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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 10:32 PM
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The biblical view of gossip and slander

DELIBERATELY DIVERSE | by Frances Sorrow

“Deliberately Diverse” represents the individual thoughts and opinions of a group of Taylor friends who almost never completely agree about anything but are gratified by the opportunity to stimulate deliberately diverse discussions in our beloved community. Today’s column represents the thoughts and opinions of Frances Sorrow NOT the Taylor Press.

I am guilty of breaking the ancient prohibition against participating in negative gossip. And I don’t think I’m alone. In fact, for several years social media at all levels has provided instant platforms for hateful gossip and slander.

What ancient prohibitions am I writing about? In Judeo-Christian cultures, it’s the Bible, which condemns slander/gossip.

For example, Leviticus 19:16 states, “You shall not go around as a slanderer* among your people.”

The sages called negative gossip lashon hara, loosely meaning negative or harmful words, even if true.

The rabbis took Lev. 19:16 one step further.

They wrote that talking negatively about a person or persons was the same as killing that person. Some rabbis expanded on this theme by saying negative gossip could kill three persons: the one talking, the one listening, and the one being talked about.

For these expansions, the rabbis took inspiration from other biblical passages. For example, we only need to read King David’s lament in his Psalm 31:12-13 to experience the impact of slander on a person.

“I am like a dead man, out of mind. I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many; fear was on every side.”

Exodus 23:1 exhorts, “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to bear false witness.”

Proverbs 10:13 also has something for us, “The one who counsels hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.”

The New Testament is not silent on the subject. 1 Peter 2:1 says, “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and all envy and all slander.”

And my favorite from the NT, Titus 3:2, “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle and to show perfect courtesy to all peoples.”

There are many more verses in the NT than I have room to quote, but I encourage everyone who owns a Bible to read and reflect on them.

One of the most corrosive sayings ever composed is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Prophets and sages, apostles and disciples, all knew how destructive words can be. Many of them experienced slander first hand.

And we know of children and teens who have committed suicidal due to slander and bullying. Isn’t time to follow the biblical teachings and end this cruelty?

We will soon enter a new year. I urge all of us to make this resolution and I will not initiate or pass on negative gossip.

*Some translations use gossip.

** Literally evil tongue.


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