Thursday, August 15, 2013

Ray Ortlund Versus Gossip

In a provocative blog posting, Raymond C. Ortlund paints a dark and vivid picture of what sinful gossip is and does.

Gossip leaves a wide trail of devastation wherever and however it goes – word of mouth, email, blogging, YouTube. It erodes trust and destroys morale. It creates a social environment of suspicion where everyone must wonder what is being said behind their backs and whether appearances of friendship are sincere. It ruins hard-won reputations with cowardly but effective weapons of misrepresentation. It manipulates people into taking sides when no such action is necessary or beneficial. It unleashes the dark powers of psychological transference, doing violence to the gossiper, to the one receiving the gossip and to the person being spoken against. It makes the Body of Christ look like the Body of Antichrist – destroyers rather than healers. It exhausts the energies we would otherwise devote to positive witness. It robs our Lord of the Church he deserves. It exposes the hostility in our hearts and discredits the gospel in the eyes of the world. Then we wonder why we don’t see more conversions, why “the ground is so hard.”

[1]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Gossip,” Christ Is Deeper Still Blog, entry posted May 18, 2009, (accessed July 12, 2011).

Note: We are in the middle of a long blog series working through my doctoral research into the problem of gossip. We have listened to many voices along the way--proponents of gossip, those who have exacerbated or exploited the problem, those who are ambiguous or ambivalent, and now opponents of gossip both secular and religious.

Three weeks ago, we surveyed the contributions of business leaders, social workers, educators, and Jewish moral teaching against gossip.

This week, we are continuing to interact with Christian teachers throughout church history.