Gossip = Confession of Others' Sins?

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InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I wonder if we should define gossip as merely confession of others' sins, because that would prohibit any conversation about other people's faults (and we do that on PB all the time). Would it be more truthful to say that the bringing up of others' sins is wrong (or transforms into gossip), IF you're not first committed to correct yourself in regards to that specific sin that you're accusing your neighbor of, AND IF you're not going to do anything about your neighbor's sin but just watch quietly from the side and let him harden/perish in his sin?
 

Joseph Scibbe

Puritan Board Junior
I would think it is gossip if:
1. You have not brought it to the person being mentioned
2. They would not want this shared.

Also, gossip tends to get out of control and often ends up being other than truthful.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I'm actually addressing a situation right now where I believe several parties have gossiped about my wife and I. They retold a false version of a conversation to others to insinuate my wife and I are deadbeats that don't pay our bills. We contacted the other person involved in the conversation, and she said nothing close to what they are alleging.

I think that gossip can be both the dissemination of false information, but also the dissemination of true information.

In my situation, they bore false witness and gossiped. However, if they hadn't lied, they'd still be gossiping, because they would be disseminating this perception of us without actually addressing the problem. The problem wouldn't be public, it'd be private, and they would need to confront us privately about our wrongdoing instead of exposing us to mocking publicly.

That's make take on it at least.
 

InSlaveryToChrist

Puritan Board Junior
I'm actually addressing a situation right now where I believe several parties have gossiped about my wife and I. They retold a false version of a conversation to others to insinuate my wife and I are deadbeats that don't pay our bills. We contacted the other person involved in the conversation, and she said nothing close to what they are alleging.

I think that gossip can be both the dissemination of false information, but also the dissemination of true information.

In my situation, they bore false witness and gossiped. However, if they hadn't lied, they'd still be gossiping, because they would be disseminating this perception of us without actually addressing the problem. The problem wouldn't be public, it'd be private, and they would need to confront us privately about our wrongdoing instead of exposing us to mocking publicly.

That's make take on it at least.

So, you wouldn't equate gossip as violation of the 9th Commandment? In my own definition, gossip doesn't carry with itself this lying aspect. Isn't lying and gossip two different things/sins in the Bible's language?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Few words of any sort can be fully defined in a single, pithy sentence. But the clever line that gossip is confessing others' sins is still a helpful way to look at it.

This is because it helps us see the heart of gossip, which is that we love to cover up our own faults and subtly make ouselves look better by sharing the faults of others. In contrast, a mature believer becomes unafraid to confess his own sins and does not need to inflate his reputation for the sake of his ego. Because of this, he also feels no urge to expose others' sins except, reluctantly, when it is clearly necessary. So you see, a guy's approach to confession of his own sin and his approach to gossip are connected at the heart level.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
I'm actually addressing a situation right now where I believe several parties have gossiped about my wife and I. They retold a false version of a conversation to others to insinuate my wife and I are deadbeats that don't pay our bills. We contacted the other person involved in the conversation, and she said nothing close to what they are alleging.

I think that gossip can be both the dissemination of false information, but also the dissemination of true information.

In my situation, they bore false witness and gossiped. However, if they hadn't lied, they'd still be gossiping, because they would be disseminating this perception of us without actually addressing the problem. The problem wouldn't be public, it'd be private, and they would need to confront us privately about our wrongdoing instead of exposing us to mocking publicly.

That's make take on it at least.

So, you wouldn't equate gossip as violation of the 9th Commandment? In my own definition, gossip doesn't carry with itself this lying aspect. Isn't lying and gossip two different things/sins in the Bible's language?

I think you're 100% right. There is lying and there is gossip. You can do both, or you can do one or the other.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
So, you wouldn't equate gossip as violation of the 9th Commandment? In my own definition, gossip doesn't carry with itself this lying aspect. Isn't lying and gossip two different things/sins in the Bible's language?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism is instructive:

Question 77
What is required in the Ninth Commandment?
Answer 77
The Ninth Commandment requireth the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbour's good name, especially in witness- bearing.
Question 78
What is forbidden in the Ninth Commandment?
Answer 78
The Ninth Commandment forbiddeth whatsoever is prejudical to truth, or injurious to our own or our neighbour's good name.

We see the 9th Commandment is not limited to simply lying, but things that are injurious too. There can be situations in which what you say is true, not necessarily a sin, but still injurious to your neighbor's good name.

I'm sure you can think of many examples. One I can think of is perhaps your friend has a peculiar habit, like singing nursery rhymes while scrubbing himself in the shower. That is not the sort of truth that you normally ought to spread around in that man's place of business.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The ninth commandment, broadly applied is designed to promote truth in protecting and not treating casually the "good name" of others, beginning, but not ending in the household of faith.

It is looked at from the standpoint of the greater command to love God, and like unto it, love your neighbor.

Westminster Larger Catechism

....
Question 145: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of god; aggravating smaller faults;hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering: What we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
I think gossip applies primarily to private persons, not to public actions or institutions. Also, I don't think it's gossip if the information is truly helpful to those receiving it. For example, I know of an educational institution that has a history of treating it's own staff and faculty in arbitrary and abusive ways. When approached about this issue, they deny it. A former employee at that institution has published documents conclusively demonstrating what has gone on. She circulates this information to current students, employees, and alumni. She encourages currently employees to find other work and students not to become employees there.

Is this gossip, because the institution doesn't want this to become public? It sounds like love to me. Even if her motives were wrong, which would be a sin, it's still genuinely helpful information, because it keeps people from making choices that they would regret later.

Or, if you knew a pastor in your city had skipped across state lines because of sexual immorality and started over where no one knew, wouldn't you warn people at that church?
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Or, if you knew a pastor in your city had skipped across state lines because of sexual immorality and started over where no one knew, wouldn't you warn people at that church?

Even here, I think the best approach would be to contact the pastor directly and tell him that if he didn't confess to his church, you would bring it to their attention. It may well be that you don't know the details and would get it wrong.

Of course, if the pastor had been disciplined by the former church and it was a matter of record, then telling the church members of that record, and where they could find the information, would be fine.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Or, if you knew a pastor in your city had skipped across state lines because of sexual immorality and started over where no one knew, wouldn't you warn people at that church?

Even here, I think the best approach would be to contact the pastor directly and tell him that if he didn't confess to his church, you would bring it to their attention. It may well be that you don't know the details and would get it wrong.

Of course, if the pastor had been disciplined by the former church and it was a matter of record, then telling the church members of that record, and where they could find the information, would be fine.

:ditto:
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I agree that the issue is the heart of gossip which is to make oneself to appear better than anothe person. It is helpful to me to think in terms of whether or not I'm injuring another individual with my words.

In Matthew, Jesus spoke about not judging one another and moments later said that we should judge righteously. Gossip, I think falls into the "judging" category and speaking the truth about an individual or situation in order to determine the right or wrong of an action falls into the same category. I think this is where the confusion is.
 
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