If you’ve ever seen me furiously typing on my phone, there’s a good chance that I’m texting a friend about something that irritated me that day. Or maybe, someone who irritated me that day. I’ve made excuses for my ranting by calling it “venting”. Because everybody vents, and it’s totally acceptable. Right?
After reading these last few weeks though, I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve come to the realization that “venting” is a pretty immature way to handle disappointment and interpersonal conflict. Check out this section from Proverbs 29;
11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
but a wise man quietly holds it back.
BUSTED. Here’s what I have learned about this behavior and what it does to us spiritually.
Venting is frequently gossip under the guise of catharsis: There’s a cultural attitude that encourages venting as a healthy way to deal with frustration. Which makes sense if you are venting about say, accidentally locking your keys in your car. When we vent about people though, it looks an awful lot like gossiping. We vent about our husband leaving clothes on the bedroom floor. We vent about our loud room mate. We vent about a co-worker that got a promotion over us. Don’t lie, you aren’t venting. You’re gossiping.
Come on now, don’t make me post the Bible verses about gossipy women.
Venting cultivates more negative talk: Have you ever noticed how hard it is to cease negative speech once you’ve started? Careless speech is an addiction to me; once I get started I can’t stop.
Venting gives opportunity to those with malicious intent: Maybe you didn’t mean any harm from your vent session, but you cannot control what someone does when they hear your complaints. A co-worker you vented to about your spouse could become a threat to your marriage. Venting to an acquaintance about your church might give them ammunition to sow disunity. Careless (but not intentionally hurtful) words can easily snowball into vicious attacks if the right person hears them.
Venting doesn’t foster conflict resolution: Have you ever had an argument with a friend reconciled by whining to a third party behind their backs? Yeah, didn’t think so. Any relational problem that needs to be talked through with a third party should be done with everyone involved as a mediation effort.
Venting encourages self-centered viewpoints: When I rant to someone, I’m rarely looking for a solution or another perspective. What I really want is an echo chamber, or someone to reinforce and validate my opinions. Venting doesn’t leave room for Godly counsel, but instead begs for head pats from people that are willing to indulge our self-absorption.
Christ died for sins like gossip, slander, malice and hostility: It’s easy to forget, but behavior like this is part of why Jesus DIED for us. While venting isn’t always a sin, my venting usually is. And someone had to pay the penalty for it.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Think before you vent.