On Chrissy Teigen, Ravi Zacharias, and Staying Sane

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Research, Uncategorized | 64 comments

Chrissy Teigen Ravi Zacharias and Evangelical Celebrity Culture
Merchandise is Here!

Last week Instagram went crazy because model Chrissy Teigen posted a heartbreaking picture after her miscarriage. 

While there was an outpouring of support, there was also a ton of criticism. She has no right to be sad because of her political views. She shouldn’t be taking pictures like that.

I chimed in to support her. 

A number of things have been on my mind lately, and I’d like to take today and just lay them all out here. It’s been a while since I did more of a “stream of consciousness” post of the things that I’m thinking, but here goes!

We’ve become so calloused and hardened that EVERYTHING has to be about scoring political points.

A baby’s death should not be about scoring political points. Everybody needs to get a grip. We’re forgetting that those who may disagree with us are people, too. And if our aim is to spread the gospel, well, how do you think beating up on grieving parents is going to do that? Seriously. Sheesh.

But also–I understand why she took that photo.

Every year, on my son Christopher’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, I write something about him, like these posts:

I post pictures of him on Instagram and Facebook.

Some people think I do that because I want the sympathy. But that’s not it.

It’s because if I don’t do that, it’s as if he never existed. 

People who meet our family would never know that there’s a child who isn’t there–a child who came between my two girls. When Rebecca and Katie were growing up, and they had friends over, those friends were often really surprised to see a picture of another baby on a bookshelf. They never knew.

And how would you? We don’t go talking about this in normal daily life.

But Christopher existed. He mattered. And Chrissy Teigen’s and John Legend’s son Jack existed. And he mattered.

And taking that picture in the hospital room was, I think, her way of putting up a memorial, of saying, “he lived.” If others didn’t know, then it’s like he never existed. And there’s no pain worse than that–to realize that life is going on and all of those around you don’t even realize how much you’re hurting because to them–the baby was never even there. 

At least we have a grave to go to, but many parents who go through early miscarriages don’t even have that.

Miscarriage and Chrissy Teigen

Rebecca, Connor, Alex and Keith and Me at Christopher’s grave this year

In many hospitals, volunteer photographers will come in and take pictures of parents with stillborn children, just so they have something to remember them by. When Christopher died, they cut off a lock of his hair for us, and took little handprints and footprints. Those things matter.

So I hope that in all the outcry, we can find a little humanity for this grieving couple, and for all grieving parents who have lost children. We all need to remember in some tangible way. We all need to reassure ourselves that, yes, they existed. They mattered.

And I’m so glad that I will one day see my son again.

But grief is never a time to score political points, okay?

In some ways, I feel like I’ve been grieving for my faith for several years now.

The sexual abuse scandals in the evangelical church lately, and what we have learned about harmful evangelical teaching about sex in the last few years, has made me very, very sad. I have had to say good-bye to a lot of the trappings of the faith that I grew up with.

It’s been hard. But it’s also pushed me back into the arms of Jesus, as I rediscover the gospels, and rediscover what it means to have church in community, rather than trying to just win culture wars.

Last week, even more revelations broke about Ravi Zacharias and sexual abuse, with many corroborating witnesses. Stories in Christianity Today, World Magazine, and on Julie Roys’ blog suggest that he was not the man he portrayed himself to be. His organization and his denomination say that they are now launching an investigation, but I think we know where that will end up.

The endless string of evangelical big name leaders who have fallen and proven themselves to be scoundrels or unfit to lead just keeps getting bigger and bigger: James MacDonald; Bill Hybels; Mark Driscoll; Jerry Falwell Jr.; Paige Patterson; Bill Gothard; Doug Phillips; Josh Duggar; and now Ravi Zacharias. The list keeps getting longer.

I have to admit that this one threw me more than the others. Most who have fallen have been so authoritarian and judgmental that I was just waiting for the shoe to drop. I actually enjoyed listening to Ravi Zacharias, so this one was tough for me.

I think the problem is with evangelical celebrity culture. Why are we so intoxicated by big conferences, by megachurches, by everything flashy? Why do we want a big production and show, and want a big name to look up to? This doesn’t resemble the early church, which excelled in living in community and giving to one another.

When we put people up on pedestals, we give them so much power with little accountability–well, is it any wonder things like this happen?

(And I just finished reading Kristen Kobes Du Mez’ book Jesus and John Wayne which explains so many of the issues with evangelical culture, too!)

One of the ways that I’ve always tried to do my blog is to keep interacting with people. I don’t want to ever become inauthentic. I don’t even want to be part of the evangelical celebrity culture, which is hard, because I do have a big blog and I do have big books (with more coming out). But I want to be well known because of ideas, not because of me.

Rebecca said to me last week that her aim is that in 3 years, everyone knows our names because of our book The Great Sex Rescue, which will rock the evangelical world (it’s coming out in March 2021!). But then in 15  years, we hope no one knows our names, because we want to transition eventually into a different kind of blog/online community that lifts up voices with something important to say, not just me, and not just people who are already famous. I want to retire eventually by working myself out of a job. We need to get away from Christian celebrities, because the whole idea seems so antithetical to the gospel. Let’s instead just focus on Jesus and cutting through all the cultural noise.

I used to think that I’d love to be invited to speak at something like Women of Faith.

