THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST THY NEIGHBOR
When our ancient Forefather and Patriarch Moses finally led the Hebrew children of God out of their captivity in Egypt, they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness, so the Scripture tells us. Only after these 40 years, quite a long time, were they allowed into the Land of Promise.
When these People of God were led into the land of Promise, they were given some responsibilities and guidelines, which, as we know, they at first rejected. Today, we see people on all sides who behave the same way: Being so free, they reject responsibility. But we see also that responsibility is the price of freedom. Those who are free must be responsible for what they do and say, must be accountable and must eventually pass through judgment, must at some time in this or the next life defend what they have said or done.
When Moses returned to his people after being given the first Divine Laws on Mt. Sinai, he found atheism and idolatry everywhere. The so-called People of God had quite abandoned the God of Heaven, and had made pleasure and self-will their god. So Moses found a very convenient epitemia, a great correction, for their blindness and self-will: He broke the Tablets on which the Divine Laws had been inscribed and ground them up into the drinking water. One way or another, Moses must have decided, these crass and stiff-necked people would ingest the Divine Law.
It is not really very different in our very own times. Self-will reigns supreme, and it taints even the pious Orthodox at times. Only last year at the place where I work, a man was accused of falsifying records. After an investigation, it turned out that it was really his accusers who were falsifying records. They selected this man to be their victim to cover their own misdeeds and distract their superiors. Yet, these wrongdoers professed to be Christian, and indeed, knew very well that among the first of the divine Commandments was the one which forbids lying about others. Not only is there a Commandment which forbids lying about others, there is another place in the Scriptures where we are told that there is nothing hidden which shall not be known.
We know from eye-witnesses that during the Great Terror in Soviet Russia in the late '20s and early '30s, many unrighteous people took vengeance on their enemies by denouncing them to the secret police. A great many of these accusations were quite false, and many innocent people went into the Gulag or to death by these false accusations.
We know that in Nazi Germany one could altogether destroy his neighbor by claiming that the neighbor was a Jew. In the Spanish Civil War
it was the same, one Spaniard against another whose political sympathies were opposite.
St. Basil said it well enough, that when Adam and Eve through their own pride and self-will fell into the First Sin, "all Creation groaned," that sin and death came into the world.
What is it that tempts people to tell falsehoods about someone? Pride, jealousy, self-will, a desire for power, utter self-delusion. There is wisdom in the pagan saying: "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power." Why is it that those who proclaim loudest of their Christian virtue are often also found among those who seek power and influence? There is no reader who should avoid this question, who should not examine his or her conscience with regard to this gossipy weakness so many of us have to believe ill of others. Christians who ignore this Commandment of God could find themselves drinking the bitter water with the commandments gritting in their teeth, for in God's good time, there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed. ~ By a Staff WriterFrom The Orthodox Christian Witness, Volume XX, No. 21Go to Orthodoxyinfo.org for a wide variety of articles on the Faith