Verbal Fragging – Tossing Grenades of Destruction

First… the best perspective…

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
~ Romans 12:10

During the Vietnam War some of our soldiers were guilty of the crime of ‘fragging’ a fellow soldier or their commanding officer. Fragging was a deliberate attempt to commit murder. The word is derived from fragment and refers to the fragmentation grenade, a battlefield weapon that can also be used quite effectively against a fellow soldier. The grenades were efficient and lethal, while leaving no discernible evidence pointing to the perpetrator.

There were other methods of fragging. Stories have been told of lieutenants shot as they led their platoon into battle, yet the entry wound was in the back. Clearly they had been killed by one of their own – fragged by a disgruntled subordinate seeking revenge for a perceived offense.

Firearms were used in some instances of fragging, but grenades were used most often. Once the safety lever is released and the grenade is tossed among the unsuspecting, the results are usually quite deadly. Fragging left men maimed, crippled, and killed by their fellow soldiers, brethren who were supposed to be serving together for the sake of a cause.

M67 fragmentation hand grenade commonly used in Vietnam

The same is true in our relationships with people. It can be quite easy to toss a verbal fragmentation grenade into the life of another with the intention of causing harm. These ‘grenades’ are tossed with the intention of damaging a reputation or perhaps to gain some kind of advantage over the person designated as the target. It is greatly disheartening when incidents of fragging take place in the church or among brethren – those who serve together for the sake of a cause.

God’s Word has another word or phrase to describe fragging. He calls these assaults on others “gossip” or “sewing discord among brethren”. Indeed, this is one of the seven things that God hates, according to Proverbs 6:16-19:

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are
an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed
innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet
that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that
     soweth discord among brethren.

In my lifetime, including nearly thirty-eight years as a Christian, I have seen verbal fragging from time to time and in a variety of settings. Fragging is brutal and quite ugly.

For those who are fragged, the immediate results include emotional shock, discouragement, and a time of grieving. Long-term effects can include a damaged reputation, a ruined relationship and emotional despair as people attempt to ask the unanswerable question of why. Why would someone, often a close family member, trusted friend, or colleague, willfully choose to  engage in the harm of another? What possible reason could they have for damaging a reputation, or for causing emotional upheaval, ‘pulling the pin’ and tossing the grenade in order to frag someone they know and claim to care about?

Instances of fragging often leave deep wounds, causing people to lose faith and trust in people, leading to cynicism in their outlook. Fragging weakens people, leading to depression and bitterness.

Most people have experienced fragging at some point in life. I once had a staff member who took it upon himself to tell others that God had revealed to him that Dee and I were having severe marital problems. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but the rumors were spread. This was reported to me by a friend and of course I was shocked. I asked my friend, “What did you say to refute this claim?” His response was that he had made no defense on our behalf. Even today, after many years, I wonder which was worse – the wrongful rumor or the lack of defense by a friend who knew better.

Simple – just pull the pin and toss. The result is often a bloody mess…

So – what should be your response to fragging? First, do not respond in kind. A grenade tossed as revenge is the wrong approach. Instead, the correct response is forgiveness, difficult as that may be. Second, seek restoration of the relationship if possible. Third, as a Christian, it is best to allow the Lord to work in the hearts of all, including the perpetrator and those who willingly gave a listening ear.

During wartime, fragging of a fellow soldier can result in severe injury or death. Among family and friends, verbal fragging leaves deeply wounded people weighed down with discouragement and disillusionment. They lose personal joy and become ineffective in service to others, sometimes taking years to recover.

The explosion of a fragmentation grenade is often quite lethal

We must be loyal to those with whom we serve, as well as to family, and each one we call our friend. Damaging the reputation of another through the spreading of malicious gossip, the sewing of discord, or trying to gain advantage over others through devious tactics should not be known, especially among those who name the name of Christ.

In Vietnam, soldiers who were fragged never saw it coming. For us today, it would certainly be best that we never allow it to happen.

© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2017

(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)