Now that idea makes me slightly nauseous. I’d rather just hang out here with you all, getting to know the people who comment, and not trying to be someone other than who I am.

I think COVID is pushing us away from “big” and back to community.

We can’t do big conferences. We can’t do big events. Megachurches can’t meet in the same way.

But smaller churches can (or maybe will be able to soon; I know it’s different in different jurisdictions). One of the problems with bigger churches is that people go and sit in the pews and don’t participate. You feel as if you’re living your Christian life because you’re attending church, but it’s easy to skate by. In smaller churches, you can get to know people and invest in them more easily and more naturally, and it seems like that may be more in line with Jesus than thousands of people listening to one person preach.

I know there are problems with both large churches and small churches; and both large churches and small churches can be toxic. But, once Ontario fully opens up, we’re looking forward to trying a small church in our neighbourhood, for the first time ever. We want to be able to walk to church; to go to church with our neighbours; to have it so that when we’re not there, people notice. I’m eager to see how that goes.

If you’ve been grieving as scandal after scandal has hit the evangelical church, please know that this doesn’t reflect on Jesus. And please, just let the confusion and the grief and the disillusionment push you back towards finding the real Jesus, because many of our churches have been missing Him. It’s okay to get upset. God doesn’t get mad at us for getting upset.

Let’s just keep it real. Keep community. Remember the humanity in others. And never, ever treat a cause, or an organization, or politics as more important than a person.

What do you think? Do you understand Chrissy Teigen wanting to take that picture? Have you become jaded by evangelical culture lately? How can we do better? Let’s talk in the comments!

 

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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64 Comments

  1. Larissa

    “It’s because if I don’t do that, it’s as if he never existed. ”
    Yes! That’s exactly it. We talk about our living kids easily, but the ones who have died? Not so easy to talk about widely. We changed churches two years ago and knew no one at the new church… which of course meant that none of them knew about our daughter who died 6 years earlier. It was like she didn’t exist! Sharing photos, saying their name, talking about them is never for attention or sympathy – we share because we love them. They existed and people should know.

    Reply
  2. Chris

    Chrissy Teigens political views may very well be wackadoodles, but so are the political views of half the people I know and love. I feel so bad for her and john legend right now.
    Rebecca’s son’s name is Christopher? I thought it was Alex? Or am I confused? Christopher is always a good name choice!!
    In Jesus and John Wayne the author claims that Trump was elected because he was evangelical?! Trump was elected because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Its that simple.

    Reply
  3. Laurel B

    Yes, amen to this! Jesus’s ministry was about caring for the people closest to him, not about worldly fame. He was very very poor – basically homeless. He didn’t use his influence to live a cushy life. He did not try to promote himself or grab for power. Any such attitude in a Christian is not like Christ!
    While our culture encourages self-promotion, true followers of Jesus will promote Christ first and care for His people.
    I appreciate your goal for your ministry & this blog, & your honest thoughts about the mainstream Christian culture. Keep faithfully presenting the truth!

    Reply
    • KellyK

      I follow Chrissy on Instagram. I was heartbroken for her as she shared her loss last week. I too have suffered an early pregnancy loss. While only 9 weeks, it still hurts. On the day I lost that baby, I reflect and remember the child. I’d like to think it was a girl. I’ll never know. She still mattered. All life matters no matter how long they are here with us on earth.
      I read the nasty things people were saying to Chrissy & John. Definitely not the time or place for that. They are human. They suffered a horrific loss that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I even tweeted to President Trump that I hoped he got well, even though I don’t support him. See how that works?

      Reply
  4. Cara

    In response to the second point in the post, I definitely agree that the celebrity Christianity can be a huge problem because of the pedestal it creates. I also think this type of thing is a sobering reminder not to even put others or oneself on a pedestal or look at these fallen public figures and think “I could never do that, I’m so much better than that”, because we actually all could sin in unimaginable ways if we take our eyes off Jesus. I heard a sermon once that spoke about this and how God’s grace could cover the worst of the worst as much as it could cover who the world would look at as not being “as bad” of a sinner. I have actually been really disgusted with some of the Christian culture who celebrates when these type of issues come out, I find it incredibly disturbing on so many levels. I had a roommate once who laughed hysterically when the Josh Duggar/Ashley Madison thing came out, and I’ve seen multiple people laughing about Jerry Falwell Jr. I think we need to mourn these things as Christians with a sense of humility and not an attitude of superiority. As well as sadness for those directly impacted by the actions, and a respect for them by not laughing at the downfall of their abuser or unfaithful husband or whatever the person may be to them.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree with you about not laughing–but I do think that there is a time to be very vocal publicly, because the victims are the ones who deserve to be heard and who deserve to know that other people care. When we stay silent because we shouldn’t gloat, then it can sound like no one is standing up for the victims. We need to be vocal there. James MacDonald hurt a ton of people. Bill Hybels abused a ton of women. Mark Driscoll wrecked a whole church and damaged so many relationships and so many have left Christianity because of it. They need to hear, “You matter. What was done was not right.”
      When we denounce loudly, it is not always, or even usually, out of pride or out of glee or out of any of those things. It is instead out of a sense of justice for the victims. Let’s keep the victims in our focus, instead of the perpetrators, and we’ll usually do right. That’s what God did in the Old Testament, and that’s a good example to follow.
      Now, celebrating another’s downfall like you were talking about–not right. But when we keep the victims in mind, our attitudes will tend to be more Christlike.

