Gossip is a sin according to the Bible. This guest sermon was written by an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To do this, please email sermons@themonastery.org.


“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

Gossip is a terrible sin, and it’s all around us. If you disagree, here’s a challenge: walk into any house of God on a Sunday morning. See how long you can go without overhearing some form of gossip. I bet you’ll last about 20 minutes, maximum. If any place ought to be free of this cursed behavior, it’s the church. But that’s far from the case! The Bible is very clear that spreading lies about others is wrong, yet this doesn’t stop churchgoers from whispering all manner of defamatory tidbits between the pews. In fact, the worst gossipers I know happen to be my fellow God-fearing Christians.

Churchgoers exchanging gossip.Human Instinct

Look, I get it. Gossip can be irresistible. Maybe it is human instinct to be curious about dark secrets. After all, talking about the rumored faults and follies of others is a pastime as old as any other. There’s even a German word to describe this tendency: “schadenfreude”. Translated, it means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.”

It might be fascinating to learn about your neighbor’s marriage problems, or how much money that guy from your high school lost on his bad investment. But gossip is like a drug – once you get your feet wet, it’s hard to turn back. You want more, and more, and more. Pretty soon you’re sharing some crazy rumor you heard about the nice couple down the street. You’re pretty sure the rumor isn’t true, but decide to tell your friends about it anyway. Well, big surprise – the rumor eventually gets back to the couple, which results in a nasty fight… Anyway, you see where I’m going. It might seem harmless at first, but gossip is an inherently evil activity. It can tear families apart and turn friends into enemies. Believe me, I know from experience.

No Moral Guidance

Theoretically, that’s why we need the church in the first place, right? It helps guide us mortal beings on the right path and prevents us from caving to our dark tendencies. Well, instead of providing the strict guidance we badly need, church leaders are doing nothing to discourage this behavior. Especially in small towns like mine, people are gossip-crazy. Sunday mornings are the biggest social event of the week, which makes church an optimal place to share the latest “juicy info”. Modern church services are no more than glorified gossip sessions punctuated by the occasional sermon or hymn.

Scripture DisapprovesScripture makes frequent references to gossip

Here’s what the Bible says about gossip:

“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets. Therefore do not associate with a gossip.” Proverbs 20:19 

“Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit.” Psalm 34:13

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” James 1:26

Where Did We Go Wrong?

Clearly, the Bible disapproves of all forms of gossip. It’s possible that someone who has never read scripture could be excused for such behavior. But what excuse does a true Christian have? Being intimately familiar with scripture, surely they should know better. On that note, it’s important remember that gossip is a two-way street. The person sharing the gossip deserves blame, but so does the listener. Stopping gossip is as much a task of refusing to listen as it is resisting the urge to tell.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I couldn’t agree more.

 

22 comments

  1. Rev.Hoagie says:

    The Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization that calls the Family Research Council an “extremist group” because of its socially conservative (Read: Christian) views on LGBT matters—reported Nov. 29 that “in the 10 days following the election, there were almost 900 reports of harassment and intimidation from across the nation.”

    “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults,” the report continued, “making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

    Cue the widespread coverage:
    •“Nationwide, there have been more than 867 incidents of ‘hateful harassment’ in the first days following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center says,” reported CNN.
    •“In the 10 days following the November election, SPLC said it collected 867 hate-related incidents on its website and through the media from almost every state,” wrote the Associated Press.
    •NBC News headlined its piece on the study “Southern Poverty Law Center Reports ‘Outbreak of Hate’ After Election.”
    •The Washington Post’s headline blared, “Civil rights group documents nearly 900 hate incidents after presidential election.”

    There’s just one issue: The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t confirm these “nearly 900” incidents actually happened, and there is ZERO evidence they did. ZERO!

    Yet, the fact that there was no verification of these incidents didn’t stop the media from covering this “study.”

    And let’s not pretend there’s no to very little chance that a Trump opponent would make up a hate crime story, they most certainly would. That’s part of the reason they lost the election. The constant lying has made people immune to what they say.

    Just consider this reported hate incident in November: “The men used a racial slur, made a reference to lynching, and warned him this is Donald ‘Trump country now,’ according to the report he gave police,” reported the Boston Herald.

