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the-gossips

If they did, it might look something like what the Westminster Divines outlined in the Westminster Larger Catechism’s answer on the duties required of the ninth commandment (“”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”).

Question 144: What are the duties required in the ninth commandment?

Answer: The duties required in the ninth commandment are,

  • the preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own;
  • appearing and standing for the truth;
  • and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever;
  • a charitable esteem of our neighbors;
  • loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name;
  • sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities;
  • freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocency;
  • a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them;
  • discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers;
  • love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requireth;
  • keeping of lawful promises;
  • studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report.

Similarly, consider the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 112 expresses the aims of the ninth commandment, both positively and negatively:

That I

  • never give false testimony against anyone,
  • twist no one’s words,
  • not gossip or slander,
  • nor join in condemning anyone rashly or without a hearing.

Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should

  • avoid lying and deceit of every kind;

these are the very devices the devil uses, and they would call down on me God’s intense wrath.

I should

  • love the truth,
  • speak it candidly, and
  • openly acknowledge it.

And I should

  • do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name.
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