      Reply
      • Cara

        Yep and I never stated we shouldn’t be publicly vocal at all, I was agreeing with your post not arguing with you.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          No, absolutely, just wanted to add some nuance for others reading the comments!

          Reply
  5. Anon

    Looking at myself and struggles with lust and porn and other mens struglles and then see these men that have used their position to sexually abuse others it doesnt only make me (more?) disappointed with the church. What it does is that it makes me more disappointed with us men in general. It just makes me feel that we men are the biggest flaw with this world.
    I mean, there are good men,your husband and your daughters husbands are example of it. But if we are honest, they are a rare species. The rest of us are too messed up. Can we get better? Maybe but thousands of year of history shows that we would have a far more better world if women would take the lead.
    I grew up learning that women shouldnt be leaders in the church but I think that there needs to be more female leaders. Sadly it is so ingrained in to our brains that women shouldnt be leaders that too many see it as wrong. I am part of a huge mens group online that in many things is good but many there are against female pastors. When I tell them that my pastor is a woman they say thats a huge reason to the problems in my church and that it is not living after Gods will. I can be honest, I have heard it so much that I sometimes feel unsure even feeling guilty when I say that more women should be pastors because I am afraid that God will be against me.
    But looking on us men and all these men doing evil things on those high positions I cant deny that things would be so much better without us men in high positions in church (and politics IIMO). Most men are too evil . More women in higher positions in church would make a church much more loving and Christlike in my opinion.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ve actually had similar conversations with my husband, and my response is always the same: the problem is power, not gender. Those with power will always end up being more abusive. That’s just the way it is. If you reversed the world and gave women all the power, you’d see women abuse. That’s why we need to stop thinking in terms of both groups and power, and start thinking as Jesus did, summarized in Matthew 20:25-28:
      “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

      Reply
      • A

        Jesus has all power and authority and he was not in any way abusive. He had all power in heaven and on earth, and yet he was a servant at the same time. It’s not power in and of itself that is the issue, but who holds it and how they use it. A car isn’t the problem, the driver is. You have power over your children when they are little. Does that mean you’re automatically abusive? I think not. Power is a responsibility that we choose to use or abuse.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Yes, A, Jesus has all power and authority. But he did not get that power and authority by being a power-hungry, power-seeking person. Rather, we imitate the Jesus “Who, being in very nature[a] God,
          did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
          7 rather, he made himself nothing
          by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
          being made in human likeness.
          8 And being found in appearance as a man,
          he humbled himself
          by becoming obedient to death—
          even death on a cross!
          9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
          and gave him the name that is above every name,
          10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
          in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
          11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
          to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11).
          Unfettered power is dangerous because are called to imitate Christ, a servant. If we happen to be given power or authority, of course that does not mean you must automatically become an abuser. Obviously not all men are power-abusive, I am married to a very wonderful one. 🙂 But we need to stop encouraging people to seek power and seek celebrity status because it is so antithetical to who Jesus was and His example to us. And because there are groups of people who are born into power at a societal level simply by their biology, we need to be able to call out that imbalance and warn them that they may have a blind spot to these issues.
          Power is not in its very nature evil. But power can easily corrupt when we elevate the individual rather than the message. When the individual is given additional power not because they have earned it but simply because they already had power/status, because they were born a certain way, or if their power is because we have created an idol out of them and they enjoy that deluxe start treatment and continue to seek it, that is a major problem and we have to start asking who it really is that they (and we) are serving.

          Reply
          • A

            Jesus was born into power because He is the Son of God. Matthew 28:18 says “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 9:6 “So that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins…” Matthew 26:53 “Do you not think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Being born into power is not a bad thing and was, in fact, given to Him by God the Father. He was also a male living in a highly patriarchal society which gave him many advantages and He was still without sin and had no blind spots. Jesus was born with power and privilege but lived a life completely pleasing to God. He then humbled himself to death, even death on the cross. The example Jesus set was not to remove His power or dismantle and disavow His privilege, but to bring glory to God. In fact, He even stated “I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17 he also said “I have come so you might have life, and….have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
            We should be encouraging everyone to follow the Lord and glorify Him in all they say and do, regardless of where they have been placed (in a position of power or not). We should not be blaming “power” or “privilege” but actions as a result of a sinful heart. Another power example is Esther. God placed her in a high position of power “for such a time as this.” Esther 4:14
            Removing someone from power does not make them a better person (which should be our goal?). Only true heart change from Jesus can do that. And when someone truly loves Jesus, their power will be nothing more than a tool to serve and love others with. In the same way someone who is rich loves Jesus more than His money and his money is a tool.
            This idea that Ravi is sinful as a result of his power, is simply false. It implies that power is the cause of sin instead of a sinful heart.

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Yes, I actually think we completely agree then 🙂 (And I didn’t mean that Jesus didn’t have power except that he didn’t SEEK power.) I think I misread your original comment to mean that we SHOULDN’T criticize/expect a lot from people in power because power doesn’t change anything. But it does change things, because if one has a sinful heart but is in power, they can do much damage.
            We all need to be sure that the people around us, including those in power, are not given a “free pass” to indulge in sin simply because of their status.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I still think the whole point of Jesus was that He willingly gave up His power. Authority and power are not synonymous, and are quite often antonyms. It’s actually quite an interesting phenomenon to study! Can true moral authority co-exist with power? Very rarely.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, I just replied to this without seeing that you had replied to it, too!