    Yet the man wasn’t telling the truth. The Herald reported that Kevin Molis, police chief of Malden, Massachusetts, said “it has been determined that the story was completely fabricated.”

    “’The alleged victim admitted that he had made up the entire story,’ saying he wanted to ‘raise awareness about things that are going on around the country,’” the newspaper added, continuing to quote Molis. Now that’s “Fake News”!!

    The SPLC should realize that playing around with fake facts is no laughing matter, but why are the “news sources” repeating the unverified lie?

    In 2012, a gunman entered the headquarters of the Family Research Council “with the intent to kill as many employees as possible, he told officers after the incident,” reported Politico. The 29-year-old man, identified as Floyd Lee Corkins II, did shoot and wound a security guard. His motivation?

    “Family Research Council (FRC) officials released video of federal investigators questioning convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins II, who explained that he attacked the group’s headquarters because the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) identified them as a ‘hate group’ due to their traditional Christian marriage views,” the Washington Examiner reported.

    Ultimately, regardless of what the Southern Poverty Law Center does, the media shouldn’t be giving a platform to faux studies like this.

    But maybe it’s not surprising, given attitudes like President Barack Obama’s. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine published Tuesday, the president griped about the reach of Fox News Channel—and then complimented Rolling Stone: “Good journalism continues to this day. There’s great work done in Rolling Stone.”

    Yes, THAT Rolling Stone—the news outlet that published the completely discredited University of Virginia gang rape story. In early November, “jurors awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3 million … for her portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about the school’s handling of a brutal gang rape [at] a fraternity house,” the Associated Press reported.

    It’s tough to hold the media accountable when even the president seems willing to brush aside true instances of fake news.

    1. Don says:

      I am frankly offended that the mod posting this topic used a moral and ethical discussion platform to discuss and further his personal political views.

      At the very least, the writer could have postured some objectivity and presented two sides of an inappropriate argument.

      Regardless of anyones
      political views, this is not the place to discuss them. There are plenty of sites for people to do that.

      I for one, am unsubscribing.
      I see enough hate in the world without having to get it delivered to my mailbox.

      1. Reverend Don the Revelator says:

        Excuse me. I misread the post which offended me and found it was written by a member representing the Church rather than a moderator. I apologize for not catching my error before responding. My bad.

  2. maiane santos Santos says:

    Do you recall, if you can’t say something nice about someone don’t say anything at all? How about, only small minds make small talk about other people? Or the golden rule, do unto others as you would have others do unto you, think of those three things before you tell the neighborhood you saw Gladys down the street at bar with piggly wiggly manager you will be fine. Just my 2 cents.

    Oh by the way Didja hear about………………..!

  3. Jim says:

    Is it “gossip” if it’s true? More to the point, is the bible condemning the transmittal of factually accurate information about others? If that’s the case, how are we supposed to help each other avoid being victims of those who are dishonest, or “sinful”?

    It seems to me that perhaps I may have missed something here, because I am certain that the bible encourages me to help my neighbor.

    I think more discussion is called for on this matter.

    1. John G Tyler says:

      My opinion of the word gossip applies to discussions about others without “the others” present. I believe in brutal honesty and I am convinced that we need people in our lives that will be completely open and honest with us no matter the subject. I also believe that if a person will whisper or say “don’t tell Jenny but” and begin to degrade or disrespect a person without them being present to defend themselves, they are guilty of gossip and needs or prayers.

      1. Clayton Beardmore says:

        You’re EXACTLY right.

  4. Clayton Beardmore says:

    The difference between gossip and news is whether you hear it or tell it.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      I wonder has ANYONE LISTENED to TRUMP for the LAST 20 months, HIS WHOLE life MAYBE !!!

      1. Rec. Don the Revelator says:

        John,

        How bout keeping yer political vomitus away from an ethiical discussion group? It’s unecessary and uncalled for.Take the intellectual high road when discussing our society. Please. It will make this a better planet.

        Ciao,

        Rev. Don the Revelator

  5. Rev. Don the Revelator says:

    Its gossip if you would be ashamed for the subject to know you are telling it.

