Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gossip and the 7 Deadly Sins

Sometime I have a real temptation with GOSSIP. Ugh. Don't you hate that word?  This morning I was thinking about this problem and a situation from over 23 years ago that got me into trouble in this department.

I try to overcome this vice by not saying anything to anyone else that I wouldn't say to a person's face. I always keep secrets and usually personal information private. I've gotten pretty good at this.

Sometimes I don't say anything, but I really wish I could.

And then there are the occasional times when I say something "nice" and roll my eyes or insinuate with body language and facial expression that I mean the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is coming out of my mouth. This is a form of gossip and can be very hurtful. I think all forms of gossip are dangerous, and that this is a particularly insidious sin.

I am even trying to figure out which of the "Seven Cardinal Sins" that gossip falls under, and I am not even sure. I think it can apply to ALL of them, except perhaps #1, in a sexual sense and maybe #4, but I will give it a shot:

1. Lust - One can have an intense desire for attention or popularity, which could incite the individual to gossip.

2. Gluttony - Haven't we all known someone who just can't keep their mouth shut and talks about anyone and everyone at all times? The juicier the better? Isn't this a form of gluttony?

3. Greed - An excessive desire for material possession can be an underlying reason for gossip.

4. Sloth - So this one I am struggling to make a connection to gossip, except for stretching a bit and saying that sometimes it is much easier to be a passive participant to gossip and go along with the flow by quietly listening to someone else gossiping away.  (And enjoying the listening.) I am so guilty! By being lazy and not doing the right thing by either leaving or changing the subject or defending the person who isn't there to defend themselves, we are not only guilty of engaging in passive gossip, but perhaps sloth as well.

5. Wrath - If one harbors anger and an intense desire for revenge, this can manifest itself in very ugly gossip.

6. Envy - Some of us struggle with envy, or as St. Thomas Aquinas phrased it "the sorrow for another's good.". To take it a step further, there is even a German word called Schadenfreude which means "pleasure derived by another's misfortune".  I think it hits the nail on the head over the root cause of my gossip.

7. Pride - Wanting to be more important or better than someone else.  I think this is probably why most people gossip, but am not sure. Personally, while I'm sure I have had my moments, I don't think I struggle with pride as much as with envy. At least not at this stage of my life.


  1. I would say that Gossip can definitely fall under all of them, But I think the reason why gossip does not fall under any of the deadly sins category would because Gossip would fall under the 8th commandment. That, and Gossip in of itself is quite open to intpretation. There's good gossiping, and not quite so good. I don't talk enough, though it may not be evident by this comment :p

    1. Hi Joe, Thanks for stopping by... Yeah, I agree with you. (At first I thought no on the 8th Commandment because technically gossip, if it is true, isn't false witness...but it IS detraction so you are right.)

  2. I enjoyed reading your post. I have just posted a blog with roughly the same title and was fascinating when I came across yours.

  3. Thank you for this post. I have been a victim of vicious gossip in my church community. So, your post is close to my heart. In my case, I knew too much about the person who gossiped about me. I knew damaging information about this person who has sought to ruin me. It was an "I'll destroy you before you destroy me" kind of thing. I never had any intentions of destroying anyone's character, and yet my life has been turned inside out because of gossip. It is like being crucified. Early on I read Fr. Belet's book, Sins of the Tongue : The Backbiting Tongue. In this book, Fr. Belet states that theologians agree that destroying another person's reputation carries with it the same punishment in the afterlife as killing a person in the flesh because our reputations are all we really own in this mortal life. The pain of having my reputation destroyed unjustly is the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. It is odd, though. I would not want my life any other way as it has humbled me in many ways. I have in my lifetime also gossiped and now I see the awfulness and destructiveness of it all. I have been given the grace to accept what has happened, but others could despair if they were in my shoes. Gossip is a terrible sin.

    1. Hi Monica, Thank you for sharing your personal story on my blog. I'm sorry for the pain you have endured by being the victim of terrible gossip, and I am glad for you that you have learned from the experience and it has made you a better and more compassionate person. God (and you) know the real truth, and someday everyone else will too. God Bless you.


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