Probably the most frequent observation about the libel suits my son and I filed against the mission is summed up in an anonymous post from another blog: "The letter [written by the mission] merely states an opinion. I have people say worse about me all of the time."
I don't doubt that people often say worse things about this anonymous poster than the mission said about my son and me. People can be very cruel in their speech. Some of the people saying such things may even be Christians; malicious gossip, after all, is a fault that is not restricted to ungodly, unbelieving and unregenerate circles. I'm even going to guess that some people, with some Christians among that number, say worse things about me than what was in that letter, too! But, the issue is not whether Christians do gossip, or ought to gossip, or whether other Christians ought to object to it. That is a totally separate issue and one which entails a great deal of hypocrisy. To all our shame.
Actually, the letter was not "mere" gossip. Neither did it merely state an opinion. It stated purported facts; it never qualified its statements at all. It was totally devoid of any "it seems to me" or "IMHO" hedges. Neither did it contain any reference to previous communications, such as "In answer to your questions about. . ." or "In compliance with your request for. . ." Opinion or fact, of course, is no more the issue than gossip.
I think the real issue lies in the implications of this anonymous person's observation: "So what? What difference does it make if the mission wrote a letter about you – true or false, opinion or fact – and sent it to the Royal Thai Government, even if they did it a year after your resignation? Who cares?"
That is exactly the question that plagued me! I did not know why the letter was written, what it was meant to accomplish or why the mission so staunchly defended it. Over a period of almost two years, they sent their house counsel to Thailand several times; they had him spend time meeting pastors in the States; they hired attorneys in Thailand; spent money having English arbitration proposals translated into Thai; and more. All to what end? I didn't know, but even someone as dense as I am could see that this was very, very important to them.
So, convinced that they cared, and cared deeply, about the issue, I felt that maybe I would be wise to care, too. These were honorable men; they would never do something like this without a very good reason. The mission leaders in America would never have defended the letter without a very good reason. And, they would never withhold those very good reasons from me without a very good reason. The letter was important enough to write, important enough to send to the Royal Thai Government, important enough to send me a copy, important enough to defend in court. . . and too important to explain to me! I confess: That worried me. And not a little, either.
I repeat: I did not know what difference the letter made; but, I was operating on the deduction that it did make a difference. I would have been very happy to learn that it made no difference at all. The only ones who knew what difference it made, however, felt that it was too important to explain, and certainly too important to retract.
I know, I know. That doesn't sound very spiritual. The obvious question for me is: "Why didn't you just trust the Lord?"
Well, inaction isn't necessarily the same thing as trusting the Lord. Often, inaction is a symptom of not trusting Him! On the other hand, I admit that I was fearful – afraid of what was going on, afraid of what was going to happen next, and why. I guess we can trust the Lord when we are scared, too, though I won't press the point.
I am not proud, but ashamed, to admit that I was so fearful that I sought relief in the Thai court from things that my Christian brothers were doing to me and my family. That is why it was important to me. Why was it important to the mission?