Untwisting Scriptures on Gossip & Negative Emotions

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The Roys Report
The Roys Report
Untwisting Scriptures on Gossip & Negative Emotions
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What does the Bible really say about gossip, bearing false witness, fear, anger, and other negative emotions? Is it wrong to speak out against another believer? Is it sinful to feel mad?

In this edition of The Roys Report, prolific author Rebecca Davis joins Julie to discuss the third book in her series Untwisting the Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind, which deals with words and emotions. 

For example, is it biblical to just keep quiet if someone offends you? Is it gossip to simply share negative information? When is it okay to be angry? And is empathy a sin?

Rebecca and Julie shared rich conversations in the past about Rebecca’s first two books, addressing Scriptures used to support systems of patriarchy and to enable abuse. Those discussion were fascinating, as Rebecca explained how many popular Bible passages have been twisted to say something they don’t. 

This latest discussion is no different, and Rebecca does an amazing job of exposing errors in interpretation and freeing people from false guilt and shame.  

 

This Weeks Guests

Rebecca Davis

Rebecca Davis is the author of 19 books (and counting) for children and adults, among them the Untwisting Scriptures series. Rebecca’s personal ministry includes serving as a spiritual coach through Immanuel prayer ministry while acting as a compassionate witness to people’s hard stories, helping women who are in or coming out of abuse, untwisting Scriptures that have been used to keep people in abusive situations, and offering hope through Jesus Christ. She writes about these things on her blog, www.heresthejoy.com, drawing from her 40 years of study of the Scriptures.

Show Transcript

SPEAKERS
JULIE ROYS, REBECCA DAVIS

JULIE ROYS 00:00
What does the Bible really say about gossip, bearing false witness, fear, anger and other negative emotions? Is it wrong to speak out against another believer? Is it sinful to feel mad? Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And joining me today is a repeat guest of this program: prolific author Rebecca Davis. Rebecca has joined me in the past to discuss the first two books in our series Untwisting the Scriptures That Were Used To Tie You Up Gag You And Tangle Your Mind. The first of our podcasts dealt with patriarchy and scriptures used to enable abuse. And if you’ve missed those, I highly recommend you go back and listen to them. They’re truly eye opening. And you may discover that the Bible doesn’t say what you’ve been told it says. But today I’m so excited to explore Rebecca’s third book in her Untwisting the Scripture series. This one deals with your words and your emotions. For example, is it biblical to just keep quiet if someone offends you? Is it gossip to simply share negative information? And when is it okay to be angry? And is empathy a sin? We’ll delve into all those questions in a minute. But first, I’d like to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University, and Marquardt of Barrington. Judson University is a top ranked Christian University providing a caring community and an excellent college experience. Plus the school offers more than 60 majors, great leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson University is shaping lives that shape the world. For more information, just go to JudsonU.edu. Also, if you’re looking for a quality new or used car, I highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington Marquardt is a Buick GMC dealership where you can expect honesty, integrity and transparency. That’s because the owners there, Dan and Kurt Marquardt are men of character. To check them out, just go to BuyACar123.com. Well, again, joining me is Rebecca Davis, an award winning author of several books on sex abuse in the church. She’s also the author of the three part series Untwisting, the Scriptures That Were Used To Tie You Up, Gag You and Tangle Your Mind. So Rebecca, welcome. It’s such a pleasure to have you.

REBECCA DAVIS 02:15
Yes. I’m very glad to be here.

JULIE ROYS 02:45
And I want to mention that we’re offering Rebecca’s latest Untwisting the Scriptures book, Your Words and Your Emotions, as our premium this month. So, if you give $25 or more to The Roys Report in the month of November, we’ll send you a copy of Rebecca’s book, and your support will help us continue our journalistic efforts here at The Roys Report. So, we appreciate that. To donate and to get a copy of this book, just go to JulieRoys.com/donate. 

So, Rebecca, let me start with gossip. Because that’s where you start the book. And for a lot of people, the minute they open their mouth to say something that is not glowing, or might even be negative about a Christian, or about a Christian institution, this is what said, you’re gossiping. So, when is something gossip, biblically speaking? And when isn’t it?

