Gossip Girl? What the Church Can Learn from Julie RoysBy: Veritéetfeu Topic: Current Events
I had never read The Roys Report before a couple of days ago, though I had heard of Julie Roys in passing. Both Mrs. Roys and her outlet are often associated with the latest scandal in Christendom. As such, I never felt it necessary to read her content, presuming I might be exposed to more gossip than that which edifies.
So when I learned of her latest piece on John MacArthur, I initially paid it no mind. Yet, after seeing various Believers dissecting and analyzing her report across social media – and some concluding that John MacArthur must resign from Grace Community Church (GCC), I decided to review the report for myself. Having now read it, I realize my initial presumptions were correct:
I was treated to gossip, not that which edifies.
To be sure, Roys had tons of “receipts”, but what she ultimately shared was “the inside scoop” on a private, local church matter – a matter that was not only settled legally and Biblically 20 years ago, but that was 100% none of our business. Moreover, despite all of the “dish” she served up, she still only managed to give one side (see what I did there?). One may call the exposition of such matters “investigative journalism”, but the Word of God and (for now) the dictionary describe it as gossip.
According to Merriam-Webster, gossip is “a rumor or report of an intimate nature”, and a gossip is “a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others” (emphasis mine).
Scripture defines a gossip as one who reveals secrets (Proverbs 20:19). It further describes gossips as idle babblers; slanderers (Leviticus 19:16), and untrustworthy (Proverbs 11:13).
Taking these definitions together, Julie Roys and The Roys Report fit these descriptions quite perfectly.
Though, these descriptions apply to many of us as well.
As we read and rehashed the sordid details of her report, whether in casual conversation, or online, we also took part in her sin. Many of us not only entertained what Roys had to share, some of us helped her spread it and still others drew some pretty strong conclusions from it, even as we have not heard all sides.
By the Evidence of ONE Witness?
It is my understanding that, as of the date of this writing, MacArthur nor GCC has publicly addressed Roys’s accusations. And since this was a local church matter that involved former church members, they aren’t actually obligated to address these things with anyone outside of their local church community.
And within the local church, Scripture offers guidance for handling an accusation against an elder: Do not entertain it unless it is brought by two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19). Roys is bringing her accusation via an “exclusive”, which means she is the sole source, or sole witness, conveying it. Of course, this doesn’t mean another witness or two can’t later come forward to corroborate her charge. It only means that, at least for now, the matter hasn’t been established. In God’s eyes, the accusation does not meet the minimum requirement necessitating further inquiry.
It also seems that all who were directly involved in the matter and had any real or potential legal culpability were already addressed 20 years ago. I would hope the members of GCC would keep these things in mind, even as some outside of their church demand answers and/or call for MacArthur’s resignation.
Serving the Public Interest?
With the advent of the internet and social media, we are privy to more information than ever before, and we’ve come to believe we are owed information that doesn’t directly concern us. As such, even gossip – usually unconfirmed and often one-sided – is considered “news”.
But just because some “news” is interesting, it does not mean it serves the public interest. Gossip is a “delicious morsel”, so of course most will indulge (Proverbs 18:8). We, being fallen and when left to our own devices, rather than obeying the Spirit of Christ, are prone to entertain gossip with great eagerness (Proverbs 17:4)! But gossip ultimately does more harm than good. It ends relationships, ruins reputations, and endangers lives (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 16:28). It is even a snare to the gossip’s own soul (Proverbs 18:7; Matthew 12:36). The Lord counts gossips among those He gives up to “a debased mind” and whom He says are due His condemnation (Romans 1:28-32; Psalm 101:5). This is sobering when we consider how often we might casually spread the private and unconfirmed affairs of others.
Information is only of the public interest if it has a direct impact on the public’s well-being, and journalists in pursuit of truth and our well-being are supposed to share facts objectively and from all sides of a matter. But if the information is “exclusive” and it shares with the public that which was never meant for public consumption, we as Christians would be wise to steer clear (Proverbs 20:19).
I Said All of This to Say…
Gossips will betray others by sharing information entrusted to them, or they might dig for and spread information that doesn’t concern them or others. Even as the information might be factual, it is often unconfirmed, one-sided and is mostly meant to be slanderous. The gossip feeds to others the “juicy” details of private matters, usually with the goal of smearing the name and reputation of the subjects of their tale. They might even disguise their evil deeds as being a service to the public or to the Church.
After taking stock of our engagement with this recent offering from The Roys Report, I realize Roys caught many of us slipping. So, the lesson we can learn from this ordeal is our need to be on guard against gossip and all other corrupt talk meant to sow discord among us and upset households. We must learn to refuse to entertain a charge without the evidence of at least two witnesses, and if such evidence becomes available, we must be sure to judge it not in haste, but in righteousness. Lastly, whatever conclusions we reach, may they be to please Christ, rather than the culture. May we be reminded that we are not to be conformed to the patterns of this world, which tends to run with the very first report it hears and judge matters void of mercy and out of emotion. We must remember that we aren’t here to be spreaders of the latest gossip, but the Lord’s Gospel. And if some choose to continue to read The Roys Report, may they realize the most they will learn is the latest “tea” rather than the lasting truth.
In this case, Julie Roys made public a settled, local church matter, and she leveraged the sensitive nature of the details therein to paint a narrative sure to spark public outcry. Many took the bait and have rushed to reach some harsh conclusions. Of course, if Roys is sincerely aware of current, ongoing issues at GCC that would negatively impact the public’s welfare, may the Lord bless her efforts in bringing them to light to ensure the public’s well-being. If Roys is sincerely aware of current, ongoing issues at GCC that would negatively impact the welfare of its members, especially if those issues have legal implications, may the Lord bless her efforts in reporting those things to the proper governing bodies and legal authorities. But if Roys is simply “digging for dirt” or sharing the one-sided details of decades old, settled local church matters to ruin reputations, be a busybody, sow seeds of division and discord in the Body, and/or to serve as an agent of chaos, confusion and cancel culture, may the Lord move her heart to repent. If she will not repent, may the Lord judge her soul as He deems right.
Note to readers: My goal with this piece hasn’t been to rehash the case, to defend nor demonize MacArthur nor to defend or demonize the individual who shared her experiences at GCC with The Roys Report. My goal has been to cause us, as Christians in the broader public, to truly consider what exactly our knowledge of another person’s or church’s private matters is meant to serve. What can we do with this information today, 20 years later, save to speculate or to shun? Of course, now that we’ve been made privy to at least some of these things, indeed we should pray for all parties it concerns. But beyond this, none of what has been shared by Ms. Roys is our business. ~ VEF