Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Do Not Think That Means What You Think It Means

The title of my post is a quote from "The Princess Bride," a movie with many fine quotes. But this is also very appropriate for a sign I saw posted on another blog, Your Sacred Calling. The sign was a NO GOSSIP ZONE. The blog author states that she has had problems with people gossiping on her site and due to this she would not post any comments that were of the gossip nature. I can fully understand this and though I had never had this problem on my site, I wanted to read what she had to say, in case I ever had the same problem. When reading the following as the reason for this, I was very confused.

The statement reads:
Basking in the glow of the computer screen, self-appointed zealots feel free to make mincemeat out of their “opponents,” slicing and dicing with abandon. Sadly, even professed Christians participate in this kind of slug-fest, showing little grace to other believers who don’t agree with their beliefs. It’s one thing to disagree with what people have said or written, but crusades and cabals to destroy other people are not within the realm of Christian possibility thinking.

She then reinforces her point by backing it up with Titus 3:10: "Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned."

My mind raced. Weren't we talking about gossip? Am I wrong in thinking the Biblical meaning of gossip is being a talebearer? Are divisive and gossip the same thing? Romans 1:28-31 tell us that "debased minds are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents."

So, "full of strife" and "gossip" are listed seperately. But often society changes the meaning of words, so I checked the Merriam-Webster dictionary for their meanings:

First here's the definition of gossip:

1 adialect British : godparent b: companion, crony c: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others2 a: rumor or report of an intimate nature b: a chatty talk c: the subject matter of gossip
— gos·sip·ry \-sə-prē\ noun

Now lets take a look at divisive:

creating disunity or dissension
— di·vi·sive·ly adverb
— di·vi·sive·ness noun

Well, I see gossip can lead to divisiveness. Gossip hurts and can cause a breach in unity. But, they are quite obviously not one and the same. So, should I comment and ask how she feels about this misuse of the word gossip? Here's where everything becomes clear. Here are her rules for commenting (taken directly from her site):

"Thank you for visiting. I love hearing from you and try to respond to questions as time allows. Most God-honoring comments are approved within 24 hrs. If your comment does not appear within 48 hours, consider the following:1. Rude or inflammatory comments will not be allowed.2. If you are known for gossiping online, you are not welcome to comment here (you know who you are).3. My blog is not a debate blog. It is a place for women to be encouraged and have their thinking challenged. You can disagree, of course, but don't expect a long, drawn out debate - I don't have time for it. I'm a busy mom and so are most of my readers. If you find yourself disagreeing with practically everything here, perhaps you should considering reading without commenting until you decide if you want to stay. 4. Posters without a valid email address will not be approved."

So, does she really want anyone to disagree? No, I don't think so. If you are not "likeminded" don't be bothered to comment, since your posts will be considered gossip. I am also disturbed because she is an "inventor of evil," as, in her post "Walking Billboards," in which she contemplates a fictional senerario in which "A young man nonchalantly approaches the pair [a real-life teenage girl and her mother] in the store and quietly stands in front of the daughter, boldly staring at her chest. " She goes on to slander the young lady and her mother in the post, without ever speaking to them.

No I don't know Mrs. McDonald in person, just what I read on her blog. However, I do know she was happy to comment directly to a friend on her blog when she highlighted Mrs. McDonald's view. However, when my husband posted a differing view she e-mailed the friend to encourage the friend to defend her. Mrs. McDonald could have easily contacted my husband through his blog, which was on the comment, but chose not to (or was not able to?) defend her views. Could she have been afraid of her use (or misuse) of scripture? This had the potential to cause strife between two friends who also happen to be a brother and sister in Christ. Fortunately, my husband and our friend are both mature enough that it did not cause any problem. I also believe the misuse of the term "gossip" is an attempt at deceit.

Just to make it clear, we do believe in modesty and standards of dress. However, Mrs. McDonald is not my standard bearer. Why, because for the reasons I have stated above I can count her as:

full of strife, deceitful, a slanderer, an inventor of evil. After reading her blog, boastful and haughty also came to mind. But, only God can know her heart. I think I will still go to my Bible for the answers and not to Mrs. McDonald. I do welcome comments, but will not allow profanity on my blog. But please, if you use scripture, use it correctly and with no twisting to attempt to prove your point. It is also fine for us to admit that we are arguing a point from our own standards. As long as we realize at that point that our own standards do not carry the weight and authority of scripture.


