Christians and the Ten Commandments

  • Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled [G4137]. Therefore whoever shall relax one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
    (Matthew 5:17-20 MKJV)

Read Matthew 5:17-20 carefully. Note that the word “fulfill” is misunderstood. It is the simple verb for “fill.” Messiah came to “fill up” the law, not abolish it. Too many people make the word “fulfill” mean the same thing as abolish (clearly going against the intention of Yeshua’s saying). Yeshua then goes on to show us what his law is in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. It is not just to avoid adultery, but lusting. Not just murder, but hatred. Messiah’s law is the Law of Moses interpreted in its fullest sense, spirit and letter, so that we imitate God by avoiding all evil.

Just recently, I read an article in the Christian Post by an author I generally always agree with, Mr. John Piper. The article was titled “Are Christians Under the 10 Commandments?” Quite frankly, I was in disbelief  at what I had just read.

  • And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
    (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) summed up all the Ten Commandments in two commandments. He taught us that if we love God (YHWH) as we should, we will always keep commandments one through four, and that If we love our neighbor as we should, we will always keep commandments five through ten.

  • And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
    (Exodus 20:1-17 ESV)

So which commandments are invalid or obsolete? Honestly, I don’t see one commandment that I try not to keep every day of my life. Of course, I am human and as I result I do sin. However, I ask God to forgive those sins and He promised that he would.

  • Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
    (Micah 7:18-20 ESV)
  • So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us
    (Hebrews 6:17-18 ESV)

Grace means that we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the law (which is death). It is not a license to sin.  The law is our definition of sin and an example of God’s Holiness Code, it defines how God wants us (expects us) to live our lives.

  • For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Tradition holds that the commandments written on the stone tablets were burned all the way through the stones. In this way (written on stone and on both sides), nothing could be added and nothing could be removed from the Word of God.

  • You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
    (Deuteronomy 4:2 ESV)
  • “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
    (Deuteronomy 12:32 ESV)
  • Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
    (Proverbs 30:5-6 ESV)
  • I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
    (Revelation 22:18-19 ESV)

If one reads and studies the B’rit Chadashah completely, they will notice that Yeshua and the disciples taught the Ten Commandments throughout the B’rit Chadashah. Not only did they teach them, but they also lived by them to the best of their abilities.

When you are ready as a Christian to accept and admit that the Law was never abolished, you will find it very useful to study the Tanakh (Old Testament). The first five bools of the Tanakh are known as the Torah and include an additional 603 laws for believers (some apply only to women and some apply only to priests). It is interesting that approximately 33% of the prophecies in the Tanakh have not been fulfilled yet, so how can the Tanakh be old? Likewise, approximately 85% of the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) is quoted from the Tanakh, so how can it be new?

Jesus, Mary and the Holy Ghost

Idolatry is the worship of an idol (a physical object such as a cult image) as a deity, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honor and regard to created forms other than God (YHWH). Idolatry is anything we put before God. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them” (Ephesians 5:5-7 KJV).

An idol is a material object, representing a deity, to which religious worship is directed. It is also controversially and pejoratively used by some Protestants to describe the Orthodox Christian practice of worshiping through the use of icons, a charge which Orthodox Christians reject. In a similarly controversial sense, it is also used by some Protestants to pejoratively describe various Catholic worship practices such as scapulars and the veneration of statues and flat images of the Virgin Mary and saints, which Catholics do not consider to be idolatry.

Veneration is practiced by groups such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Catholic Church. In some Christian denominations, veneration is shown outwardly by respectfully bowing or making the sign of the cross before a saint’s icon, relics, or statue. Veneration amounts to the heresy of idolatry as there is no real distinction between veneration and worship. The practice of veneration distracts a believer’s soul from its true objective, the worship of Almighty God. The Roman Catholic church teaches there is a difference between idolatry and veneration.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Idolatry etymologically denotes Divine worship given to an image, but its signification has been extended to all Divine worship given to anyone or anything but the true God. An essential difference exists between idolatry and the veneration of images practiced in the Catholic Church, viz., that while the idolater credits the image he reverences with Divinity or Divine powers, the Catholic knows “that in images there is no divinity or virtue on account of which they are to be worshiped, that no petitions can be addressed to them, and that no trust is to be placed in them.”” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Idolatry)

The Hebrew word for worship is shachah (שָׁחָה). Shachah means to bow down or prostrate oneself before superior in homage, before God in worship, before false gods, and before angels.

