Is it always wrong to take another Christian to court?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Pastor_Bob, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    I have a situation that I am beginning to get involved in. A lady in our church is the city clerk in the town she lives in. It is not the town in which our church is located. The town is about 800 people. She has been at this job for over 26 years. Just recently, there have been four former city councilmen that have been spreading falsehoods about this lady.

    The lies can be, and have been easily proven to be lies, but they are being to persuade some folks in the town that she is doing wrong. They are getting folks to question her level of pay and her benefit package that these very men gave her a few years back.

    She want to get the city attorney to write a letter to these men expressing the action of a lawsuit for defamation of character if the slander does not stop.

    These men are professing Christians who attend their churches every Sunday morning. None of them are members of our church. I know each of these men personally.

    Would this action violate the scriptural principle found in I Corinthians 6? She is not seeking gain; she wants to protect her reputation.
     
  2. StefanM

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    I'd be inclined to say she's justified. If they were all members of the same church, they could submit to church arbitration. If the offenders persisted, they could be placed under church discipline. However, in this case, there is no similar remedy possible.
     
  3. Plain Old Bill

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    A letter from a lawer would probably be very helpful without the threat of a lawsuit.The mere fact that she is having a lawyer do the speaking for here sends an implied message.If they are lying they should repent and apologize publically.
     
  4. Helen

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    Pastor, you are in a unique position to handle this thing more biblically, I think. Call the men's pastor and ask if all of you could have a meeting: the two pastors, the four men, and the woman. Make every effort to keep this 'in house', in line with biblical mandates. This is not to hide it from the public, but, rather, to show that there is a different, and better, way of handling these things.

    I was involved in a case before where a man purporting to be a Christian mishandled a great deal of money belonging to me. I called his pastor and all of us involved had a meeting at my house. The man was totally embarrassed and spent the next few years paying off what he had, in effect, stolen. He was accountable to his pastor as well as my pastor for the payments.

    He was also very grateful to be kept out of jail, I think...smile. And, in the long run, he did end up a much stronger Christian and leading Bible studies on financial management in his church.
     
  5. buckster75

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    I second the suggestion of taking the issue to the pastor of these men.
     
  6. Pastor_Bob

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    Two of the men attend the Methodist church in the same town; one attends the Baptist church, and the fourth attends a Christian church in another town.

    I have thought of contacting the Baptist preacher whom I have met on several occasions. To my knowledge I have not met the Methodist pastor or the Christian church pastor.
     
  7. Johnv

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    Scripture does not forbid a Christian from suing another. 1Cor 6 is probably one of the most misapplied scriptures out there. These verses do not introduce a new subject but continue material presented in 1Cor 5, which discusses sinners in the church whose cases needed to be judged. Particularly, one immoral brother needed discipline (5:12-13) and Paul commands in 6:1 that the true believers, the holy ones, judge him. In the matter of having to seek remedies via civil courts, no more reproach is brought upon God's people in a civil suit among Christians than between a Christian and an unbeliever. If it is right to sue one who is not a member of the church, it is right to sue a Christian who civilly wrongs you and refuses to make right the wrong. Many presume that the "unrighteous" in 1Cor 6 are judges. However, this cannot be so, because in a lawsuit one does not plead before judges as men but before courts as institutions. Civil authorities are honorable, divinely-appointed, ordained of God (Rom. 13). Christians must honor those sent by God to administer justice (1 Peter 2:14) in civil courts.

    Some often believe that a Christian is forbidden to file in civil court against another brother because a higher and better court, the church itself, should try any dispute. But realistically, is the local church competent to judge intricate matters of law? Most often, no. They are, however, competent to judge matters of a spiritual nature.

    Now, it's strictly my opinion, but I do believe that Paul doesn't want us to seek legal remedies unless it is as an absolute last resort. If a person commits a wrong, and we allow the wrong by not seeking remedies, then we run the risk of enabling the Christian brother to sin, thus making us a party to that sin.
     