Sharon said...

Bravo and well said!!

Sharon said...

Dear Kim,

It is refreshing to hear comments like yours and your husband’s. I left him a comment the other day about my feelings about that very same blog and post. I feel like people like that give Christians a bad name, people who are non-believers get around people like that and they are so turned off.

There is another blog out there that was really talking bad about working women and people who do not home school (we have our kids in public school and I work part time and I have been very hurt by things that some people say about public school). I left a mature, kind comment, but I challenged her way of thinking and it was never posted. I had a feeling she wouldn’t post it, so I copied and saved it and posted it again, and once again it was not posted. Boy, that got under my skin. The only points of view that are posted are the ones that are for the person and so unknowing readers think that the whole world agrees with them. I want nothing to do with that kind of thinking. Christians need to be careful not to fall into the trap and act like the Pharisees did and worry too much about the law and not enough about Jesus' love.

I just know that when you are out in the world, as a Christian you strive to show Jesus, it should just be second nature, you live and breathe Jesus as much as you can, although often failing. We should try to show love and try to live our lives as a "walking billboard" (to steal her phrase). We should try to be loving and kind to people and share Jesus here and there in your daily life and people eventually want what you have. We should be building each other up and encouraging one another, not tearing each other down.

:0) Sharon

Kim said...

Thanks Sharon. I don't have a problem with anyone upholding a personal standard, even if I think it is way overboard. But, I really don't like it when Scripture is used out of context to back up their personal standard and forced down others' throats.

This is a major pet peeve with myself and my husband. We would like to use our blogs as tools to reach out to unsaved people, without comprimising the true message of the gospel- that we are all sinners and can only be saved by grace. The length of my skirt won't get me in or keep me out of heaven. But most people who know me would consider me a very conservative dresser.

In one blog I read a couple of months ago the author complained about the woman that sat in front of them in church the previous day. She had a sundress, so her shoulders were naked. GASP!!! The blogger then stated that her husband, along with all the other men in the church, spent the entire service thinking about having sex with this woman.

If this is true, then that church has some major problems, the least being the "naked shouldered" woman. If the men weren't thinking this (and I don't think they were) then it was the blogger that was in the wrong. I would not attend a church where I thought the men went to the service just to lust over the women.

I also see a trend that these women who are so hyper focused on the line that they have drawn have no time to do God's work. I never see them blogging about taking meals to others, having college students over for a homecooked meal, making an easter basket for an older homebound person or taking items to a shelter. They blog about teaching younger women about what they feel is modest. What about teaching a newlywed about meal planning?

I understand the homeschool issue also, we attended a church where only 4 families didn't homeschool- most homeschool families felt superior to us. However, when these parents had to teach our special needs child for one hour a week in Sunday school, we were told that if he was to remain in the class that one parent would have to be in the class with him. They could not deal with his issues. That meant they could not teach him for an hour class, but I was to spend all week teaching him then spend all church with him.

I am a better parent for him when he goes to school and is taught by others and I can keep our home clean, groceries bought and dinner cooked. Then I can give my attention and love to him without the frustration of having fought with him all day.

I understand the need and desire of those who homeschool and I had thought about doing that years ago. But, my son has a hard time thinking of me as anything other than his mother. When I helped out at his preschool he wanted cuddle time instead of learning time. And at twelve years old this has not changed.


AnneK said...

Very well said. I remember accessing your blog one other time from Sparrows nest when you had posted on the anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Both are really though provoking posts. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I got a bit confused about what gossip really means after reading that on her site. I thank you much for clearing this up with his truth. If you have a moment could you expand on what Gossip really is? Many times as woman we may state something someone else mentioned (No evil intent, just as an example, good example mind you) and even that at times has been misunderstood. It makes me just want to bridle my tongue, which i should more foten then not anyway.

We are to sort out any possible disunity type offenses within one another as christians. It's hard as woman to be careful and catiouse but also not to just be silent and unsociable either. I think I need a better balance, i tend to go one way or the other- either extremes aren't good if we want to live a full life for the lord and be used by him too.

