Talking Bad


But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him… (Colossians 3:8-10)

For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.  (James 3:7-12)

Free speech is a wonderful right, but it only uplifts humans if it is combined with wisdom and not used for cunning or deceit. Christian tradition has a lot to say about speech and silence, almost all of it in the context of wisdom. For example, St Gregory of Nyssa writes:

“Ecclesiastes first mentions the time to keep silence, and after that he allows a time to speak (Eccles 3:7). When, and on what matters, is it better to keep silence? Those who are concerned with morals might say that most often silence is more becoming than speech; and similarly Paul distinguishes the proper time for speech and for silence, sometimes prescribing silence, at other times commanding speech.  Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth (Eph 4:29) is his law of silence. But if speech is good, to the edification of the faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29), then it is the time to speak. . . . Lie not one to another ( Col 3:9) suggest the proper time for silence, and speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor (Eph 4:25) is, once again, permission to speak.” (FROM GLORY TO GLORY, p 125)

And in the desert fathers we read:

An old man used to say, ‘Silence is filled with all life, but in abundant speech death is hidden.’

And the old man also said, ‘Lying and sin are wont to lie in ambush in the words which are long and broad.’

An old man used to say, ‘Humility never becomes angry, and never provokes a person to wrath.'” (adapted from E. Wallis Budge, THE PARADISE OF THE HOLY FATHERS Vol 2, p 248)

There is no doubt that when the ancients made reference to “the tongue” they were speaking in a more literal fashion than we can in reference to speech as they had to rely on the human voice to project messages. Nowadays with the Internet, “the tongue” is no longer as literal a reference for people spread their messages via electronic means and don’t rely on their tongue or vocal chords. Yet they can spread their message faster and to more people than the ancients could even imagine possible. So we bear greater responsibility for what we say on the Internet because the consequences, both intended and unintended, can have a huge impact on people we never even considered when we put out our message.

“I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)

Editor1/31/2021 11:57 pm
Hello Margaret. The Mailchimp version we use has a limit, so nothing odious there. But thank you for the tip about Protonmail. Don't know why your emails were returned. We'll look into it. We are now on a number of social media, so readers can take their pick. Thanks for giving us this information.
Margaret Maines1/31/2021 6:32 pm
Peace.....I just received an email from Ortho Christian saying that MailChimp has limited their number of emails regarding their email list for the newsletter. Just a thought which the editor may already know, is that there is a growing interest in the email provider which has a few different plans and privacy one can use and your email list can also be transferred over to Just a thought and I realize you may be aware. I sent an email to the newsletter and the editor and both were returned un-deliverable. Hopefully we are not slowly losing our Ortho Christian Social Media usage. God bless, and thankyou for the very good articles and commentaries.
Irene1/30/2021 11:54 am
That is an unfortunate choice of illustration as it is a recycled Soviet propaganda image meaning "loose lips sink ships".
Michelle1/27/2021 1:03 am
I needed this. Got it. Thank you.
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