REBECCA DAVIS 03:13
The way gossip has been defined in recent years is speaking to a person who isn’t part of the problem or part of the solution. The biblical definition, which is also the definition if you go to the Oxford English Dictionary, which is the main one I use, is idle conversation about others without any good purpose. Often the purpose is to exalt the one who’s in the know, like, oh, I’ve got some juicy bits of news for you. And it doesn’t serve any good purpose. That’s what gossip is about.

JULIE ROYS 03:44
And slander is related as well. I know that legally, what slander is, and you’re actually your number one defense against slander is truth. If you can prove that what you said is true. It’s not slander, it’s not libel. What does the Bible have to say about slander?

REBECCA DAVIS 04:03
Slander is spreading something bad about someone that isn’t true. If a person has a reputation that isn’t in line with his character, like his reputation is good, but his character is not good, then he doesn’t deserve to have that good reputation.

JULIE ROYS 04:22
You know, often in Christian circles, we’re told not to tear down but to build up and that sounds good. I mean, we want to edify; it means to build up, right? We want to edify one another. But you cite a counselor, who once told someone not to speak of her abuse, because First Thessalonians 5:11 says, we’re to encourage one another similar. Similarly, Colossians 4:6 says, let your speech always be gracious and seasoned with salt. Would you explain what those scriptures actually mean in context, because I’m guessing they don’t mean that sex abuse survivors shouldn’t talk about their abuse?

REBECCA DAVIS 05:00
The cover of this book has a woman reading the Bible with duct tape over her mouth. That’s what’s happening with so many of the Scriptures and people will hear a scripture like that in counseling, or from their Christian leader in church, and they won’t know what to do. In fact, this particular chapter is the result of someone asking me that very question. Like I was told this in counseling, and now I feel like I can’t talk about my abuse. So I talk about what it means for our speech to be seasoned with salt, for speech to be gracious. And of course, we do want to have gracious speech, we do want to have speech seasoned with salt. So, what did these things mean? They don’t mean that we can’t ever say anything bad about anyone. Because we’ve got to be able to speak what’s true, in an appropriate context and in an appropriate way. We need to be able to do that. And the saying, the old saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. When abuse survivors are told that, when abuse victims are told that, well, you’re not being nice, all it does is serve to silence those who are being oppressed and empower the oppressors. And so, our speech should certainly be nuanced. We don’t want to be bombastic. And salt preserves. Salt is a preservative far more back in the biblical times when Jesus was or when Paul was writing this, and Jesus also did reference salt. Have salt in yourselves, he said. So that the salt in ourselves is a preserving force. And I think of your slogan, Restoring the Church. And I think that’s the restoring the church, that’s a work of salt. It is a purifying work because salt, salt preserves, and it purifies. It will kill pathogens, all of these things, the people of Jesus’ time, the people of Paul’s time, would have known these things immediately. So, when they hear salt, they would have had a whole set of things they would think about. So, for us, we need to think about the same things. It’s not just be nice. Don’t say anything that doesn’t sound nice, don’t say anything that makes me feel uncomfortable. But it’s having that preserving character in yourself, the restoring purifying character, and the character that speaks with nuance.

JULIE ROYS 07:37
Well my favorite chapter of the book is the one on renegade bloggers. And in it, you quote at length, this article by Greg Gordon, which was published in The Christian Post, and let me read some of what that article says. Because I think this is well, I mean, it was offensive to me-very offensive to me, but I also think it repeats common themes that I’ve seen on social media over and over again.

REBECCA DAVIS 08:03
Yes, it was actually a very useful article to use because it did repeat so many of those common themes.

JULIE ROYS 08:09
Oh, exactly. So, this is what he writes. And I quote, “Like feeding fresh bloody fish to a group of swarming sharks, the frenzy ensues, as weblinks are made and a new viral news article is born at the great expense of the character of a Christian leader, as well as the testimony of Christ. We never pray or fast for these individuals, we simply feed on their demise for our daily entertainment. These bloggers consider themselves judge, jury and executioner at the same time.” So, let’s unpack this one, alright? Let’s start with some of these common accusations. And the first one is this accusation that, you know, a viral news article is born at the great expense of the character of a leader, as well as the testimony of Christ. Is it the fault of a journalist like me, or a blogger, or you know, anyone who writes negative information? Is it our fault that these Christian leaders are being run through the mud?

