Posts Tagged ‘gossip’

Church Discipline: Second Degree

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

church-discipline-2“But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.” (Matthew 18:2 NASB)

If second degree church discipline happens before first degree, it’s called slander.

Just think about it: if someone sins against you and you go blabbing to others about how bad that person is, the gossip and slander that you are committing poisons the minds of the people that you’re talking to against that person. You are in effect ruining that person’s reputation when they don’t even know about their sin. This is evil.

The only person that you should talk to is the person that sinned against you. But let’s say you’re a wimp. The thought of confronting that other person gives you panic attacks. If you sincerely can’t do the right thing, I will give you one way out: you may tell your husband. But you must realize that this is also sin. (I’ll tell you why in a minute.) If you acknowledge to your husband that you yourself are sinning, your husband can give you perspective on the situation which might cause you to stop obsessing and forgive the person. Your husband is your priest, according to Ephesians 5, where he washes you with the Word. My own husband always rebukes me, so it’s no fun for me to tell him. Also, men usually realize that a woman’s perspective is often marred by hormones and emotion, and that the facts are often skewed. For this reason, your husband might not be poisoned against that other person because of your words. The thing that makes it sin is if your husband believes the bad stuff about the other person, because then the person’s reputation is ruined when they don’t even know that they sinned.

I know of a woman who told her husband a skewed perspective of what she perceived as the truth. Her husband then told the pastor these alleged “facts” that were basically hearsay that had stewed in a cauldron of the woman’s soul for years. You can imagine that the man who was slandered against had to leave the church, even though he hadn’t even sinned. I myself bear witness to this specific event, which was excruciating to the person who was slandered. This is why I say it’s still sin to tell your husband.

Now let me tell you how second degree is supposed to work. Let’s say you do the right thing. You go to the person who sinned, and you tell them they sinned. (Most of the time this will be the end of it, because they will apologize, and all is well.) But let’s say they don’t handle it well, and they yell at you and call you names. Or the opposite: they look smug and self-righteous, and their ears are plugged against you.

If you told no one, prayed about it, and confronted the person, I’m clapping for you. I’m giving you a standing ovation. Wow, you’ve got guts. Confront the person as gently as you can, since harsh words stir up anger. My personal secret weapon is to yield to God in the moment and let God give me the words. When I rehearse words beforehand, it’s only manipulation and stewing, and it causes me more stress. So I commit my situation to God and phone the person. It’s easier than talking to the person face to face. You can also write an e-mail, but these words can come back and bite you, even if they are exactly what God wants you to say. I write a letter occasionally because when someone’s ears are plugged and they won’t listen to anything you say, you sometimes need to set up the argument and use many, many Scriptures to knock down their sin. In situations like these, I go ahead and write the letter, even though it might bite me. I do it because it’s the right thing, and so help me God, I will do the right thing.

So let’s say you confronted the person privately about their sin, and they wouldn’t listen. Now it’s biblical for you to tell one person. Pick a person who you think will be heard by the person sinning. Don’t just pick a person who will side with you. Make it as easy as possible for the person to repent. Don’t make it humiliating. Every human being deserves to have some form of dignity.

So the two of you need to confront the person who did not repent when you went to them one-on-one. Most of the time the person who sinned will repent at this point, because they will realize that it’s not just you with a personal vendetta against them, but that what you’re saying is actually true.

The damage is minimized to two people who love the person who sinned, enough to tell them to stop.

(Stay tuned for third degree church discipline…)

Guarding my Tongue

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten into trouble for what I’ve said. I don’t even do it on purpose. I just have nothing to hide. If people ask me a question, I tell them the truth. Sometimes I tell them the truth when they don’t want to hear it, or when they haven’t even asked.

One time, for example, many years ago, I was at a Bible study where absolutely nothing was glorifying to God. A woman from the Bible study was talking to me on the phone, and I said, “This Bible study is crap. Everyone is stiff, and their arrogance reeks to high heaven. No one is vulnerable, and everyone talks down to everyone else. I have learned NOTHING in an entire year from this Bible study, and this has never happened to me, because my deep love for God is so strong, I can always find something to learn. I don’t know how I’m supposed to grow spiritually under these conditions.”

When she hung up the phone, she called the Bible study leader’s wife, and gossiped about all the juicy information I had just said. The leader’s wife hung up the phone and called to gossip to the elders. Then the leader’s wife told her husband, who called my husband and punished us both by removing us from Bible study. My husband trembled when he got off the phone, and he asked me, “What did you say?!!”

I told him everything, and I got on the floor weeping, repenting in dust and ashes. My husband was reminded of the betrayal that happened to him in California, back when all his friends turned on him and his reputation was ruined. This was the worst time in his life, and he thought his life was over. Somehow I had made my husband re-live his worst nightmare. I had deeply wounded my husband, and I was so, so sorry.

I remembered the story of the Israelites, when they were wandering through the wilderness. They complained, and God’s fire flashed forth and burned them up because complaining is an offense against God.

As I lay crumpled on the floor, I asked God to purge me from my sin of complaining. And I would have done anything to turn back the clock and take back my words.

There was a meeting with six people where I publicly apologized for my sin. During that meeting, one of the men gave us unwanted parenting advice which violated the Word of God. (He noticed that my children had joy when they came to Bible study, and that we needed to make them more sober. And by the way, my children were silent during Bible study. If you know my loud children at all, you would applaud my husband and me for training our children in self-control in such an outstanding manner. We ought to have been encouraged instead of rebuked.) I saw his arrogance right there and then, and I looked at my husband to see if he’d noticed. My husband had a humble demeanor on his face, and he only wanted the ordeal to be over with. So I bowed my head and looked at the floor.

I usually only get in trouble for my words about once every two years; but when I get into trouble, it’s like an explosion, and my husband has to do damage control. People who “get” me don’t become offended, but they actually enjoy me. Some people even seek me out for advice because (ironically) they think I’m wise, and they know they’ll get the truth.

Last Sunday before going to church, I asked my husband if I could be myself again, or if I had to guard my words. He said, “Susan, you always need to guard your words.” I thought to myself, “But I have a blog… How can I write blog entries daily and guard my words at the same time? I would feel like I had shackles. I just want to breathe and live and be free. This is the United States of America. I should be allowed to have free speech…”

But so many times I wished that I could take back things that I’ve said, even if every word of it was true. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

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