Should Christians sue other Christians?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Anleifr, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Anleifr

    Anleifr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here is what Paul says:

    Here is what Jesus says:

    I have tended to interpret these verse at "face value" and believed that believers should not sue other believers but, rather, should take their grievances to the church. If a believer is being sued by another believer (or by anyone for that matter) he should not "fight" back; he should leave the situation up to God.

    I read in the Baptist news about state conventions suing Baptist state colleges and Christian groups suing the ACLU and each other over "evolution" and "school prayer."

    I was interested in seeing some comments and alternative interpretations of these Scripture verses.
     
  2. LadyEagle

    LadyEagle
    Expand Collapse
    <b>Moderator</b> <img src =/israel.gif>
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    22,028
    Likes Received:
    1
    ACLU is not Christian. Case closed.
     
  3. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    3,816
    Likes Received:
    0
    The cases of State Conventions suing Baptist State Colleges has occurred in recent months in Georgia and Missouri.

    Here's why some think it's permissable.

    These organizations are incorporated under State Law. If they violate any state code in the way they do business who will call them to task if not State Conventions or member churches or messengers of the convention?
     
  4. Debby in Philly

    Debby in Philly
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2003
    Messages:
    2,537
    Likes Received:
    0
    Our attorney won't take a case to court if he knows the two parties involved are Christians. He advises them to take it to their deacon boards. But that has to do with individuals. When you are dealing with business entities, even "Christian" ones, things must be dealt with legally, in order to be valid in the world's reckoning. Besides, not everyone working for a "Christian" legal entity is necessarily a born-again Christian.
     
  5. Plain Old Bill

    Plain Old Bill
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    3,657
    Likes Received:
    0
    Right on LadyEagle.
     
  6. Anleifr

    Anleifr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    I understand that they are accountable to no one but the conventions (et al) ... and God. But should the Christian conventions bring sue the Christian colleges? Or should they either assert their accountabiltiy perogative a different (more Biblical?) way or let God take care of them?

    I would respond to those you make the assertion that suing is permissable when there isn't outside accountability that such scenarios do not negate Scriptural prohibitions. The question then is whether or not suing other Christians (or other Christian institutions) is prohibited by Scripture.
     
  7. El_Guero

    El_Guero
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,714
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are you suing or being sued?

    Gotta be clear sometimes ...
     
  8. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    3,816
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do you not subject yourself to State Law when you incorporate a religious organization?

    I think YES. And if you do then you must follow the state's prescribed legal system for resolving legal matters.

    In the Missouri Case the Missouri State Convention was open for Christian Arbitration but the agencies refused. In fact the trustees acted like they didn't even know what Christian Arbitration was.
     
  9. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    If someone, Christian or not, wrongs me, and the wrong is not righted via all civil methods in an equitable manner, then I will indeed seek remedies via the civil court system. To refrain from doing so will do one of two things:

    1 - It will send the message that Christians are patsies and will allow you to walk all over them, and

    2 - It will send the message that Christians who wrong other Christians are exempt from being held accountable for their actions legally.

    If you're a Christian, and accidentally run your car through my living room window costing $2000 to repair, and you refuse to pay for it, you bet I'm going to sue you for damages. OTOH, if I run my car through another person's window, not only will I pay for your window, but I will probably give you a few extra bucks just for your trouble. Keep in mind that, like most people, I don't have that much money lying around.
     
  10. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    Speaking as a Missouri Baptist, people should know that the agencies involved were instituted, funded, and supported by the Missouri Baptist Convention from their very beginnings. In effect, although God owns all things, the MBC exercized the temporal rights of ownership.

    Soon after the beginnings of the conservative takeover in the SBC, there came a point at which each of the agencies "hijacked" themselves (quite illegally, I assure you) from the control of the MBC. This is (as of two years ago) a total of 231 million dollars in material assets, put in place by God through the tithes and offerings of members of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

    What else is there to do? Should we just release control of these godly institutions so they can pursue their more liberal agenda? Or do we take steps necessary to restore them back to their rightful stewards - the Missouri Baptist Convention?

    Either way, in the eyes of both Christian and secular society, we come out as losers. It's a difficult situation to be sure. For my part, I believe the MBC is doing the right thing in our efforts to restore these agencies to the MBC.

    Most people are stuck on the idea of suing, as if anyone is going to profit from this. The MBC, however, is suing to regain control over assets that we already legally own. There's a big difference.
     
