Why There Are Some People We Will Never Call Out

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Research | 6 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Why are there some people who we WON’T call out, even though they promote harmful teachings?

Every Friday, Rebecca writes practically a whole new blog post for our weekly newsletter. This is one she wrote from September, and I thought we’d share it on the blog to give you a bit of a sneak peek to what happens in the newsletter, if you haven’t signed up yet (and if you want to sign up, go here)! 

Here’s Rebecca: 

When I was 14, I (Rebecca) was obsessed with beauty gurus on YouTube.

Seriously, I watched them all. They taught me how to do my hair, how to choose the right shade of lip gloss, how to transition an outfit from casual to dressy in 4 simple steps. 

They had lots of great tips, and spared me from a lot of makeup mishaps in high school. 

They also had a lot of advice about dating, love, dieting, and money management that was truly atrocious. 

But that stuff really didn’t stick with me or affect me because I knew I wasn’t going to them for dating advice–they were only teenagers themselves! So I’d watch their makeup tutorials and I’d take any advice they gave outside of their realm of expertise with a giant tablespoon of salt. 

What we’ve been noticing is that there are a lot of social media accounts run by people who are famous because of their looks and charm who are trying to give advice.


And it often doesn’t turn out well because they have zero qualifications. Like my makeup gurus, they didn’t get famous because of their wisdom in relationships–they got famous because they were pretty and other girls wanted to be like them. 

So then you have Christian instagram couples who have amassed millions of followers by posting singing videos, gorgeous pictures of their expertly manicured house, and reels of their brown-eyed children with wispy locks framing their perfect faces and they start sharing Q&A posts about their marriage. About parenting. About faith. About sex. 

And they clearly have no idea what they are talking about. 

We get so many questions and requests about these kinds of accounts that I thought I’d just outline a few principles I’ve been ruminating on for the last month or so that may help us as a church make better decisions about who to follow and what to do when they post harmful messages. 

We talked about this a bit in last week’s podcast when my mom and I discussed how to decide who to follow on social media, but I wanted to flesh out a few of my thoughts I’ve had since. If you want to listen or you missed the podcast, you can find it here. 

Now let’s go!

First off, it’s weird to me that these kinds of accounts are so popular in the first place. 

This is personal opinion here, but I genuinely don’t see a point to a lot of these channels other than envy and jealousy. If someone is an artist and posts lots of videos of themselves singing and they happen to also share about their family that’s one thing, but a lot of these accounts just seem to be very self-focused, very much “look at how great my life is,” very encouraging of comparison and envy. (Again, Rebecca’s personal opinion.) 

My first thought is, as a church, what if we started calling this out more among our followers? Why don’t we challenge Christians to not get so caught up in celebrity gossip culture that we flock to any account with over 500,000 followers just so we can be “in the know”? What if we all decided to remove ourselves from the comparison game on social media and unfollow people whose only content is sharing how great their life is and posting highly edited, curated photos to puff up their online image? 

Second, these people did not set out to be relationship teachers.

And because of this, I believe they have far less culpability than those who have put decades of work behind amassing power and authority in the Christian relationship realm. These influencers are propping up a culture already there, yes, but they are also products of the culture. They are not culture forming in the same way. So although it can be easy to go after the people on your social media feed, they’re getting their advice from the same places you are: the big names in evangelicalism. So let’s not let influencers distract from the false teachers who are actually creating the culture. 

Frankly, most of the influencers I’ve seen who people send us simply are parroting back the talking points they hear in church or online, as far as I can tell. If places like The Gospel Coalition or Focus on the Family change their tune about women and sexuality, these people will, too. They are not thought leaders–they’re just popular. 

And you’re allowed to be popular and wrong. I suggest unfollowing them, for sure, but we have to ask the question–are they truly false teachers, or are they also sheep who are led astray? 

Third, there seems to be a pattern that people who put themselves in a position of being a marriage/homemaking influencer in Christian spheres are miserable behind the screen. 

Natalie Hoffman and Alyssa Wakefield have both publicly spoken about this, but both had very popular and successful online presences where they talked about how wonderful and blissful their married life was all while being horrifically abused behind the scenes. 

