“I hope this book not only does you justice but also helps create the justice you seek.” Sarah Stankorb
TGC believes that social media is a “spiritual distortion zone.”
Recently, TGC posted Social Media Is a Spiritual Distortion Zone. It was the usual rant about social media, followed by a tutorial on how to be spiritual on social media.
Social media acts as a spiritual and cognitive distortion machine that warps our view of reality and bends our will away from God. It’s the systematic, corporately incentivized inversion of Romans 12:1–2. Instead of our minds being renewed by the Spirit of Christ, they’re shaped by algorithmically curated delivery of the particular patterns of the world that best play to our unsanctified desires. They beckon us into conformity with the world by drawing our hearts and minds away from God.
Social media isn’t a neutral player in our sanctification. It’s an active agent working against our becoming more like Christ.
…This doesn’t mean social media is entirely irredeemable
On that note, the author discusses how to change social media. He hopes to see:
- Discipleship through content creation: producing local digital media that keeps people connected to their local congregation.
- Replacing influencers with missionaries: For example: Elijah Lamb (@doctrinewithlamb), a young Christian TikToker who regularly takes on tough doctrinal questions for his audience of over 70,000 on a platform more friendly to those leaving faith than those keeping it
- Curating the good, the true, and the beautiful: He lets us know he is doing this: I have tried to do this with both a Spotify playlist containing over 100 hours of music and podcasts to help someone reconstruct their faith and a website curating documents from church history for devotional and intellectual growth.
- Resisting by leaving: For some, the answer really is to delete your social media.
Abuse appears to be a spiritual distortion to be ardently ignored by the theodudes of TGC
This very social media outfit, The Gospel Coalition, should use itself as an example of a social media distortion. I began blogging in 2009. During that time, Paige Patterson had a hall dedicated to him at SEBTS. I called for his resignation, but the gospel boys supported anything that went on at seminaries. Recently, his name was taken off the hall.
Then there was Mark Driscoll. Deeper-thinking Christians realized that he was a travesty. I was one and wrote about it. The Gospel Coalition BFFs couldn’t get enough of him. He wrote posts for the outfit, and many ran to conferences where he was featured as a main speaker. His angry rhetoric, often directed at what he called “effeminate” men while instructing wives to provide certain sexual favors, was over the top. I questioned him for years and put up with sarcastic comments from the boys while hoping to get my message across.
Then there was CJ Mahaney and his failed experiment at Sovereign Grace Churches while apparently covering up child sexual abuse. I spoke up for the victim and was accused of libel by Joe Carter, who recently left social media, saying he was “sorry” if he offended people. Joe, you did and you need to apologize directly to lots of people but being a Calvinist means never having to say you’re sorry.” Along with other advocates, I stood firm, documenting the alleged abuse and following Mahaney’s antics as he fled to Kentucky and sucked in Al Mohler for a while.
Eventually, The Gospel Coalition would become embarrassed by the #metoo #churchtoo movement.
Many of us persisted in reporting sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, along with just about every other denomination. We were attacked, ridiculed, and accused of not even being Christians. We still persisted, and something began to happen. While The Gospel Coalition ignored us, the #metoo and #churchtoo movements gained steam. Just about every gospel boy put out some lame statement that they were “against abuse.” Crocodile tears were shed, and the superficiality of their “support” was apparent. The breadth and depth of the evangelical scandal were stunning, and secular and Christian media began to take notice.
Hearing that my name would be in a book caused me some anxiety. I love hiding behind my computer screen and sharing my thoughts. But I decided to trust a principled journalist. Sarah Stankorb wrote truthfully about my foray into the blogging world. I loved reading about others I know as friends, like Christa Brown, Julie Anne Smith, and Amy Smith. However, I learned something new and unexpected. I didn’t realize that we helped journalists to be able to report abuse.
Wartburg Watch covered the extreme theologies of popular pastors and broke abuse cases journalists couldn’t touch. It is immensely difficult for reproters to get editorial approval on a story about sex abuse allegations without charges; it requires deep fact-checking, a willing editor, and a publication taking on a potential liability risk. But reporters have more readily covered the fact of a blog post making such claims, and in this way, Parsons helped create an end-around for getting media coverage of the stories she worked to corroborate. This is especially important given that the average age at which survivors of child abuse repot is fifty-two, often putting them outside the statute of limitation for criminal charges.
I had no idea! I feel compelled to keep writing on these topics even though I am not a writer by training. I think of myself as a simple kitchen table hacker. When I write a story, it is my way of saying, “I believe you. I didn’t understand that our posts were important when I got calls from major news outlets to ask me for comments. Even now, my heart rate kicks up when a reporter asks to interview me. I do it to help victims get the attention and compassion they deserve, even when my hands are trembling.
Special thanks to Stankorb for believing my story. My friend, Janet, was pleased that she was believed as well.
When will The Gospel Coalition tell the truth about social media? Yes, there is tough stuff out there. The names I’ve been called are brutal at times. However, I am a Christian and have held onto my faith during the rocky times. When I tell a story of a victim in a church, I see Jesus, who calls Himself “the Truth.” It distresses me to see churches and pastors who do not tell the truth, especially when it involves sex abuse.
Christians are warned so frequently about the evils of “social media” because many leaders:
- Are afraid of the light shining on them and their church. It is too hard to admit to the truth.
- Feel the average Christian is stupid, unlike the leaders of The Gospel Coalition, who are all whiz kids.
- Do not want the riff-raff in the pews to discover the abuse hidden from them because they will get mad and leave, but the leaders need their money.
The next time The Gospel Coalition wishes to publish another “ho-hum” screed about social media, they should try to tell the truth. After all, aren’t they a social media outfit raising money for their enterprise?
PS Thanks go out to Sarah Standkorb, who so carefully told the truth about my small contribution to fighting abuse. You are now officially a member of “The Daughter of Stan.”