Speak No Evil

by Don R. Hender

This evening I was exposed to a news story wherein an obviously slanderous person was making false and liable statements about 'Mormonism' and concerning the Prophet Joseph Smith. But so are such of the critics of 'Mormonism'. They pretend to be Christian, for they believe in the Nicene Creed, etc. But by their very actions they are not Christian at all. John Wesley, a true Protestant leader and in that a man of God, did teach of 'The Cure of Evil Speaking', in his sermon he stated thus:

    1. "Speak evil of no man," says the great Apostle [Titus 3:2]:--As plain a command as , "Thou shalt do no murder." But who, even among Christians, regard this command? Yea, how few are there that so much as understand it? What is evil-speaking? It is not, as some suppose, the same with lying or slandering. All a man says may be as true as the Bible; and yet the saying of it is evil-speaking. For evil-speaking is neither more nor less than speaking evil of an absent person; relating something evil, which was really done or said by one that is not present when it is related. Suppose, having seen a man drunk, or heard him curse or swear, I tell this when he is absent; it is evil-speaking. In our language this is also, by an extremely proper name, termed backbiting. Nor is there any material difference between this and what we usually style tale-bearing. If the tale be delivered in a soft and quiet manner (perhaps with expressions of good-will to the person, and of hope that things may not be quite so bad,) then we call it whispering. But in whatever manner it be done, the thing is the same;--the same in substance, if not in circumstance. Still it is evil-speaking; still this command, "Speak evil of no man," is trampled under foot; if we relate to another the fault of a third person, when he is not present to answer for himself. ~ John Wesley, The Cure of Evil Speaking, Sermon 49 - Global Ministries, United Methodist Church

Spoken by he who is seen as the founder of the Methodist religion (JSH 1:8), it is well understood why a young Joseph Smith might have been leaning towards the Methodist faith before the event of his first vision. But, if as John Wesley spoke is the Christian ideal, and it is a Christian command not to speak evil of no man behind their back and when they are not present to represent and answer the ill spoken of them in person; then how much more the sin against Christian behavior is spun by those who speak in terms and slander that which is founded in liable lies?

Those who spend their time building mountains of slanderous lies of criticism against another's religion must by their very acts be a witness to the fact that there is just not enough good concerning their own religion to keep them busy in the good works of Christianity. Is their religion so much needing that the only way they can find to build themselves up is to tear others down? That is not the Christian way to begin with. As little as speaking evil of another is a none Christian act. But still they persist. Are they so challenged by Mormonism that they have to lash out is such manners. Are they so threatened by the Mormon Church that they cannot rely upon their own faith's good works that they feel that they must go about slinging mud upon another. Certainly this was not the way of the Savior. Certainly this is not Christianity at work. Jesus did not seek out the Jewish rulers or speak evil of them behind their backs. Only when Jesus was directly confronted by them in their attack against him did he directly to their face speak the truth and evil of them; giving them every opportunity to respond in their own behalf.

So, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do I think of those who fling their mud at 'Mormonism'? I must think them of non Christian acts as they do not keep the true Christian religion of God. And to the degree that they act in such non Christian ways they will stand to be judged of God. And more will be their condemnation when they are found out to have spoken against the very works of God. And though they may proclaim that they have done what they have done in Jesus ' name, the Lord will state to them, 'Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, for I never knew you.'

In the world of Christian belief, wherein we are only forgiven our own trespasses and sin as we forgive those of others, it may be best to do as Benjamin Franklin advised, "Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody." Those who are students of the life of Benjamin Franklin know that he was not perfect in his own life, but he seems to have found the true Christian perspective of looking only for the good in people and not shoveling in the mud against anyone. And thus too I suppose I ought to leave those to their muddy work and involve myself with the higher things of life. And perhaps in all of this does lie the truth of the recommendation to not speak ill of the dead? And I certainly do not want to be haunted by them if they so choose to come to the defence of themselves to my face.