Gossip is easy, addicting, and—we have to admit—a lot of fun. And just because we are enrolled in a Christian university doesn’t mean we are exempt from it. JBU is home to its very own Gossip Girl. The tacky Twitter account goes so far as to point fingers and call out names, controversially commenting on everything from relationship statuses to sexual orientation.
But Gossip Girl is not the only one stirring up juicy morsels. It happens in the lunch lines, Cathedral pews, and dorm rooms. We pass along our interesting bits about Johnny slacking in his classes, Betty putting on the freshman 15, and Jack and Diane hooking up during chapel. And if we are feeling extra-spiritual, we will tack on the holy phrase, “We should pray for them.”
And as if we don’t have enough motivation to gossip already, recent studies have been released arguing that passing on secrets is actually healthy for you. That’s right, UC Berkeley psychologists found that spreading information about a person who has behaved badly plays a critical role in maintaining social order, preventing exploitation, and lowering stress.
However, all this just doesn’t add up to what we know from Scripture. Why would God tell us over and over not to do what is healthy for us?
The Message paraphrase says in Proverbs 18:8, “Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want that junk in your belly?”
That doesn’t sound healthy.
The Threefold Advocate believes the researchers mentioned above have confused “gossiping” with “confiding.” The true determinate for gossip is not what you are saying but your intentions.
If you are passing on coveted info because you are seeking attention, trying to discredit another, or because it gives you a thrill, then it is clearly gossip. This type of conversation is only self-serving and should be avoided.
On the other hand, if the secret is weighing you down or is something you cannot handle on your own, then confide in someone you trust who is uninvolved in the situation. We are relational beings, not meant to handle and process issues on our own. Confiding secrets to a trusted friend demonstrates all the health benefits mentioned above. It lowers stress and forges bonds while still maintaining social order. And it’s not gossip.
So check yourself next time @JBUGossipGirl tweets a new rumor, your roommate says she has the latest scoop, or your Passion group asks for prayer requests.