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, I’m not sure that’s true. Power and authority are two different things. Jesus had authority, but He willingly laid down His power. He demonstrates that again and again. And He told us that we aren’t to go after power, but are instead to focus on serving. Even with our children, the focus is on authority and on growing relationship, not on exercising power over them. Exercising power doesn’t work and only turns them against you. Authority and power are often at odds. One who has great power often has little authority, because in order to garner authority you have to earn it on merits, not on power. With children, you garner authority through relationship, and that’s why they listen and want to do what you say. Exercise raw power, though, and they often turn away and chafe at it. And so Jesus says that it is not power that should motivate us, but instead picking up our cross daily. It’s an upside-down kingdom, and upside-down way to live. Does that make sense?

          Reply
          • Chris

            There’s a scene in Schindlers List where Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth have a conversation about “power”. It’s a powerful scene. And Schindler nailed it.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, now I’m curious! But i can’t watch that movie again. It was really traumatizing for me. I grew up reading so many Holocaust novels (I really think the Holocaust is the single most important thing shaping my view of foreign policy, my view of politics, even my view of responsibility in the Christian life). It had already been so much on my heart, and that movie simply gave me haunting pictures that I couldn’t get rid of. I’m glad he made the movie; I think it was necessary. But for me it wasn’t helpful. And don’t even get me started on Sophie’s Choice! But now I’m trying to make myself remember that conversation…

          • Elissa

            I’m not sure you can make such a cut and dry distinction that “power is bad/corrupting” and “authority is okay/good.” For example, in Act chapter one Jesus tells his disciples that believers will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon them… Why would he give us something that is bad? Conversely, the book of Revelation tells us that Satan and the beast are given AUTHORITY to rule all the nations in a reign of terror, including persecuting believers.
            I definitely agree that we must be careful stewards of whatever power or authority we have been given, but (unless I’m totally misinterpreting what you’re saying) it sounds like you’re trying to make a blanket distinction between the two where power is bad and authority is good.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I think there’s a difference between the power of the Holy Spirit (which is what Jesus was talking about in Acts) and worldly power.
            What I’m trying to contrast is moral authority and worldly power (and worldly power would be any structure that gives an individual power over the other, such as government, church hierarchies, marital hierarchies, etc.). So, for instance, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.–all had tremendous moral authority, but no power. Whereas Stalin, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Saddam Hussein–all had tremendous power, but no moral authority.
            We can either persuade people to do what we would like them to do, or we can compel people to do what we want them to do. But if you have the ability to compel people, then our persuasion is severely hindered. It’s really why God gave us free will–He wanted to persuade us, not compel us. As soon as that kind of power enters into the equation, then we’re not freely choosing.
            Does that make sense?

      • Ed

        I totally agree with you Sheila:
        Both genders are equally capable of becoming abusive and self-seeking. We haven’t seen it as much with women historically because past societies were largely patriarchal with men totally in control of the levers of economic and political power. But that has definitely changed in the 21st century and especially in North America. As women become more and more ascendant in the leadership roles of industry, politics and even Christian evangelical ministry (which is a good thing), we are also unfortunately going to see more and more women abuse their power just like men in power have done historically.
        Just witness the recent example of Becki Falwell, a married woman, who held a senior management position with Liberty University, a prominent Christian university in Virginia. She was directly in charge of students at the university and it was her job to foster their emotional, spiritual and academic well-being. However, instead of inspiring them, Becki sexually acosted two men in their early 20’s who were young enough to be her sons.
        One of the young men, she had a long-standing affair with and he was undoubtedly blinded by her power, wealth and prestige.
        The other young man was a Liberty University student and actually her own son’s best friend. He finally gave in to her concerted pressure to have sex with her because he was afraid of saying no to her as it might harm his academic career at Liberty. After the story about their illict relationship broke back in August of 2020, he told the news media that Becki Falwell was a predator and the aggressor in their relationship:
        “Usually I think about a middle-aged man grooming someone,” the former student said. “It’s funny how it happened with the whole, ‘Me Too’ Movement. I’m on the other end of the spectrum from men harassing women. I found that a lot of the traits that these guys had, Becki had as well.”
        Like it’s been said before: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

        Reply
  6. Alfabets

    Thank you for putting into words something that I feel deeply. We lost our son Caleb at 18 weeks of pregnancy. My sons, who remember that loss, often spoke of him when they were little. Sometimes it was awkward because people don’t know how to respond. Thank you for validating my sharing about his life. Doing so commemorates his life. It is not a stump for sympathy or attention.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly! I’m glad you agree with me, too. It’s hard to put into words, but it’s like memories are the only things we have. If we don’t talk about him, if we don’t share memories, if we ignore it–then it’s like he didn’t exist.

      Reply
  7. Becky

    I’m honestly curious to hear from the international readers on this one, because I seriously wonder if the problem isn’t as much evangelical culture in general as it is specifically American evangelical culture. Everything is just about celebrity worship, which the church obviously isn’t exempt from, and it seems like there is absolutely nothing that anyone can do anymore that doesn’t get politicized. There’s no gray areas, there’s no compassion, and I’m saddened to see that two grieving parents are getting attacked so much. Maybe it was always this bad and now I’m only seeing it because of being an adult and because of social media, but I miss the days when I believed that people could believe differently about even minor issues and still be civil to each other. Especially when grief is involved.