Bishop Robert H. Brom claims that idolatry is condemned by the Catholic Church,  that there is no prohibition against the making of statues or images of various creatures for religious purposes in Scripture, that a Catholic may kneel in front of a statue while praying, and that the religious use of states and images is acceptable because God commanded us to make them. This is open disregard of Scriptures as they are twisted to benefit their positions.

Matt Slick at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry did a wonderful article that examines and cross references Roman Catholicism and the Scripture passages in the Holy Bible.

In the Book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments say: “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:2-6 KJV).

In the Book of Leviticus it says: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 26:1 KJV). Throughout many Christian churches, especially in Catholicism, there are various statues and images of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), Mary, and the saints. In those churches, people very often bow down to statues, sometimes in prayer.

In the Second Book of Chronicles there is an account of Manasseh, a king of Israel, and the error he committed which led the Children of Israel into sin. It says: “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken” (2 Chronicles 33:1-10 KJV).

The Prophet Ezekiel wrote: “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?” (Ezekiel 14:3 KJV). The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “Veneration of Mary is accomplished in the heart. “The Blessed Virgin, as manifesting in a sublimer manner than any other creature the goodness of God,deserves from us a higher recognition and deeper veneration than any other of the saints; and this peculiar cultus due to herbecause of her unique position in the Divine economy, is designated in theology hyperdulia, that is dulia in an eminent degree” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Adoration).

Catholics view Mary and the saints as “intercessors” before God. They believe that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more “direct access” to God than we do. Therefore, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than us praying to God directly. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. The Bible says, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV). Also in his Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paulwrote, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV). We don’t need an intercessor to approach God for us if we approach Him through Jesus Christ.

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity” (Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV). “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:28-32 ESV). “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3-5 ESV).

Clearly, the Bible prohibits making images of Almighty God, among other things. These objects are may not be intended for idolatry with everyone who makes or owns one. The concern is that we are making something that may lead someone astray and or make them stumble. The Apostle Paul said, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14 KJV). Likewise, Saint John wrote, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21 ESV). Religious art is nothing more to me than more than a drawing of a man, woman or bird. I would prefer to be accused of anconism than idolatry.

Satan’s Ten Commandments

The Georgia Guidestones is a large granite monument in Elbert County, Georgia (USA). A message comprising ten guides is inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, and a shorter message is inscribed at the top of the structure in four ancient languages’ scripts: Babylonian Cuneiform, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

The structure is sometimes referred to as an “American Stonehenge.” The monument is made from six granite slabs weighing more than 240,000 pounds combined. One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it. A capstone lies on top of the five slabs, which are astronomically aligned. An additional stone tablet, which is set in the ground a short distance to the west of the structure, provides some notes on the history and purpose of the Guidestones.

In June 1979, an unknown person or persons under the pseudonym R. C. Christian hired Elberton Granite Finishing Company to build the structure. R. C. Christian (Christian Rosenkreuz) is the semi-legendary, perhaps allegorical, founder of the Rosicrucian Order (Order of the Rose Cross), presented in the three Manifestos published in the early 17th century.

Rosicrucianism is a philosophical secret society, said to have been founded in late medieval Germany by Christian Rosenkreuz. It holds a doctrine or theology “built on esoteric truths of the ancient past”, which, “concealed from the average man, provide insight into nature, the physical universe and the spiritual realm.” Rosicrucianism is symbolized by the Rosy Cross.

The symbol of the Rosy Cross played a substantial role within the system of Thelema as developed by Aleister Crowley. In a cosmological context, the rose is Nuit, the infinitely expanded goddess of the night sky, and the cross is Hadit, the ultimately contracted atomic point. For Crowley, it was the job of the adept to identify with the appropriate symbol so to experience the mystical conjunction of opposites, which leads to attainment. It has several meanings, depending on the source. Some groups, such as the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, from a non-sectarian or non-religious view, suggest that the rosy cross predates Christianity, where “the cross represents the human body and the rose represents the individual’s unfolding consciousness.”

