View Full Version : what is gossip/may trigger/contains scripture
12-21-2004, 10:40 AM
I post the following to the forum of church that has more than it share of control.
What prompted the post was a member, upon hearing a post about how a founder of a ministry committed suicide, came back with "we should not gossip" about that person. Any thoughts?
The response that we should not respond to the failings of a leader as gossip does not ring true with me. In my experience I have seen it used as control mechanism to squelch critical thought. One group I was in went as far in their rulebooks to say to speak critically [with the implication of constructive criticism] of the bible school would be disloyal and subject to expulsion. That definition of gossip has been a source of contention and emnity that has many times brought me to tears over the last 20 years.
I found the book of Obadiah to be an adequate lithums test for a biblical definition of gossip. The implication was that one was tearing down a person or speaking evil behind their back -- the stuff soap operas and after reality talk shows are made of. I have a friend who would cringe, sometimes even recoil when she heard such talk - and I do not particulary blame her. I do not sense the poster regarding the member of the predecessor of Exodus was not demeaning the leader nor reviling in his demise, but making an observation. I not acquainted with the group; however asking making observations and asking questions might get the ministry more in the will of God. Did the ministry fail? Was there a way their mission could be better accomplished going forward? This does not sound like gossip, but so honest soul searching and asking questions. If the Lord could speak to Balaam via his donkey, he can speak through any venue he wants. Although I admit for me it was scary to think outside of the box.
A case a point over the misdefined issue of gossip comes to mind. In 1984 my world was turned upside down when I walked out of spiritually abusive group. I was reseraching what was going on in my life. I was calling peoplele. I was crying out for help. My faith system and nearly my belief in God was smashed to pieces. I was in the most unbelievable emotional, physical and spiritual pain. Was I demeaning trying to tear her faith and wish evil of her; or was I trying to get a grip on my life at the time? She screamed gossip.
12-21-2004, 10:48 AM
In my former church, gossip equalled anything that made the leader look bad. In other words, if a husband was cheating on his wife and members were discussing it amongst themselves - the leader looked bad for having a wayward sheep in the flock. The leader didn't care about anything except image. Image was everything. Image in the church, image in the community, image with other ministers, etc. Because of this, your identity in the group was all performance-based. The leader didn't care about you as a person - they cared about your performance.
Whoops - I guess I am guilty of gossiping now!
:D :D :D
12-21-2004, 10:53 AM
Whoops - I guess I am guilty of gossiping now!
:D :D :D[/QUOTE]
No Chocalate pudding for you tonight :)
12-21-2004, 11:05 PM
What is gossip?
or maybe a better question is what is really sinful in God's eyes?
I'd suppose the basis for the matter of gossip is the commandment to not "bear false witness against your neighbor". Granted I'm not conducting proper exegesis, but it makes sense.
I am one of those odd folk who sees "bearing false witness" as something different from "lying". So in my mind, it follows that if the pastor in question is having an affair, or molesting children, or doing anything that is inappropriate, it is NOT false witness to let someone know about it. If it's taken to court, or investigated by governing authorities, it should be public knowledge. If such public knowledge decreases his income potential - then it is the pastor's behavior that is to blame, NOT gossip!
Biblically - there are verses I wouldn't know how to look for at the moment (hey-I'm sleep deprived!) that say first of all to say something to your neighbor if you see that he is "sinning". God told Ezekial that he was to warn people of their sinfulness, whether they listened or not, because if he didn't speak the other person's sin was "on Ezekial's head".
Most important though is that God looks upon the heart. God KNOWS who is truly upright and who is not. From that aspect - I'd say that if you're trying to find out enough about a "leader" to know whether or not he is trustworthy, or trying to warn someone of a leader that you know is NOT trustworthy, motive is what counts.
OK - I've rambled and I don't know if I'm awake enough to READ what I've written. Hope I made some sense and I hope it helps.
12-21-2004, 11:27 PM
Not bad for lacking sleep. Hope you come back rested.
