The false accusation of gossip
In a recent post I pointed out how Paul did not partake in gossip when he received and believed the report about the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul received this report from Chloe or some people in her household (cf. 1 Cor. 1:11 and 5:1). How do we know that Chloe’s household and Paul were not guilty of gossip in this situation?
To talk about a sin problem in a member of the congregation is not gossip if you’re a part of the problem or a part of the solution to the problem. Note: “if you’re part of the problem or a part of the solution” is a qualification used by Dr John Street in the fifth lecture of his Marriage and Family Counseling course at The Master’s Seminary (a conservative seminary which we do not recommend, but on this point I agree with Dr Street). See Dr Street saying this 6 mins into lecture five.
Paul knew that those who wrote to him about the adulterous man’s sin wanted the problem solved. They wanted the man’s sin to be rightly addressed. They didn’t want it ignored or swept under the carpet. They were no doubt very concerned about the way that man’s sin could leaven the whole lump — subtly eroding and contaminating the principles and morals of the congregation.
And we assume they informed Paul because their own local church — the church at Corinth — was not addressing the problem. The majority of Corinthian Christians were letting it slide and possibly even boasting about how ‘tolerant’ or ‘loving’ they were being. Paul wasted no time in reprimanding the Corinthians; nor did he soften his words. He commanded them firmly what they ought to do:
When you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. … put away from yourselves that wicked person (1 Cor. 5:4–5, 13b).
When a victim starts disclosing what the abuser has been doing and asks for help, abusers and their allies commonly accuse the victim of gossiping. Abusers want their evil to remain in the darkness. Evil loves darkness. The gossip charge is made to support the cloak of secrecy and to shut victims up. If you expose the evil, you are charged with gossip and with lying.
When we read emails or letters from wicked, abuser types — like pastors who enable abusers and falsely accuse victims of gossip in order to shut them up — their very words spew Satan. It really is like listening to the devil talk to you, and he is always lying and murderous. Abusers are the devil’s imps. They are his children.
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. (Prov. 17:15)
Exposing evil is not gossip
The Bible tells us to expose evil. Hiding evil secrets is not a righteous thing to do. The right thing is to expose evil. God will expose it in the end. And we are called to expose and eschew evil now.
Luke 12:1-3 “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.”
Ephesians 5:11-14 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Let’s look at a few examples from the apostle Paul.
2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
No, Alexander, hold your horses! Paul is not gossiping about you; he is exposing your wicked deeds.
2 Timothy 4:10a For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
What’s that Demas? You claim Paul is being unfair? Well you are in Thessalonica; and before you left you told us you’d given Christianity a try and it hadn’t worked for you! So what’s unfair? We’re only telling the truth!
1 Timothy 1:19b-20 . . . some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Yes, I know that sounds harsh, Mrs Sweetness & Light, but I do have to name Hymenaeus and Alexander. If I don’t name them, many other churches will be in the dark about their excommunication, and those two snakes may pass themselves off as Christians in good standing as they move from town to town.
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Here are all our posts that have the Gossip tag.