why would my ex-boyfriend try to ruin my reputation?

Dear Anthony,

I decided to give in and accept his interest in being more than friends, and we started dating.  Long story short, it didn’t work out and we lost our friendship as well, which I’m still trying to get over.  But what I have to deal with even more is the shock that this man who once called me his best friend, and professes to be such a strong Catholic, told his friends that I tried to have sex with him.  I only found out because a friend of mine told me she heard it.  It’s spreading like wildfire and there’s nothing I can do about it.  

I’m so sorry this is happening to you.  It’s a cruel thing and should not have happened.  I can tell you for sure that you will come out of this stronger than ever if you can stay close to God and not do anything in retaliation.  And don’t panic.  The last thing Jesus wants you to do is lose your peace.  Rest in Him who was innocently judged and unjustly crucified.  I always marvel at the Lord’s silence amid His accusers.

You are not alone.  Many good people have been victims of slander, even by those close to them and who profess to be Catholic Christians.  They obviously do not know their Catholic faith much at all, nor have read the Catechism of the Catholic Church that clearly teaches against this kind of behavior.

The bottom line is every person has the right to their good name, and no one is entitled to spread rumors, true or false, and risk a person’s reputation.  Obviously, you cannot undo what your ex-boyfriend has done to you.  You can try to clear your name and set the record straight.  Or you could simply not do anything and let it pass, allowing others to conclude what they want to conclude based on what they hear.  Anyone who cares about you or knows you will not allow that information to change how they feel about you.  And anyone worth their salt as a person will have the decency to resist passing any judgment on you without having heard your side.

In my opinion, the best thing you can do is follow the Lord’s example of silence. Don’t try to defend yourself.  Don’t confirm or deny.  It’s no one’s business.  Just keep being yourself and living your life.  Maybe confide in a close friend or family member you can trust to help you get through, but don’t let it affect you or change you or make you do anything differenly.  You are not a terrible person.  You might be a sinner, but who isn’t?  You might have done something wrong, but who hasn’t?  You are no better or worse than anyone else.  No need to lower yourself by allowing this slanderous activity to affect you.

I recommend that you read St. Francis de Sales’ classic book on personal Christian formation, “Introduction to the Devout Life.”  de Sales calls the sin of slander “a veritable pest of society.”  I hope it brings you comfort, enlightenment, and strength.  

“He who unjustly takes away his neighbour’s good name is guilty of sin, and is bound to make reparation, according to the nature of his evil speaking; since no man can enter into Heaven cumbered with stolen goods, and of all worldly possessions the most precious is a good name.  Slander is a kind of murder; for we all have three lives–a spiritual life, which depends upon the Grace of God; a bodily life, depending on the soul; and a civil life, consisting in a good reputation. Sin deprives us of the first, death of the second, and slander of the third. My child, I entreat you never speak evil of any, either directly or indirectly; [….]

Those who slander others with an affectation of good will, or with dishonest pretenses of friendliness, are the most spiteful and evil of all. […]

When you speak of your neighbour, look upon your tongue as a sharp razor in the surgeon’s hand, about to cut nerves and tendons.”

Advertisements