12-22-2004, 06:51 AM
In my former church, we had a clear set of double-standards about gossiping. The pastor would gossip - sharing both his own speculation about people that was unfounded, and sharing true things about people that were not necessary to be shared. I am not exaggerating when I say that I truly don't think there was anyone in the church that I did not hear him make fun of or condescendingly gossip about. However, when it came to anyone saying anything about him - even a true, substantiated, valid concern - it was called "touching God's anointed".
I'm not sure of the exact Biblical definition of gossip, but I think it would include telling things about someone that are lies or unsubstantiated or telling things about someone that are true but only have the purpose of trying to hurt the person being talked about. I do NOT think it is gossip to tell others about true things done by someone when keeping silent would help them continue to hurt themselves or others. It's kind of like when I've talked to my kids about tattling. If their reason for telling on their sibling is just because they're mad and want their sibling to "get theirs", then it's unnecessary and it's tattling. If telling on their sibling helps prevent or stop that sibling from doing something that would hurt themselves or someone else, then it's called being responsible.
12-23-2004, 07:58 AM
I think one litmus test to use is whether or not hearing it will harm someone...I do not mean the person it is about necessarily either.
For instance, one of my major triggers is gossip. I have had to ask some friends not to do it around me because when I hear them say things about their cousin's ugly wedding or their sister and her trashy clothes or whatever and they don't say these things to the person constructively, I have a hard time trusting that these people would not do the same thing to me-gossip behind my back. It has been my experience that much of the time people who would gossip like that *to* you would also do it *about* you, and you really cannot trust them at all.
It doesn't have to be the pastor doing it...in my ex's family I would hear how some people would gossip about others and their sins and things like that and the way that they talked and had no sympathy whatsoever and things like that told me that these were not people I could trust if I had a problem.
12-23-2004, 08:39 PM
Interestingly enough on the day my husband and I resigned as elders, when the announcement was made, the congregation was told that if they had any questions, they should go directly to the leadership, they should not discuss it amongst themselves.
This was followed by an hour long sermon about gossip. What a coincidence! Of course by the end of that message, no one would dare to bring up any concerns.
At the time, we were undecided about leaving the church. But we could see that morning the abuse we would be subjected to if we stayed. We left without looking back.
Of course the double standard is true. Concerning our leaving, the congregation was told we had suddenly become unstable. The bought it hook, line, and sinker because they were also told how much the leadership "loved" us and wanted everyone to continue praying for our "condition."
12-24-2004, 12:40 AM
Had the same stunt pulled in college. Admittedly the person being shunned had some wild interpretation of scripture and prophecy, something that would have most pentecostals diving for cover. We are all bought to the small group leader in private. We were told that "Sally" had fallen away and she be worrried for our salvation and to stay away from her.
Tragically the gal got into a faith healing cult and even farther in right field. When that dymanic was explained to me into what turned out to be an exit counseling, I exploded in anger.
12-24-2004, 08:07 AM
12-25-2004, 12:03 PM
Don't hear the term much anymore. Exit counseling is the process where a group member is provided an explanation of the total beliefs and practices, particularly those which are harmful and deceptive, of the person's group.
What originally happened in 1984, I was researching a church in Ohio I was planning to join. What tipped off to being something wrong with the group was a lack a straight information of what was the name of the group. With extreme reluctance, I finally sought out cult researchers. They informed who was the leader and the controlling practices of the group. I had a friend in the group. I tried to get help for her.
What ended happening is I and a cult researcher were looking the names of practices of shepherding groups in the Midwest and New England and the names mentioned were people I knew. He started showing me the practices in the groups I was involved. We focused on my recruiting a girl on campus into the group. After four days, I realized that I was actually stalking her. I later realized it was sex and love addiction combined with religious addiction at work,
The exit counselor was able to see what I had happened . Based on the information provided, I was able to see the mind control dynamic at work and made the decision to leave the bible school.
Hope the long response answered your question.
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