Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gossip and Slander

“Spencervale gossip always said that "Old Lady Lloyd" was rich and mean and proud. Gossip, as usual, was one-third right and two-thirds wrong. Old Lady Lloyd was neither rich nor mean; in reality she was pitifully poor--... But she was very proud--so proud that she would have died rather than let the Spencervale people.....suspect how poor she was and to what straits [she] was sometimes reduced.”

      For the past year or so, I have been thinking a lot about gossip. Growing up in my family, gossiping has been one of those special things listed on the proverbial “absolutely not ok” list. From an early age, it has always seemed clear to me that speaking of others negatively isn't Christ-like or God-honoring, much less kind. But after a few years as I hit middle school, and then high school, it has struck me again and again how frequently any discussion I find myself in will turn into chatter about someone else's faults. I want to discuss with you what the Bible says about gossip and slander, the ways we participate in it, and why it is simply not ok. For the sake of discussion, let's change the definition of the words “right” and “wrong” from the way L.M. Montgomery used them in his story. Gossip, is not one-third right, and two-thirds wrong, it is three-thirds wrong. Let me explain what I mean.

      It is my belief that Christians frequently underestimate the importance of not gossiping. Although gossip is certainly often incorrect information, as Montgomery pointed out, it is not simply innocent chatter about one's acquaintances; gossip goes hand in hand with slander. Despite clear indications in scripture cautioning us to guard against these things, I frequently find myself in conversations that are tearing other people down. Proverbs 6:16-19 says:

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

      According to Merriam-Webster, the word “slander” means to make a false spoken statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone. The Lord hates a lying tongue and one who sows discord among brothers. Ephesians 4:29 says: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Is our gossip building up our neighbors and friends and brothers and sisters?

      There are multiple other references in scripture that I dug up in my research, but these two seem to best state what God thinks about the way we speak of others.

      Now, there are many ways that people find themselves engaging in the slander and gossip of others. More ways than we might even consider at first. There is the gossip about those within our personal sphere, including our own acquaintances, friends, coworkers, bosses, church leadership, etc. Then there is the gossip of celebrities, the political figures, and all the global terrorists. And, y'know, then there are the soap operas, which Lord knows I will never understand. It doesn't matter how young or old or in-between a person is, I can guarantee that this is something they have or will struggle with. Personally, I have a hard time not talking negatively about some of the people I work with, and certain friends. I'm still learning too. On the note of personal gossip, let me also just clear this up right now. Saying “Don't get me wrong, I love so-and-so, he or she is great!” does not justify the next thing you are about to say, if you catch my drift.

Proverbs 16:28 says: A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 10:18 says: Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.

      So, President Nixon, George W. Bush, Seattle Sea Hawks, San Diego Chargers, Lance Armstrong, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Madonna, Tiger Woods, President Barack Obama.

      Chances are, I just named somebody or a group of somebodies whom you don't like. It has come to my attention that many people find gossiping about others in high places to be more acceptable than just people we know. However I would disagree. Every single one of those people or groups I just listed were people created by God, who are loved by God, and in some cases are grieved over by God. We have no right to slam God's creation. We do not have to agree with, or approve, or even like these people, however they all have their own story, and if they were to accept it, Jesus' death is every bit as much for them as it is for us.  Let's discuss their ideas, not slander the people.

Titus 3:1-2 - Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

     If you would like to look into what the bible says more, I'd encourage you to read Matthew 12:26, and along the lines of politics, Romans 13:1-7. Also, do some more looking on your own. Pray about it, and let the holy spirit guide you in your thoughts and conversations. Some days, we will not be able to avoid running into gossip. In this case, it is our responsibility to stand up and set the example. We are God's tool, and His voice. What we say matters, and it can influence the world for either bad or good. Protect your own “ Old Lady Lloyd”, regardless of her flaws, and share with her the love of Jesus.

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…you speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.” -Steve Maraboli


Cecilia Lee said...

Thanks Talia…I really needed this reminder!

Talia Grace said...

Lol, so do I. The writing is done, now all that's left to do is to practice what I preach.....huzzah. :D Thanks for reading! Do you have a blog? If you do I would read it.

Talia Grace said...

And whether or not you do have one, I want to read it. XD

Cecilia Lee said...

I don't, but I've been thinking about starting one…hmmm.

Joshua Hsi said...

Okay, for some reason my Email linked me to this post from a while ago, but I read it (again) anyway, and I'm really glad I did. This is something which I personally have thought about a good bit, but not from a gossip and slander point, and more regarding celebrities/famous people, whatever. It doesn't seem right to bash Obama, or Justin Beiber, or One Direction, just because you disagree with them in some way, or find them offensive or whatever. I also am very uncomfortable when people speak really poorly about Obama, because the Bible says that all people in authority are appointed by God. (Romans 13:1 "...there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.")
Oh. That's a lot of text.
I guess that was all just saying I agree with you. Also that when it comes to things closer to home, when people discuss other people's faults, I'm not nearly as bothered...but I find that a lot of faults are brought up that I've never seen or considered a person by.
Okay. This was a helpful reminder because I need to not allow my opinion of other people to be tarnished by what my friends may say, and that in general gossip is just wrong.

Talia Grace said...

Lol, thank you! You stated that in a much clearer and straight to the point way than I did. I've had a lot of frustration with that myself, but it's hard to get people to understand that perspective. You have to remember that all people, (friends, family, obscure acquaintances, and complete strangers) are ALL God's masterpiece and creation, and to slander them is to judge His works and His plan for those individuals. Which, like you said, includes political figures, celebrities, and the like. Thanks for the response! It's good to come back and hash through the idea again. :)