Gossip in the Church

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners

 

Dear Chuck,
My family suddenly left our church last year. It was because of beyond-repair damaging comments a few members said to my husband, about him, one day. Needless to say, people who approached us afterwards told us quite a different version about our leaving. When asked about it, depending on who was asking, he and I have answered in vague to general terms. Our closest friends do know the full story, though.

Do you think our answering questions fueled the gossip fire even more? One of our friends said we should have just kept silent or even "white lied" to calm down people upset about our quick departure. But wouldn't those things fuel more speculation? Also, should we approach the people who have been telling the alternative version of what happened to my husband? My gut tells me no, because these folks include the ones who made the hurtful comments - it seems like they see things so differently from him that I can't imagine a fruitful outcome.

What's continuing to make this episode tough is that we're still in the same social circle as a lot of people in our ex-church. So, what are good guidelines when we run into people from the past?

Chuck's Response
I was sorry to hear about the gossip you are enduring from your previous church members. The Bible says that GOD is in charge of our reputation ... so I would just move on without a look back. I know as a woman, this is hard for you to do, but you do not need all of these constant reminders of the past. For sure, fully support your husband in this and find another church where you can begin building new relationships. If you run into people from the old church just smile and greet them, and be on your way. You do not owe them any explanations ... and the more you try to explain, the worse the situation will become because they have heard the lies. Pretend you went with your husband to a new country to begin again. Time might heal a few of the wounds, but right now, focus on a new beginning. Let me know if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder

 

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Contact Chuck: chuck@chucksnyder.org
Updated 05/24/2005