The Politics of Slander
Paul L. Garlington
 
“And I saw another angel flying down in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” (Rev 14:6) Since God alone is the infinite, eternal One, besides whom, there is none else, ageless and deathless, this good news is exclusively about God. Yet John also said, “Who has believed our report (the good news), and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” He answers his own question by observing that, although Jesus had performed so many signs before them, they were not believing in Him. (Jn 12:37, 38) Why does there seem to be such universal hostility to God, good? Why are we so prone to accept an evil report about God as well as our brothers and sisters who are made in His image and likeness? Did not the scripture declare that, “He made from One (Himself, for there was nothing else), every nation,” and “In Him (God, good), we live and move and exist”? For as much as God is the truth that stands alone, independent of human faith, our great need is not to have faith in God, but rather to suspend our disbelief concerning God. All that’s required, therefore, is an honest and good heart that is open to the claims of the One God, besides whom, there is none else. Hence, when a person says, “What if God, good is all there is; what if omniaction is the only action; and what if the one life that God is, is the very life I am, unfolding perfectly as it should?”, such a one has fulfilled all righteousness. It is not necessary to believe that God can or will work miracles in your life. Just stop believing that He won’t. Do you see it? Irrespective of how long our bleak history of failure and suffering has been, the mere act of non-resistance to the truth, saying, “What if!?”, opens the way for the kingdom seed of truth to enter and transform us. Since faith comes by hearing, the open, receptive mind invites the truth that brings faith.

“But,” you protest, “You make it sound oh so simple. Is it really as simple and easy as you seem to make it?” Simple, yes! Easy, no! Why? Because we live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation in which all of us, from the day we were born, have been exposed to a continuous barrage of slanderous reports about God, good. Moreover, since God’s life being the only life that is must of necessity be the life I am, he who slanders God does damage to us all. To this end, the wise man said, “A slanderer separates intimate friends.” (Prov 16:28) did we not enjoy intimate oneness until the serpent said, “Yeah, hath God said…”?

All too often, the politics of slander determine the outcome of an election, rather than honest debate over the issues of the day in order to determine the one best qualified to govern. In the realm of commerce, mean-spirited attempts to stamp out competition by intentionally spreading the false reports about a competitor’s product is commonplace. Don’t you remember the attempt to undermine the confidence of the American people in imported Mexican beer by the introduction of totally the false allegations of urine in the beer?

Scandal not only sells, it is big business. It is now relatively common for reporters on the National Inquirer to make in excess of $100,000 a year writing stories about celebrities that have little, if any, relationship to reality. Lawyers for these newspapers are kept on retainer for the inevitable libel suits that most definitely will ensue. Inasmuch as the burden of proof is on the person slandered to prove malice aforethought, the paltry few cases of libel that may be won are simply considered a worthwhile cost of doing the business of slander mongering.

The irony of this pathetic situation is that we make ourselves easy marks for the slanderer by our willingness to believe anything as long as it is an evil report. Witness how many people were willing to accept the accusations of Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas without a single shred of evidence. Evidently, she was to be believed simply because it was bad news. It is for this reason alone that the scripture says, “You shall not carry a false rumor; do not join your hand with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” (Ex 23:1 KJV) Or again, “If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deut 19:16-19)

Clearly, not only is the burden of proof, according to holy writ, placed squarely upon the slanderer, but such a one must now drink the bitter cup of what they intended for someone else. No wonder Samuel Johnson, the English author and lexicographer, said, “If a man could say nothing against a character but what he could prove, history could not be written.” How can you suspend disbelief when you continue to entertain slander without the slightest demand for proof? Why do we, in spite of all the miracles, signs and wonders, insist on placing the burden of proof on God as the accused and not on the slanderer?

It was an evil report that caused the hearts of the Israelites to melt in fear and discouragement right on the brink of victory. Sadly, these God dishonoring witnesses rose from among their own brethren who while seeing evidence of God’s faithfulness still refused to suspend disbelief. As a result, they chose to believe their lying eyes and made God a liar. Learning from the history of the children of Israel, the Apostle Paul said, “Let God be true, and let every man be a liar.” In view of these inescapable realities, how do we take care of ourselves and prove ourselves to be blameless and innocent? I would like to recommend the following daily life practices that I have personally proven in the crucible of life experiences:
  1. Meditate regularly on the divine assurance that is given o those who abstain from slander. ‘”No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord.” (Is 54:17) Or again Isaiah says, “…When the enemy (tidal wave of slanderers, evil reports) shall come in like a flood, (be still, because) the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against Him.” (Is 59:19 KJV)

    David, who at one time found himself bitterly slandered and a fugitive from the one who sought to take his life, discovered, “How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues.” (Ps 31:19,20)

    And finally, Job declared, “You will be hidden from the scourge of the tongue, neither will you be afraid of violence when it comes.” (Job 5:21)

  2. Come out from among those who slander God, good and the creation He pronounced good and very good. Do not dignify the slanderer by stopping to defend, explain or apologize for your behavior. Why? “You (the slanderer) let your mouth loose in evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done, and I kept silence; you thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you who forget God…” (Ps 50:19-22)

  3. Remain steadfast in your commitment to celebrate the One God despite appearances. Daniel proves that many times even our faithfulness to the One God can be used by manipulative slanderers to discredit us to others. Surely it is in the midst of these extremely vexatious situations that we are sorely tempted to say, “It’s vain to serve the Lord.” (Read Daniel, Chapter 6). Fortunately, it is here that we prove, “…whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant [us] to be of the same mind…” (Rom 15:4,5) Hence, it is in such times that we are blessed by the example of Daniel who, when he discovered the life threatening situation that paradoxically arose out of his commitment to love the4 One God exclusively, “…continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously.” (Dan 6:10)

  4. Always remember that there can be no abiding until we have renounced slander in every form. We do not speak it, listen to it, or pass it on to another. “O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.” (Ps 15:1-3) We are instructed in scripture to put aside slander and long for pure milk of the word.

    Although there is no one who will live in this dimension without being slandered, to be sure, the ultimate denouement after we have returned to our native state of innocence is to hear, like John, the voice from heaven declared, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:10)

These are they that Rudyard Kipling referred to in his classic poem, If.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t’ give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and to make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken [through slander],
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - You’ll be a Man, my son!

 
 

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