REBECCA DAVIS 09:17
If a person has a good reputation, but a bad character, then that bad character needs to be exposed. Because otherwise people will be led astray and I’m talking especially about leaders. If leaders have a good reputation, but a bad character, then it’s right for that to be exposed. For example, in your work with many different people, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Saeed Abedini. Quite a few different people have come up on your radar, Jerry Falwell. I mean, we could just keep on naming them. You’re putting out things that are true and verifiable. So, they can’t be called slander, either legally or biblically. And the testimony of Christ is suffering from these people, not from the people who expose them. And of course, I talk about that in this chapter, that it’s not the fault of the ones who shine the light, that there are cockroaches in the corner.

JULIE ROYS 10:18
Well put. What about this accusation that reporters and bloggers and their audience never, and I love this, never pray or fast for the individuals we expose, but it’s our entertainment?

REBECCA DAVIS 10:30
Actually, it is sickening work. I believe those were my words. Any one of us would be happy to go do other projects for the cause of Christ, if this could be solved, if we didn’t need to keep on doing this. But we believe, I believe it is very important, just as important as Jesus speaking out about the Pharisees, the scribes, and Pharisees, very important to keep on shining the light in these dark corners, where people who claim to be Christian leaders are really doing terrible things to oppress the people of God.

JULIE ROYS 11:10
And I want to say, several of my investigations, and people don’t see this because they don’t see behind the scenes. But the sense of the Holy Spirit working and moving among the sources and really the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that is developed in the course of these investigations, often with people who have been wounded in, you know, really egregious ways. And I will say about probably where I’ve seen it form into so much of a community and concern, probably more than any other was, when I was reporting on Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald. And we actually met twice as a group, the people that had gone on the record with me, which was about two dozen people. We met at someone’s house, and we prayed, and our prayer wasn’t, “Oh, God strike James MacDonald dead.” Our prayers were, “Oh, Lord, would You in Your Mercy, bring James MacDonald and everyone who’s colluded with him in evil, to repentance for the good of their own soul.” And those were powerful prayer times. And I know that there’s a woman who sends me every week several prayers that she’s praying for me and for reporters. And so when I hear these sorts of things.

REBECCA DAVIS 12:31
Beautiful. I love that that is so beautiful.

JULIE ROYS 12:35
It is and I feel that this is righteous work. Obviously, can we sin in our attempt to do something righteous? Yeah, we all do. I mean, we all make mistakes. But yeah, this kind of allegation, it really made me especially angry because and not only is that an indictment of me, but it’s an indictment of these beautiful people who often at great risk to themselves, go on the record with me and expose these people. And you know, I just felt like, shame on him. That one really bothered me.

REBECCA DAVIS 13:09
I often tell people I have like the greatest friends in the entire world, because I get to know these wonderful abuse survivors. They are just precious precious people. I feel very privileged to know them.

JULIE ROYS 13:25
I feel the same way. I expose the worst of the worst, but I get to work with the best of the best. I really feel that way. And if it weren’t for them, and the beauty of their character, it would make it really difficult for me to do what I do. But I encounter so much beauty in the courage and the righteousness of so many of the people that I talked to as sources. Let me go to another accusation because I hear this all the time. That we are those of us who write and expose evil doing that we are being judge, jury, and executioner. I mean, I simply argue, I’m the messenger. I’m bringing the truth. I feel like the reader has the option. I mean, the reader decides, ultimately. I don’t decide, the reader decides because they weigh the facts and decide what to do with it. What’s your take on that?

REBECCA DAVIS 14:19
Oh, it’s such a ridiculous accusation, really, when you think of it in logical terms, but of course, it’s a hyperbole. And so, it’s just an accusation that’s thrown out. Let’s see if it sticks. And with some people it does, who aren’t thinking logically, but it’s just very illogical.

JULIE ROYS 14:41
The other thing I love is that you talk about how as Christians, we often have mercy for the wrong people. And I see this all the time, too. It’s like Are you praying for the predators? I mean, really, they don’t use the word predator, but that’s what they’re saying. And as I just said, we do. We pray for them to come to repentance, and that the Lord would deal with their soul before they meet them face to face. But at the same time, it’s like, what I feel like asking is, are you praying for the victims?

