Beware the Rabbit Holes

In the opening chapter of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole, leading her to a strange and confusing world—a world far from her reality. The “rabbit hole” has become a popular metaphor used to describe time-consuming discussions that veer from their original context, especially on the Internet.

Our neighborhood Facebook page recently went down a very deep rabbit hole. Someone posted a question about vapor trails in the sky over our community. A lively conversation ensued, and the discussion quickly tumbled down into various conspiracy theories. Were they secret government projects? Maybe it was alien activity? The discussion had deteriorated into meaningless banter, and it got uglier as everyone tried to prove their point.

As I read the comments, it was easy to think, “I would never fall for that kind of flawed thinking.” Or would I?

I realized I had witnessed this very thing among my brothers and sisters in Christ many times and been a part of it myself. I vividly remember a discussion about predestination, a topic which carries the potential to light a match. It did; the debate caught fire and burned down the house. 

Paul warns Timothy about that very thing when he writes, “Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion.” (1 Timothy 1:5–6, HCSB) Paul goes on to describe those who desire to be teachers but have no idea what they were talking about (v. 7).

Our ability to instantly access information can distract and confuse us. Google any Bible passage or theological topic, and you will find several interpretations of the meaning. Before you know it, you are headed down a rabbit hole. Of course, sometimes we need to hash out our beliefs and the truth of Scripture. However, if we’re not careful, we risk toppling headfirst into a discussion which is fruitless, prideful, and unloving.

What, then, is our responsibility for communicating scriptural truth? God’s Word tells us that our primary goal is unconditional love—evidenced by a pure heart that is unselfish and rightly motivated, a conscience trained in and obedient to God’s Word, and a sincere faith evidenced in our life.

Chuck Swindoll wisely writes, “When we share what we know about Christ, people should sense that they’re loved, not bullied.”

Know the Word. Know it well and discuss it often. But the next time you are about to tumble down a rabbit hole of fruitless discussion, remember the goal of our instruction (v. 5). The life-saving outcome, the only non-negotiable, is faith in Christ.

When the angel asked the thief on the cross, “Why are you here?” he answers, “Because the man on the middle cross said I can come.”

– Alistair Begg


Shirley Ralston (MACE, 2008) serves on the leadership team for the DTS-Houston Alumni Association. She is a writer, teacher, and pastor’s research team member at Houston’s First Baptist Church. She is also a founding member of the HFBC Missionary Care Team. Shirley and her husband, Jeff, reside in Houston after several years living in the Middle East and the South Pacific.