Which is worse, lying or gossiping? Have you ever bothered to ponder this question? I have asked it, more than once, but not thought about it deeply enough I confess. Seriously, think about this one for a moment.
Mother Antonia Brenner, a precious Christian who passed away last week in Mexico, makes a clear and compelling case that gossip is a far worse sin than lying in this three-and-a-half minute video. I happen to think she is right! Decide for yourself but do not miss this as I assure you she will make you think more carefully about your own tongue and personal holiness, rightly defined.
May God forgive me and help me to be truly holy and thus become a man who learns how to stop the gossip chain. I confess that I am asking what this means about my Facebook posts that I put on my wall which (can) stir up controversy. I welcome your personal witness and insights in this regard.
Mother Antonia says: “The tongue that gossips is where the devil washes his hands.” It seems to me that nothing so divides the Christian community as gossip. Missional-ecumenism cannot grow in the soil of gossip. I wonder what would happen if we made gossip the real enemy inside the church rather than the theological views of persons just like us.
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Hmmm…I have two seemingly disparate responses. In general, nothing could be more valuable than to realize how powerful are the words we speak, and especially how powerful as a potentially destructive force. I have been exposed to its force. We all have, I’m sure.
But I think it’s important to ask ourselves the critical “Why?” If I am talking with someone else about a person because I don’t want to do the work involved in building a relationship with them, then my words simply build up my false belief that I am more lovable, more valuable, more special to God than is the human being beside me. If I am talking with a friend whom I can trust to help me sort out the truth and send me back to do the good work of honest and loving dialogue and/or reconciliation, that is something else entirely. “I’m just telling you so you can pray for him/her” doesn’t count as that, by the way. 🙂
I also think there are subtle (?) differences between gossiping about a public figure, opening and respectfully disagreeing with him/her, and calling the individual or organization to openness and accountability for oppression that happens to “the little ones.” One draws up sides, another is a model of healthy communication, and the other is lifting up valleys and setting paths straight.
Just putting it out there.
I think these distinctions are real and proper. Not all speech, in public or in private, about another person should be understood as gossip. Clearly these distinctions are morally and psychologically sound, as well as faithful to Christian understanding. Thanks Miriam.
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it would seem that a lie can be quickly overturned by the light of truth (except of FB where lies have eternal life) but gossip travels perniciously and spreads like a virus. interesting
gossip has a element of ‘partial-Truth’ to it & is intended to hurt…thus does far more harm than and easily refuted lie. this is especially damaging to true unity/ecuminism (sp?) as many half-informed (ignorant) Pastor pronounce such “gossip” as if the whole true.
This is tough because it is not uncommon for lies to be used to cover up gossip. There are real issues like the gospel colalitions response to the sovereign grace sex abuse case where distortions of reality were used to suggest that the real calls for accountability were actually gossip that was out of control and sinful. There are always places where we can point and say “but what about…” But I generally agree with the point that gossip is dangerous. I just am uncomfortable about what the difference between gossip and real difference of opinion publicly stated is.
Opinions can and should be stated but the responsibility for truth increases proportionately to the circle of influence, or so it seems. Gossip is clearly not always involved in speaking publicly since this will end all attempts at accountability and reform.
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