Scripture makes it pretty clear that brothers and sisters in Christ should not be suing one another (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). There are better ways to handle disputes among believers. Mediation or arbitration through the church or a professional arbiter 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.
But what about lawsuits between Christians and non-Christians? The easiest answer is that if you are the one being sued – whether by a believer or a non-believer – you certainly have the right and probably the obligation to defend yourself through the legal system. Obviously, if a Christian is suing you, it would be preferable to work out some kind of arbitration, as described above. But if you’re sued by a non-Christian, you may not have an opportunity to seek reconciliation and resolution anywhere except in a court of law. There is nothing in Scripture that would prohibit you from defending yourself in this way.
Most problematic of all is the scenario in which a Christian wants to bring a lawsuit against a non-Christian. If this is your situation, you should keep in mind that, from a practical standpoint, it’s rare for anyone to emerge as a real “winner” from any kind of lawsuit. The expense in terms of time, money and emotional outlay usually offsets any potential financial gain that might be expected from the case. Generally speaking, then, it’s a good idea to avoid lawsuits.
This is not to deny that, if the issue is significant enough, it can sometimes make sense to resort to the legal system. This is particularly true in situations involving contracts and commercial transactions. Lawsuits can be useful when a contract is in dispute. In many cases the legal system can sort out the facts and come to a resolution far more quickly and effectively than the concerned individuals could on their own. We would suggest that it’s best to begin by seeking mediation or arbitration. If this doesn’t work, and if a lawsuit seems warranted, you should get the counsel of a Christian attorney who is in a position to supplement his legal expertise with wisdom drawn from the Bible.
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Peacemaker Ministries. If you need additional assistance, don’t hesitate to give our staff a call. Focus on the Family’s counselors would be happy to listen to your concerns and come alongside you with some practical suggestions.
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