Posted By Jasmine Baucham on April 27, 2010
I am a huge fan of musicals.
Despite the fact that, on the whole, they have a reputation for being plotless movies dedicated solely to the brilliance of technicolor, the choreography, and, at times, the singing, that particular brand of film really appeals to me. In spite of their faults, my favorite actor is Gene Kelly, some of my favorite singers are Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, and my favorite song is written by Alan and Marlyn Bergman. Typical, I know.
This morning, contemplating the subject of gossip, the lines to a song from an old musical popped into my mind.
Pick a little talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, cheep cheep cheep, talk a lot, pick a little more…
For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie (and it’s been a while for me, so the details may be a little hazy), the song centers around a handful of gossiping ladies who, as the music progresses, begin to behave more like pecking hens than respectable women. I think it’s a very mild characterization of a timeless principle found again and again in the Bible:
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet hit boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And ithe tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, jstaining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, kfull of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people lwho are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. ~James 3:4-12
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines gossip as:
To run about and tattle; to tell idle tales.
And defines gossiping as:
Prating; chatting; running from place to place and tattling; or running about to collect tales and tattle.
Talking idly; telling tales
Foolishly; uselessly; in a trifling way
As young women (and as Christians in general), it is very important for us not to develop this dangerous habit, however easy it is for us to talk idly about tales and tattle (see Titus 2:3). This has been something that has plagued us throughout the ages, most assuredly, but the 21st century has put a nice little spin on “going from house to house” (1 Timothy 5:13), and it’s called the Internet. One social networking site in particular comes to mind, and it’s one my mother has (only half-playfully) dubbed “Gossipbook.” You might know it a bit better as Facebook.
Women need no longer converge at street corners to wag their tongues; all they need to do is to log in and have at it. Sites like Facebook have made it easy for us to prattle and tattle like little hens. Instead of using Matthew 18 as a method to confront our brothers and sisters in Christ about areas where we feel they are in sin, we rattle of a status update that requests our 800 friends to moderate our disagreement; instead of serving in silence and humility (Matthew 6:3), we are eager to broadcast our good works for all to see, whether we’re writing a status update to let everyone know that we just came from the soup kitchen or writing an encouraging note on someone’s wall with the ulterior motive of being seen doing so; instead of seeking wisdom or counsel directly, we resort to coy status updates that will get us more attention.
For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that I have a Facebook and I update it regularly. I love how the site allows me to feel close to faraway friends, to pass on and receive links to encouraging (or entertaining) sites and articles, and to keep others updated on things such as the cute antics of my adorable brothers. I have loved being able to pray for my brothers and sisters’ needs as they are shared online, and have benefited from those prayers and well wishes as well. I am convinced that there is a place for this kind of interaction over the internet.
But I have been convicted lately of just why we enjoy keeping our friends so updated on the miniscule details of our lives. Are we truly seeking prayer and accountability? Or is Facebook sometimes another way for us to feed our aching desire to know and to be known, to receive attention and to lavish it on those who seek it? As single young women, are we broadcasting so much of ourselves that we are robbing our future husbands of the mystery of getting to know us?As married women, are we airing things that we should be taking to our husbands and to the Lord in prayer?
Facebook and Twitter are not the “tools of the devil” or the “mark of the beast” any more than the Internet or the telephone are. However, with each modern innovation, as with all things, we should use discretion when handling it, and we need to check the intention of our hearts. Walking forthrightly before the Lord and in genuine love for our brothers and sisters in Christ does not stop with face-to-face interaction; it begins in the heart, and works its way out from there. As we strive to walk in humility and love (1 Peter 5:5, Ephesians 5:1-2), let’s remember that this love should extend, not just to face-to-face relationships, but also from telephone to telephone, blog to blog, email to email…. and status update to status update.
I have a passel of online friends, people I have never met in person, but know through encouraging sites like Ladies Against Feminism and other networks, or people I have met, and maintain a relationship with through the world wide web. It is so good to talk to them over sites like Facebook, over email, and through their blogs, to share my heart and to be encouraged and prayed for, and to provide prayer and a listening ear for others. But even through the beauty of the way the Internet has united me with other Christian sisters, I must never forget the beauty of face-to-face interaction, and how indispensable the physical church is. I know that loving hands mean even more to me than cyber-hugs (although having both is nice)! Proverbs 27:10 reminds us:
Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.
Better is a neighbor who is near
than a brother who is far away.
May we be ever physically present for the needs that we are able to attend, and ever conscientious of our faraway interactions!