Where does Talebearers Anonymous Meet in your Church?
by Dave Burwell
I have been a part of and observed many things in my 65 years on this planet. Many have been wonderful, exciting and rewarding. Too many, however, have been disturbing, damaging and dangerous.
Growing up, I was exposed to great teaching in the area of proper manners, attitudes and principles. These were taught in our home, the church, the school and in most other peoples homes that we were exposed to. I read the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Mother Goose, the Sugar Creek Gang, the Bobbsey Twins and the heros of the Bible. I listened to (yes, TV was not in my early lifestyle but radio definitely was) the Lone Ranger, Boston Blackie, the Green Hornet, Jack Benny, the Great Gildersleeve, the Life of Riley, Amos and Andy and Fibber Magee & Molly. These all had one thing in common. They confirmed my learning in chivalry, truth and honesty, honor and respect and that good will always triumph over evil in the end.
Even in the early days of TV (we got our first Zenith black and white console in 1957 when I was a freshman in High School) this tradition carried on. The good guys wore white hats and were clean-shaven, and the bad guys had a 5-day growth of whiskers under their black hat. There was never any confusion regarding who was right, honorable and therefore would win. God was always on the side of good, and even though we talked very little about the devil, we always knew what side he was on. In the days of TV before 1965, Father Knew Best but was kind and loving about it. Have Gun Will Travel protected the rights of the underprivileged from the bad guys who were trying to take advantage. Desi loved Lucy because of and inspite of her sometimes-bizarre behavior. The Millionaire kept alive the hopes and dreams of all of us who wanted to make something out of our lives while showing us that money was not the whole answer. Queen For A Day honored the women who were not trying to be upwardly mobile in the “dog eat dog” of the corporate world. Leave It To Beaver gave us a picture of a non-dysfunctional family who still were able to have a good moral to the high jinx that always go on within “normal” families. Even talk and variety shows like The Steve Allen Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show were hilarious, fun and entertaining without resorting to foul language, sexual innuendo and government bashing. Just watch Richard Prior or George Carlin on some of those early shows to see how really talented and funny they were before they started giving in to the shock method of easy laughs from the fleshly public. (If anyone wants to see how purely funny TV was just look for the reruns of the Carol Burnett show. She successfully carried on the tradition I am writing about.)
I grew up playing cowboys and Indians with play rifles and pistols. In my games, the Indians usually won because I grew up rooting for the underdog and still do today. My guns were for self-defense only and charging the enemy was self-defense because they were threatening my way of life and my family. In my day we saluted the flag and said the pledge of allegiance everyday in school, and said “under God” loudly. The teachers led prayer, in the classroom, when there was any impending danger to our country and we sang “God Bless America” everyday in my secular school.
In 1964 Diane & I got married and never believed that those things we learned as we grew up were going to be attacked so blatantly. We were committed to bringing our children up in the same manner that our parents and grand parents did. Praise the Lord, we were able to accomplished most of that regardless of the hostile environment around us. We didn’t want our children to be separate from the world around them, just not conformed to it. There were periods of time that a lot of prayer and discipline had to be employed, but we are very thankful for the fruit we see in them today. Maybe the most heart-warming thing is that they are bringing up their children in the same manner as they and their parents and their grandparents were raised.
In 1965, however, all those principles and beliefs we held so dear began to be rejected by a group of young people a few years our juniors who were incited by older mentors and professors that were coming from an alien (enemy) thought process. Over the next few years they were successful in destroying patriotism, Godly principles, the sanctity of marriage and the privacy of sex and the female body. They succeeded in the rejection of all that was redeeming in our society such that “politically correct” was an oxymoron.
As I mentor young men today who are children of youth of that era, even if they were raised in Christian homes, the problems they all want to be set free of were birthed in their parents generation. Pornography, casual sex, weed, hard drugs and teenage alcoholism all became the “thing to do” during this time. The biggest deficiency Diane & I see in the youth and their parents is relationship dysfunction. They not only don’t know how to establish proper relationships but they don’t even know where to go to find any to emulate.
