Friday, December 26, 2008

Why We Should Avoid Celebrity Gossip

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.--2 Corinthians 12:20

While some godly people are very well known, and might be considered celebrities, most very well known people of today--I do not mean giants of history such as Winston Churchhill--possess almost nothing worth us knowing about. As Daniel Borstin said, "They are well-known for being well-known." Their biographies--or factoids--are vanity of vanities. Their makeovers, their cars, their idiosyncrasies are not worth knowing about.

Yes, they are made in God's image and need Jesus Christ's righteousness for eternal life. In that sense, they are valuable. But how much weight they have gained, whether or not they are pregnant, who they are sleeping with, is mere gossip. And gossip, the Bible tells us, is sin. Sin should be repented of, in order to please God and free us up to do God's will in his power.

Moreover, celebrity watching wastes time. Listen to Moses, from Psalm 90:

10 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span [a] is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

11 Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.

16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Life is short, a vapor. Eternity is long, an infinity. Life should be lived under the audit of Eternity, not in terms of celebrity gossip or any worldly thing (1 John 2:15-17). As Pascal said, our passionate interest in the trivial and our lack of concern for the eternal, evidences a very strange disorder. Let us repent and live for what matters most.


Daniel said...

I too despise celebrity gossip. It's seriously like a drug for people. They can't get enough and it's addicting. Our culture feeds it to us everywhere we go even if we don't watch TV. The super market tabloids, advertisements and even conversations on the street or small talk with strangers. It's sickening.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


When people make "small talk" about celebrity gossip, we should say, "I'm not interested in gossip, but what good books have you read lately?"

Steve Schuler said...

My Grandmother, bless her common as dirt soul, on the subject of gossip had this to say, "If you can't say something nice about someone, it's best not to say anything at all." It was an expression that was often repeated by her and offered as instruction to her grandchildren. She didn't always follow her own advice in this matter, but it was rare to hear her speak of others failings. When she did speak less than favorably of others it seemed that she spoke from a center based in humility. Perhaps that humility was borne in her own place in the world born as an illegitimate child (bastard in 1896)) raised by her aunts. She would later bear an illegitimate child (another bastard) of her own before marrying my Grandfather (not the bastards father) and bearing six more legitimate children.

I have not done well in following Grandma's advice. Want to try a cool experiment? Try to follow this instruction for one day. Remember Jesus's instuction that misdeed's occur in thoughts as well as actions. An exercise in humility, perhaps, or possibly a potentially painful demonstration of the scope of our arrogance.

Robert Velarde said...

Your post reminded me of the theme of privacy in the Chronicles of Narnia. In several of the books Aslan specifically states that we are to be concerned with our story, not the stories of others, when it comes to how we live our lives. Paul Ford addresses this further in his entry on "privacy" in his book Companion to Narnia. At any rate, it relates to gossip, which is really an intrusion into privacy.