A question that’s been sitting on my mind for some time now is whether a person’s conduct takes away from the validity of their written / artistic work. Isn’t that just an ad hominem attack?
I’m talking about Ravi. I’ve written a few blog posts referencing his works and I remember listening to a series of his sermons on long car trips, growing up. Once heralded as a great minister, the wrongs he’s done have come to light and they are horrific. This podcast (excerpts written out as well) is a careful discussion on how a Christian might respond to the scandal, but also makes other pertinent points, like how we find some “sins” more socially acceptable than others. Still, I have great anger against those who use their influence for personal sexual gain, because I personally understand what a pitfall sex can be for those who are trying to live by God’s laws.
Does a person’s crime take away from the legitimacy of their words, or the value of connecting with what a person says? J.K. Rowling has been widely denounced for her comments on trans people, but the Harry Potter series wasn’t a treatise on the subject to begin with, nor did it set out an opposite stance either. (Dawkins has similarly come under fire, but I don’t know how much of others’ ire is because he espouses atheism and makes such comments, or simply because he makes such comments). Still, I can understand that if a trans person were to grow up with Rowling’s works as a child and identify with it, that they would feel deeply betrayed years after, hearing what she said. I would feel such a conflict if, say, Tolkien turned out to be a guy who regularly murdered Asians. Even if LOTR held no allusions to Asian-killings, I don’t know if I’d be able to enjoy the work in the same way. For the women who were abused by Ravi and who turned away from the church in pain, and in suffering, I have nothing but sympathy and tears.
I prefer to write posts that have some sort of mild thesis, but honestly, too this, I have no clear answer. As true as the verse is that says we’re all sinners, just pointing to it doesn’t make it a cure-all bandage for the hurt that has been caused. I can only say that I don’t think Ravi’s conduct takes away from the truth of the Bible, that Christ died in a gruesome manner for these things, and there is something in that, that Christ suffered and grieved immensely in carrying our sin to the cross, and that it is his resurrection that gives us hope, and not the conduct of humans. And in my own life and mental health struggles, I know that God has been present in my own hurt and pain.