"A rumor is often viewed as "an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in (perceived) public concern" ...rumors involve some kind of a statement whose veracity is not quickly or ever confirmed. In addition, some scholars have identified rumors as a subset of propaganda, the latter another notoriously difficult concept to define."Titillating tidbits, snatches of illicit conversation, whispered unthinkables... rumors are the red pepper flakes of the spice rack that is community life. Careful, seasoning with this spice can bite you back if you are not careful.
We have all been warned about rumors and gossip. From our mothers, our teachers, our pastors. We've all been the subject of gossip and have felt the biting, hurtful sting. Why, then, do we find them so tempting to listen to? Why is it that we eagerly run to share them with our best girlfriends, or worse yet, the town crier? And before you think it's a malady that befalls only the gentler of genders, I have observed many a whisperer be of the male persuasion, as well. Truly, I wish I knew why we are so tempted by sketchy information leading us to believe the worst of someone. It is indeed scandalous and no one seems to be immune.
Shameful, it is.
Do I even need to cite Scripture proving the sinfulness of spreading information with a bad intent? Whether it is true (lashon hara) or lies (slander), any information we share with others about others in order to do harm or discredit their reputation is sinful. Period.
There are six things that the Lord hates, even seven things that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift to run to evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who spreads discord among family members. (Proverbs 6:16-19)There are many, many more Scripture verses I could pull out, but I think this one is most informative. It absolutely describes the mindset of one who is hell-bent on experiencing the thrill of spreading rumors; haughty eyes that hold secret information, a tongue that is eager to speak of things that may be untrue - even if it means character assassination. I'd like to believe the bearers of gossip don't always intend to spread strife and dissension, but once it starts, it's like a wildfire ripping through relationships and causing more emotional pain than the bearer could have possibly imagined.
A heart that is pure and focused on the things of HaShem looks away from that which smacks of evil or unrighteousness. Unfortunately, the family of the LORD is most certainly made up of those that have fallen prey to this insidious temptation. I have heard it often said that the hearer of gossip is just as guilty (sinful) as the talebearer. If we believe that, then we all should immediately fall on our faces before our LORD and humbly beg for forgiveness, mercy and grace.
Once again, it all comes down to bad intent - the ultimate root of all sin. For if you, as a believer, strive to follow the commands of the LORD, you must consider the following:
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."Love doesn't thrill at gossip or spreading rumors. Love doesn't rejoice in thinking poorly about someone, or make someone else think poorly about them, especially fellow believers. Even if they are enemies, we are commanded to love and pray for them. No, really - look it up. And, if one needed more proof, how about the greatest commandment? Do we, in our puny human minds, believe that we can even come close to loving our G-d and our neighbors as ourselves if we spread rumors, lies or gossip about them?
~Paul to the Corinthians
Yeah, that was rhetorical.