Scott & Sarah Kennedy

Friday, July 29, 2005

Psst! Don't Tell Anyone...But...

Jono's post prompted me to write about the tongue.

Isn't it funny how when you're in a relationship, everybody seems to have their own ideas about what you should or shouldn't be doing, and instead of talking to you about it, they talk behind your backs! Stories seem to take on a life of their own, and things that aren't true get passed on and around until a fully distorted and factually untrue story finally gets back to you.

Well I'm pretty hacked off about this kind of behaviour, as it should not be seen in Christian circles. Gossip, and slander should be expected in non-Christian circles, but here in the church, they seem to be more common than outside the church.

What is gossip?

Gossip is the spreading of a malicious report about somebody. Oftentimes gossip is actually true, but by passing it on, we could be damaging the person involved. God's word demonstrates how bad gossip is. In Proverbs 11:9, we see that gossip can be used to destroy others. In Proverbs 11:13 we see that a true friend does not gossip. There are also a couple of specific warnings to women in the New Testament telling them they must not gossip.

So what do we do if somebody tells us a delicious piece of gossip? We should not pass it on. But instead, we must reprimand the person who has brought the gossip to us, and tell them to talk to the person they are gossiping about. If you are concerned by what you have heard about the person, go and see that person, and talk to them about what you have heard.

It's a simple biblical and exceedingly obvious principle, that when you are discussing issues in a person's life, you should keep the issue to as few people as possible. The less that know about something, the easier it is to deal with pastorally.

What is slander?
Slander is slightly different from gossip, in that the story that is being passed on is a story that is actually not true. I personally have been the victim of this recently, and it is not very nice at all. How on earth can a story that is not true be passed around? Well there are many reasons for this. What may have started out as a bit of gossip has been exaggerated, and retold so many times with embellishments that it no longer represents the original story. Or perhaps somebody has overheard a conversation they weren't involved in, and misheard the context and passed it on as gospel truth. Sometimes it can also be done with a malicious motive - to hurt another person.

In 1 Peter 2:1, we are commanded to rid ourselves of all kinds of slander. In Colossians 3:8, Paul gives the same command. These are just a few passages that deal with slander. But as Christians, we shouldn't need hundreds of passages for us to make the choice of obedience. God is dishonoured when we gossip or slander others, so we must not do it.

So what do we do if someone is slandering someone else? Once again the first rule is not to pass it on. You may think that someone really needs to know. You may think that you can add the phrase "I heard this but I'm not sure it's true" to what you are saying, but there is no excuse. We must reprimand the person who has slandered someone else, and tell them to talk to the person they have slandered. If we are worried about what we have heard, we should talk to the person involved and tell them what rumour is being passed around.

What we humorously refer to as the church grapevine, or gossip mill, is not something we should be amused by. Gossip and slander are things that the Lord hates, and we should hate them too. I know it's hard - I struggle, you struggle - we all struggle with juicy bits of gossip we want to pass on - but we must do what is right.

1. Let gossip or slander stop with you.
2. Challenge the gossip and the slanderer.
3. Talk to the victim of gossip and slander.


  • Hear, hear!

    Gossip and slander are indeed crippling the church.
    Effort and emotion are expended on hurting others and then healing the hurt, leaving little left for the task of and loving and shining in our communities.

    I think this issue is far more serious than we realise, especially in today's secular society that clamours for, and makes money from scandal, rumors, and the misfortune of others.

    By Anonymous Dan, at 9:47 AM, July 29, 2005  

  • Amen to Dan's comment!

    By Anonymous Sam, at 11:10 PM, July 30, 2005  

  • yeah shot scotty,

    there is some crazy stuff floating out there. keep up the good work.


    By Anonymous carl, at 8:56 AM, August 01, 2005  

  • Right on smart brotha!

    Gossip is such an easy thing to partake of. I don't know what it's like for a guy but I know that a lot of girls, including myself, feel like it's a sin programmed to happen naturally. But there's no excuse for it.

    If you've got a virus on your hard-drive, you get the software to fix it. It's the same with sin, if you struggle with something you need to pray for the help to fix it. So if someone comes to you with a nice juicy piece of goss then yeah we should warn them of what there doing (sometimes it easy to forget that gossip is so bad) but then pray for that person aswell!!

    By Anonymous Alexandra, at 9:00 AM, August 01, 2005  

  • Thanks Scott, this post is great, I know I can sometimes gossip without thinking of the person at the root of the gossip. Gossip can hurt people; it can often lead to the "labeling" of people and influence how we might otherwise feel about that person. Thanks Scott :)

    By Anonymous AndyC, at 11:38 PM, August 02, 2005  

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