction (for you and for others). Please, ask for help.
To read Part Three 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 firstname.lastname@example.org!