A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines or principles is engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones. Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. The inscriptions on the Guidestones are listed below.

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

The first guideline or principal would reduce the world population down to 500 Million people. What do they plan to do with the other 6.3 billion people? The world’s population (July 7, 2010) is around 6,854,837,564, and the United States’ population (July 8, 2010) is around 309,697,072. If the conspirators of this plan were to leave the population of the United States untouched, they would have to eliminate 6 billion people. That would leave less than 200 million people alive on the rest of the entire Earth.

Built to survive the apocalypse, the Georgia Guidestones are not merely instructions for the future, the massive granite slabs also function as a clock, calendar, and compass.

Whoever the anonymous architects of the Guidestones were, they knew what they were doing. The monument sits at the highest point in Elbert County. The monument is a highly engineered structure that flawlessly tracks the sun. The four outer stones are oriented to mark the limits of the 18.6 year lunar declination cycle. On an equinox or solstice, visitors who stand at the west side of the “mail slot” are positioned to see the sun rise on the horizon. The center column features a hole through which the North Star can be seen regardless of time, as well as a slot that is aligned with the Sun’s solstices and equinoxes. A 7/8″ aperture in the capstone allows a ray of sun to pass through at noon each day, shining a beam on the center stone indicating the day of the year.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/ff_guidestones?currentPage=all

Many have praised the inscribed messages as “a stirring call to rational thinking,” while opponents have labeled them as the “Ten Commandments of the Antichrist.”

The Guidestones have become a subject of interest for conspiracy theorists. One of them demanded that the Guidestones “be smashed into a million pieces, and then the rubble used for a construction project,” claiming that the Guidestones are of “a deep Satanic origin,” and that R. C. Christian, belongs to “a Luciferian secret society” related to the New World Order. At the unveiling of the monument, a local minister proclaimed that he believed the monument was “for sun worshipers, for cult worship and for devil worship.”

Radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in his 2008 documentary Endgame: Elite’s Blueprint For Global Enslavement, told the viewer that “the message of the mysterious Georgia Guidestones, purportedly built by representatives of a secret society called the Rosicrucian Order or Rosicrucians, which call for a global religion, world courts, and for population levels to be maintained at around 500 million, over a 6.5 billion reduction from current levels. The stones infer that humans are a cancer upon the earth and should be culled in order to maintain balance with nature.

Most people agree that the Guidestones are meant to instruct the survivors of some impending apocalypse as they attempt to reconstitute civilization. Not everyone is comfortable with this notion.

On the sixth day of the Creation narrative in the Book of Genesis it is written, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue [H3533] it: and have dominion [H7287] over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:27-30 KJV).

To subdue and have dominion over the earth and all living things on the face of the earth is to rule, subjugate, dominate, bring into bondage, and make subservient. The earth and its flora and fauna were never intended to subdue and have dominion over mankind. God’s plan was for mankind to care for and rule the earth. In the misguided  thoughts of most environmentalists and global elitists, these roles have been reversed.

The Rosicrucian Order designed and financed the Georgia Guidestones monument. The secretive nature of Rosicrucianism is in direct contrast with Christianity, which seeks to shout the message of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) from the roof tops, as Yeshua said, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (Matthew 10:27 KJV).

The Rosicrucianism Order is syncretistic, meaning that it borrows ideas and beliefs from various other religions in an attempt to unify them under a central theme—wisdom about life after death has been preserved through the ages and is revealed only to the secret brotherhood (the Rosicrucians). There are strongly occultic teachings in Rosicrucianism, including ESP, clairvoyance, and spiritism. This goes right along with the secretive nature of Rosicrucianism because these activities are the playground of Satan and his demons, and Satan always shuns the light.

The nature of secret societies is completely contrary to Christian belief. The Bible is an open book inviting all who will, to come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua HaMashiach. The Apostle John wrote, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17 KJV). Anyone inquiring into membership in the Corpus Christianum can investigate, ask questions, read the inspired handbook (Holy Bible), and make a decision for Messiah Yeshua fully knowing what the cost and consequences of the action will be.