  11. Anleifr

    Anleifr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, whose reckoning are we more concerned about? the world’s or God’s? I understand what you are saying, though; but if I thought the Scriptures allowed for such a process, I would not mind lawsuits among Christian entities. I am just not sure the Scriptures allow lawsuits among any believers, even believing institutions. If we admit that the Scriptures do not allow individual believers to sue individual believers, is not a group of believers suing another group of believers just as bad or worse.

    True, not everyone working for a Christian legal entity is a believer. But we do not know men’s hearts. If they have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ we have to treat them as such.

    With regards to the world, Paul appears to admonish believers from going to court because of unbelievers (1 Cor 6:6)

    If a Christian group or any individual believer is breaking a state law then I think notifying secular authorities is fine. I think that falls under Romans 13.

    But if the group is not breaking a state law and secular authorities do not get involved then I do not think we are only left with the option of a lawsuit. I think there are always other options. That is, if suing a Christian group is prohibited by Scripture.

    Well, we have to respond in a Christ-like manner. I look at Matt. 5:38-48 and cannot see how lawsuits agree with Christ’s teachings. I am not saying that this is easy or fair (it takes a lot of faith in God to refrain from such actions) but I do think we as believers are called to this high standard.

    If these institutions are breaking state laws then notify the state. If they are not breaking state laws or the state will not intervene, then I can’t see how one can Scriptural take them to the state courts.

    Releasing the institutions is an option. There may be other options. But just because others harm us or don’t play fair do we then have the right to violate Scriptural prohibitions, if that is the case.

    We cannot base our Christian duty on what the world or other believers think; we have to do what the Scriptures tell us.

    Whether or not one group profits or even whether one group is in the right seems to be beyond the point. We can’t break Scriptural mandates just because we are a part of the right cause. That’s the end justifying the means. I go back to Matt. 5:38-48.


    Before I am willing to change my position on this issue I think I will need to see Scriptural rather than anecdotal arguments.
     
  12. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    3,816
    Likes Received:
    0
    How about "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's"

    If you obligate your church or religious institution with the laws of Caesar by incorporating your entity then you are bound by law and by God's Word to Obey the King.

    Why do you think Paul appealed to Caesar? He obviously did not mind asserting his legal rights when it was necessary.
     
  13. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hardsheller, my friend, do you mean that Paul took a religious issue to secular court? By some of the above reasoning, he sinned in doing so!

    As usual, I find myself in agreement with your position. I think it would violate scriptural mandates on good stewardship to simply allow these things to happen without challenge.

    What many don't understand is that the MBC begged these agencies to submit to binding Christian arbitration - and they flat refused. Why? Because everyone knows they don't have a leg to stand on - scripturally or legally.
     
  14. Anleifr

    Anleifr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jesus’ command to “render unto Caesar” neither supersedes nor negates other Scriptural commands. Submitting to secular authorities does not give us the obligation to do as the state says when the state asks us to violate other Scriptural commands. For instance, the state cannot make us stop witnessing. If the state ordered us to cease witnessing, we would not submit because we do not believe that the state is correct. So there are circumstances when we do not “render unto Caesar”, i.e., when “Caesar” orders us to break the commands of God.

    “Appealing to Caesar”, or appealing to the government, is one thing; suing another believer is a far different matter. Again, if we think that a Christian or Christian group is violating state law then I think we can appeal to the state. But if no state law is being broken then we do not have the Scriptural mandate to break Paul’s command to not sue.

    I would not assert that those who are upset about the situation in the MBC allow unscriptural behaviour to continue. If you feel that something needs to be done then, by all means, do something. My position in this situation is not that something should or should not be done. Rather, I am questioning the way in which something is done. I question the method of “lawsuits” among believers.

    Would it not violate the scriptural mandate of 1 Cor 6:1-8 to sue other believers? If not, why?

    Again, even if these agencies are violating Scripture doesn’t give another carte blanche to violate Scripture in response.
     
  15. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2000
    Messages:
    17,933
    Likes Received:
    8
    Not normally
     
  16. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    3,816
    Likes Received:
    0
    Anleifr,

    If I were a lawyer here's what I would say to you.

    The scripture in 1 Cor 6 applies to the local church at Corinth and thus to all other local churches for all time. Christians in local churches are not to sue each other, period, they are to handle all their diffences through local church discipline.

