A Word About Slander and Abusive Situations
There are times when it is necessary and not slanderous to discuss or share information that is damaging to a person’s reputation. Remember, slander is untrue damaging information. But sometimes a person’s real sins are of such a nature that they must become public for the sake of justice and individual safety. Here are just a few sample scenarios:
• Reporting confirmed, documented sin and abuse to appropriate people in positions of authority who can do something about it.
• Participating as an appropriate person in spiritual, and in some cases civil, authority in an investigation such as a report of someone’s sinful, perhaps abusive, behavior with the intent of either confronting that person or clearing their good name.
• Discreetly, and without unnecessary details, informing others of another’s confirmed sinful or abusive behavior because, without this knowledge, someone might suffer real harm.
• Seeking pastoral counsel regarding how to navigate a complex and ambiguous situation, doing everything you can do to guard the reputation of a person in question from unnecessary damage.
Jesus’ instructions in Matt 18.15–17″>Matthew 18:15–17 must guide us in such difficult cases. And Jesus expects us to behave circumspectly in them, always seeking to preserve others’ reputations as much as possible, knowing that gossip and slander are always temptations crouching at our doors.
In an age of social media, that lacks the functional information-spreading restraints of past eras, let us be all the more slow to post (“slow to speak”—James 1:19) analysis, speculation and commentary on information about another person or group, even if it has become public in our slander-saturated culture, that might eventually prove slanderous. All the serious biblical warnings about slander still apply, which should make us all, especially those of us with “platforms,” tremble.