REBECCA DAVIS 15:09
Right. Yes, absolutely. And that’s one of the things I point out. It says, if for these people like Greg Gordon, this author that you’re quoting here, and then some of the others that I quote, it’s as if the victims don’t really exist. All that there are, are these nasty, faceless accusers, who must be making stuff up. But actual victims, it’s like nothing’s on their radar.

JULIE ROYS 15:35
Well, let’s talk about emotions, because this is the second half of your book. And it’s terrific some of the issues that you get into because these are things that again, in the church, we hear things about our emotions, unfortunately, that often aren’t biblical. And you start out talking a little bit about whether reason trump’s emotion. And obviously, there’s, there’s good things about reason bringing that to bear with your emotion. But I’ve often thought and I kind of curious on your thoughts on this, too. But I’ve often thought that whole, to me reason so often is associated, and I don’t mean to make this sexist, but it’s often you know, associated with men being reasonable and rational and women being emotional. I mean, that’s stereotypes, and I don’t think they necessarily apply. But I do feel like sometimes when this is put out, like, we don’t value emotion enough. And I do feel like sometimes, it seems very misogynist, because it’s like emotion, which women generally tend to be pretty in touch with, that somehow made second class. Would you talk about that?

REBECCA DAVIS 16:37
I do mention that sexist divide, and I almost never use the word sexist. So, to hear it coming out of my mouth is a little odd. But women will say this, that men are more logical, women are more emotional. But, I want to emphasize that I love logic. I majored in math, math education. I scored the highest on the logic section of the GRE among my peers.

JULIE ROYS 17:09
Wow, you would enjoy my husband. He’s a math teacher.

REBECCA DAVIS 17:13
I find logic fascinating. And if things don’t make sense to me, I need for them to make sense. A lot of what I write is simply tearing things down logically. So, it’s not that I don’t value reason, I do value it. But I think that this super valuing of reason that we have in our culture, our western culture is born out of the Age of Reason when reason just became almost a God, and the Bible, so strongly presents emotions, that to be a mature believer, and this book emphasizes maturity a lot because our words and our emotions both need to be exercised in a mature way. To be a mature believer, we need to have reason working well and our emotions working well. And reason, reason doesn’t trump emotion and emotion doesn’t trump reason. They both need to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. When the scriptures talk about the mind, they also talk about the heart and both of them pretty much just represent the inner man. And in this chapter, I address some of the standard verses that are used, like the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. So, your heart is bad. I take that one apart, and also the one that talks about our minds being renewed, that would be Romans 12. And how the mind must be better because it can be renewed. And of course, it isn’t even close to accurate because of all the other scriptures that talk about the heart being renewed and how the mind can be faulty. And to bring all the scriptures to bear on these things is so important. And then to say, our reason, our emotions, our mind, and our heart, all of the inner man needs to be submitted to the Holy Spirit so all of them can come together work together, for us to be filled with the Spirit and be able to represent the Lord Jesus Christ in the way he wants to be represented for his people.

JULIE ROYS 19:27
And I think where the damage often comes with this isn’t just like somebody in the pew listening to this or somebody reading a book, which is I mean, that’s bad. But also in counseling, and you talk about how you actually reached out to—you don’t name him, so maybe you want to keep his identity for his own benefit. Secret, but it’s somebody who was the chair of a counseling department at a Christian school. And you reached out because you had a family member who was dealing with depression. Would you tell us how he responded and why it’s so grievous of a response?

REBECCA DAVIS 20:05
So, there’s this kind of counseling called nouthetic counseling, that posits that the person coming for counseling is the person in sin. So, they just need to repent of their sin and start doing the right thing. And then everything will be okay. Nouthetic counseling has renamed itself biblical counseling. So that gets confusing. But this counselor, this particular one said, your family member needs to start being joyful, because the Bible commands us to be joyful. And if he’s not joyful, then he’s in sin. So.

JULIE ROYS 20:39
Just like that, I could be a counselor. I could say that.

