November 26, 2007 by Stacy McDonald

"We’re Not Gossiping. We’re Networking."

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Along with the growth of the Internet, the potential for sin has grown. Rather than gossiping with just one neighbor at a time, now the blogging housewife can count the hits on her site meter as she multiplies her possibilities.

Gossip and slander are nothing new. Technology hasn’t invented a new sin (Ecclesiastes 1:9). However, as we improve our ability to communicate with numerous people at once, improved also is our propensity to involve numerous others in our sin—and at a faster rate.

While gossip is a poisonous sin, slander carries a more perilous weight (Psalm 101:5; Proverbs 10:18). Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines slander as a “false tale or report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of another.”

Bearing false witness is at the heart of slander (or libel in its written/blogging form) and it’s something we should warn our children about. Click here to read the proof texts and all that is both required and forbidden in the Ninth Commandment.

Gossip is a little different, in that sometimes the “tasty morsels” are actually true (Matthew 5:13; Proverbs 26:22). Yet even then, we are forbidden to engage in it. We can see the beginnings of gossip in the smallest of children – it’s called tattling and it involves taking joy in the sins of others. Read here how gossip is just Sin Grown Up.

On her blog, Carmon reminds us that “a blog is a dangerous thing. A woman can write anything, anywhere, going from house to house taking her “prayer requests” or other noble causes in the name of good intentions, and wreak destruction in other people’s lives, ruining reputations, and causing division among the brethren, with the click of a mouse.”

There’s also a good article called The Gospel and Blog Slander that brings up a lot of helpful points on how Christians should respond to slander.

Again, the problem with slander is that it’s a lie. Slander even affected the life of the Apostle Paul. He was forced to clarify his message because of “slanderous charges.” Paul said, “And why not say, ‘Let us do evil that good may come’?—as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just” (Romans 3:8, NKJV). Even Paul was misrepresented!

Matthew Henry comments on Romans 3:8 this way:

Mentioning this wicked thought, he observes, in a parenthesis, that there were those who charged such doctrines as this upon Paul and his fellow-ministers: Some affirm that we say so.

He goes on to remind us that even Jesus was slandered (Matthew 12:24):

It is no new thing for the best of God’s people and ministers to be charged with holding and teaching such things as they do most detest and abhor; and it is not to be thought strange, when our Master himself was said to be in league with Beelzebub. Many have been reproached as if they had said that the contrary of which they maintain: it is an old artifice of Satan thus to cast dirt upon Christ’s ministers.

In Mark 2:16 rather than questioning Jesus directly, the Pharisees gossiped about Him. They could have asked Jesus why he was eating with publicans and sinners, yet the Scribes and Pharisees instead asked His disciples. But Jesus heard and answered them directly.

Moses experienced slander as he attempted to live and teach God’s message (Numbers 14:36) to the Israelites. The ten spies made the entire congregation to murmur against Moses; Scripture tells us they brought a “slander upon the land.” Matthew Henry again comments this way:

Those that represent the service of God as mean and despicable, melancholy and uncomfortable, hard and impracticable, needless and unprofitable, bring up an evil report upon the good land, pervert the right ways of the Lord, and in effect give him the lie. They made Israel to sin. They designedly made all the congregation murmur against God. Note, Ring-leaders in sin may expect to fall under particular marks of the wrath of God, who will severely reckon for the blood of souls, which is thus spilt.

As you may have guessed, our ministry and our family, as well as other brothers and sisters in the Lord, have been the target of malicious gossip and yes—slander. There is a small band of incendiary bloggers who have taken our words and our teachings and twisted and misrepresented them—all in the name of “critique, discussion, and debate.”

In addition to personal assaults against our character and intentions, our teachings and ministry have been misrepresented with claims of “hyper-patriarchy,” legalism, and assertions that we believe all women who work outside the home are in sin.

