Preface: I have been challenged by a pastor (EDIT: This was not the pastor of the church I came out of) to take a stand on one side or the other of the controversies that took place in the church that I used to be a member of. I’ve been criticized heavily for believing that often there is truth on both sides and in these types of situations my conviction is that I can only take a stand on what I know to be true or have witnessed and not on what others perceive as the truth. I won’t blindly follow anyone and so the following is one such conviction. I will address others in time! (edited below, took out opinion statement)
In this life we are called to establish many things, sometimes it is easy sometimes it isn’t. We establish relationships and those take years to become good relationships. The Lord Himself establishes His children in the faith once delivered. We become established in our jobs, some establish institutions, businesses or laws. In a court of law the truth is to be established: to show to be valid or true; prove: to establish the facts of the matter. To prove with sound, just and well-founded reasons. Sometimes that is difficult to do and so the jury is cautioned to find a guilty verdict only upon proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
A recent conversation I had with a co-worker comes to my mind and I’d like to jot it down here as an example of what I am talking about.
I was visiting with a co-worker and in the course of our conversation I gave her some information that was only for her, something that was about me not anyone else. I hadn’t given this information to another soul, but soon it was ‘seemingly’ common knowledge. Knowing that she was the only one with that information I knew where it had come from and so I went to her. I have had to learn, as a continuing repentant idolater, to ask a specific question when I confront someone so that ALL things are represented fairly and so that I don’t cave just to please someone. I didn’t ask her if she had ever said anything ‘negative’ about me because we all know that is part of what we do, we voice positive and negative thoughts, they are called opinions. Opinions about what we believe i.e. (convictions), daily life, and work and yes, even people. Instead I asked her the very specific question of ‘did you or did you not tell “so and so” what I told you? I wanted her to have fair opportunity to tell me the truth of the matter that was at hand. Generalities don’t count when you are trying to establish something as truth.
The reason I am relaying this story is because of a public ‘church’ trial, at the local level, that I attended some time ago where the issue of establishing if someone was a liar was taking place.
To lie is to state something that is false with the intention that it be taken for the truth by oneself or someone else.
If one is trying to deceive then it is the intent of being untruthful rather than the truthfulness of the statement itself that is considered.
I didn’t agree with the tactics used at this trial to prove the charge. We (the onlookers) didn’t hear the whole of the tape that was used as evidence, just supposedly the important statements and snippets of it here and there. The questioning was leading and not direct and it was obvious that the trial wasn’t to establish truth, but to bring a verdict. I believe things that weren’t true were established as true along faulty conclusions. There was never a question asked that proved this woman a liar; instead they were questions such as ‘did you ever say anything negative about such and such’ or ‘this and that’, very vague questions without substance. The defendant remembered some things she had said that could be construed as negative and some things she couldn’t recall.
Her counsel asked if they might be more specific and give her an idea of what they were asking but of course they never did and I took exception to that. How do you prove someone a liar if you never establish what they lied about in court? I wish they would have asked direct questions because that might have established her side or their side. Remember the definition above; lying is proving someone’s intent and that was NEVER accomplished, although she was found guilty and handed a sentence of excommunication, the harshest form of discipline which should always be reserved for only those who are living in open proven blatant sin and who refuse to repent.
Her personality lends itself to forgetting much of what is said and forgetting who said what and even when but a liar she is not. I’ve known her for over 20 years and my opinion is that they found her guilty of a personality trait and that grieves me. It grieves me for her, it grieves me for those who charged her and it grieves me a great deal for those who sat and watched and listened to what they perceived as evidence which truly wasn’t. We know the Lord will have His way, of that we can be certain. But His way is not always to make the crooked straight, at least not while we are here. One day the crooked will be straight and all things will be known, oh how all believers long for that day.
There were three families that took their appeals and complaints to the next level in the government of the ‘institutional church’ and they were all sustained and overturned by the classis. The appellants were reprimanded, yes, for certain of their actions; nevertheless they were upheld in their quest. Some call it a win/loss situation, I don’t think of it in those terms. I pray to this day that true reconciliation can come about in the company of the saints! We know that all things are possible with God.
Oh yes, the outcome of my own little story. I gave my co-worker a fair chance to tell the truth or to tell a lie and didn’t muddy the waters in the process; something we should all remember in our quest to have the truth surface.
Grace and Peace!