Watch Your Mouth
On December 15, 1791 our beloved Bill of Rights was adopted by our great country as the first lawful measure to declare our freedom in democracy. But as in many things, with the good can also come a measure of bad. With freedom comes responsibility. As Americans we must be responsible with our many liberties, or else we risk an ever mounting probability for chaos.
“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:18)
Today I wish to discuss a nasty word that has seemingly lost its meaning, “slander.” With our American “right” to freedom of speech, as originally described in the First Amendment, it is my opinion that not every negative opinion we posses towards another needs to be voiced.
Remember the saying our mothers used to teach us when we were children, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s not to say I condone complete silence, acting out in defense of your convictions can have a positive impact, take Martin Luther for example. But there is some merit to this old saying.
If you are a believer in Christ then you may know that scripture refers to slander at least thirty times, all describing what an evil, ungodly thing it is. Defaming another man’s name, maliciously speaking out against another person, or spitefully circulating disgrace towards someone else should all be things we most wholeheartedly avoid. Another saying I recall, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” You can dislike something someone is doing, but that does not give you the right to dishonor him or her, that is not your place.
“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” (Proverbs 21:15)
Sometimes I wish I lived in another culture, one where your word was worth something more. Just this last Sunday, Osama Bin Laden was finally found and then killed. Now I do not wish to get into all of my opinions on that matter, for my post today would be far too long, but two things have me bothered. Firstly, the various responses I have observed in reaction to this “American victory.” And second, the discrepancy about whether President Obama should receive credit or scrutiny in the aftermath.
Do I think a wicked terrorist who led his followers to murder countless innocent people ought to deserve death? Yes. Do I think any lost soul so obviously far from the love of God is something to mourn? Also, yes. Do I honor the men and women who fight to protect our nation? Most certainly, yes.
But beyond that, I do not think it is beneficial or in any way worth exhausting the fact that our President did not kill Bin Laden with his own bare hands. President Barack Obama was (and still is) the Commander-in-Chief when this terrorist was executed. Fact. It does not matter what your personal opinion on the man may be. It does not matter how many of his policies you agree or disagree with. It is my opinion that no one has the right to out speak hatefully against his name.
But where does the line between speaking out in reaction to your convictions and refraining from unnecessary slander lie? I don’t have an exact answer. One thing I do know, or hope, is that in your heart (or your conscience) you know where that line lies when the words leave your mouth, and you know when you’ve crossed it. This “peacemaker” stance is a new one for me, but I feel it is where I am called to stand.
Be respectful of others. Win debates off the solidity of your theory, not the cunningness of your words. And when necessary, watch your mouth.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 2:27)