Let me be clear, I don’t believe that an honest critique, or a godly debate or discussion, is an act of slander, libel, or gossip. Book reviews (that actually review a book—not the personal opinions the reviewer has about the author), discussions on email lists and blogs regarding a specific teaching or biblical truth, and even respectful debates can be fruitful. Iron sharpens iron and we can all learn a lot in these settings.

But let’s stick to the facts. When a critic makes a statement that purposely misrepresents his/her neighbor (public figure or not), then that’s called slander (or libel). It’s bearing false witness, it’s a violation of the Ninth Commandment, and it is sin. This is especially true when the critic has been corrected and still insists on continuing with what she knows to be a misrepresentation of what her neighbor has stated, done, or believes.

I spend most of my blog posts attempting to share with you what I do believe, but today I would like to once again clarify what I do not believe. You can read the beginning of the list at the link above:

– I do not believe “that family life centers around the father of the home, rather than Jesus Christ.” I do believe that Scripture teaches that the father is the head of the wife, thus the head of the family – not the center of it (as if the father is to be worshipped).

– I do not believe that every instance of a woman working outside the home is sinful.

– I neither believe that girls who go to college are harlots (this one was so offensive that I had a hard time typing it!) nor that they are automatically in sin because of it.

– I do not want anyone to think we are “perfect” or “have a perfect family.” In fact, I assure you that we are not and that we don’t. CLICK HERE for our family’s testimony of God’s mercy and restoration.

– I have never called any individual a “whitewashed feminist.” In our book, Passionate Housewives, I have defined the term, “whitewashed feminism,” according to the definition of “evangelical feminism,” but I have never labeled any private individual this way.

We are trying very hard to avoid vain arguments (Proverbs 26:4). Our desire is to earnestly proclaim what we believe and to respectfully refute false rumors and slander. So if you hear some strange doctrine that James and Stacy McDonald (supposedly) believe, check it out. Unless you’ve read our words for yourself, printed in context, then don’t automatically believe it.

And please extend the same courtesy to others. If you “hear” something about another Believer and it just doesn’t sound like something a Christian would say or do, then treat it as suspect until you have proof. Don’t accept the words of a talebearer (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 26:20).

Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, So is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body.

Fervent lips with a wicked heart Are like earthenware covered with silver dross.

He who hates, disguises it with his lips, And lays up deceit within himself; When he speaks kindly, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart; Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly.

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him.

A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:20-28, NKJV)

You may also be interested in the article, Legalism: Yours, Mine, and Ours



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26 Responses to “"We’re Not Gossiping. We’re Networking."”

  1. MamaK says:

    Those are all some good reminders. I agree that we need to be cautious no matter what “tale” we’ve heard – and I SO appreciate you posting your beliefs and your truth-statements. Hopefully they will diffuse at least SOME of the nasty stuff that’s out there.

    Bless you,
    Karen Engstrom

  2. Anonymous says:

    Quoting today’s post,“I do not “believe anyone who is a Bible believing Christian, but who differs from [me] on any point concerning the roles of women, is a ‘white washed feminist’ and is headed down a path to worse destruction than secular feminism has produced.”

    Quoting July 19th’s post, “There is a sly movement afoot and it’s very dangerous and enticing. It could be called Christian feminism, except that I don’t think it’s possible for feminism to be labeled Christian. Perhaps we should call it whitewashed feminism, because though it’s seemingly softened for the Christian pallet, it’s still feminism. It’s enticing because it feeds on a woman’s desire to be in control – and it’s sly because it claims to be based on Christianity. The current buzz words are “hyper-patriarchy” and “patricentricity.” . . .”

    Do you not see how you are lumping together Christian sisters who believe differently from you about patriarchy — especially those who may make reference to hyperpatriarchy and patriocentricity — in with those you call “whitewashed feminists”?

    -Alex

  3. Heather says:

    Stacy,

    I am so sorry that this is happening to you. We will continue to pray for you and your family.

    love, Heather

  4. Dee (www.Xanga.com/GraceatHome) says:

    I’m so thankful I was led to your blog! I find it to be such an encouragement and help to me as I continue to grow in my faith.