REBECCA DAVIS 20:44
Yes, it really is pretty easy when you’re counseling like that.

JULIE ROYS 20:49
How does one command themselves to be joyful?

REBECCA DAVIS 20:52
You can’t just do that. This was many years ago, 15 years ago, at least. And he said, but if you don’t, that’s sin. So that’s the end of that. And you know, I can’t tell my family member anything about that correspondence. In fact, at that time, we shared the same email address, and I’m deleting emails, so he won’t see them. And I’m thinking that would just make the depression worse. So

JULIE ROYS 21:21
Because you pile guilt and shame on top of the depression.

REBECCA DAVIS 21:23
Guilt and shame piled on top. Yes.

JULIE ROYS 21:28
You’ve talk too about something called a noisy soul. Would you describe what that is?

REBECCA DAVIS 21:36
According to the nouthetic counselor, whose teachings I was untwisting, a noisy soul is a soul that’s in sin, because that’s all that nouthetic counseling is about is just about your sin. According to what I believe—of course, a noisy soul could be caused by sin, it’s a possibility, sure. But there are also other possibilities. And I talk a lot about trauma in there because post-traumatic stress disorder it’s a stress disorder that causes the brain to have lots of confusion, flashbacks, triggers, strange thoughts going on at odd times. And depending on the extent and extremity of the abuse, it can be extremely, extremely that way. A person with extreme trauma and extreme Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or complex post-traumatic stress disorder, can have different voices going on in their head. That doesn’t mean there are demons. It doesn’t mean that they’re crazy schizophrenic. It can be voices of different parts of themselves, speaking to them. There are all kinds of different things to consider when you’re thinking about a noisy soul. But this counselor, it’s all about sin. You’re not trusting God, you have a guilty conscience. So, you need to repent of something. You’re not content. Those are the things that are mentioned there.

JULIE ROYS 23:08
Where would you say what scripture would you say speaks to this issue most powerfully, of the noisy soul?

REBECCA DAVIS 23:15
The Psalms, David’s soul was often noisy. And I’ve spoken to so many abuse survivors who say that for years, all I could read was The Psalms. And I think what a gift the Psalms are, for those whose souls are noisy, because they can go and read what David experienced. And they can say he went through something very similar to what I’m going through now. He, he lost everything. He had to run away when he hadn’t done anything wrong. All these things and he cries out to God, and he doesn’t know what the answers are. He doesn’t have pat answers to anything, really. But he’s going to trust God anyway. So yes, definitely the Psalms.

JULIE ROYS 24:02
I agree wholeheartedly, and the Psalms are just such comfort to us. Because David doesn’t whitewash. And I mean, if you’re feeling anguish in your soul, I don’t think it can exceed what David expresses sometimes all we need, and I’ve learned this, I have a daughter who, you know, being a woman is one thing, having a daughter is another and being able to go through her emotions with her and just learning. Mom, I don’t want the answer. I want you to sit with me in this.

REBECCA DAVIS 24:32
I’ve said that I don’t want answers, just be with me. You know?

JULIE ROYS 24:37
Yeah. And that’s, I think, as Christians, when we give these pat answers that, that again, just give guilt on top of it. And when we try to fix it, when often what a person needs is for us to come alongside, and, and just sit with it.

REBECCA DAVIS 24:53
Be with them.

JULIE ROYS 24:57
And pray. That’s the other thing.

REBECCA DAVIS 25:00
Well, yes, and, and be a sounding board. I use the term compassionate witness. If you’re there to receive, and it takes a large capacity often to receive because some of the things are so terrible, that people need to talk about. Often as they’re talking and seeing you receive them without trying to fix them, without judging them without telling them that couldn’t possibly have happened to you. But you’re just receiving it as a compassionate witness. So often, a significant amount of resolve resolution can come about, just as they have that experience of someone sharing in their grief.

JULIE ROYS 25:35
Let’s talk about anger. Because this is another, you know, four letter word—even though it’s not four letters. But in the Christian community, it’s often treated that way—that we shouldn’t be angry. That this is a sinful response.

REBECCA DAVIS 26:00
Especially women.

