A snitch is a person who informs an authority (such as a parent or the police) of bad behavior. A boy may call his little sister a snitch if she tells his parents he stole a cookie. In a more serious context, a gang member may be called a snitch if he informs the police of an upcoming drug deal. In popular culture, a snitch is almost always presented as a bad person, as indicated by the associated slang: rat, tattle-tale, fink, narc, squealer, stoolie, weasel, and Judas. These are all informal terms; the more standard term is informer.
The reason being a snitch is morally questionable is that it involves a conflict of interest. On one hand, the snitch is telling the truth. On the other hand, he or she is betraying a confidence. Adding to the complexity, snitching is usually done with some interest in a payoff. The sister who tells on her brother may be hoping for a pat on the head from her parent. The gang member may be hoping to bargain for a lesser jail sentence.
The Bible, while never using the word snitch, records the accounts of several informers. Sometimes the informers acted evilly; other times, nobly. Examples of evil informers include the Ziphites, who betrayed David into Saul’s hand twice (1 Samuel 23:19–20; 26:1; cf. Psalm 54); Doeg the Edomite, who “snitched” on those who helped David, resulting in a massacre (1 Samuel 21:7; 22:9–19); the Persian satraps who “snitched” on Daniel (Daniel 6:10–13); and, of course, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord (Matthew 26:14–16). Examples of noble informers include Mordecai, who informed the king of a plot to assassinate him (Esther 2:21–23). The difference between “good” snitching and “bad” snitching seems to be its effect on innocent people. It was wrong for Saul to seek to murder David, and the “snitches” who furthered Saul’s plan were complicit in attempted murder. But, if passing along information can uphold justice or thwart an evil, then “snitching” can be good.
The Bible recommends first that we do not enter into confidences with evil people (1 Corinthians 15:33; Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 13:20). Spending time with people who do illegal things will eventually result in participation in those illegal activities or, at the very least, companionship that expects loyalty. This is a dangerous situation. A former criminal accomplice who comes clean to the authorities will get labeled a “snitch” and will be in jeopardy. It is better not to go down that road at all.
God rewards those who protect the innocent (Exodus 1:15–21). And we have a responsibility to act for good when we have the power to do so (Proverbs 3:27). If we have information that will protect the innocent or bring about good, then we should share that information with those who have the power to help, even at the risk of being called a “snitch.” If protecting the innocent requires concealing information, then concealment is the order of the day.
The word snitch has a negative connotation, but we must consider the source. Usually, those who castigate someone as a “snitch” are angry at being caught in wrongdoing. They should be angry at themselves for doing wrong in the first place and repent of their sin instead of impugning the informer.
That said, snitching is often motivated by jealousy, bitterness, rivalry, and a lack of mercy. The Pharisees who brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus’ feet were informers with sinful motives. They were trying to prove their own righteousness and trying to catch Jesus in a trap (John 8:1–10). The adulteress was guilty. The Law was clear. But Jesus simply turned it back on them, saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). God does not delight in the punishment of sinful people, and neither should we (Ezekiel 33:11; 18:23). Instead, our attitude toward someone in the wrong should be a desire for restoration and reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Timothy 2:24–25).