As I promised, it’s been a week talking about gossip. So what have we accomplished?
Perhaps very little in the bigger scheme of things. If the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit couldn’t totally stamp out the gossip (and slander, and libel, and backbiting, and bitterness, etc.) he encountered in the early church, then we are not likely to do so with a few quotes and reminders. However, we can accomplish a great deal if we who have been convicted by those quotes and truly desire to please God with our words and actions will set a high standard for our conduct online.
I do not think it is wrong to discuss controversial issues, to try to make sense out of the confusion that is reigning around us. I do think there is a great temptation to make mincemeat out of other people while we are doing it, and that’s why controversy must be discussed in small doses, in my opinion. In case you missed it, here’s criteria I suggested in the comments for how to decide whether or not you ought to jump into the fray:
My cursory opinion this morning is that when talking about controversies or people, online or in person, we must evaluate (which takes time!) these things: jurisdiction, authority, and motivation. Is it our place to be talking about the subject, do we have something to do with the circumstance that would properly contribute to making it better? Are we in a position of authority to teach, rebuke, or encourage in that particular instance? If the answer is yes to those questions, then is our desire to love all those involved and be a peacemaker, or do we use our platform to mock and belittle those who disagree with us?
To that I would add that you need to be very careful of your time. If you are spending hours involved with online disputes or even gracious discussions over the internet fence, you need to get back to real life. Being a doer is a lot more important than being a talker, though not nearly as exciting in the short-term. But in the long-term, as my husband says, it is the slow-fast way of accomplishing things that has the most long-lasting impact.
Speaking of that wise man, he is going to help me make a blog button you are welcome to use to clutter up your website, as a reminder that your site is a gossip-free zone. Use it at your discretion, of course, as I am not trying to squelch freedom of speech, just encourage not using your liberty as license. I’ll try to post it in the next day or so.
While you are waiting, here’s one more quote for you from an essay I have in my articles section, but many of you may have missed it. It was written by my online friend Antonia, who has left the blogging world for greener pastures. The article is called Soft Tongue Soft Pen, and it is an exhortation to women that their distinctiveness ought to be reflected in what they write about and how they say it. Here is a good reminder:
When I say that women should write softly, I do not mean that we should not be using big words or hard facts. Nor does it mean that we shouldnâ€™t rebuke ungodly behavior or write on certain subjects like theology, philosophy or history. What I do mean, is, our writing should have a certain quality of nurturing, intimacy and friendliness to it. When Christ took on human flesh and walked among us, He perfectly demonstrated Godâ€™s Law-Word to us in nurturing, intimate, friendly ways. You can almost see the disciples with their mouths open, thinking, â€œSo this is what Moses, Isaiahâ€¦. etc were talking about!â€ Obviously men who preach, teach and write should be Christlike also, but as women, we have the unique privilege of nurturing as helpers to Christlike men.
Speak softly and carry a big Bible, not to beat people over the head, but to get your thinking straight before you set everyone else straight.