  6. Rev, Ragi Burhum says:

    It seems to be, that the Lord is fighting hardly against LUCIFER and allowed TRUMP TO BECOME OUR PRESIDENT, who will protect our small globe from NWO, with other words, from a 3rd world war.
    It was the right time to remove the haters of humanity from the power on earth…………….
    It seems to be, that the real Lord is seizing the opportunity to destroy the soldiers of Lucifer………….
    Merry Christmas and a happy new SACRED YEAR….

    1. Reverend Don the Revelator says:

      The Lord is fighting “hardly” (which means a minimum of effort) against Lucifer? Or did you intend to write that the Lord is fighting HARD against Lucifer? (which implies a difficulty of effort). Are members of humanity also the “haters of humanity” ? That seems illogical. Thats like the fish fighting against the fish….clear the seas of fish and themselves. And the “real Lord” wtf is that? Does he who created everything, including Donald Trump, have to resort to seizing an opportunity to “defeat Lucifer”? Couldn’t he just pull out a spacegun and whup his ass? After all, he made Lucifer too ya know. Last question, is 2017 a sacred year, and if so, why. I just wanna know whats running through a speakers brain when I hear stuff like this. Why you ask?
      Okay, because in my world the overwhelming force is peace against evil and the strength of good kicks butt on bad. I believe that there are no paranoid conspiracies plotting against good. Only misguided people who would do good of they only knew how. Flip it over and try to see things as they really are, and turn off Fox News.

      1. Roland M Pedersen says:

        No need for cussing (foul language. It is not of God.

  7. Fay says:

    We Wiccan say listen much but say little

    1. Rev. Don the Revelator says:

      Darn good philosophy.

    2. auntie moira says:

      So mote it be. Amen. Shalom. Indeed.

  8. Rev.STEVEN says:

    True or untrue speaking salaciously of another is injurious to subject and speaker. Gossips’ only product is destruction.
    I was in a store recently and encountered a person wearing a shirt on the front of which was printed, “I never repeat gossip……” the back of the shirt was inscribed, “but I always listen intently.” Is a new age pastime? What a graceless waste of energy and spirit. .
    Those that speak of others will then turn and speak of you.
    Having asked those who speak to me of others to stop – politely – they don’t. I’m then given judgment, I request they say something nice.
    Toward a positive end, I forgive them their trespasses – it clears my mind, eases my heart and delivers me from evil.

  9. auntie moira says:

    Is it true?
    Is it necessary or helpful?
    Is it kind?

    Ancient advice. Ask before you speak (post).

    Have at least one “yes”.

    ~namaste

  10. Kris Olafson says:

    I appreciate this sermon, and since I have recently been awarded a new opportunity to hear how Jesus spoke of how to handle gossip. (I love to share Christ’s words and I also like seeing the other wisdom of the Proverbs…It is first my simple point to mention that Solomon, (Who was the son of King David) has a title in our teachings that he is considered the “Wisest Man of all men”. The reason is because Solomon could have easily asked God for Power or Money, or anything else, yet he asked God for wisdom, above all else. After achieving and being blessed with all this wisdom God granted him, Solomon authored the book of Proverbs…or better yet, overseen the writing of this book of wisdom.
    Second and now to my favorite of all stories: Mat 11 Jesus was preaching and John the Baptist was in prison and sent his disciples to ask Jesus “Are you the one, or should we look for someone else?” Now if you are familiar with the story John the Baptist was Jesus cousin, and the son of Elizabeth, and even before birth in Elizabeth’s womb kicked upon a pregnant Mary’s arrival to visit Elizabeth…He was there when the heavens opened after John baptized Jesus. So the falling out of belief, and wondering what the gossip and real truth was, Jesus answered in verse (Matthew 11:4-6 (ESV) “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” … (ESV) 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.
    So even John the Baptist is a sinner and lost faith, so he is a great example… Notice that Jesus said not only what they hear, but also what they see!!! That is the sole point! Thank you all for your loving thoughts!

  11. Clayton Beardmore says:

    Remember, the difference between gossip and fact is whether you are telling it or hearing it.

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