  5. Rebekah Krug says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you are being attacked. That is never an easy or fun thing to handle. I appreciate your blog very much! Thank you for taking time from your busy family to write and encourage us Mom’s. I will be praying for you and your family as you continue to do God’s will.

    Blessings,
    Rebekah

  6. Momtotreasures says:

    Dear Stacy,

    {{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}

    I have walked in similar shoes, but on a smaller scale (not the entire internet world). I know how very draining emotionally it can be to hear and read falsehoods, lies, and to hear about gossip. I know how devastating it was to my own heart to have “friends” (Christian sisters) spread lies rather than come to talk to me about areas of confusion. It literally broke my heart, and all I could do was cry out to the Lord. I am so very sorry you are walking through this. The Psalms are such a help.

    I am praying for you, and stand with you for the truth, and honest, forthright communication (with an abundance of the Lord’s love interspersed in all that is communicated by all sides).

    I am especially praying for your peace and for you to be able to carry on with being a wife and mommy without letting this overwhelm you. I know how hard it is not to let these things overwhelm daily life, because I let things overwhelm me….and many little jobs at home went undone in my depression. But I pray you will be able to live each day resting in Him, and enjoying your precious family.

    You are a constant encouragement to me, and I am blessed by your ministry (all the ones through the years…from Patriarch’s Path to the blog today). Please keep on writing and sharing as the Lord leads. There are so many women who are blessed and encouraged by you!!!

    With love in Christ,

    Sarah Eppes

  7. Jen in Al says:

    Stacy, Thank you so much for “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” . What an example of doing and saying hard/unpopular things no matter what the consequences may be to you personally! thank you for the encouragement to be bold while keeping a humble loving spirit. Our prayers continue to be with you and your family! thank you for sharing what the Lord has taught you as we are commanded in Titus 2. Blessings from our family to yours,
    Jen

  8. Stacy McDonald says:

    “Do you not see how you are lumping together Christian sisters who believe differently from you about patriarchy — especially those who may make reference to hyperpatriarchy and patriocentricity — in with those you call ‘whitewashed feminists’?”

    Dear Anonymous,

    I have called whitewashed feminism dangerous. I have not called anyone a whitewashed feminist.

    Do I scorn or reject women who have been deceived into believing whitewashed feminism (evangelical feminism) is biblical? Of course not. That’s one of the reasons I write. I love them and pray that God will reveal the truth to them. I grieve that so many have been sucked into dismal androgyny and reject the beautiful order God laid out at creation for the family.

    It is my theory that the biggest drive behind feminism involves a rejection of authority – something every woman struggles with in her flesh (and that very much includes me).

    Anonymous, I find it interesting that you don’t see the irony in your own question. I have been called a hyperpatriarch and a patriocentrist (even though I’ve made it clear that I don’t fall under any definition of that word that I’ve been able to find).

    I haven’t called anyone a “whitewashed feminist.” I have defined the term and warned women what to look for regarding false teachings. If someone would like to define hyper-patriarchy (rather than randomly choosing the varying beliefs or alleged beliefs of different ministries and individuals and then lumping them all together as hyper-patriarchs), then perhaps we can all be “warned” (and perhaps agree) about the abuses of genuine hyper-patriarchy.

    Whitewashed feminism (evangelical feminism) has been defined. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.

    Here is a quote from the chapter “Whitewashed Feminism,” in our book, Passionate Housewives:

    The Evangelical Feminist: The Whitewashed Kind
    On the other hand, there is a more clandestine form of feminism which has crept into many modern churches. Observers have dubbed its adherents “evangelical feminists.” These feminists claim to hold Scripture in high regard, yet they do not accept the biblically defined role distinctions between men and women, and they reject male authority to varying degrees. While some “evangelical feminists” admit to their belief in the limited authority of the Scriptures regarding their role, others simply try to twist the Bible’s meaning to fit their lifestyle. This more subtle version of feminism is particularly dangerous due to its beguiling cloak of Christianity, because, at its core, it is no different than its “secular” counterpart. While its face may be more polished and its manifestation less extreme, in essence, it is nothing more than whitewashed feminism.

