John Wesley, in Sermon 90, classifies three types of lies: malicious, harmless, and officious. In regards to the latter, he writes,
Concerning officious lies, those that are spoken with a design to do good, there have been numerous controversies in the Christian Church. Abundance of writers, and those men of renown, for piety as well as learning, have published whole volumes upon the subject, and, in despite of all opposers, not only maintained them to be innocent, but commended them as meritorious. But what saith the Scripture One passage is so express that there does not need any other. It occurs in the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, where the very words of the Apostle are: (Rom. 3: 7-8,) …
Here the Apostle plainly declares,
(1.) That the good effect of a lie is no excuse for it.
(2.) That it is a mere slander upon Christians to say, “They teach men to do evil that good may come.”
(3.) That if any, in fact, do this; either teach men to do evil that good may come, or do so themselves; their damnation is just.
This is peculiarly applicable to those who tell lies in order to do good thereby. It follows, that officious lies, as well as all others, are an abomination to the God of truth.
Therefore, there is no absurdity, however strange it may sound, in that saying of the ancient Father, “I would not tell a wilful lie, to save the souls of the whole world.”
Wherein The United Methodist Church once opposed lying, even for the so-called good, we now openly condone it, even request it from those with sacred trust. We then wonder why some people have an issue with trust in this denomination.
A resolution was passed at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference requesting that the CFA of the Annual Conference:
“state that there are no funds available for initiating and processing of complaints and initiating of investigations and trials based upon the sexual orientation or marital status of faith United Methodists or involving clergy for conducting same-sex weddings.” (here)
Rightly so, this was immediately called out, on the floor by a delegate, as a lie. The NEJ is requesting that the ones who makes sure all of our money is safe and used in accordance with the Book of Discipline lie. When I recommend you stop paying apportionments, it is in part because you cannot trust what is being done with the money.
Consider what is found in ¶ 611‐628 of the Discipline. These paragraphs call for reporting to the Annual Conference and accurate budget, with measures for auditing, bonding, and the such. If the council presents a budget to the Annual Conference that is intentionally inaccurate, then they are indeed lying.
But, there are more lies.
I have to echo Maria Dixon Hill’s comments,
- Do you know the General Rules of our Church?
- Will you keep them?
- Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church?
- After full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures?
- Will you preach and maintain them?
- Have you studied our form of Church discipline and polity?
- Do you approve our Church government and polity?
- Will you support and maintain them?
And if you said yes: Did you mean it or were your fingers crossed?
While Rev. Karen Oliveto had to reaffirm her ordination vows, there is more. I’ve covered the vows made by a bishop before. Is she going to guard the doctrine and discipline of The United Methodist Church? She can’t, at least the way it is written now — but she said she would.
There is now a bishop that took these vows that, and by her very presence as a bishop has broken several of those vows to God already. She took those vows, in the presence of many others, knowing she would have to break them. And why is this acceptable? How can their be trust and unity when there is no discipline?
Tell me, friend, what have these lies cost us? These lies are not part of our collective body, with two jurisdictions forcing upon the rest of The United Methodist Church, a system of distrust.
I am thankful that several bishops — even those who want to see the Discipline changed — have spoken out against this act of distrust and disunion. They do restore some sense of trust, and I hope it is enough to get us through the next few months.