I’ve just been thinking through this. Let’s say you’re trying to be obedient to Matthew 18. Brother Slim Pickens is stealing from his work. You have incontrovertible proof. So you go to him. What does he say? “Who told you I was stealing? This is gossip!” You show him your proof, and he has no room to deny it, but he doesn’t repent.
So you go to your friend in the church and you explain the situation to him. You show him the proofs that you have, and you and your friend go to Slim to confront him. What does Slim say? “How dare you talk behind my back! You two are gossips!” Again with the proofs; again with no repentance. After you leave, Slim posts on Facebook about people at his church are gossiping about him. He gathers up a coterie of friends who heap up condolences for him and scorn for all the wicked gossips at his church.
So you go to the elders. You present your proofs and they are persuaded. Same story: how dare you. Gossip and slander, now to the highest leaders of the church. But there’s the evidence, and he won’t repent. His blog is now full of the woe of discovering he’s at a gossip church, full of judgmental hypocrites.
Slim write a letter to the church, withdrawing his membership, on account of the church is full of gossips, he feels ostracized and isolated. The church is broken, the spirit of fellowship lost. “Ichabod” is practically engraved on the pulpit. The members meet, review his letter, listen to the elders, and determine that he should be removed for the unrepentant sin of theft.
Slim writes awful things on his blog about everyone who confronted him about his sin. He doesn’t name any names, so that makes it okay. Everyone knows his old church was full of hypocritical gossips and harsh, unbiblical leaders.
So my question is, what is gossip? And what could the church have done, any differently, and still be obedient to Jesus?