In stark contrast, a secret society welcomes only a restricted number into membership, into the secret oaths and ceremonies, and into the activities of the society. Members of secret orders often compare their organization with the fellowship of believers in a local church. But a secret society is quite different from a church in that it is elitist in nature rather than inclusive. Unlike a church it does not extend its fellowship to any and all persons desiring to identify with the organization, its principles and practices.

The Corpus Christianum discourages membership in secret orders. The reasons for discouraging the Corpus Christianum from belonging to to secret orders and for encouraging the Corpus Christianum to avoid involvement with such orders are summarized below.

  1. The activities of secret orders demand time and energy that divert the servant of the Lord from efforts to fulfill the Great Commission.
  2. The binding loyalty to fellow members of the secret society—many of whom are not fellow believers in Jesus Christ and His saving work—is an unworthy joining together of believers with unbelievers.
  3. The spirit, philosophy, and general influence of secret orders channel activities toward improving only the natural part of humankind instead of changing the heart of the spiritual being.
  4. Commitment to secret orders and their teachings leads one to a wrong emphasis on salvation through good works and improving society.

Secret societies are in conflict with the teachings of Holy Scripture. A Christian must never affiliate with any organization that yokes together believers with unbelievers in unholy alliances (2 Corinthians 6:14-18), requires a pledge to unscriptural oaths which are sealed by using the name of God improperly or in vain (Exodus 20:7, Leviticus 5:4-6, Matthew 5:34-37, James 5:12), represents itself as providing teaching in harmony with the Bible when in fact it does not (2 Peter 3:16), represents itself as being religious and offers a false hope of salvation through works, yet dishonors the only true God and our Savior Yeshua HaMashiach (John 17:3, 1 Timothy 2:3-6, Colossians 2:8-10, Ephesians 2:8-9).

In his epistle to the Romans the Apostle Paul wrote, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17 KJV). Secretively meeting behind closed doors where activities are carried on behind a cloak of secrecy, in favor of fellow members, usually for economic, social, or political advantage hardly describes doing what is right in the eyes of everybody. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18 KJV). This is God’s advice for Christians and is certainly applicable in regard to secret societies.

The Laws of Lashon Hara

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 19:16 KJV)

It is forbidden to speak disparagingly of one’s chaver (male firend) or chaver (female friend). Even if the information is entirely truthful, it is called Lashon Hara (evil tongue). If the information also contains any fabrication, it is also called Motzi Shem Ra (to produce a bad name). The speaker of Lashon Hara violates the prohibition of Leviticus 19:16.

Leviticus 19:16 explicitly prohibits Lashon Hara and Rechilut (talebearing or gossip that incites hatred and resentment), yet there are many more commandments that bear on the speaking of Lashon Hara.

The above seriousness of speaking Lashon Hara relates to someone who incidentally includes something inappropriate in his speech. But those who make it a habit to talk about others in a derogatory manner (“Did you hear…..”, “Do you know she…..”, etc.) are labeled Ba’alei Lashon Hara (masters of Lashon Hara, in that such speech is an integral part of themselves), and their transgression is far more severe. They regularly create a Chilul HaShem (desecration of the name of God; Leviticus 22:31-33) because of their rebellious manner. Though they may view their activities as social tools, such behavior cuts them off from many good things in the world around them.

Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.
(Leviticus 22:31-33 KJV)

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:17-19 KJV)

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
(James 2:10-13 ESV)

The comparison of Lashon Hara to well-known and agreed-upon sins such as murder is surprising. But at the same time, we can imagine why: just as the violation (sins) of the Ten Commandments damage and destroy vital physical aspects of the world, Lashon Hara afflicts the emotional and social realms.

There is no difference when speaking Lashon Hara whether one tells a juicy story of his own will or because someone encourages (or pressures) him to do so. Even if the speaker’s teacher (Rebbe) or parent whom the person must honor and fear, and not contradict, requests that he tell about an incident, if the relating of the information would result in Lashon Hara or even Avak Lashon Hara (speech that provokes Lashon Hara), he cannot say it.