JULIE ROYS 26:02
Oh, my goodness. Yes. Yeah. When a man gets angry, it is definitely treated differently. But we do see Jesus getting angry, obviously, when he drove the money changers out of the temple. Talk about anger. When is it something that is, you know, it can be toxic, and can be something that’s sinful, but it also can be a very justified response? How do we tell the difference?

REBECCA DAVIS 26:16
In most of the chapters, I have a vehicle. I have a teaching from someone that I’m unpacking as incorrect. And I’m showing why it’s incorrect. This vehicle is a section in the women’s study Bible, by Dorothy Patterson, Paige Patterson’s wife, and her sister-in-law? Anyway, sister, maybe, who wrote the women’s study Bible. And so, it talks about anger, a woman’s anger is usually unjustified. And it’s when she misperceives there are all these little buzz words that I grab onto and say, this isn’t right. So, I’m unfolding how incorrect this perception is on a woman’s anger. But I say, all right, there are times certainly when anger is wrong. Matthew Henry had an especially helpful commentary on that. He had a list of several things that distinguished what unrighteous anger was. Obviously, the anger of the abuser is unrighteous. It’s right to be angry when someone when you marry a man who you thought was godly, but it turns out he’s a pedophile, and he wanted to have children so that he could abuse them. I mean, that is so wicked. So sinful. When a woman finds that out about her husband, when he finds out he’s actually a pedophile who married her on purpose to cover for his sin, and to provide progeny for him to abuse, it is right to be angry about that. That is a righteous anger. She feels comparable, I would say, to the anger David felt against Goliath for mocking the living God. If David was righteously angry against Goliath. But then, I wanted to look at unrighteous anger from someone who isn’t an abuser. And I used myself as the example because I had just very recently experienced some unrighteous anger. So, I went ahead and explained and expounded on that. What made that be unrighteous anger? Righteous anger is, for one thing controlled. Because we focus on when our anger is righteous, we focus on the wrongdoing. It doesn’t just go throwing out at everyone around us. I won’t go yell at my husband and the dog if I’m seeing abuse in the church. The anger will be controlled, and also the anger is fueled by love. And one of my heroes, William Wilberforce, when he was speaking out against the slave trade, he was righteously angry for those slaves. And he continued speaking out for many years, until the slave trade was ended, but his righteous anger was fueled by love for them.

JULIE ROYS 29:17
I want to address something that’s been in my reporting on Bethlehem Baptist Church, and also Bethlehem College and Seminary. And that was a podcast that was done by Joe Rigney, who’s the president of Bethlehem College and Seminary and Doug Wilson, a very controversial pastor. And they did a podcast called The Sin of Empathy. And this was so offensive to some people that it became a major controversy at the church where now three pastors lead pastors have left and the church is in considerable crisis. But this particular podcast and saying that empathy is something that I think for, for most of us is a quality that makes you human, that makes you compassionate, now is being called sin. How do you respond to this idea that empathy is sin?

REBECCA DAVIS 30:15
Basically, what happened was that he redefined the term to mean something else. And then he said it was wrong. And of course, the way he redefined it, I would agree it was wrong. “Empathy is totally immersing yourself in the other person’s feelings, so that you no longer have any objective view, and you can’t give the truth of God to them.” That’s not a direct quote, I’m just trying to remember it. And so, I thought, I wouldn’t like empathy if that was what it was. But I remember many years ago, I saw an article, I don’t think the article used the word sociopath. But that’s basically the way we end up. We end up with a nation full of sociopaths, if we don’t have people who can understand and express empathy for each other. That was how I had always thought of empathy, being able to look through the other person’s eyes, stand in the other person’s shoes, not necessarily agreeing with everything they say, or losing all objectivity. But being able to relate to the position they’re in. You’re helping someone who came off the streets as a drug addict, you’re not going to say, well, I think it was wonderful that you did drugs. And you’re not going to lose all judgment about why his difficult situation came about. But maybe you can listen to his story and feel for him about something that happened to him, that led him down a path that helped him end up or that caused him to end up where he is now. You can think, wow, if those things had happened to me, and if I had believed the same thing that he believed about himself about God, I may well have gone down the same path.

