Because those in the program are trying to “always [be] considerate of others,” [4] Step 9 says they are to make amends to people “except when to do so would injure them or others.” If not done skillfully, an apology can actually make the problem and the hurt worse. We have a myth of “total disclosure” in our culture that is not always fair or even helpful. Just because something is factually true does not mean everyone can handle it, needs to know it immediately, or even has a right to the information. You must pray about and discern what the other needs to hear and also has the right to hear. What people want to hear in gossipy detail has now been fed by our media-saturated society, and our wanting to know seems to have become our supposed right to know. Gossip is not a right but a major obstacle to human love and spiritual wisdom. Paul lists it equally with the much more grievous “hot sins” (Romans 1:29-31), and yet most of us gossip rather easily, with so many sad and unfair results. If only we could keep what is shared to ourselves—for the sake of love—then perhaps full disclosure could be a virtue.

The ninth step is about two things: making amends and keeping us from wounding one another further. Too much earnest zeal here, “spilling the beans” on everybody’s lap, will usually create a whole new set of problems. Many people simply do not have the proper filters to know how to process ideas or information. Once it is said, somehow it has the authority of “fact.” [5]


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