If you think about it, Lashon Hara isn’t any different from any other commandment. If someone encouraged you, or even nagged you, to eat a cheeseburger, you would still be fully responsible for your actions. Certainly social pressure for gossip seems more effective than it is for food, drink and many other areas, but that may be because we are not used to saying “no” to evil speech.

Even when subject to great financial loss, one is not permitted to speak Lashon Hara. This may mean that he will be viewed as a fool, and denied financial opportunity by the “intelligent” people with whom he associates. As in all Mitzvot Lo Taaseh (Torah prohibitions), we are commanded to forgo all of our income.

It is generally helpful to try and develop a (personal) rational approach to the laws of Lashon Hara. When someone is confronted with a situation in which he is expected to speak derogatorily about someone, if he can respond with a simple personal philosophy (or sometimes just enough self-confidence to convey adherence to a personal philosophy), he will leave most of those situations with others’ respect intact. And in those situations which are not in the “most” category, the best thing to do is remember the benefits that accrue through hardship in observing this mitzvah.

If someone stands to lose personal honor by not speaking Lashon Hara, he must also sustain the loss and remain silent. For example, if one is sitting in a group speaking Lashon Hara, and he has no way to separate from them at the moment, he cannot participate in their lively discussion. This applies even if he will look like a simpleton or social clod. He should try to hold himself back and remember the many sayings of the Sages regarding his situation: “Better to be considered a fool in the eyes of man throughout one’s lifetime than as a wicked person in the eyes of God for one moment (Eduyot 5:6),” “the reward is according to the effort (Pirkei Avot/Ethics of the Fathers 5:25),” “one hundred times more in hardship than without it (i.e. the reward is one hundred fold; Avot d’Rabbi Natan),” and the Vilna Gaon who writes that “for every second that one remains silent he will merit reward beyond the comprehension of any being, even celestial.”

Whether spoken, written, or hinted with gestures or any other way (if you looked at the Rashi in Leviticus 19:16 you saw that winking was described as a characteristic behavior of Holchei Rachil – those who go about slandering), any communication of Lashon Hara is prohibited. This also applies if you weren’t the writer of a piece disparaging someone. Rabbi Pliskin elaborates on a footnote in the Hebrew about the communication of Lashon Hara: showing a letter or other writing (e.g. a newspaper) to belittle its writer would also be forbidden. I would anticipate that this would also apply to footage in a film or other media.

Even if you’re disparaging yourself alongside the subject, it is prohibited. It doesn’t matter if you look even worse than the subject, and it doesn’t matter if you mention yourself first. Rabbi Pliskin gives some nice examples:

  1. Ben and I both shoplifted when we were younger.
  2. Nobody in our group studies Torah properly.

It is also forbidden to speak Lashon Hara about yourself.

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

  1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.
  2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

King Solomon wrote, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 ESV).

In his epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).

James, the brother of Yeshua, had plenty to say about the tongue. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26 ESV). He also wrote, “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:5-10 ESV).

King David wrote, “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them” (Psalms 39:1-6 KJV).

“If an evil thought should arise in the mind, suppress it. Watchfulness in the habit, is the bridle upon the head; watchfulness in acts, is the hand upon the bridle. When not able to separate from wicked men, we should remember they will watch our words, and turn them, if they can, to our disadvantage. Sometimes it may be necessary to keep silence, even from good words; but in general we are wrong when backward to engage in edifying discourse. Impatience is a sin that has its cause within ourselves, and that is, musing; and its ill effects upon ourselves, and that is no less than burning. In our greatest health and prosperity, every man is altogether vanity, he cannot live long; he may die soon. This is an undoubted truth, but we are very unwilling to believe it. Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by his Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with his grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.”
(Matthew Henry’s Concise  Commentary)

It is quite obvious from the texts of the Bible, Rabbinical Commentaries and Christian Theologians that the tongue (although small) is capable great sin. This is an area we all need to work on constantly. Psalms 39:1 is one of my favorite passages from Scripture, my tongue has always been my greatest stumbling block in my walk with YHVH.