    Reply
    • Arwen

      Becky, there is a form of celebrity pastors that goes on in other cultures too. I mean the Pop is the biggest celebrity out there right now and he’s located in Italy. A couple years back there was a scandal in Singapore by a well know celebrity pastor named Kong Hee, who actually served time in prison and others in Asia that would periodically pop up in my timeline. I come from an Eastern Orthodox background and we have had our share of fallen celebrities who have committed some serious sins. I also vaguely remember a story about a Pastor of a mega church in Mexico who had to step down because he had so many mistresses who would often show up to church and a fight would break out among the women. So ratchet! Unbelievable!
      Yeah, it exists in other parts of the world too. If you’re subscribed to some Christian magazines they will let you know what’s happening outside of America.

      Reply
      • Kristen

        That’s interesting, Arwen, because I was wondering the same thing as Becky. Thanks for the insight.

        Reply
      • Becky

        Yes, thank you for the insight, Arwen! The only Christian magazine that I have right now is a missions one geared towards kids, so obviously it can’t go deep into scandalous issues.

        Reply
    • Larissa

      I think it does happen elsewhere, but in Australia I’d say the “Christian celebrity” culture isn’t the same. It exist within some circles for sure, but much less prominent here.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think the same thing in Canada. It’s there, but not to the same extent, largely because megachurches aren’t a “thing” really.

        Reply
  8. Deanna

    So true. We’ve lost 3 little ones to miscarriage this year (and 1 four years ago) and it makes me so happy that my 2 and 3 yr old talk about their babies in heaven. We think it’s important that they grow up knowing our family of 4 is actually a family of 8.

    Reply
  9. Arwen

    I always love your posts about your son Sheila. We all remember him with you. And i can’t wait for you to meet him too one day. Sooo exciting to look forward to that.
    My only problem with the Teigen’s is that they have previously made some very, very questionable tweets about child abuse that is very, very disturbing. I’m not sure if you’re aware of that Sheila. Look into her past tweets. She creeps me out. But the lose of her son is tragic nonetheless.
    As for Ravi. He’s human who has sinned like many believers in Scripture. I’m just confused why this all coming out after the man has died which doesn’t give him the opportunity to explain his side and what exactly does this do for his victims? Wouldn’t the victims feel good if they had an opportunity to confront him instead a person that no longer exists on earth.
    There is just something that doesn’t sit well with me when people start exposing things about dead people that they purposely avoided while they were alive. I don’t see this pattern in scripture. Sinners were confronted while alive not once they passed away. That way they can be disciplined for their crimes and the victims can feel better knowing the predator was punished for their evil.
    I also think we need to expect that “celebrity” pastors will sin. For example i love John MacArthur if tomorrow some grievous scandal came out after his death, i wouldn’t be shocked, because he’s human who lived in the flesh after all. The Spirit and the flesh are always warring with each other. Humans sin, humans fall, they hurt others and still God forgives and God sees all and knows exactly what happened, and ultimately true justice will be served on the throne of judgment.

    Reply
    • Wifeofasexaddict

      Regarding Ravi: first, some things did come out before his death and the victims were silenced by NDA’s. And then only HIS point of view got out. He violated the NDA, but he was not held to it like he should.have been and like.the victims were. A story about him.forcing a teenage girl to get an illegal abortion many years ago came.out before his death too.
      Second, please learn about trauma. Victims are often too scared to say anything when their abuser has the ability to hurt them. (Again). Not everyone takes delight in pursuing justice against their abuser. In fact, victims are often retraumatized when they do speak up. It’s another way that the church has to get better.
      So don’t discount these women who have waited.til now to speak. Their stories are corroborated. And they are not the only ones. See The Wartburg Watch and Spiritual Soundingboard for fuller investigation, much of which happened before Ravi’s death.

      Reply
      • Arwen

        Wifeofasexaddict, Wow! Thanks for the additional info. I’ll check out those sites and read up on what’s been happening before his death. I thought it only came out after his death, that’s when i started seeing it, because every Christian was posting about it on every social media i use, including reddit. Thank you again!

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks for your kind words about Christopher, Arwen!
      The stuff about Ravi was actually known before his death, but it just wasn’t getting traction. But this has all been known for quite a while. It’s very sad.

      Reply
    • Pamela

      Arwen, I would encourage you to read Rachel Denhollander’s book “What’s a Little Girl Worth” to give you an understanding of why victims/survivors do not disclose. It is NEVER too late for a victim to gain their voice, even if their abuser has died.

      Reply
  10. edl

    Sheila, I can’t say it any better than you did and so I will just repeat …
    >>The sexual abuse scandals in the evangelical church lately, and what we have learned about harmful evangelical teaching about sex in the last few years, has made me very, very sad. I have had to say good-bye to a lot of the trappings of the faith that I grew up with.
    It’s been hard. But it’s also pushed me back into the arms of Jesus, as I rediscover the gospels, and rediscover what it means to have church in community, rather than trying to just win culture wars…
    I know there are problems with both large churches and small churches; and both large churches and small churches can be toxic…. If you’ve been grieving as scandal after scandal has hit the evangelical church, please know that this doesn’t reflect on Jesus. And please, just let the confusion and the grief and the disillusionment push you back towards finding the real Jesus, because many of our churches have been missing Him. It’s okay to get upset. God doesn’t get mad at us for getting upset.
    Let’s just keep it real. Keep community. Remember the humanity in others. And never, ever treat a cause, or an organization, or politics as more important than a person.<<
    Amen.

