This week we continue in our PeaceWorks University member submission series. Many in our membership are already actively engaging the topic of domestic abuse through their own writing and we would like to give them the opportunity for additional exposure as well as thoughtful feedback from our readership. Please be aware that the views presented in this series do not represent the views of Chris Moles or PeaceWorks University.

This week’s post was submitted by PeaceWorks University member, James Fields:

There's a perception in the church that all discussions about other people are gossip. This perception is based on Scripture repeatedly telling us that gossip is a sinful thing (Leviticus 19:16, 2 Corinthians 12:20, James 4:11, 1 Timothy 5:13). Sometimes, we as leaders, pastors, and counselors take the admonishments too far. Victims begin to think that they can’t share pain with anyone, for fear of being in sin. This should not be. There are plenty of good reasons for us to share the hurts we feel with those around us. Scripture points out the need for it when it asks us to take a friend with us to confront someone (Matthew 18:15-20). It points to it when it tells us that there is benefit in wise counsel (Proverbs 11:14, 12:15). The Word shows us the need for it when it tells us to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2).

These verses need to be meditated on so that our definition of gossip paints a full and accurate picture. We need to have a great understanding of this so that when we teach on it in counseling sessions, with hurting friends, or from the pulpit we don’t arm domestic abusers with a tool to suppress their spouses and give victims a fear of speaking out when they need help most.

Given the tension in these verses, how do we know what is gossip and what is an acceptable and wise way to be honest with those around us?

Gossip seeks to slander and tear down (Proverbs 10:18, Ephesians 4:29, and James 4:11).

Gossip seeks to shoot the breeze (Proverbs 10:19 & 1 Timothy 5:13).

Gossip seeks to mettle (Exodus 23:1 & Proverbs 26:20-22)

Gossip seeks to satisfy self (Proverbs 11:13 & Romans 1:29-32).

What should we counsel godly couples to do when it comes to tension at home? These steps are an attempt at a more balanced approach to teaching gossip without making the abused feel like a sinner for coming forward with their marital or family abuse stories. By teaching about gossip in this way, we are actively taking away the tool of “gossip” as a spiritual oppression weapon.

Take Time and Pray

Seek your own heart and try to uncover your motives. How did you contribute to the incident? In most conflicts in life, this step alone gives us all we need to go back to our spouse and resolve the conflict as we genuinely apologize for how we sinned toward them. In the times where we didn't contribute to the incident or we can't think of a way in which we sinned, we'll likely need further counsel. Either to help us find the best, most God glorifying way to call out our spouse's sin or to further reveal our own hearts. (As Jeremiah 17:9 points out, our hearts are deceitfully wicked and impossible to understand.)

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