This is a simple and effective technique. When a mutual Christian friend has done something bad you have to tell someone. This is not for your benefit or satisfaction, but out of a genuine concern for them. You start the conversation like this, "I'm really concerned about so-and-so, and I think we need to pray for them." Obviously, the other parties in this conversation will show mutual concern for so-and-so, and ask what gave you this idea. This is not gossiping, this is prayer food. And, with any luck, by the time you've discussed the sordid secret in length the mention of prayer will be all forgotten.
The prayer food is more of a preemptive way of validating your gossip. Sometimes, you realise that you've been yabbering away and you've got in too deep. You've said things you shouldn't about someone and now you have to rectify the situation before being branded judgmental. It's so easy. You just need two words: "bless them." Now all you've just said was done in Christian love.
I trust you
This one uses the subtle art of flattery. You have to tell the person that you've told no-one else and you're only telling them because you trust them. That way, you aren't a gossip, you're just one trust-worthy person talking to another. They'll probably feel too flattered to judge you and if they tell anyone else they're betraying your trust. It's a win-win situation.
I think when discussing things with others, you can do it with love and with someone you trust but you have to constantly check your motives. If not you're just a gossip.
- When is it okay to talk about others?
- What other ways do Christians try to validate their gossip?
- What things do Christians try to justify when the shouldn't?