Gossip and slander was rampant in the sect. It kept things interesting. Sadly, especially amongst the women. If they can tear another down to build themselves up, then why not? Nobody appeared to question the amount of toxic gossip. I’m a very sensitive person so my spirit has always cringed when gossip starts up. I remember driving home from services as a child and my parents gossiping in the front of the car about “did you see what she was wearing?”, “oh, she doesn’t have much of a brain does she?”, etc. On and on. Rarely building anyone up. Tearing down was the norm.
The intermarriages in the sect made things worse. Everybody knew everybody’s business because most were interrelated. My first cousin was married to my brother-in-law, for example. My sister’s brother-in-law is also her first cousin. This is very common as there is not enough people to marry. It is not unusual for an uncle and a nephew to be bother-in-laws. Therefore the gossip chain is even more rampant in this type of community.
I think another root cause of the toxic gossip is how empty their lives are. Void of real meaning and purpose – functioning out of must-dos and what-will-they-thinks. They don’t have many, if any, hobbies or interests and they usually have low self esteem and are emotionally unavailable. So gossiping is almost a sport – an activity to distract them from the drudgery of mundane sect activities, and to add some spice to the day.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be free enough in that community for them to be convicted that their gossip is toxic and not of God. It is not love. It is tearing down. And it causes trust issues. You cannot trust anyone or confide in anyone – because there is an instant gossip chain that takes off – phone calls are made, hush hush voices of condemnation and judgement – this was in the days before texts and social media – I’m sure it is even worse now with instant communication.
Most of the time the gossip wasn’t even true. Embellishment and exaggeration were the name of the game. They didn’t seem to think about how damaging it was to the individual. It’s as if their God-given conscience was numb because they’d been exposed to this life-sucking activity since they were infants (99% of members are born into the sect).
When I married into my ex-husband’s family the scene was the same as when I was a child. The same nonsense gossip going on in the front of the car when we carpooled to and from the services. The spirit of Jesus is not in this behavior. It’s sad that their most favourite ‘sport’ was at the expense of others. It was a lonely and isolating community because you never knew what was being said about you behind your back. Shame was deep and all-consuming.
It’s such a relief now, post-cult, to never have to be around people who gossip or like to talk negative about others. I have zero tolerance now because I had to put up with this for so long. And I was at the receiving end of the gossip so many times that I know JUST how toxic and damaging this pastime can be.