Doctrines and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church of North America - 1939 Edition



I. Temperance

     ¶ 63. A spirit of self-denial is indispensable to the Christian character. A large proportion of the crone and pauperism of the country is caused by strong drink. The Spirit of Christ never leads one to countenance the use or sale of intoxicating liquor as a beverage.

     ¶ 64. The stewards on all our circuits shall make provision to use the unfermented juice of the grape in celebrating the Lord’s Supper. In no case shall intoxicating wine be used for this purpose.

     ¶ 65. Every man of God should break away from party trammels, and never knowingly give his vote or influence to elect any man to office who will use his official or personal influence to legalize the traffic in intoxicating liquors as a beverage. As Christians we are bound to do all we can to prohibit by law this nefarious traffic.

II. Marriage and Divorce

     ¶ 66. We do not prohibit our people from marrying persons who are not members of our church, provided such persons give evidence of being converted to God; but we are determined to discourage their marrying those who do not come up to this standard.

     ¶ 67. Some of our members have married with unsaved persons. This has produced bad effects. They have either been hindered for life or have turned back to perdition. To discourage such marriages: 1. Every preacher shall publicly enforce the apostle’s command, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). 2. All should be exhorted never to marry without advising with some of the more serious of their brethren.

     ¶ 68. In general a woman ought not to marry without the consent of her parents. Yet there may be exceptions. For if, (1) A woman believes it to be her duty to marry, and if, (2) Her parents absolutely refuse to let her marry any Christian, then she may, nay, ought to marry without their consent.

     ¶ 69. We recognize no other ground for divorce than that permitted in the word of God (Matt. 5: 32; Mark 10: 11, 12). Any person guilty of a violation of this law shall have no place among us.

     ¶ 70. Our preachers shall not officiate at the marriage of any person who is under eighteen years of age, unless the parents or guardians be present or have given written consent, and unless at least two witnesses, knowing the contracting parties, be present. They shall in every case refuse to officiate at the marriage of divorced parties, unless furnished with satisfactory evidence that the case is such as would not conflict with the law of divorce recognized in the preceding paragraph.

III. Dress

     ¶ 71. We insist on the rules concerning dress, This is no time to give encouragement to superfluity of apparel. Therefore, receive none into the church till they have left off superfluous ornaments. I order to this: 1. Every one who has charge of a circuit shall read Mr. Wesley’s sermon on dress at leas once a year in every society. 2. In visiting the classes be very mild but very strict. 3. Allow of no exempt case; better one suffer than many.

IV. Secret Societies

     ¶ 72. 1. Voluntary associations are not necessarily sinful because they are secret. But secrecy is always a ground of suspicion. Evil works instinctively incline to darkness. Good works grow up in light. God commands us to let our light shine. Even a good cause under the shadow of secrecy invalidates its claim to the confidence of open and honest men. Grace and guile can have no affinity. All secrets necessary to be kept can be kept without an oath. A bad institution should not, and a good one need not, be secret. Philanthropic associations claiming our cooperation on Christian grounds, must do so with open face. They must lift the veil while demanding our salutation, or we cannot salute them by the way. Therefore, all secret societies are to be eschewed.

     2. Any society requiring an oath, affirmation, or promise of secrecy, as a condition of membership, is held to be a secret society; and any member joining or continuing in such, violates his covenant obligations, and shell in due form be excluded from the church; and the preacher shall report that he is excluded for infraction of our rules and regulations.

     ¶ 73. 1. We would not Oppose the open and honest organization of the laboring classes seeking in a proper way their betterment without injuring others or violating the inherent rights of any, but we are opposed to the element of pledged or oath-bound secrecy, the policy of coercion, the practice of lawlessness, or any other evil in such organizations. While we prohibit our members from membership in labor Unions or other societies demanding a pledge of oath-bound secrecy as a condition of membership; yet, we recognize the inherent rights of our members to bold membership in labor organizations where such demands are not required. If the privilege of working at one’s trade does not involve the enforcement of a policy of coercion, and our members are permitted to work by the labor union by the payment of regular dues, we grant them this right, even though they cannot on account of required pledges of oath-bound secrecy be members of the labor union.

     2. The Executive Commission of the Board of Administration shall constitute a Board of Industrial Relations the duty of which is to grant information, and render decisions on all matters of industrial relations. To this Board all questions, communications, and papers should be committed that relate to labor unions or membership in the same. This Board shall also constitute a collective bargaining agency on behalf of the members of our church wherever practicable.

V. Militarism and War

     ¶ 73 1/2. Militarism is contrary to the spirit of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is utterly indefensible and inexcusable from humanitarian principles alone. Because it fosters a spirit of militarism, we therefore disapprove of the requirement in some of our secular schools compelling our young men to enter military training during the years of their attendance, and it is our profound conviction that none of our people should be required to enter military training or to bear arms, except in case of national peril, and that the conscience of our individual members should be respected. Therefore we claim exemption from the bearing of arms for all members of our church who are conscientious objectors.