Three times in writings attributed to the Apostle Paul, we find condemnations of gossip — Romans 1:29, II Corinthians 12:20 and I Timothy 5:13.
It must have driven the old boy crazy. And it drives me crazy, especially when I find it in the church.
Earlier this year my congregation experienced a couple of personnel moves among our nonordained staff. Mostly everything was fine and handled well. But in one case some members of the congregation got their feelings a bit hurt.
Most of them dealt with it properly. But a few people began to spread what even the Apostle Paul would label gossip. They started repeating what they offered as factual information even though it was misinformation that came out of left field.
It made me think that our churches don’t spend enough time analyzing how gossip gets started, why it can be so destructive and why we should, instead, be emphasizing that the truth will make us free.
I don’t ever recall in all my years of Presbyterian Sunday school or in confirmation class or adult education classes any session specifically about gossip, though here and there a teacher or my parents or grandparents warned me against passing along unsubstantiated information.
I acknowledge, however, that as a journalist who, in my early days as a newspaper reporter, was required to write the word “verified” at the top of any copy I turned in, I may be more sensitive to this matter than others – especially because, from time to time, I’ve heard wildly untrue gossip about myself.