Thank you!

Kim said...

What I see is that in order for something to be gossip it must be something said or seen in confidence. If a friend tells me something private and I relay that information without her knowledge or permission then I am gossiping. If I am unsure if she wished for the information to be passed out then I need to seek her permission.

Many christians use the "prayer request" form of gossip. If my friend is known in my prayer circle and I ask for "prayer for my friend that just had a baby and a small toddler and she...." that would be gossip. If however I said the same thing about a person unknown to the group that would not be gossip.

We also tend to think of gossip as a "woman's sport." Men are not immune from gossiping. Often gossip creeps into a conversation almost without anyone noticing, so we must always be on our guard.

Since gossip deals with knowledge of an intimate and private nature it is not possible to gossip about open forums, such as blogs. When we post private information on a blog it is the person posting that has thrown it out for discussion. So they can not now state they don't want anyone to "gossip" or really discuss the information they have already put out there.

Anonymous said...

Kim, you were mistaken when you quoted Mrs. McDonald regarding the "No Gossip Zone." You copied those words as if Stacy said them. However, she only displayed Carmon's "no gossip" graphic on her blog and linked to her site. Stacy didn't write those words, neither are they printed on her blog.

And how is it that she "slandered" the young lady in her story? How do you slander a fictitious character whom she doesn't even name?

If you're going to gossip (and yes, that's what you've done), at least get your facts straight.

Sad. As a Christian, you should really pray about that.

Kim said...

I find it is interesting that you do not attach your name to this comment. Why is this? If I post a statement on my site as to a belief of mine such as "no gossip zone" I am showing support for what that stands for. If not I may accept an advertisement from Planned Parenthood. I do not because that is something I would not want someone to associate me with.

As to the young lady in the story, she is not fictitious (at least unless Mrs. McDonald has lied in her post and I have not implied that.) Just because we don't know her name doesn't make her fictitious (Websters defines "fictitious" as imaginary or false.)

I simply commented on Mrs. McDonald's very public comments (since she does not have a closed blog.) So as I stated in an earlier comment, this cannot be gossip since she herself is the one who put her views and comments on the blog. She did not confide these to me in a private conversation.

I have been in much prayer as I always am with all my posts and comments.

I would welcome more comments from you, I just ask that you read what I have posted about anononymous comments on the top right of my blog.

Big Brother said...

Kim - I don't understand something. On the right side of your blog you state:

Please no "Anonymous" comments

If you truly believe what you are saying in your response and can defend the way you present it, you should not be ashamed to attach your name. If you are ashamed perhaps you should not post a comment.

Nicknames are fine, but please use the same one each time. This is a community and we'd like to get to know each other. This includes you.

I understood this to mean that you would not accept anonymous comments, but you have allowed quite a few "anonymous" comments here recently.

The most recent anonymous comment is quite obviously written by someone who does not believe what they wrote, cannot defend the way they presented it, and is ashamed to attach their name. Whey then allow this person a forum to spout stupidity?

Anonymous said...

Big Brother, exactly where did I "spout stupidity?" Such gracious words.

Kim, I did not notice the rules on "anonymous" posting in the right hand corner until you pointed it out. Perhaps you should add it to the page where people comment. I don't usually scan someone's entire webpage to see if there are any warnings or rules to follow.

I only saw that anonymous posts were enabled, so I used that option. I have my own reasons for doing this and they have nothing to do with not believing or meaning what I say.

By the way, Kim, thank you for correcting your error. I noticed that where you had wrongly quoted Mrs. McDonald as writing Carmon's words, it now says, "The statement reads:" Very good. Carmon should get credit for her own good words.

Also, I thought the character Mrs. McDonald used was fictitious. But either way, you didn't answer my question. How could Mrs. McDonald have slandered the girl when she didn't even name her? And slander has to be false. What part of her story was false(besides the part she let's you know is made up)? Are you not slandering her here? Because you ARE naming someone - as well as getting the facts about her wrong.

Kym B.

Big Brother said...

