Benjamin Corey is a theological scholar and author, read by millions each year, who unabashedly speaks out about the types of topics I’ve been wrestling with for years, as a (no longer) conservative Christian. Corey’s beliefs fall, in his words, primarily within the tenets of the Anabaptist network. One of their core beliefs is that the western Christendom era from which we are emerging has left us at a disadvantage due to the distortion of Jesus’s message, which has resulted in the marginalization of Jesus Himself. If you’ve been following my blog, you won’t be surprised that I agree with this conclusion.

I’m introducing you to Corey because he recently wrote a haunting (pun intended) blog post about the Christian practice of Ghosting. In his article, Corey brilliantly paints a picture of what amounts to Christian intolerance. Ghosting refers to the practice of severing ties with folks whose beliefs conflict with mainstream Christian ideology. Rather than debate ideas, some Christians prefer to completely disengage, dropping the “offender” like a hot potato. It doesn’t seem to matter that yesterday they were best friends, praying together, sharing meals, worshiping on Sunday. As Corey describes it, “ghosting is when someone abruptly ends a friendship with limited or no explanation, and when they proceed to quickly disappear from your life.” Sadly, he says, Christians are good at it.

In Corey’s case, it was because he had started to question things…challenge the status quo. To his peers, he had changed; he was different, outspoken – a threat to the flock. Overnight, he said, he lost his entire social circle. What’s worse, his children lost theirs, as well. As upsetting as it was for him and his wife – both adults – children don’t yet have the intellectual capacity to understand why their friends can no longer play with them.

I used the word haunting to describe his article, because it stayed with me, gnawing at me, until I realized why it had struck a nerve. Corey’s words cut to the very core of why Christians continue to “toe the line.” Truth be told, it also explains why cults are so difficult to break free of. FEAR! In a split second, the outcast is left with no social network – no church family, no friends…basically, no support system.

The reason Corey’s words haunted me was because it was this same fear that caused me to hide my Truth for so long, afraid to talk about my evolving theology with my friends or family, most of whom were conservative Christians. I was afraid of being alienated, losing my entire social circle.

Here’s the thing, though. Although the practice of ghosting is most definitely harmful, I honestly don’t think that these folks deliberately mean to inflict harm. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Christians (and when I speak of Christians, be aware that I speak only from my own background – not all Christians are identical), for the most part, feel obligated to spread the Good News. It is their responsibility to, not only stay on the straight and narrow, but to ensure that others do, as well (does gay conversion therapy ring any bells?).

Let’s set the stage: Allison has completely gone off the rails. She writes about reincarnation, mediums, energy healing, and all kinds of other, decidedly non-Christian (scary!) stuff. Now, my friends are faced with a dilemma. Their thought process might go something like this:

Do I want to take the time to converse with her…understand her position…thoughtfully debate those ideas? Well, probably not. First of all, it may take a lot of time and effort to “persuade” her that she is wrong. What if I do take the time to listen? Perhaps it might make sense….I might doubt my own belief system. Do I want to risk that? What will the others think of me? What if we are both wrong? Is it worth risking my salvation? Hell is a pretty nasty place. Nope….I’m probably better off – safer – simply saying “bye-bye” to the relationship. That is, without actually “saying” anything. Disconnect. Ghost. Crickets.

In other words, I believe it is a matter of self-preservation. It is simply too dangerous for many Christians to stray from the flock or support those who do, regardless of the collateral damage.

Kudos to all of you Christians who count atheists among your friends. Hats off to you Hillary supporters who still love your Trump-supporting family members. Thank you, dog lovers, for tolerating us cat people. Loving and respecting those who hold different values isn’t easy. I get it. But, we’re all in this together. No one person, group, religion, race, or political camp has cornered the market on Truth. We are ALL human beings, trying to survive – thrive – in this complicated world. Let’s start making it easier on each other – build bridges, nurture relationships, engage in difficult conversations, and LOVE one another. God knows, we need it!

Written by : drallisonbrown

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8 Comments

  1. Molly Stevens August 14, 2017 at 5:58 am - Reply

    There are many groups who ‘ghost’ others who don’t share beliefs as you’ve mentioned. The polarized political believers in our country have forced me underground with many of my opinions that would be unpopular with both sides. Likewise, Christians can be threatened by questioning believers. I have sought and found a church that allows and encourages questioning and it has made all the difference to me. We have lively discussions in The United Methodist Church I attend, and our pastor interjects solid theology to help us shape our beilefs. I’m glad you were able to break free but sad that it cost you friendships in the process.

    • drallisonbrown August 14, 2017 at 6:31 am - Reply

      Molly, I am glad to hear that you found a church in which you could truly grow! And, you are correct – ghosting is not limited to Christians.

  2. Brenda August 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I find it difficult to wrap my head around cutting people off for over religion when we are told to “love our neighbour”. I do not remember it saying only if…..

    • drallisonbrown August 27, 2017 at 1:28 pm - Reply

      Exactly, Amelia! More and more, our mantra (and not just for Christians) is becoming, I will love you as long as you agree with me and think like I do.

  3. Angela Noel September 10, 2017 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Allison, i think you’ve articulated the fear we feel when we change and those we love don’t change with us perfectly. Bertrand Russell said, “Every great idea starts out as a blasphemy.” I try and remember that–that even Jesus, Buddha, Mandela, Gandhi, Rosa Parks etc, began as a minority of one. That’s courage. I am the black sheep of my family, an agnostic among the devout. It isn’t always easy. But love prevails. I want this for all people. It takes work on both sides. But it is possible. Thank you for the post!

    • drallisonbrown September 10, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Yes! And, that’s exactly my mission and the purpose of my blog – to encourage others to live their own purpose through LOVE not fear! We shouldn’t be afraid to be who we are.

  4. Josy A September 10, 2017 at 10:47 am - Reply

    It’s funny though. I don’t think I’ve ever considered dropping a friend due to their religion…I just find the whole concept really strange! I’m not religious though, so if I lived in the States I have a feeling people would want to ghost me. :(

    One of my best friends has completely different political views to me BUT if that stopped our friendship, then we’d never be able to debate and learn from each other! I just feel lucky to have her, so I can find out more about her views.

    Having said that, I’d draw the line at Nazis. If I found out I have friends that were white supremacists I don’t think I could stay friends. Those views are just too extreme and horrible to argue with…

    • drallisonbrown September 10, 2017 at 11:35 am - Reply

      Jody, I think it’s admirable that you remain friends with those who hold different views AND WANT to hear their opposing perspective. I think many of us just learn to “agree to disagree” and avoid those topics. I have friends with very different political views, but they can’t listen to me without getting angry :(

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