All of the information I have inputted until now, was to write about one seemingly trivial fruit of all the above. Diane & I have been victims of, and have witnessed first hand a major reason for the dysfunction in the body of Christ, and a major (if not the major) entry point for Satan to work to destroy all that we believe is proper within Christ’s body of believers. The major erosion of chivalry, proper behavior, honor, respect, discernment and privacy in my view is “TALE BEARING”.
Now that I have caused you to raise your eyebrows with “where is he going with this?” Let me give you some definitions used not only in the dictionary, but also in the Bible.
TALE BEARER: A person who spreads malicious stories or gossip.
GOSSIP: Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts. Trivial chatty talk or writing.
RUMOR: Unverified information of uncertain origin usually spread by word of mouth; hearsay.
SLANDER: The utterance of defamatory statements injurious to the reputation or well-being of a person. To utter damaging reports about.
SCANDAL MONGER: A person who promotes talk damaging to the character; malicious (a desire to harm or to see others suffer) gossip
WHISPERER: To speak quietly, as by way of gossip, slander, or intrigue
In Proverbs 18:8 it says that “the words of a tale bearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (the seat of the emotions) and in Proverbs 26:20 it says “where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no tale bearer, the strife ceaseth.”
Based on these definitions and scriptures, it’s no wonder we were afraid to “tattle” when I was growing up. I know that there are some Christians who believe that if we don’t “tell all” we must be hiding something. I believe, however, what my Mother always told me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” My Mother was saying what Proverbs 11:13 indicates. “A tale bearer revealeth secrets; but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter”.
When I was in the corporate world, I was aware of tale bearing and treated it as political gaming. As the leaders in those corporations were all of my generation or older, this type of behavior was frowned upon. We were taught that if you couldn’t say it to the person directly, you shouldn’t say it to anyone else. The same was true in the churches I was involved with. They were churches that in tradition were aligned with the same belief that tale bearing was wrong. You were to deal with things directly and if resolution was not achievable, take it and those involved to the church leadership (Board of Elders) for disposition.
A few years ago, I was amazed when a segment of Christ’s body was not operating in a manner to which I was accustomed. I found a level of whispering going on which made no sense to me. I heard things said about others by persons in authority that were never spoken to the persons being talked about. I witnessed “godly” people getting together to talk about other “godly” people in a gossiping manner under the disguise of how to pray better. I witnessed phone calls to talk about so and so’s problems. I witnessed Christians being the victims of secret meetings between talebearers and those in leadership with the victim never given the benefit of facing their accusers or the leaders who were in judgment over them.
I was dismayed by sitting in prayer circles that were called to be in agreement in the business of God’s Kingdom, and witness “godly” individuals bring up private personal issues that should be between themselves, their mates and God, in front of virtual strangers. In these same meetings, prayers were voiced about the personal, private matters of others that were not authorized by the person being prayed about. I witnessed “godly” people gathering to talk about some one whom was not present, and develop a strategy to involve leadership with out the some one knowing. This would be like James and John’s mother going to God the Father to get them on the thrones instead of Jesus.
Apparently the freedom to say anything, that developed 40 years ago, and the advent of focus groups, group therapy, encounter groups, some methods of deliverance and inner healing, codependency and relationship dysfunction permeated some Christian circles. These circles generally demonstrate a lack of honor toward the older generations and their principles and ideals. No where in the Bible can you find any excuse for tale bearing and revealing the innermost secrets of another to others in the body without the person being involved.
I do realize that there is a time and place for mature intercessors to discuss with other mature intercessors the secret issues of another if the Lord brings that assignment to them for prayer. The problem is that tale bearers to not have that assignment from the Lord or the discernment necessary to know that.
Please ask the Lord if what you are saying to others, about others, is of the Lord, or are you a talebearer? I know I am going to be more aware and listen to the Lord in this area.