Why is gossip woman’s sin? What tempts us into it? Actually, let’s tackle the second question first. A lot of times it’s because having inside knowledge gives us a sense of importance. If this is our motivation, gossip is idolatry. It seeks to fulfill us where only God can, to give us an impression of worth when our true worth lies in our identity in Christ. Sometimes I think it can begin with an innocent desire to share excitement (or horror!). But what begins benignly can become menacing. In A Praying Life, Paul E. Miller claims that gossip’s primary offering is “deadly intimacy.” Think about that. Gossip appeals to women because we DO seek intimacy in friendships. We rely on a greater network of intimate relationships than do men. Gossip simulates intimacy with the person we spill to, but beware: it can destroy intimacy permanently with the people we dish about!
But why pin it on us gals? I recall Cookie seething at an accusation that he had spread a rumor about another man’s marriage. He was mad because he was innocent, but even more so that anyone would think he CARED enough to whisper around the office. That’s the thing: guys often just don’t care about the dramas we find titillating. Still, why cast blame? Does it matter?
I think it does, because if we know our worst tendencies, we can seek earnestly to eradicate them. And if we know that temptations are not doled out equally, we can’t excuse ourselves that, well, everyone does it. As Christians, we know we shouldn’t gossip. We may think we’ve got a handle on it. But it’s easy to spread a story around the church pew under the guise of confession, a prayer request, or a loving concern. Off the top of my head, here are a few test questions to distinguish a healthy share from gossip before you raise your hand in prayer group.
Could you share this privately with one trusted prayer partner instead of every Christian you know? If so, you can keep the confidence and still multiply prayer power.
How many people would you want to know, were the prayer request about you? Do you even have permission to share?
Are you just really itching to spill it? If so, your motivation might stem more from the thrill of having a great story to tell than from a sincere concern. If you are still unsure, run it by a mentor before you risk falling into this trap.
My friend began a story recently, “I have to tell you what one of the school moms said.” Then she stopped. And started. And stopped again. And finally said, “You know what, I probably shouldn’t tell this story.” It wasn’t even an incriminating story, but it had occurred to her that it would probably be gossip. And I was happy not to hear it, not because I don’t enjoy a drama or a laugh at someone’s faux pas, but because she had just done the impossible and tamed the incorrigible tongue!