Godly Gossip

I have attended many churches as I have lived in most parts of Canada. One constant across most churches, that I have observed, is the institutional obsession with gossip. It is one sin that we happily overlook because it is so much fun to find the ‘dirt’ on one person or another. The popular TV shows show us how much fun gossip can be.

Grey’s Anatomy is a great example of this. We are like the best friend of all of the characters. We know all the dirt on all of the characters. We know when McDreamy has slept with Merideth, while she is still with Fin, while McDreamy is still with Addison. I even love it, although we don’t have cable we buy the season as soon as it comes out each year.

I started to write this post after hearing about a friend of mine challenging the senior pastor of a large southern Ontario Church. Over dinner the pastor was talking about another member of the church and how this member was not properly supervising youth in the hot tub at his house. Knowing this other church member personally I find this very hard to believe, in know when I was a youth you didn’t turn on the tub with an opposite sex member unless he was hovering over you. Well I guess my friend stood up in the middle of dinner at his parents house and told the pastor that he was involved in gossip and needed to confess his sin. He continued by saying that he could not sit and eat with him and listen to this so was leaving. Next he went to the church member and confessed that he had partaken in the gossip and asked for forgiveness. Now he did not mention who else was in the conversation but just his part. This young 20’s person stood up for what was right in front of his parents and a 60 year old well respected pastor.

So when he told me this it go me to thinking, How often do we stand up and say that this type of behaviour is wrong? Biblically we know that gossip is wrong (Rom. 1:28-32; Mark 10:19; Lev. 19:16), but we accept it. I know that I participate more often than I stand up. I’ll even admit that I can’t think of a time that I stood up during gossip time and said it was wrong. When we have a problem with another believer we are supposed to talk to them, if that doesn’t work take another believer with you to talk about them, if that still doesn’t work take it to the elders (Matthew 18:15-17). We are not supposed talk behind their backs. So what do you do?


~ by curtismchale on November 4, 2007.

5 Responses to “Godly Gossip”

  1. After church I was riding the train with a friend and the man across from us was reading a book entitled “Are You Faking Church?” by Dan Schaeffer. I asked him about the book and he handed it to me and bid me to read the section he was reading. The section actually spoke about the sins that we commit voluntarily because we are so desensitized and because they are second nature to us and one those sins was gossip. Your friend did the right thing by standing up to the pastor and telling him that he was indeed committing a sin. Not that the pastor should be put on a big chopping block but you and your friend must take this into prayer because if he is not being repentive about this sin who knows the other sins that he is not confronting. ‘Tis a scary thing…

  2. No the pastor should not be put on a chopping block. My friend does not deal with him on a regular basis as he travels but if I know him he will hold him accountable if needed.

  3. Curtis, interesting post. I have my doubts about whether we’re interpreting “gossip” properly, and whether it’s being taught properly in the churches. The Greek word we translate “gossip” only appears one time in the New Testament, in 2 Cor. 12:20, where it is katalalia, which means backbiting, evil speaking, defamation. The root of katalalia is to utter words that talk against or to go as a slanderer. This is compared with the whisperer of Romans 1:29, or the slanderer or backbiter (katalalos, same root) of Romans 1:30.

    What interests me is that bigoted Christians love to parade the anti-homosexual bias of these verses (some day I’m going to pick them apart from the Greek, which actually doesn’t show what we are taught to think it shows) but ignore the bits against whisperers and backbiters. These are even worse along the progression of sin line than the original harlot types. Interesting, huh?

    What I see in these so far is that whisperers go about secretly slandering, whereas gossips are so far gone that they boldly speak openly with their gossip. Your example of the person talking about the folks who don’t supervise the hot tub are a case in point.

    How to handle a situation like this without bonking your friend with a Bible and announcing you’re in a “no gossip zone”? How about saying, “Interesting you would think this, Bob, because I know John and Jane Doe pretty well, and I’ve seen a concerned side of them that leads me to believe that they do, in fact, supervise the teens in the hot tub, because blah blah blah.”

    This is a bit of Jungian speculation here, but I wonder if the reason why gossip, slander, and whispering aren’t so condemned by the Bible is that God’s every intention is that everything that is whispered will be shouted from the rooftops. It’s gross projection of that gossiping person’s inner crap, and that’s all it is. This is the sin of it: it’s like putting a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head when we know good and damn well we’re the ones who deserve it.

    Your pastor has no business talking about parishioners that way, but you’ve learned something. Now you know that your pastor has an inner personality who doesn’t supervise the randy kids in the hot tub; HIS inner teenager is unsupervised and that’s something I would want to know if I were in his parish. I would also want to know that my pastor goes about as a talebearer, and that for some reason unknown to him (hehe, it’s unconscious), he decided to go behind these peoples’ backs rather than talk to them directly.

    He created doubt in the minds of anyone who listened to him and who has teenage kids who may be unsupervised in the hot tub.

    Anyway… what a pickle. The Biblical thing to do is to go in private to your pastor, balance the slander by correcting it, and then correct your pastor. This will lead to no good due to the pastor already showing what sort of a person he is. However, there is always the possibility that a person may be humbled through correction.

    A different approach is to sit down and have an inner, imaginative conversation with your inner gossip monger.

    I tend to think that these admonitions against gossip are one Biblical way we have of red flagging this compulsion to project our sins (failures, missing the mark) onto other people so that we can integrate our shadow selves and get a grip on them, which is exactly what the Apostle Paul kept telling us to do. Alas, we are slow and lame and it takes a lifetime.

    Were I in your shoes, I would take the latter path first–deal with my stuff rather than trying to fix the pastor. Give yourself 30-60 days of chatting it up with your inner Gossip Monger and after you’ve done that as an exercise (removed the beam in your own eye), then consider going to the pastor in love. Only at that point will you be able to do it.

  4. As always Eve you have given me much to think about. Yes we should approach him in love and make sure that we have our own stuff in order before we go around correcting others. I had never thought of the unconscious part and it portraying his faults. More to think about.

  5. […] as I dicussed in a previous post, is almost seen as a spiritual gift instead of being shunned by Christians. We just, sometimes, […]

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