Since June of this year, millions around the world have been intrigued by the ongoing story of social-media influencer Gabby Petito and her boyfriend/fiancé Brian Laundrie. The two of them remodeled a van and set out across America living in their vehicle, what their generation calls the “van-life.” Through social-media, Gabby delighted her followers with videos and photos of her trek starting in New York, going through America’s heartland, then on to Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. But as the journey progressed, footage emerged questioning whether all was well. In Moab, Utah police stopped the two after witnesses had seen Laundrie slap Petito. The police questioned Gabby who, at first, admitted she’d been struck and bruised. Then she backed off that claim. Women in abusive relationships often blame themselves. The couple went on their way until Gabby’s postings stopped. Then Laundrie suddenly returned home to Florida, disappearing into a nearby swamp area. On September 19, Gabby’s remains were discovered in Grand Teton National Park.
There is no reason to believe that Gabby was anything other than a vivacious young woman in love, living her internet dream. There is ever reason to believe that Laundrie may have not been the man of her dreams, or that somewhere along the way he went through a profound personality change. Whoever killed Gabby, to take the life of a lovely 22-year-old was a demonic act. If Laundrie did it, was Gabby fooled by the person he seemed to be, not realizing that he had a dark, demonized hidden self? Evil spirits are clever to hide themselves, and even the host person may not realize that something satanic lurks inside. That’s why we say EVERYONE needs deliverance. But the purpose of this blog is to draw lessons from this tragedy so that no other young woman, or man, becomes the victim of a love affair gone wrong. Here are my warnings and takeaways from this sad saga.
- DON’T BE DUPED BY A QUASI-COMMITTMENT RELATIONSHIP
We live in a world of shallow commitments. Couples move in together without marriage, often with little investigation into the person they are cohabiting with. They form soul bonds, intimate sexual connections, and the semblance of permanency when in fact the other person in the relationship is in it for the satisfaction of the short haul. Without the long-term promise of holy matrimony, an individual can become the victim of short-term sexual or financial exploitation. Marriage is no guarantee of lasting love, but it is a better shot at real happiness than a non-obligatory arrangement where either party can walk away at any moment. Too many young women want out of a dysfunctional family and they are fooled by a smoothing talking guy who offers male affirmation only to get control of a woman’s body and mind. Even engagement isn’t a guarantee. Before you live in sin with someone, in any circumstance, including a van, walk down that marriage aisle first. It’s God’s way and it increases your chances of success. The latest statistics indicate that couples who marry stand a 40% chance of divorce, but those who cohabit have a 56% chance of breaking up. And those who live together and then marry stand a greater chance of divorce than those who marry before moving in. Living in sin for an extended time gives the devil legal rights to create all kinds of long-term misery. Getting married gives you better odds at success in a relationship, and it might keep you from suffering domestic abuse, injury, or even death.
- IF A PARTNER PHYSICALLY ABUSES YOU, GET OUT IMMEDIATELY
The first time a live-in partner, or a spouse, threatens you or strikes you needs to be the one and only last time. In most cases that should end the relationship quickly in the event of cohabitation. In marriage, it should mean immediate legal separation and counseling. There can never be any excuse for physical altercations in a romantic relationship, married or otherwise, even dating. I have counseled thousands of people, usually women, who didn’t heed the warning sign of a partner or spouse who crossed that line. They always suffered later. That kind of violence never de-escalates on its own. It ALWAYS escalates unless there is immediate intervention by an outside party with the professional skills to understand abusive behavior. Such actions are often learned in the family context. If your wife, husband, or live-in spent childhood and/or adolescence seeing parents pummel one another, especially a man getting physical with a woman, most romantic partners will act that out at some point in the relationship. They need serous therapy/counseling plus inner healing and deliverance. We know nothing of Brian Laundrie’s home life, but I’m 100% positive it wasn’t good. He likely would never have struck Gabby unless he had witnessed bad behavior in his family of origin. Know the family dynamics of the person you are involved with and get out if there is any hint that their home life included screaming, yelling, throwing things, or physical violence. See a counselor and deliverance minister first before you unpack your bags before marriage or get in the close confinement of a van for months on end.
- DON’T BE SEDUCED BY THE LURE OF SOCIAL-MEDIA FAME.
The new millennium standard of stardom is different from any age before. To gain notoriety in the past, an individual needed to have at least some measure of talent and preparation for fame. Today, our children can be morally blinded by the overnight success of TIK TOK recognition, often aided by nothing more than a sexy image or outrageous conduct. The more bizarre the better. Going viral has replaced ability, education, and maturity. Becoming a so-called “influencer” is more important to today’s teens than a college education and a stable career path. This shallowness lures young people into taking chances with their future in exchange for short-term notoriety gained by sexiness or craziness. As an example, instead of hitting the books in a classroom or preparing for a skill that would last a lifetime, Gabby chose to text from a moving piece of metal, her mobile home shared with a man who now appears to be narcissistic psychopath. Unfortunately, she is not unlike many of her peers. Even in good families the alluring power of social media can quickly pull a good kid off course. What’s on the internet is often not only addictive, it is demonic. Heed the words of 1 John 2:15-17 KJV: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And let us pray that Brian Laundrie is brought to justice for what he knows or what he did. And let us pray for the broken-hearted parents of Gabby Petito who have suffered an immeasurable loss.