  8. blackbird

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    I'm gonna "ditto" Helen here, Brother! The lady is caught in what is called a "Catch 22"---if she doesn't do anything---the four "bozo's" will continue to harrass----if she files a lawsuit or even threatens one---the "bozo's" will start "yap-yappin'" that she is going against God's word which prohibits lawsuits---let the pagans drag the pagans into court and let it be judged by another pagan judge----but let the righteous stand before the righteous and "shake in our boots" as we stand before the presence of Almighty God!!!

    Bro. David
     
  9. Bible Believing Bill

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    I would say exhaust all possible solutions before getting a lawyer involved. If talking with these men and their pastors is to no avail then get a lawyer. As far as her having the city attorney do anything, I am not sure if he could do anything for her as this seems a private matter and not city business.

    Bill
     
  10. Salamander

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    Anything that brings reproach upon the church or God's Name, where His Name is placed, upon His Church, is forbidden by Scripture.

    Calling the men's pastors into the discussion is highly recommended and supported by Scripture, and thereby honors God in the process.

    Failing to involve these other pastors, regardless of denomination or affiliation would also fail of the grace of God and then be considered having men's persons in respect or lack of respect.

    If we don't keep the "children" in line, they will eventually take over the asylum, which most churches, especially Baptist churches, have already been succumbed to.

    Public humility can be much more effective than a civil court of law.

    Whether these men are right in their accusation, or the woman justified by her suit, the Lord's reputation and reconciliation is the more needful advantage. IOW. let them talk, it will be to their OWN demise.
     
  11. Pipedude

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    Any action must submit to general scriptural principles such as love, testimony, the Spirit's leading, etc. Much wise counsel has been given here along these lines, and it should be heeded.

    But specifically regarding 1 Cor 6, Johnv's point is sound: the passage does not apply between Christians in different churches. It assumes that the two Christians are in the same church and can be judged within the church. If the offender will not hear the church, he is to be excommunicated and is then the rightful target of a lawsuit.

    To repeat, a lawuit permitted by 1 Cor 6 is not necessarily permitted by other principles such as love, testimony, etc. But keep the questions distinct as you seek God's will, and don't let the traditional misunderstanding of 1 Cor 6 mislead you.

    Contacting the other pastors is a good thought.
     
  12. robycop3

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    I would have questions about the faith of those who claim to be Christians, but who bring about the situation described above against a fellow Christian in the first place.
     
  13. Deacon

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    There is no prohibition against civil lawsuits against other Christians but it sure is a bad witness!
    Obviously politics have muddied the water and the name of the lady in your town.

    Getting the church involved in political matters is a touchy matter.
    Be very careful about any involvment.

    The only one satisfied with how things turn out when lawyers get involved are the lawyers.

    Rob
     
  14. Salamander

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    Thou condemnest thyself.
     
  15. Aaron

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    1 Cor. 6 is quite clear. No one has to have lived too long before he is the victim of fraud. I know that when I have been defrauded, going to my Father in prayer was so much better, and effective, than relying on men, Christian or otherwise, to handle situations like this. He is sovereign and omniscient. Nothing these men did to this lady was done without His knowledge.

    One thing, though. If you go to Him in prayer about it, you really have to believe He is in control, and that He truly is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. If you doubt that, well, don't expect any help from Him.

    Go to men instead and see what little they can do for you.
     
  16. JohnDeereFan

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    As others have said, it would be better to contact their pastors but, although the Bible says we shouldn't sue brothers in Christ, it doesn't say we can't have an attorney write them a letter to inform them that such slander is legally actionable.

    If a man won't submit to the decision and discipline of his church in matters like this, then I would have no problem suing him. But I absolutely believe that it should be kept in house as much as possible.
     
  17. Yeshua1

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    To answer your OP irself, no, not sin to bring another to court, as if one was molesting children in church, would have imperative to report them for due justice!

    And she is not seeking to gain money, seems like proper motivation, so would say she can go ahead, AFTER one last attempt to reconcile!
     
  18. salzer mtn

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    So it's been nearly nine years, what's the outcome ?
     

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