    Reply
  11. Stephanie J

    We had an ectopic pregnancy March of 2019. I had barely even found out I was pregnant and surprised my husband with the news. Then jump to the emergency room the next morning for emergency surgery and having one of my tubes removed. We shared with close friends and family, but I wanted to shout it from the rooftops because it just felt so huge. Yet it didn’t feel right to make a social media announcement either so we kept quiet. I did finally share this August on National Rainbow Baby day as we are now expecting again. I had so many people reach out in comments or messages in response. One friend who was going through a miscarriage that very week! It felt good to acknowledge this “invisible” middle child of ours and share them with the world and to share pieces the strange and emotional journey we had been on in the aftermath. Good on Chrissy and John for sharing and in a sense giving permission for others to do the same in whatever way they feel comfortable. I can’t imagine dealing with the backlash they have received on top of the loss of their son.

    Reply
  12. gbolling

    American Catholic reader here. Your words about being wary and increasingly uncomfortable with celebrity Christians and big projects perfectly encapsulates my feelings right now with current mainstream Catholic media, especially during our upcoming election and the surrounding culture. Last week I unsubscribed and stopped following a Catholic Media Outlet I used to look up to so so much because they were giving almost all of their attention on elevating things like the importance of sexual ethics and the unreliability of emotions during a time when several other people of color and/or people within the LGBTQ community-including some of my own friends-are seriously contemplating either buying weapons for self defense or leaving the country because of the increasing tension and hate crime. Not to mention I live on the Pacific Northwest and we’re just beginning our recovery from those catastrophic wildfires that this outlet didn’t even acknowledge.
    Any other year these subjects would’ve been relevant or reflective of the times, but everything has changed. The people behind these resources found Christ, and I’m happy they did, and I agree with everything they say, but the privilege is painfully obvious now (they only brought up racism in the church a couple of times, and you bet they don’t give it nearly as much attention), and I’m profoundly disappointed that they’re not beginning to look at the dark ethical conflicts that are coming up for American Christians. Your blog is better at walking that balance and they could take a lot of lessons from you. I’m completely disillusioned by the big-name Catholic Conferences now because I can’t even trust them to speak to my reality anymore or the reality of my non-Catholic or non-Christian friends, which is an absolutely terrible prerequisite in terms of evangelization. I always found more fulfillment when I went to retreats and small gatherings of different parishes that didn’t gather a lot of media attention. Absolute power corrupts.
    As for Chrissy Teigen, are you familiar with the Nickelodeon Show Avatar: The Last Airbender? There’s a flashback scene of the evil Fire Lord Azulon and his family. His eldest son had an adult son who died in war, and while he was grieving, the Fire Lord’s younger son approached him and asked to pass the title of Fire Lord from the eldest son to him, since the eldest son no longer had any heirs to pass on the Fire Lord name. The Fire Lord was so enraged at his son for attempting to make a political advantage out of his brother’s grief, he ordered the younger son to kill his own son as restitution.
    (Thankfully, that son is spared for spoilerly reasons)
    This discourse on Chrissy Teigen’s miscarriage and how she handles it has super strong resemblance to that story, and honestly is often the only way I can fully comprehend how disgusting that attitude is. I hadn’t looked too much into Chrissy Teigen’s political views before this tragedy, and I’m happy for doing that so I’m not tempted as much to shrug off her pain.
    Thank you so so so much for this piece. This was needed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely, g! Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
      I do think the issue is combining religion–any religion–with power and celebrity and political influence. We’re to focus on serving and being the hands and feet of Jesus, not on power. It’s dangerous.

      Reply
  13. Misty S

    First let me say to you that have lost a child, I can’t imagine your pain. My heart hurts just at the thought. My prayers are with you all.
    I had not heard about Ravi Zacharias. That one made me cry a bit.
    And Sheila… Small churches are the best! After being a part of a very big church when I lived overseas, I’m so happy to be back in a small community driven church. I know the people I go to church with. We are invested in each others lives. When I moved back to this community after separating from my ex-husband these people took me in. They made sure I have everything I needed, they gave my children rides places so I could work, they wiped up the puddle of tears I shed every Sunday at the alter because I was in so much and pain and under so much stress. They paid for me to participate in fun events because, at the time I couldn’t afford it, and they never let me feel bad about it. I was never a charity case. It was always “I’m paying because I want to hang out with you. We want you here. We love to spend time with you.” They held me up and loved me through the most difficult time of my life, and some of them had never met me before I moved there. I was part of the community so I was a part of them. I’m shamelessly bragging on my church because they deserve it! Now I get to be a part of giving back some of love and Christ-likeness that was given to me. It’s amazing! In my experience it’s very hard to get all of that from a larger church… even one with small groups. The group is great great but nothing beats the whole church loving one another.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Misty, that’s so lovely! That’s honestly what I want. And thank you for reminding me that it’s not just about what I want in community; it’s also to keep my eye out for those that I could be helping.

