Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

A Virtuous Woman. . . Avoids & Resists Gossip

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 03 August 2007

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of a life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men [and women], who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers [and sisters], this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
- James 3:6-11

(This is the fifth in a series on “A Virtuous Woman…”)
For a long as I can remember I have avoided deep relationships with other women. Women can be the cruelest of creatures. Really I think it dates back to Genesis Chapter 3. There is something in us that broke that day. Something we continually have to struggle against. It seems to be in the very core of our being to pit one another against each other. And what is so very sad is that we see it in churches as readily as the secular workplace.

Women have always been the most deadly critics of other women. They know how to wound with precision. They know how to judge. They know how to look another woman over from head to toe, inside and out, and then make a diagnosis of all the ills they have found. Why do we do that? So that we don’t have to look at ourselves. Because we are jealous creatures. Because we have not learned how to love.

Proverbs 18:8 says that “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” This basically means that it is part of our basic sinful nature to have an appetite for gossip. In a lot of ways gossip can be the single most destructive force in a church. And how often it is women who spearhead this slander. Men don’t seem to have the same capacity for gossip as women. Without even meaning to sometimes it seems we start talking innocently enough, and then we notice a look or a raised eyebrow and we find ourselves discussing someone that we simply shouldn’t be. So often it is done with a cloak of concern. “Did you hear about so-and-so, isn’t it a shame.” And the sad thing is that we often fool ourselves into believing that we are simply talking out of concern, not gossip! But, gossip masquerading as “concern” can and does turn into a far more decisive tool. . . a tool that Satan very much enjoys to see used in God’s Church. We are all guilty to some degree. I am ashamed to admit I like to know what is going on. I tend to cloak my concern under the “so I can pray for it” attitude instead of leaving well enough alone! But, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” (Proverbs 20:19) Wow! The scorn in those two words: “simple babbler!” The images that come to mind with that phrase are not pretty.

One of the hardest things to do as women is really not to listen to gossip. Really, when someone starts talking about someone else we really need to simply shut our ears and tell that person to change the subject. But how hard is that?! In doing so, we are opening ourselves up to ridicule from the gossiper. After all, we already know that person is more than willing to discuss other people with whomever! People want desperately for others to think the same way they do…to have the same opinions about people and situations. And as the relational creatures we are, it is so easy to simply listen, telling ourselves that we won’t pass along the information, therefore what harm is it doing? But like it or not we are letting the dirt into our minds and hearts and allowing someone else’s opinions to shape what we are thinking. As women we are susceptible to this sin. As Christians, we must guard our hearts in this matter.

One of the areas I’ve never really been sure how to handle is gossip among a group of unbelievers. With a group of Christian women, they at least know this is something they should not be doing. But, non-Christians are not guided by the same principles. Gossip in the secular world is common and it’s acceptable. Is it enough in these situations to lead by example, not participating, not gossiping and changing the subject quickly? Or should we be bolder? And what do you do if you sense that unbelievers are among a group of believers and that their chit-chat is more malicious than it appears? Do you simply remove yourself or do you do more? (You answer.)

A call to ladies hurt by and affected by gossip: Find your joy in Christ, not other women. We are blessed with female companionship, certainly, but we will fail one another. Believe me. We will say hurtful things, and be thoughtless. We will make judgments and be neglectful. We will not love and cherish one another as we should. But we will be and are loved and cherished nevertheless. By Another.

Last month I wrote that I had been in church my entire life. I can say with absolute certainly -- and alongside many other life-long Christians – that Christians will be the people who will most let you down in this world. As Christians, we expect more from each other, we expect better. We should, however, know better. It is Christ alone that we must look to for affirmation. Only HE can fulfill us.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen


Shari Thomas said...

Hello Esthermay,

I've been "lurking" and reading your very inspirational blog.

As a result, I've chosen to bestow a very special award upon your blog. You can pick it up at my blog... Believe me, you'll cherish this wonderful award.

Simply to go Shari's Gone Country!

In Christ's Love,
Shari Thomas

e-Mom said...

You're a prolific writer! I hope this is the right blog to return your visit to mine. Thank you for stopping by today. :~)

I think women like to gossip (more than men) because generally we're more interested in people. It's unfortunate that our interest in sharing people "news" often takes a negative slant. I try to curb my own tendency in this area because I know that if I'm disloyal about one friend to another, I can certainly count on disloyatly toward me from both of them!

Blessings, e-Mom

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