For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.Ephesians 5:8-14, NIV
"If you become pastor of our church we will spread rumors that you are running around with another woman," said two women to a young, married, seminary student after he preached at a church in view of a call. Thus, he turned down the call that the church extended to him. He had enough reason to turn down that pastorate, but he should have given the church the complete details why.
Most likely, the young man had done nothing to offend these two women. However, his failure to expose what happened allowed two people to continue using darkness to manipulate the church secretly. We should bring rumors out in the open that carry accusations to find out the truth and end the rumors immediately. Those who tell such rumors should account for where they obtained their information. We shouldn't start an Inquisition, but seek repentance and forgiveness recognizing that we may also need such correction (Galatians 6:1-5).
This passage uses "darkness" symbolically to represent the secret, lying, and manipulating ways of the devil. The adjective, diabolos (the New Testament word translated devil), means slanderous (2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3). Used as substantive, it means slanderer, accuser, or gossiper (1 Timothy 3:11) as well as devil. Thus, secretly passing gossip rather than speaking openly is a primary characteristic of the devil from which he gets his name. We could accurately call such activity diabolical.
As a teenager, my Sunday School teacher had a good example of how innocent situations could cause false rumors. His identical twin brother was a pastor in another town. While visiting his brother, he took his wife to a movie. The people didn't know him or his wife and thought that he was his brother taking a strange woman to a movie. The pastor easily explained the situation to those that confronted him, but those who started rumors in private started something not easily corrected. Rumor and gossip distort the truth. Even if they start out correct, they quickly become distorted when passed along.