    Many whitewashed feminists, consistent with their egalitarian beliefs, advocate the ordination of women in the church. Others, no doubt weakened in their feminist resolve by the unyielding truth of Scripture, rightly agree that women should not be ordained in the church. Yet somehow they still insist on reinterpreting the passages that teach differing roles for men and women in the family. Ultimately, they reject the wife’s biblical mandate to submit to her husband as her head.

  9. Persuaded says:

    There are some tough teachings out there…and the importance of submission to authority and contentment with our “place” in God’s plan has got to be one of the very toughest. It rankles against our “need” to stick up for our own rights, our dignity, our self-esteem. It firmly removes control from our hands and..we are afraid, places it into the hands of another human. But that fear is unfounded….within God’s plan, submission relinquishes control to God and Him alone.

    Keep saying the tough things, Stacey…we need to hear them.

    ((hugs)) and prayers for you today,
    Diane

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi Stacy,

    I just wanted to say I enjoy both your blog and your book. They have both been such an encouragement to me in my role as a wife and mother. I will definately be encouraging others to read Passionate Housewives. I found it sooo good.
    I will be praying for you during this hard time of attack.
    You are doing a great work as a Titus 2 woman.

    Bless you,

    Diane

  11. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thanks for the prayers, ladies. Please remember to pray for those who are deceived – that’s the goal – for God’s truth to prevail!

    Sarah, don’t worry about me – I’m not depressed or overwhelmed. God is good and I rest in His sovereignty. He has taught me many things about my own heart in the midst of this and I rejoice that there are so many saints faithful to the Scriptures!

    Remember to keep praying for those truly in bondage to sin and man-made doctrines.

  12. The Henderson Family says:

    Stacy I am just so sorry it was even necessary for you to write this post. I will pray that those who spend time attacking your families beliefs will find a more God honoring way to spend their free time.

  13. Lora K. says:

    Stacy,
    Thank you for your words. They are a good reminder. I know how you feel about being mis-represented, but you are right in that we are in good company. If it happened to Jesus and Paul, can we expect nothing less?

    Maybe I need to change my expectation, and it will be easier to deal with such things.

  14. Sherrin says:

    I don’t know why people would want to seek out those kind of blogs, let alone write them. I have limited Internet time, and I like to encourage and be encouraged, not tear down! It must be really hard for you, and I appreciate the way you have responded in love! Well done!

    I have recently decided not to publish unnamed comments because I find it so hard to deal with people who simply will not respond with the same kindness that I try to show them!

  15. Sherrin says:

    Oh, and I just wanted to say that your book was a huge blessing to me. I am currently re-reading it.

  16. Diane says:

    Stacy, there is some good that has come out of this, at least from my perspective. I read the review, and the comments, and followed a link. I was not aware until recently there were a group of women targeting certain ministries. The first time I saw it, I am ashamed to say that I read what they wrote. I thought it was only one ministry they were “exposing.” The ministry addressed them in a newsletter, and then I saw where you, and Vision Forum, were the targets. When I saw that, I realized they had an agenda, whatever that may be.

    I’m reading the Passionate Housewives book now, and bought three copies. I gave one to my daughter in law a couple of weeks ago for her birthday. She’s a new mother, as of September, and is staying home for the first time. The other copy is for my oldest daughter’s hope chest. The copy I am reading now will be for my younger daughter’s hope chest when she is old enough.

    After I finish the book, I plan on writing a review. I’m not very far in the book, but have enjoyed it so far.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Dear Stacy,

    Just wanted to encourage you and say thank you for doing what you do. There will always be those who disagree, and I’m sorry they are making things unpleasant for you right now. You are very much appreciated!

    Best wishes,
    Jennifer

  18. Carmon Friedrich says:

    Diane, looking at your blog I see that you link to ministries that do nouthetic counseling. Are you involved in that? If so, would you email me at carmon(at)softanswer(dot)com and tell me more about it? Thanks!

