In our teachings on modesty and respect, I discussed the importance of speech and emphasized the passage “For the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:24.) I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the sins of speech and discuss tips for taming the tongue. It is essential to note that every person has a right to a good reputation.
Let’s first look at the sins.
- Defamation is openly taking away from someone’s character—i.e. a false statement posted publicly.
- Detraction is privately taking from someone’s reputation.
- Gossip is conversing maliciously about a person.
- Ridicule is heaping insult publicly on another.
- Cursing is uttering evil against someone, either ordering it or wishing it.
St. Thomas Aquinas states there are four ways by which one can detract from another’s reputation:
- Attributing what is false to him
- Exaggerating his sins
- Exposing secrets
- Saying that good actions have been motivated by evil intentions.
For further reading, chapter 3 in the letter of James has strong teachings on the tongue.
Now some tips for taming the tongue…