Do you know that feeling when you realize that someone or some group of people are whispering and snickering about you? You cannot hear what they are saying but there is an inner feeling that tells you that whatever it is isn’t kind. You can feel your heart sink and the weight of your mind bear down on you. You can physically feel the muscles in your shoulders and arm weaken and your thoughts focus only on why. “Why are they doing this to me?” “What have I done?” “Why don’t they like me?” “Why can’t I make them stop?”

Have you ever heard the term “backbiting”? It’s an interesting word that actually is similar to “backstabbing” with some exceptions. Nowadays, people use backstabbing for both of these terms. Maybe because “backbiting” sounds kind of weird. However; if you really look at the definitions for this word it makes a lot more sense to use it than “backstabbing”. Backbiting is the malicious, slanderous, spiteful, and/or attack on a person’s character when that person is not present. Basically, it is to talk about them behind their backs. Whereas backstabbing is more of a betrayal from a friend or someone whom you would expect to “have your back” but stabs it instead of supporting it.

Backbiting is done by those who may not even know you but feel they have some gain by degrading you in the mind of others. Yes, this is where rumors and gossip evolved and the term is an old term which means that this little seed of evil has been infecting society for more than 2000 years. Nevertheless, it is done on a regular basis and can be heard at your local coffee shop, grocery store, gas station, or even church and other community events. We know just by hearing it that it is pure gossip and just rumors being carried from one mouth and out the other; in fact, we cringe a little inside because we know this practice is wrong and hurtful to those being talked about.

Children and high school students use it to gain friends. Politicians use it as fuel for their campaigns. Most of the time this practice of talking poorly about someone’s character is merely a means to make the victim look worse off than the attacker.  The subject matter isn’t really important because the attacker will spin whatever topic they have in the most favorable light for their endgame. This means that even the littlest thing can be turned into a huge black eye for the victim and a puffed up chest for the attacker. Of course, we must add that this must be done without the victim being present because if so the victim would be able to defend themselves and make the attacker fall among his own peers.

What truly bothers me is when people seek out information purposely to use in gossiping and to spread rumors about you. The questions seem simple and harmless at first but there is something in the way they are asking and the manner at which they seem to need the answers that sets off flags. It makes you wonder to yourself why it is they want to know. What could they possibly be doing with this information and are they asking because they are honestly concerned and want to help or is it because they are just nosy and are find a purpose in spreading the news of one’s personal struggles with others.

Have you ever experienced a time where you felt as if someone you really didn’t know had ill feelings toward you? That they seemed to be rude and acted as if you had done something to them in a different life or something without knowing it? This is sometimes what happens when your life has been discussed around that invisible round table of the gossipers and then spread off from the branches that extend outwards. Do you remember telephone game from years ago where one whispers something to another and that message is passed around the room? The purpose of this game is to show how one message can be changed as it is passed from one person to the next. As with this telephone game, as the rumors and gossip about one’s personal life gets passed around from one person to the next the facts change and becomes fictional but true in the minds of the beholder.

How does this behavior make you a good person? Surely you should answer for it when your judgement comes but how does that stop the inner pain felt by those whom you used as your source of gossip. How does being judged by God ease the sadness of that person you felt was not worthy of your compassion? All you are doing is feeding the evils and causing strife and making this backbiting contagious because once you start it will travel and even the victim of it all will turn on you.

This backbiting term is one I read in a religious teaching and what makes my blood boil is how much of it is done within the house of God by people who address you as brother or sister. With all the evils in this world that try to bring us down and tear us apart, many of us turn to God to find solace. We attend church to worship but we also feel safe there. We feel that the same evils that haunt us outside those walls cannot harm us within God’s sanctuary because his land is holy and blessed. To attend church and hear of all the gossiping and backbiting and hurtful things being tossed from one member to another make me ask why? Why would you do that in such a place? Does it make you more of a person? Does it make you more powerful? Does it make you right with God?

When you take someone’s hardships, weaknesses, and sorrows and use them for your own gain or entertainment how does that make you more worthy, how does that make you more righteous? When you do these things, you spread evil and empower the demons to infest in yourself as well as others. When you do this in the house of God you have made it so that this sacred place is no longer safe to hide from the evils of the world.