2000-04-04 - Slander

Psalm 52:2, 3 Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.

A young Tbilisi woman from ex-Soviet Georgia was recently faced with the dilemma of missing her 75-year old father's funeral. Relatives quickly arranged for her to use her cell phone and a loudspeaker so she could participate in the Datireba ritual. This unique funeral custom entails propping the corpse upright so he/she can greet the funeral guests. The family then engages in uncontrollable wailing where they shout at and scold the deceased for leaving them.

The above story is certainly not the same thing as slandering someone, but it is an interesting story and custom. To slander someone is to speak falsely about them or to bring reproach upon their name.

There are two ways to engage in slander. One is to speak ill of someone on our own accord. The other is to listen to a false report given by another. In doing this we give the false report a hearing and foster its growth. We make it our own, by being a willing hearer of it. Josiah Woodward says of these evils, “And in truth the case is very bad both ways, being very like willfully letting loose a Lion or a Tiger among people; which, when once gone out of our hands, is never likely to be brought into safe custody again.”

Slander has no place in the Christian life. We worship and serve a God who is full of love and truth. To speak lies and slander of another is contrary to the conduct fitting a child of God. The slanderer seeks to inhibit the prosperity, disturb the peace, and sully the name of his neighbor. How unlike the admonition of Christ who told us to, “love our neighbor as ourself.” Matthew 19:19.

There are many results that come upon the person who is slandered. Let me just close with two. First, it causes his reputation to suffer. Many people make their living on the value of their reputation. To destroy a good name may rob the person of the ability to provide for his family.

Lastly, it makes the person slandered less capable of doing good in the world. This is why slandering a Christian is such a sad sin. It makes that person less capable of serving their Lord and being useful in the Kingdom of God. In this it is good for the slanderer to remember that they will one day answer to Him that judges righteously, 1 Peter 2:23.

“Whispered insinuations are the rhetoric of the devil.” Johann Wolfgang

Soli Deo Gloria,