JULIE ROYS 32:08
I did a follow up story about two professors at Columbia International University who did who did a response to Wilson, yeah, to Wilson and Rigney. And I thought it was so good when they talked about because Wilson and Rigney made this big distinction between sympathy and empathy and sympathy. And empathy being basically jumping in, as you said, you know, completely into somebody’s pain, and you can’t even

REBECCA DAVIS 32:40
The swamp. Down in the swamp where you can’t get out or you’ll drown.

JULIE ROYS 32:45
And I thought what they said about how, you know, even neurologically that line is very blurred. Like we go between sympathy and empathy with actually feeling the emotions of someone, but actually feeling their emotions gives us more objectivity because once we feel their emotions, then we know how to respond. Because we can’t know that without that information. But once we understand on an emotional level, how that person feels, then we can more, we’re equipped to help them much better.

REBECCA DAVIS 33:14
Empathy is very important for you because you haven’t had the same experiences. You can’t speak from personal experience. But you can put yourself in their place and feel the same feelings or to some extent, at least, and say, yes, I understand. I understand maybe not fully, maybe not 100%, but to enough of a degree, that I can be motivated to do something helpful instead of something harmful.

JULIE ROYS 33:50
I mean, I feel if I don’t have empathy for my source, especially when they’re an abuse victim, which so many of them are I can’t write their story properly. I need to know how they feel. Now that doesn’t mean that I lose objectivity. I’m still able to approach the other side, and report all sides of an issue. But I mean, I’ve gotten off the phone before with sources after an interview and I’m angry that what happened to them or I’m crying because it’s so heartbreaking. And I feel if you don’t have that, as a reporter, you will never be able to write their story and do it justice.

REBECCA DAVIS 34:27
I’ll also add that one of the most disturbing aspects of this to me was why in the world, is this the crusade to take up?

JULIE ROYS 34:33
Right, right.

REBECCA DAVIS 34:35
And the point I make in this chapter, one of the points I make is, is there are people walking away from Jesus because of the way they’re being treated in the church. Why in the world do you want to take up this cause? Why not take up the cause of let’s go find out why they’re walking away. Let’s find out what happened to them. Let’s see if we can help them. Let’s see if we can express even if you’re gonna call it sympathy, even if you’re gonna call it compassion, even if you say, no, the word empathy is not allowed. Even if you don’t allow the word empathy, that’s fine. Just do something to help these people. Instead of sitting in a seat of judgment, to say, we’ve got to parse these words, we can’t do this. We’ve got to do that. Instead of let’s just go and do it. Let’s go and do something.

JULIE ROYS 35:29
Well, it’s shocking to me actually, when you look at the context of a church that’s facing mishandling of sex abuse issues. I mean, the Southern Baptist Church, this is a huge issue there. But so many of the stories I do are on this. Like our one problem is not that we’re believing abuse victims too much. We almost always side with the powerful, at least the powerful side with the powerful, and to hear two powerful men basically warn other you know, men watch out. Again, it was on a man rampant episode. So, it’s mostly to men. To hear them warn other men, be careful, you don’t get sucked in by these women, because all of the victims I mentioned in this episode were women as well. Well, you know, our time is coming to an end. I know you and I could talk for a really long time about this issue. But let me just ask you a final question. You’ve written now three books on untwisting the Scriptures. And I know they’ve been super, super helpful. The first two have been super, super helpful for folks. I know this last book is going to be helpful, as well. But what is your hope for the church as a result of writing these books?

REBECCA DAVIS 36:38
You’re really supposed to write to only one audience, but I write to two. I write to the abuse survivors themselves. This is not who Jesus really is. Let’s look at who he really is. And I write to the church at large. Please understand, please be willing to listen, please be willing to, to understand a little bit more about trauma, or a lot more about trauma, dissociation, the moral injuries. I have an appendix about moral injury because there’s so much going on. Don’t be afraid; your God is big enough to handle this. You really can do this if you trust the Lord. You can be there for the people who have been traumatized and who have hard stories, that right now you feel like you can’t hear, you can’t listen to them. You can. You can be there for them. So, I’m writing to those people. Whether it’s pastors or nobody’s like me. I was just a nobody who listened. I mean, I still am but now I’m a nobody who’s talking kind of loudly.

