By Bruce Cooper
Slander is when someone makes a false verbal statement that damages someone’s reputation. It’s generally an attempt to put someone in, what is perceived as, a negative or a less than generally accepted group or position.
In short, it’s a defamation of what is generally accepted as good character. If you verbally make a false accusation about someone it is called slander.
If you make a written false statement about someone it is called libel. Libel is written, slander is verbal or spoken. As an example, if someone wrote an article about Bruce Cooper (that would be me) and they said that I wasn’t a bad guy but that I did have a tendency to steal, and it was not true about me having a tendency to steal (which, I should note, it is not true), that would be an example of libel. If they just spoke that untruth to someone else, that would be slander.
If you are wondering why I am stating what most of us already know, I will tell you. There is an awful lot of slandering going on right now, by many people who have no religious affiliation and also by many people who do have a religious affiliation, and yes, that would include those of us who call ourselves Christian.
You may think that slander or libel is not a serious offense in the eyes of God but you would be wrong. Actually God’s Word has a lot to say about slander in both the Old Testament and the New Testament and we will take a look at a select few of those Scriptures shortly.
Another term that you will find in the Bible that includes slander or libel is “bearing false witness” and God actually includes this particular offense in the Ten Commandments. That would be Exodus 20:16 (NASB) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Not strong enough, how about one of the seven abominations that God hates? That would be Proverbs 6:19 (NASB) “A false witness who declares lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.”
Slander or libel can be malicious lying, and God hates lying (Proverbs 6:17 NASB). God’s Word says that slander and gossip are wrong, and Scripture sometimes condemns them together. That would be II Corinthians 12:20 (NASB):
“For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish, and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, selfishness, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances;”
I could easily go on but I am pretty sure you are getting the picture. God does not lie, He does not bear false witness, ever. Do the words “you shall be Holy for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16) ring a bell?
Yet there are many Christians, some of whom run Christian blogs, that frequently slander or libel those with whom they interact. I’ve been slandered or libeled many times, by other Christians and I am not alone.
In fact, I can confidently state, that most Christians who blog have been slandered or libeled at one time or another. The short story is when we slander or libel someone, we sin against that person and most importantly, we sin against God.
So what does a Christian who is trying to earnestly walk with the Lord do? Here’s a few common sense pointers that might help us not sin against another Christian or God:
- Don’t make accusations against others that you have not actually taken the time to determine is true. That means not to accept as truth, accusations from questionable or unreliable sources. Verify from multiple reliable sources. And just so you know, no, Alex Jones would not be considered a reliable source. And if you cannot verify it with a quoted statement from one of their books or previous written statement or exchanges, don’t assume.
- If you have not taken the time to validate whether an accusation or inferred assumption is factually true, do not repost it or repeat it. We are accountable for the words we speak and the words we publish to the public and one another (Matthew 12:36-37 NASB).
- There is a distinct difference between making a case for a particular subject or topic and stating derogatory comments about the individual to whom we are communicating with or about. If the other person goes low, we do not need to follow. We are called to a higher standard and as ambassadors for Christ, all that we say or write should reflect positively on Jesus.
- And if you are not making a case for a particular subject or topic, and you are merely casting derogatory personal accusations at another individual, you might want to question precisely what your objective is and how these derogatory accusations foster the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Learn to recognize an off ramp from that straight and narrow path in yourself, when it surfaces.
- If you have difficulty maintaining civil emotions or verbal/written decorum, when interacting with others who express opposing perspectives, while on the Internet, seriously consider avoiding those confrontations until you have learned how to maintain a civil discussion. And when and if it does start to get personal, learn how to exit gracefully.
- Learn to do your homework on a particular subject or topic that you wish to enter into, with someone else who may have a different perspective. Seek common ground agreements and learn how to state your case without insulting the intelligence of the other individual. And no, it is not necessary for you to articulate your opinion on every topic that comes before you.
- Learn to acknowledge when you do not know enough about a particular subject to render an informed opinion. And no, just because you watched one video on YouTube about a given subject does not make you an authority on that subject.
- Learn to seek and understand the common consensus on a given topic and why it is the common consensus. If your perspective is from within the “fringe” area of the perspectives on the topic, take the time to understand why it is a fringe perspective. Anyone can say what they believe, darn fewer can defend why.
Something to think about.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!
Canadian Bruce Cooper is proprietor of Reasoned Cases for Christ.