      Reply
  14. Brenda

    I had my first miscarriage in Feb and it has been so difficult. I didn’t have any support because no one knew yet. And then the isolation because of covid. My husband, who is the only one who really “understands” the loss, instead diminishes my grief by saying I shouldn’t be sad because we are so blessed to have 6 living healthy children. And I feel guilty for being sad because I know that I’m blessed, but the loss is still incredibly sad. Not even our children know. Our baby is 3 and people keep asking if or when we are having another and it’s so hurtful even though I know they don’t mean it to be.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m sorry, Brenda. One baby does not replace another. You can be sad even if you have other children. I am so sorry.

      Reply
    • Pamela

      Brenda,
      The size of your family is irrelevant to the grief that you’re experiencing over the loss of your baby. That baby fully mattered. Each life is 100% valuable, regardless of how many babies come before it or after it. Your husband is mistaken. Your emotions are not misplaced. Hugs.

      Reply
  15. Mike S.

    My problem with the whole thing was not about her personal grief but over the fact that she is pro-abortion. So she gets to be God- “I want you, I’m sorry you died” – “I don’t want you, you are a clump of cells. MY CHOICE.”
    That’s more power than God exerts.
    That’s the problem. It5’s not about dismissing her grief. It’s the blindness of her views.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Mike, don’t you think that allowing her the space to grieve her unborn baby is more likely to help her to understand the pro-life cause than beating up on her right now and telling her she’s a hypocrite with no right to feel grief because of her political views?
      Don’t you think that one of the best things that could happen to the pro-life cause is if high profile celebrities talk about the grief of miscarriage, and Christians just sit there in grief with them, saying, “We know. We understand. Losing your baby hurts. He mattered.”
      Don’t you think that’s what Jesus would do?
      This, “well, sure, it’s sad for her BUT BUT her political views” is what’s wrong with the whole thing, in my opinion.

      Reply
      • Wild Honey

        YES! I have no idea what Chrissy Tiegen’s political views are. And I was intellectually pro-life before having a miscarriage. But miscarriage and coming close to losing our eldest during childbirth solidified in my heart and bones the preciousness of the unborn.

        Reply
  16. Doug

    I have mixed feelings about this post, where Chrissy Teigen is concerned.
    I do grieve for her and John for her loss. I certainly don’t celebrate her pain. I think Sheila did a good job of explaining the picture, and using her own experience as an example for those who don’t get it.
    On the other hand, I believe it showed really poor judgement for it to be posted to social media like it was. It was blatantly hypocritical, and bound to attract attention. Some might disagree with me there, and that is fine. For those who said her political views don’t matter, and that she still deserves our sympathy, I will say this. Yes. She absolutely deserves our sympathy. On the other hand, what you attribute to political views or a simple difference of opinion, is really a question of morality and the value you place on life. In essence, what she said by posting that picture is that her loss matters. Her baby mattered more than mine, or millions of others. Furthermore, when you paint this as a political matter, you are agreeing with her inasmuch as you are telling me that my baby was just a political statement. I am telling you that my baby was as important as hers, but she said it was OK to kill mine. I apologize for being blunt, That isn’t a political statement.
    I really find this whole post to be ironic. Everyone here rightfully called out Celebrity pastors who have misused their power, and completely overlooked the fact that the only reason we are talking about Chrissy Teigen is because of her celebrity position on abortion. I am truly sorry for her loss. I hope that it opens her eyes to the value of all life, not just the ones she cares about.
    For what it is worth, I do understand the pictures.
    https://manwithoutamapcom.wordpress.com/a-scrap-of-paper/

    Reply
    • Andrea

      “I am telling you that my baby was as important as hers, but she said it was OK to kill mine.” — Chrissy Teigen said your baby was less important than hers and that it was OK to kill it???

      Reply
      • Doug

        I think it is easy enough to interpret that from her pro- choice and women’s right to choose stance.

        Reply
      • Doug

        I apologize for the abrupt response. I responded while more than a little bit irate at being challenged. You deserve a better answer than that, and I clearly did not make myself understood in my post. The back story is a history that I sometimes assume that everyone knows. I thought I said enough in my previous remark to not have to repeat it again.
        I lost a child thru abortion. Both the pregnancy and the abortion were concealed from me. Even if I had known of either, voices of people like Chrissy Teigen would silence my voice of opposition. She and John both have used their celebrity platform for just that purpose.
        So the truth is that she didn’t personally say that my baby in particular was less important than hers. Instead, she uses what influence she has to make that abundantly clear that it was OK for the mother to kill it.
        I refuse to mince words or sugar coat it. There is no middle ground for me, and it is not in any way political to me. It is as personal as it gets. The battles are fought in the political arena, only because the courts have already stripped my rights from me. Her stance, her voice, and those like her bear a responsibility in that, and are constantly trying to influence the political arena.
        Justice was spoken of heavily in this post, in regards to the abusive pastor. Well, this is about justice for me and my child, and the millions of others. Pro choice doesn’t mean that everyone gets a choice.
        I do feel bad for Chrissy and John, and I would really hope this would somehow change their hearts. On the other hand, I am trying to wrap my mind around the obvious hypocrisy of her position on abortion. I think I expressed that as well as I know how in the comment you quoted. My baby was less important than hers, and it was ok to kill mine. That has been her publicly stated position. I see no reason to pretend that mine was somehow an exception.
        If I seem overly defensive on the subject, I really am trying not to be. I am not going to dismiss her loss or try to minimize it in any way. I know how bad it hurts as well as anyone. I am not going to sit quietly by tho while the loss of my own child is presented as a political view, or a difference of opinion.