JULIE ROYS 37:49
And publishing and people are listening because what you’re saying is really helpful. So, thank you, Rebecca, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into these books. I appreciate the time you’ve taken with these podcasts. And I just pray that, you know, your audience becomes bigger and bigger, not for you and your platform but because this information is so important.

REBECCA DAVIS 38:12
Thank you so much, Julie, and same to you. I appreciate it very, very much. God bless you.

JULIE ROYS 38:17
God bless you to. Well and thanks so much for listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. If you’d like to connect with me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. And just a reminder to subscribe to The Roys Report on Google podcasts, Apple podcasts and also on Spotify. And then if you would help us spread the word by leaving a review, we’d really appreciate that. And then please share this podcast on social media so more people can hear about this great content. Again, thanks so much for joining me. Hope you have a great day and God bless.

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7 thoughts on “Untwisting Scriptures on Gossip & Negative Emotions”

  1. Carolynn Tsabai

    Great discussion. I will probably pick up the book when I have time to read it.

    Re “sin of empathy,” I’d heard versions of this idea before but the current controversy seemed so bizarre to me at first. As you said-why this issue? What planet are these guys on?

    Also, the theological implications-is not one of the core distinctives of Christianity the idea that God identified with us humans to the extent of becoming one, and suffering on our behalf? It seems to me a blindingly obvious point, but then, I’m not a well-known preacher.

    Then I looked into what these men are about (hadn’t heard of them before). Got the gist of Doug Wilson and it all made sense. This straw man argument isn’t about sin or righteousness, not in the way they say. It’s about people who are comfortable at the top of the totem pole working to stay there. It’s about maintaining power, as twisting scripture so often is.

  2. Visited Rebecca’s website after listening to podcast. Effect on me was good. Thanks for that.

    I’d like to go back to the idea of empathy. Rebecca spoke to the empathy-is-sin guy ‘redefining’ empathy. I think that is key. Theduo, and rebutting trio, were all using differing understandings of empathy. None the same as my understanding; none of them arguably as useful as what Rebecca is doing across her understanding of empathy.
    I rely on empathy. Its the medium I have always used for reading the human world. Such empathy is used to experience and understand all persons; not just something employed to weep with those who weep. Not everyone is open to being empathetically known. Not everyone welcomes being empathetically known.
    When the duo do their testimony, I can understand and accept where they are coming from; I accept their justifying reasoning and its existential necessity for them. I then have to experience being seen as sinning, to sustain relation with those guys; which across constitutional empathising is a default.
    Something similar then plays out with the rebutting trio, although messier, because they less cognitively coherent than the duo. Across that my ideological position is closer to the trio than the duo. Except, I’m not prepared to reductively write off the hermetic and ideological legitimacy of the duo.

  3. If the crux of God is the ground of creation for all things. There is little room for the reductive dismissal of any part of the so created human world. Empathy, as I understand it, involves a willingness to strive to understand the commonalities in all human occurrence. Every human occurrence is, across empathetic understanding, a fragment-portal to understanding of the creative ground. Where the alternative, it seems to me, is an ideological fight to the death.

    Rebbeca and JR used the metaphor of “water” when speaking of empathy, while the empathy-is-sin duo used the metaphor of “quicksand”. Respective overall understandings then reflecting those differing metaphors.

  4. Thank you for this, Julie and Rebecca. I could have listened to you both talk on these topics for hours. Society’s “Good vibes only” culture has deeply implanted itself into church culture to a beyond-toxic level. Scriptures are then twisted to fit that mantra. The world needs to hear more of the topics discussed on this podcast!

  5. I really appreciate the insight and wisdom of your interview / discussion. Thank you for helping us to think critically.

    Rebecca, just a word of caution:
    Please be very careful when using the statement “I understand” as you seek to come alongside someone in pain or a situation that you really haven’t personally experienced.

    “I understand” was said to me numerous times during a difficult time by a person who’d been assigned as an advocate.

    It was clear that she really had no concept of what I was dealing with, instead it was something she’d been coached to say. She projected her very limited understanding onto my totally different situation.

    That phrase became very toxic to me.

    How about just a simple, sincere “I’m listening.”?

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