The Witch in the Woods

There is new outlandish conspiracy theory circulating on the ever-reliable internet…
 
The snowstorm that crippled Texas and other parts of the central U.S. last week was either completely made-up, was fake snow, or was the product of a weather machine created by Bill Gates (or at least by a company that Bill Gates owns).
 
 
If not for the tragic loss of life and the incredible hardships being faced because of the storm, this would be hilarious. Instead, it is just sad.
 
Unfortunately, this is another rehashing of the “Witch in the Woods” trope which goes something like this…
 
Near the village where I live, there is an old woman who lives deep in the woods, and she is a witch.
 
If there is not enough rain and my crops don’t grow, it’s because the witch in the woods cast a spell on them.
 
Whenever anyone is sick, it is because the witch in the woods put a curse on them.
 
If the cow’s milk dries up, the witch did it.  
 
If the teenagers act wild, its because they have been bewitched by the old woman.
 
If a child disappears, it because the witch kidnapped and ate them, and/or sacrificed them to the devil.
 
With the advent of technology, “casting a spell” or “placing a curse” has be replaced with unexplainable technology; like a weather machine that can make fake snow or real giant snow storms.
 
Here are some other modern versions:
 
The Chinese (the witch) used advanced technology (cast a spell) to create a virus to disrupt the U.S. economy/election.
 
The reality is that there are millions (if not billions) of naturally existing viruses, the probability that one of them would sooner or later make the jump from a mammal to a human being is pretty high. Given dense urban populations and ease of global travel, it was simply inevitable that sooner or later we would have a deadly viral pandemic. There is no need to blame the witch in the woods for something that is easily explainable.
 
One way to recognize “witch in the woods” stories is that they are often inconsistent in their exaggerations. For instance, Covid-19 was created by the Chinese to disrupt the U.S. economy/election/whatever; but it is also really no more deadly than the common cold or flu…
 
Well, which one is it?
 
If the Chinese were going to make a deadly virus to disrupt the U.S. through their advanced technology, then surely they would have made it more deadly than the common flu.
 
You can’t have it both ways.
 
Another one:
 
Kids go missing. A global organization (the witch) must have kidnapped them to sexually abuse them and/or drink their blood in order to stay young (another common witch trope, watch the Disney movie Tangled).
 
The reality is that the majority of kids who are sexually exploited are abused by someone they know (usually a relative, family friend, or neighbor). But nobody wants to admit that a friend or family member would do that, so they blame the witch in the woods.
 
When children are actually trafficked for sex, they are usually runaways or immigrants and it is usually through a much smaller operation working on a local level. You don’t need to go on the internet and pay $35,000 to have a kid secretly shipped to you in a piece of furniture; just drive to the nearest large city or shady truck stop, you can find them there for a lot less money.
 
Epstein and his famous friends who abused teenage girls are only a small minority of the sexual abuse and trafficking that occur. Focusing on them to the exclusion of focusing on the local abuse and trafficking that is happening right under your nose, is like focusing on the witch in the woods instead of the creepy uncle, cousin, brother, grandpa, dad, boyfriend, or husband who is doing the real damage.
 
So, is there any harm in believing witch in the woods stories? Maybe there really is a witch in the woods? Shouldn’t we at least go and look and see if there really is a witch in the woods?
 
Here’s the problem… If you look long enough, you are going to find a weird old lady living in a broken-down house in or near the woods. She might even be crazy enough to claim to be a witch.
 
If you go looking for a witch in the woods, you are going to find a witch in the woods.
 
There is proof on the internet for everything. You name it, you can find proof on the internet that it is true. People make a lot of money getting clicks and views on the internet posting “proof” that there is a witch in the woods.
 
It is pretty difficult to make a living as an honest writer or video producer. But apparently, writing false stories or making videos that “prove” crazy theories is a fairly lucrative racket. People will even send donations to bloggers and vloggers for “proving” that there is a witch in the woods.
 
Worst case scenario, the villagers decide to storm the Capitol arrest the witch and burn her at the stake (where the term “witch-hunt” comes from). As a result, instead of dealing with real issues, an innocent crazy old lady dies (which has happened at the hands of supposed Christians and in the name of Jesus far too many times).
 
As disciples of Jesus, we are told to put on the Belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14). Moreover, we are told that all lies and deception come from Satan (Matthew 5:37, John 8:44).
 
There is no innocent fun in inadvertently spreading a lie. If it sounds like a witch in the woods story, it is probably a witch in the woods story and therefore a lie. As disciples of Jesus, if something sounds like a witch in the woods story, we need to be absolutely sure that it is true before we repeat it. If we repeat a lie or deception, no matter how well intentioned, we are working for Satan not Jesus.
 
Peter wrote:
 
“There will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies. . . . Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:1-3).
 
We can learn a couple of things from this passage:
 
  • There will be people who claim to be Evangelical Christians who will spread lies and deception, and use fabricated stories in order to make money off of real Evangelical Christians.
  • By following, believing and supporting these false teachers, many Evangelical Christians will bring the way of truth (following Jesus as His disciple) into disrepute. By believing these false teachers and their stories (and by giving them money), Evangelicals will make being a disciple of Jesus look just as foolish and ridiculous as believing there is a witch in the woods casting spells.

 

Before you spread a witch in the woods story, stop and think about what it would look like to give a face-to-face account to Jesus for bringing the way of truth into disrepute because the story you have been spreading turns out to be a lie from Satan.
 
Because, one day you will.
 
Jesus clearly taught, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36).
 
 
 
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