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Gossip in Christianity

Christianity condemns all kinds of gossip. The Epistle to the Romans associates gossips ("backbiters") with a list of sins including sexual immorality and with murder:

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:28-32)

Jesus also commanded, in Matthew 18, that conflict resolution among church members begin with the aggrieved party attempting to resolve their dispute with the offending party alone. Only if this did not work would the process escalate to the next step, in which other church members would become involved. In no case did Jesus authorize complaining to another church member without having confronted the offender first.

Gossip in Judaism

Main article: Lashon hara

Judaism considers gossip spoken without a constructive purpose (known in Hebrew as lashon hara) as a sin. Speaking negatively about people, even if retelling true facts, counts as sinful, as it demeans the dignity of man — both the speaker and the subject of the gossip.

Lashon hara (or Loshon hora) (Hebrew לשון הרע; "evil tongue") is the prohibition in Jewish Law of telling gossip – negative disparaging but truthful remarks about a person or party who is not present. It should not be confused with the prohibition of Motzei Shem Rah, slander, untrue remarks.

The main prohibition against lashon hara is derived from Leviticus 19:16: [1] "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD." The Talmud (tractate Erchin 15b) lists lashon hara as one of the causes of the Biblical malady of tzaraath. In Sotah 42a, the Talmud states that habitual speakers of lashon hara are not tolerated in God's presence. Similar strong denouncements can be found in various places in Jewish literature.[2]

There are times when a person is obligated to speak out, even though the information is disparaging. Specifically, if a person’s intent in sharing the negative information is for a to’elet, a positive, constructive, and beneficial purpose, the prohibition against lashon hara does not apply. Motzi shem ra, spouting lies and spreading disinformation, is always prohibited. And if the lashon hara serves as a warning against the possibility of future harm, such communication is not only permissible, but, under certain conditions, compulsory.

"Lashon" is translated as "language" or "tongue". The word is generally translated as "evil speech". It is true that the concept of lashon hara is regarding true and correct statements. Lies and false and exaggerated information fall into a worse category called Hotzaat Diba, or derogatory/slanderous or defamatory speech which is, in fact, worse than lashon hara in many ways.

The two major halakhic works on lashon hara are Chafetz Chayim and Shmirat HaLashon ("guarding [of] the tongue") both by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1873). Chafetz Chaim lists 31 speech-related mitzvot mentioned in the Torah. The English book Guard Your Tongue anthologizes the teachings of these two books and provides many examples of prohibited speech.

According to Proverbs 18:8: "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels: they go down to a man's innermost parts."

gossip   (Darby’s Translation)

1 Timothy 5:13   (Read all of 1 Timothy 5)

And, at the same time, they learn also [to be] idle, going about to people's houses; and not only idle, but also gossipers and meddlers, speaking things not becoming.

gossip   (World English Bible)

Proverbs 11:13   (Read all of Proverbs 11)

One who brings gossip betrays a confidence, but one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret.

Proverbs 18:8   (Read all of Proverbs 18)

The words of a gossip are like dainty morsels: they go down into a person’s innermost parts.

Proverbs 26:20   (Read all of Proverbs 26)

For lack of wood a fire goes out. Without gossip, a quarrel dies down.

1 Timothy 5:13   (Read all of 1 Timothy 5)

Besides, they also learn to be idle, going about from house to house. Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.
 
 
 
 

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