Kym B -

Stupid: adv., example - If you're going to gossip (and yes, that's what you've done), at least get your facts straight.

example (2), - As a Christian, you should really pray about that.

example (3), - Carmon should get credit for her own good words.

example (4), - How could Mrs. McDonald have slandered the girl when she didn't even name her?

example (5), - And slander has to be false. What part of her story was false

[how about the part where she accused the girl and her mother of being unsaved. And if you read the comments you will find that she reinforces that she actually really does consider the girl unsaved, apparently based only on the fact that she was not wearing a burka]

example (6) - Are you not slandering her here? Because you ARE naming someone - as well as getting the facts about her wrong.

I hope this answers your question. As another great non-Muslim once said: Stupid is as stupid does.

Anonymous said...

I don't have to say another word. You've exposed your own heart.

Kym B

Kim said...

First let me address big brother- I have allowed anonymous comments and answered because I want to extend grace to those that do not agree with me. As this posts states I have a problem with not allowing others express their views. I also ask that everyone be treated with courtesy.

Second to Kym B- Thank you for letting me know that the words were not written by Mrs. McDonald and I have gladly corrected this. I will readily admit when I have erred. However, I still stand by my comment of slander. The dictionary defines slander as: to defame. So what does defame mean: to accuse. That is exactly what Mrs. McDonald did - of the young woman not being a Christian.

If you don't need to say another word because I have exposed my heart the same can be said of you. Since you did not argue or state any disagreement with the other conclusions that I came to. I can only guess that the "I have exposed my heart" comment is because I was not able to reply to you immediately? I don't think that a few hours time to wait for a reply is outside the realm of acceptabiblity.

Big Brother said...

Kim - I'm sorry that I did not show courtesy. Fundamentalist dogmatists really fry my britches. Of course, they are dark-colored britches and are not form-fitting, so at least that part shouldn't cause too much of a stir.

Anonymous said...

Kim, I was referring to "Big Brother."

Now I'm referring to you. You said:

"However, I still stand by my comment of slander. The dictionary defines slander as: to defame. So what does defame mean: to accuse."

Yep, and that's exactly what you've done here. Defamed and accused your sister in Christ. I wonder how Jesus views your blog post and your comments here.

"That is exactly what Mrs. McDonald did - of the young woman not being a Christian."

You mean the young woman she never named or described with any identifying information whatsoever? She never defamed anyone.

It would be impossible for anyone to know who in the world Mrs. McDonald was talking about. You on the other hand have been quite free with your accusations and defamation of character.

Why won't you answer me on this one? You continue to ignore the facts. How can you define Mrs. McDonald's story as slander and then excuse your own slander where you DO name names and boldly accuse a sister in Christ by saying that you count her as "full of strife, deceitful, a slanderer, an inventor of evil. After reading her blog, boastful and haughty..."

I'm very sorry - but I think you've fallen in your own pit.

Kim said...

Anonymous- I have found no definition where it states the person must be known. Just because the person was not named does not mean it isn't slander. So I still stand by my conclusion. But do you concede on my other conclusions? Since in my last comment I mentioned that you do not refute them.

Also by your standard wouldn't you fall into the pit of slander since you disagree with me publicly? I personally don't consider that you are slandering me.

I am pointing out the error of Mrs. McDonald and I am doing it in the forum in which she publicly stated those errors—the blogging world.

You ask "What would Jesus Do." So I thought I would tell you what Jesus DID with the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23. Verse 26 says "You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." The entire passage is a condemnation of them and their focus on the outward appearance.

So as to the question of what Jesus would do, we don't even have to speculate. In the same scenario propounded by Stacy McDonald, Jesus DID something. And what he did was correct the errors of the religious leaders who foisted legalism upon their followers. And he did it in strong language publicly.

Richard D said...

My comment does not answer the question of "What Would Jesus Do," which leads us to invent wild scenarios instead of looking to scripture. Kim, I'm glad that you actually went to scripture rather than speculating.

But there is more in the Bible than what Jesus did. There is the example of the apostles as well. And in one case it could not be closer to this situation in which Mrs. McDonald is demanding outward obedience to a non-Biblical standard as a show of holiness to the watching world.

Ancient Israel was given the requirement that their men all had to be circumcised. This circumcision was an outwardly identifiable demonstration of their commitment to and ownership by God. When Christ freed us from the bondage of the Mosaic law, he shed His blood to purchase our freedom. These freedoms in Christ are very important. Colossians 2:20-21 says, If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch." Here Paul is directly addressing such things as dress code “requirements,” which are “regulations” similar to “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.”