        Reply
        • Jane Eyre

          Doug, my heart breaks for you and your baby.

          Reply
          • Doug

            Thank you Jane. I had to fight off tears reading your own testimony regarding your cousins and siblings. I cannot imagine what that would be like. I have a story for you. At 53 years old, I learned of some half brothers and sisters I had never met. In the time since, we have become quite close. That is nothing compared to the joy you will have meeting yours in heaven for the first time

  17. Sarah O

    Re: Ravi Zacharias
    I believe God loved Abraham. And David. And Peter. And Paul. I believe they each showed tremendous evidence of faith.
    I believe God breathes and endorses Scripture. And he allowed their very worst mistakes to be recorded, unflinchingly. Probably so that we CAN’T elevate or idolize them. There is only one flawless human in all of Scripture.
    So I have trouble understanding this whole “why are we bringing this up now that Ravi’s dead?” stance. (Not to mention it was brought up, several times, before he died and he never repented. A masseuse was fired for bringing it up. A victim was forced to sign an NDA. And that’s without discussing the credential padding.)
    Justice does not have an expiration date. Perhaps legal standing might, but biblical justice is always available. We pardon and exonerate wrongly convicted criminals posthumously. We pay reparations to the children of victims. Are those actions controversial?
    It just feels like excuse after excuse after excuse when these high profile guys commit grave injustice. Some really good reason why nothing should be done about this very wrong thing that occurred.
    No one should get “freebies” on abusing someone. We should never “let it slide”.
    Keep in mind, each abuser has a whole network of enablers – in this case, the RZIM org and the co-owner of the massage parlors. Also, each victim has a whole network of relationships that suffer. Parents, spouses, friends, children.
    Even when both the perp and the victim are long gone, the echoes of injustice are felt.
    If God wasn’t willing to write out Uriah, or Stephen, or Hagar, perhaps we shouldn’t be so willing to write out Lori Anne Thompson.

    Reply
  18. Sometimes lost

    As Christians I feel like we are so busy bullying anyone who’s views or beliefs are different than ours that we are actively pushing people away from Christ instead of guiding them to him.

    Reply
  19. Jane Eyre

    The pain of losing a baby must be terrible, and I do not begrudge Teigan her pain or her coping mechanisms. Honouring the unborn, stillborn, and newborns who died is always a respectable thing. I just hope that from this comes an understanding of why abortion is evil.
    Three of my siblings were aborted. My niece or nephew was aborted. I pray that I will meet them someday. It doesn’t feel all that great to be alive because I was unplanned, just not so unplanned that anyone needed to abort me. It’s not about politics – abortion is evil and ruins people.

    Reply
    • Doug

      Thank you

      Reply
  20. RNmom

    Oh how I wish I had something from the babies I lost…some type of tangible memory. I totally understand Christy’s need to share, to be seen, to have this life acknowledged. I feel for her. Despite being in the spotlight she is human and miscarriage and infant loss is such a real and deep pain that is followed by so many emotions I don’t blame anyone for how they navigate those deep dark waters. I pushed all my emotions away when I lost my first at 12 weeks and no one close to me ever mentioned it or asked how I was because my sister was pregnant at the same time. This time of yr is sad and raw and as I saw Christy’s post it all came back…raw and painful. Despite her political views or even views on life her pain is real and for anyone to question her grief is so sad. That emptiness never goes away completely.

    Reply
  21. Marc L

    Thank you Shiela for being a blessing. You are right on the money and I thank God for you.

    Reply
  22. Natalie

    I think the best way to turn someone off to Christ and potentially starting a relationship with Him is to shove opposing political views in their face, especially at a time when they’re vulnerable and grieving. That is completely against everything in the Bible and how we should treat others. What’s more, the Gospel transcends politics. Yes, if you believe in the Bible, you’ll probably see the world through a certain sense. But that doesn’t mean all Christians will be part of the same political monolith. Politics is just sinful man’s attempt at governing itself. And of course, God does play a role in it all (as does Satan… after all, he’s the prince of this world currently) and He allows rulers to rise and fall in power. But who are we to say “you deserve what you got (a late-term miscarriage) because you support abortion”. How cruel is that!!! How do we not know God will use this event in their lives to maybe change their views and bring them closer to Him? By Christians leaving cruel comments (even ones they think may be justified and correct), all that does is make the work the Holy Spirit is doing on their hearts more difficult, because they’re giving conservative Christians a really awful name! There are already enough judgmental,two-faced Christians in the world, and who’s want to join a faith where those are what its representatives are like! Very sad. (Same goes for all the sex scandals that are happening in all the different Christian denominations. Satan definitely has his crawls deeply in the church, trying to draw as many away from salvation in Christ as he can!)

    Reply
    • Doug

      I pretty much agree with everything you said. There was absolutely no excuse for cruel remarks.
      With that said, I really don’t believe it is right to continue framing this as a political issue. Those who are fervent believers in pro life most often are not politically motivated, any more than those who are pro choice. Their respective views on are much more likely to shape their politics than the ither way around.
      Maybe it is just me, but I find I am quite distraught when abortion is framed as a political issue by believers. It is so much bigger than that. The whole damn mess just saddens me beyond words.

      Reply

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