I have seen slander in the last several years and it is ugly. It is ugly because there are people who trust in the integrity of the slanderer, and believe what he or she says, no matter how ridiculous the report is.
What is slander and why do we do it, especially those of us who know better? Slander is giving a bad report about someone or something. You have to wonder if the Ninth Commandment has slandering in mind (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor).
The reason why slander is so effective is usually because it contains some elements of truth, but the truth is always twisted around. It is usually done to destroy a person's credibility. But what about when someone is to be warned about something? How can we do that without slandering?
If we want to give an honest evaluation about someone, we need to know both sides of the story. Any one of us can look at something at face value and come to our own conclusions. For example, I remember reading a story of how a marriage broke up because the wife always had a hard time trusting her husband. They were reconciled, but were at a dance. She saw her husband dancing with a woman he seemed to know. That did it. The relationship ended. She knew that her husband definitely was seeing other women. What she didn't know was that the woman her husband was dancing with, was his sister whom he had not seen for ages.
Speculations can get us into trouble, especially if we already have preconceived ideas of what we think is reality. We have to be careful to not let our imaginations run wild, but we need to be even more careful to not develop preconceived ideas based upon what we want to think or what we are afraid of.
We need to have some familiarity with both parties who are struggling. If we don't, what ends up happening is that we believe the party that is doing the accusation. If the accusing party has a complaint, then they should work out the issue between them. If they can't get it resolved, then there are people who can help, who can get involved and be objective. It does not have to go any further than that unless an outside party has been offended. We don't have to develop a Facebook page grieving our complaint against the person we are struggling with. We don't have to air out our complaints to people whom we don't know, or who have no idea what the situation is about.
Things to keep in mind:
* Any one of us can be tempted to slander. We are not above the temptation to destroy another person.
* When hearing a bad report, do not continue to spread it.
* The goal in any broken relationship needs to be reconciliation, not continued destruction.
* 'Warning' people against someone or a company is not usually necessary, especially if you are not personally involved.
* Slander had destroyed many valuable relationships and it is not a caring way to resolve issues.
* Slander is an abomination before God. (Proverbs 6).
* Satan is skilled in slandering, and continually tempts us to slander.
* Our sinful hearts really do love to slander. God's word commands us to love. Those who slander do not love. Our love for God is measured by our love for others. If we slander, we show we don't love God.
* When hearing about a situation that is a bad report, learn both sides of the story, not just one.
* Do not take the words of one person or one side, and believe that is the whole story.
I have to take these principles wherever I go. I have learned to be a detective of slander and I will do everything to nip it in the bud when I see it.
The big key again, is to not just take someone's word for something as absolute truth. You really have to know both sides of the story, from both parties. Most of the time, the accused person has an entirely different version of what really took place.
"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD." Leviticus 19:16