  19. Anonymous says:

    1. I wasn’t anon. I don’t have an account and put my name at the bottom of my post.

    2. I think you missed my point. You SAY that you haven’t called anyone a “whitewashed feminist.” Yet, the way your original post was worded — which I quoted, perhaps it would be helpful for you to go read it again with fresh eyes? — you DO lump those who are concerned about “hyper-patriarchy” and “patricentricity” into “whitewashed feminist” group.

    Just for a moment, please, would you let go of the rest of the discussion and consider if your words (unwittingly, even) would have been offensive to those who are no where close to feminism but who are concerned about patriarchal teachings within the American church?

    -Alex

  20. Leigh Ann says:

    You have a very gracious spirit, and I really appreciate that.

  21. Mommy Homemaker says:

    Thank you for this. It is a good reminder.

  22. Anna S says:

    Truly, “”Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” – Proverbs 18:21

    I have that above my comments window :o)

  23. Marcia says:

    I have “known” Stacy online for years now. Although I’m still struggling to figure out what my life should look like as a follower of Christ and am not sure I agree with all of her beliefs, I want to say to readers here that she is a kind, fair, lover of her Lord.

    I have never seen anyone more gracious when disagreed with and even attacked. Stacy has always responded in love and grace to anyone who has addressed her and is an example for how Christian women should communicate.

    Stacy, whether or not I agtee with you on everything, you are a beautiful example to follow.

  24. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Alex,

    Yes, I must have missed that you printed your name at the bottom of your comment. I only saw the “anonymous” in the author slot. Sorry about that.

    In answer to your question, I was simply defining whitewashed feminism (feminism disguised as biblical) and warning women how to recognize it – obviously with the goal of avoiding it. I realize feminism can be a controversial and volatile topic, but I did not call any individual a feminist.

    If someone doesn’t fit the description of a whitewashed feminist they certainly don’t have to claim the name – and even if the shoe does fit, they certainly don’t have to wear it – they can disagree with me. Again, I’m warning about a movement.

    Still, I did not mean to imply that anyone who makes reference to “hyperpatriarchy” is automatically a feminist. If that is how it sounded, I apologize.

    On the other hand, I have, by name, been called a hyper-patriarchalist (among other things) by a handful of women. My husband jokes that he is a hyper-patriarch when he has too much coffee. :-) I laugh to humor him. ;-)

    So Alex, what do you think? Cindy Loo Hoo wrote a book. Now, if the Cat in the Hat were to say on his blog, “Cindy Loo Hoo is a Grinch,” even though neither her beliefs nor her actions fit the Cat in the Hat’s definition of what a Grinch is, then don’t you think that could be construed as slander (libel, on a blog), since it’s not true? Then, if the Cat in the Hat gathered people together to talk about Cindy Loo Hoo and how truly grinchy she is, couldn’t that be construed as gossip?

    This would be especially true if Cindy Loo Hoo explained to the Cat in the Hat that he was mistaken about her beliefs and the Cat in the Hat still continued to publicly insist otherwise.

    And this would be doubly worse if Cindy Loo Hoo and the Cat in the Hat lived in the same small town and knew many of the same people; and if Cindy Loo Hoo offered to meet with the Cat in the Hat repeatedly to discuss where he got these crazy ideas about her; and if the Cat in the Hat refused to meet with her, yet still proclaimed to as many people as would listen that Cindy Loo Hoo was a grinch.

    Alas, even though Cindy Loo Hoo never said she believed anything grinchy, the Cat in the Hat justifies his “review” of her beliefs based on the “impression” he got from something she wrote – no quotes, no page numbers, just an “impression.”

    What do you think, Alex?

  25. Cassie says:

    Thank you for your gracious response to this slander. I LOVED your book and have loaned it to a friend and told many others about it. It was so encouraging to me.

  26. Modestkini says:

    I just came across this blog and found it very interesting indeed.Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.modestkini.com/

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