Of course I am not saying that all, or even most, influencers who are famous because of their married life and their families are in abusive marriages. Absolutely not. But there is a nagging question that keeps coming up for me (Rebecca) when I look at these families–why do they feel the need to put themselves online like that? Why are they creating this “look at me and how great and happy I am” content? Because it seems to me that a good chunk of them are likely seeking affirmation that they’re doing OK. That they’re not failing, that things are alright. It’s a bid for security, for self-esteem, for praise to fill something that’s missing. 

It’s not truly about wanting to influence others, but rather about soothing a deep hurt within themselves. 

 

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So those are some of the things I’ve been thinking about in relation to these big-name influencers in Christian family and marriage spaces. 

Do I endorse when they try to give advice? NOOOOO. Do I think they have the same level of culpability as people who have best-selling books and have worked specifically to become not influencers, but thought-leaders in the church? No, I don’t. 

So that’s why I don’t feel comfortable going after people in particular when they are really more of an influencer than a thought leader. Because they’re drinking from the poisoned well, their message would likely change if the big-names changed, and you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. 

So rather than burning it all down, I think a much better way forward with these particular accounts is just to say a kind “goodbye” and unfollow or unsubscribe. 

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What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Rebecca Lindenbach

Author at Bare Marriage

Rebecca Lindenbach is a psychology graduate, Sheila’s daughter, co-author of The Great Sex Rescue, and the author of Why I Didn’t Rebel. Working alongside her husband Connor, she develops websites focusing on building Jesus-centered marriages and families. Living the work-from-home dream, they take turns bouncing their toddler son and baby daughter, and appeasing their curmudgeonly blind rescue Yorkshire terrier, Winston. ENTJ, 9w8

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6 Comments

  1. Nathan

    This is probably a good call. Going after people who are only parroting what they’ve heard or are trying to gloss over their own pain doesn’t really accomplish anything. It’s best to take on the highest hanging fruit you can.

    So yes, focus on and call out the top level voices in Christianity who still believe that sex was created for the pleasure of MEN, while women were created solely for the purpose of serving that pleasure! (and a few other untrue items).

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    If people are getting jealous over what they are seeing with influencers, then they are married to the wrong person or their marriage really needs help. There is nothing I see with those husbands mine isn’t or wouldn’t do himself. There is nothing wrong with having a beautiful marriage or house or life and sharing it. Not everyone is miserable.

    Reply
  3. Cynthia

    I also like the “just unfollow” message because so many times, attention of any kind is rewarded. 100 reasonable posts may barely get a view, but 1 controversial one can go viral. Then, stats spike and revenue can increase.

    Reply
  4. Sue

    I agree with this article. I’m not on Instagram or Facebook and never have been. There’s a reason for that. Those “relationships” are usually shallow. I’d prefer to have 2 or 3 really good friends in my life, and I do. Although I try to be friendly to everyone I’m careful of who I call a friend. I’ve never once regretted not being on Facebook or instagram or anything else, but I have acquaintances that say they wish they weren’t, but they’re too invested to quit. I do read an occasional blog that interest me, because we can always learn something new, but if I feel a blog is off track I won’t read it a second time. I’ll just move on.

    Reply
  5. Laura

    I’m somewhat familiar with some of these young (when I say young, I mean under 35) YouTube celebrities who offer “Christian marital advice”, but I only found out about them through Fundie snark channels. These “celebrities” have written books about marriage and dating, yet none of it is based on research. It’s based on their own experiences and what they hear from harmful megachurch pastors. Since I’m a self-published author, I believe it’s okay to write about personal experiences as long as I am not toting them as “one-size-fits-all” advice. If I am going to give sound advice, I back it up with some scripture and do my research.

    While I find it entertaining for the YouTube Fundie snarkers (like Jimmy Snow, Fundie Fridays, etc.) to critique some of these people (Paul & Morgan, The Transformed Wife, Girl Defined), I am NOT going to support those channels.

    Reply
  6. Anon

    Another reason: If a bigger name “calls out” an influencer, it can bring a level of scrutiny that the influencer just isn’t equipped to handle.

    People who run blogs like Bare Marriage, have published books, work the speaking circuit and such invite a certain level of visibility and criticism. They’re prepared to handle it personally and professionally. (Side note: This is obviously not a license to be cruel.) A YouTube influencer is not. She doesn’t have PR people or access to great legal representation to protect her from slander and libel. Bringing that kind of attention on someone who can’t defend herself isn’t kind.

    Just because someone puts a comment online doesn’t mean she can handle anything we throw at her.

    Reply

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