We have all received (usually from family and friends) emails with bogus warnings of an impending threat, promises of money or ‘blessing’, or any number of political, economic, or social hot topics. These kinds of emails, sometimes incorrectly called spam, are often referred to as hoax emails and are usually considered benign.
But are they truly benign?
If, in a conversation, I tell you something hurtful about another person, I’m guilty of gossip. If the hurtful thing I told you about in that conversation was false, I’m violating the Commandment against false witness, and you would probably refer to me as a liar.
Would not the same hold true if I forwarded a ‘hoax’ email to another person, regardless of my intention? Is not this the electronic equivalent of gossiping? Asked another way, are Christians less responsible for what they communicate in an age of electronic communication than they were before email, text messaging, instant messaging, and web cams? I could be wrong, but it seems to me that passing on an email about which I am not 100% certain of the facts or sharing information about another that will only bring harm and not good constitutes bearing false witness.
Gossipers, according to Romans 1:21-30, are people ruled by their sinful nature and deprived minds and we are warned that the destination of liars is “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:8).
If this is true, gossiping and lying, even in electronic form, is still anything but benign.