The Eighth Commandment:
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
What is prohibited by this commandment? False witness, telling lies, spreading rumors, posting or reposting fake news.
And who is my neighbor? Jesus pretty much defined that one for us in the parable of the Good Samaritan—Luke 10:25-37. Basically, your neighbor is anyone that God loves, and since God loves the world, and Jesus died for the world, that means EVERYONE is in fact, your neighbor.
The Eighth Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Several times in my life, I have been called upon to testify in a court of law. In that setting, I would not even think of coloring the truth, or giving any false testimony. I am guessing that we all would agree on that.
Martin Luther helped us to understand the Eighth Commandment in the Small Catechism: “We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but DEFEND them, speak WELL of them, and EXPLAIN their actions in the KINDEST way.”
As you can see, the bar is set pretty high. God expects a lot of us. God expects us to tell the truth, and God expects us to take the high road even when our neighbors have taken the low road.
The Eighth Commandment and Social Media.
What you say and post online is governed by the Eighth Commandment.
People read your posts. People believe your posts. Your posts have the potential to heal, but they also can be hurtful and destructive. It is not OK to be mean on Social Media. In fact, according to this commandment it is not OK to say anything negative about your neighbor. Rather, we are to explain their actions in the kindest possible way OR—OR just keep quiet. Remember what your Mother told you, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
So next time you are tempted to take a shot at someone on Social Media, reread the Eighth Commandment. The next time you are tempted to re-post something that may or may not be true, reread the Eighth Commandment.
Following Jesus is not the easy way. It is the only way.