Christian Response to Lawsuits and Civil Litigation

How should I respond if someone sues me? In 1 Corinthians 1:1-11, Paul says that Christians shouldn't bring lawsuits against one another. That makes perfect sense to me. I understand that brothers and sisters in Christ need to explore other, less adversarial ways of resolving their differences, and I don't intend to sue anybody if I can help it. But what do I do if someone, Christian or non-Christian, decides to bring a lawsuit against me?

In that case you don’t have any choice, do you? You have to respond whether you like it or not. But how you respond will depend to a great extent on who it is that’s bringing the action against you.

First off, it’s important to clarify that if you are being sued, whether by a believer or a non-believer, you do have the right to defend yourself through the legal system. You shouldn’t feel guilty about exercising that right if it’s the only course open to you. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go that route. This is particularly true if the litigant happens to be a believer. In that case, you may have a number of other options.

If you’re being sued by a Christian, you can appeal to him in the name of the bond he shares with you in Christ. You can direct his attention to the passage of Scripture you’ve already mentioned (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). Naturally, you should approach him in humility. Your motive should be a sincere desire to promote the best interests of all concerned. Remind him that God commands us as Christian brothers and sisters to be guided by love in all our interactions with one another. Tell him that there are better ways to handle disputes among believers. You might, for instance, suggest mediation or arbitration through the church or a professional arbiter. These approaches offer pathways to reconciliation that seem far more compatible with the principles Jesus lays down in Matthew 18:15-20. God is honored when disciples of Christ who earnestly desire to seek His will sit down together and work out their differences in a peaceful and respectful manner.

If the party in question refuses to cooperate or simply won’t listen, you probably have no alternative except to hire a good Christian attorney. Make sure that this lawyer is able to integrate his or her legal expertise with wisdom drawn from the Bible. The same applies if you’re sued by a non-Christian. As we’ve already said, there is nothing in Scripture that prohibits you from defending yourself in this way.

In cases requiring non-adversarial clarification – for example, those that involve contracts or commercial transactions – it’s actually a good idea to resort to the legal system. In situations of this kind, trained lawyers can sort out the facts and come to a resolution far more quickly and effectively than the concerned individuals could on their own.

One last thought: remember that, from a practical standpoint, it’s rare that anybody emerges from a lawsuit as a real “winner.” The expense in terms of time, money and emotional outlay usually offsets any potential financial gain. This is the point of the advice Jesus gives us in Matthew 5:25: “Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him … ”

For further help and information you may wish to visit the website of
Peacemaker Ministries. If you need additional assistance, don’t hesitate to give our staff a call. Focus on the Family has pastoral counselors who would love to speak with you over the phone.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict

Peacemaker Ministries

Christian Legal Society Referral Directory

You May Also Like