But Paul made a much more direct attack on this belittling of the blood of Christ—belittling because these regulations become a way for us to show our holiness and to achieve acceptance in a legalistic Christian community.

In Galatians 2, Paul had to deal with a spiritual leader in his own camp—another Christian. According to this passage of scripture, Peter was the apostle who took the gospel message to the Jews (“the gospel for the circumcised” verse 7). But the gospel stretched farther than just to the Jews—Paul was the apostle who took the gospel to “the uncircumcised.” Eventually, the Jews began demanding that those of the non-circumcision crowd must become circumcised once they had come to Jesus Christ for salvation.

As an aside—this was still not as bad as what Mrs. McDonald has done. These Jews were at least demanding a regulation that had been given by God, not recognizing that Christ’s blood had removed the necessity of those regulations. Mrs. McDonald is demanding a standard that finds no basis in scripture whatsoever, New or Old Testament.

Now Peter knew that this was not something that should be proclaimed, so he did not promote this line of thought. He did, however, avoid the noncircumcised and make sure he sat with those of the circumcision. (The passage gives his motive for this as well: fearing those who were of the circumcision verse 12. So here the story veers away from what Mrs. McDonald has done. She parallels those of the circumcision crowd who looked down on those who didn’t follow their own personal standard. Peter didn’t go as far as Mrs. McDonald has gone, but he was still abundantly in the wrong and in Galatians 2:14-21 Paul publicly confronts Peter with these words (among others):

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

That is a very strong rebuke that was made publicly to Peter. “You are NULLIFYING the grace of God (disrespecting the blood of Christ) by allowing others to insist on a non-Biblical standard of holiness.”

What Kim has done in this post is very similar to this situation. And Galatians 2 presents this as something that actually MUST be done. So had Kim (my wife) not confronted Mrs. McDonald, she would have been sinning. I’m glad my wife seeks her way to God through scriptural requirements and not through such “regulations” as Mrs. McDonald demands from others, which are “referring to things that all perish as they are used—according to human precepts and teachings” (Colossians 2:22).

simplegifts3 said...

I don't know about Stacy's blog and the "no gossip" sign, because I didn't see it there in the link you provided but I DO know that sign is part of Carmon's blog, as someone said. The other day I was quite amused to link to what I considered a "gossipfest extraordinaire" on Carmon's blog, about how Ryan Dobson chooses to dress. If you go to this link, you can see the original link if you click on "Prairie Muffins on Ryan Dobson."

Be sure to read Carmon's assessment of how she and her fellow prairie muffins perceive not only Ryan Dobson, but also themselves:

Prairie Muffins

I agree with you that gossip is not the same thing as divisive, but that it can lead to divisiveness.

Kim said...

simplegifts3- I commend Mrs. McDonald on her removal of the "no gossip zone." If we are to use scripture to back up our beliefs, we need to ensure we use it correctly.

I checked out the Prairie Muffins post and was amazed at what she had to say about what Ryan wears and nothing about who he is and what he believes. Isn't that what the Pharisees did? One of our personal friends is Bryan Kemper of Stand True Ministries, who is tattooed and pierced and many would walk to the other side of the street to avoid. But he is sold out to God and reaching all (not just the well-dressed) for Him. He is a loving Christian, husband, and father who won't compromise his message even when it has hurt him personally.

Corrie said...

"Since gossip deals with knowledge of an intimate and private nature it is not possible to gossip about open forums, such as blogs. When we post private information on a blog it is the person posting that has thrown it out for discussion. So they can not now state they don't want anyone to "gossip" or really discuss the information they have already put out there."

Exactly! It seems like a silly thing to even have to say because it is just a no-brainer.

Jennifer said...

Hi Kim! Excellent post; I've read stuff by both you and your husband now and you both have a great way of expressing truth.

Just so you know, I've read Stacy Mcdonald's blog several times recently, and she does allow dissenting comments. I've noticed that she occasionally won't publish loaded comments with dissenting Scripture, but she has definitely allowed even strongly dissenting ones. Just as a clarification.