    Now you show me how this passage applies to all Christians who are not members of the same local church. Who would be the judge? How can you use Local Church Discipline when there is no church involved?
     
  17. robycop3

    robycop3
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2000
    Messages:
    7,505
    Likes Received:
    1
    I believe if one who claims to be a Christian commits a tort against me and we cannot settle it by other means, that person is not acting as a Christian and I have no qualms against using the legal system agains this person.

    Several years ago, a truck driven by me "rear-ended" a stopped car with one occupant.(a minor accident-no one injured.) I was able to reach an amicable settlement by acknowledging it was my fault and offering a cash settlement to repair the other person's car(about $400) and being friendly. I explained I was a CHRISTIAN and therefore wanted to do the HONEST thing.(The other person is NOT a Christian.)

    That person and I are friends today.(I'm still trying to lead him to CHRIST.)

    OTOH, I loaned a professing Christian some money, which he could easily have repaid in a week, and I finally had to threaten him with a lawsuit. He repaid me, while telling me I wasn't acting as a Christian, etc. Sorry, Sir, I EARNED that money, and had the right not to lend it at all, and I asked for no interest. The CHRISTIAN thing woulda been to have repaid the debt w/o being asked.
     
  18. El_Guero

    El_Guero
    Expand Collapse
    Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,714
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting ...
     
  19. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2003
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    0
    You're right...especially if you're looking at it from outside the situation. It's one of those things that, no matter which way we proceed, it's wrong in the eyes of so many. So to many, it's an interesting conversation. To me and my brethren in the MBC, it's extremely difficult - not "interesting."
     
  20. Anleifr

    Anleifr
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2004
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent questions! I’ll do my best to answer.

    Five points:

    First, when two or more believers are involved then the church is always involved.

    Second, Paul statements about lawsuits among believers comes in a whole passage about immorality and the body (individual and corporate), extending from 1 Cor 5 to 1 Cor 6:20.

    Third, it would seem odd that Paul would put a prohibition against individuals believers but allow such action on the part of an aggregate of believers. Here is an extreme example: 1 Cor 6:9-10 gives a vice list following the prohibition against lawsuits among believers. It would seem odd for us to state that such behaviour is wrong among individual believers but alright among a body of individual believers, or this behaviour is wrong among those believers who attend church but alright among believers who do not attend church.

    Fourth, while Paul is speaking to a local or regional church in the case of the Corinthian congregation, it is doubtful that the principles he is applying are just intended for the local church. If such were the case then associations and denominations that break fellowship with a church that has a homosexual pastor in accordance with 1 Cor 5:11-13 and 1 Cor 6:9 were applying a microcosmic discipline in an unscriptural macrocosmic manner.

    Finally, Paul never seems to make a differentiation between the local church and the whole church. There is one body of Christ and that one body is the whole church in all of its local and regional manifestations (1 Cor 12). One could go so far as to say that the church exists wherever two or more are gathered in Jesus’ name. The church is not an institution, rather it is a composition of people united under the headship of Christ.

    At least in 1 Cor, Paul speaks about the individual believers body (6:15-20) and the body of the church, whether local or in its entirety (12:12-31).

    In 6:15-20 he speaks about the body of the individual believer associating with immorality. In 5:1-13, he speaks about the body of the aggregate of individual believers that makes up the local church associating with an individual believer who is associating with immorality: “a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (5:6). This is interesting logic on the part of Paul. The individual believer’s body is one of many individual bodies that makes up the whole body of Christ, i.e. the church. The same can be said of many local churches making up many associations making up many state conventions making up many denominations that makes up the entire church in all of its manifestations across the globe, across cultures, since its founding at Pentecost.

    Paul speaks in 12:22-31 about the whole body of Christ and its many gifts. He speaks that there should not be any division in the body (v. 25). He speaks about the different spiritual gifts given to the many members of the body. He then speaks about apostles, prophets and teachers (v. 28). The reference to apostles in this verse about the church body seems to indicate that he is referring to the church as a whole and not just in its local manifestation in Corinth. There does not seem to be any apostles in Corinth at the time of this letter because if there had been then such church problems would have been dealt with by them and not by Paul via letter, but they are not. Thus, while Paul is speaking to a local congregation, he is speaking to the church as a whole, the whole body of Christ, to which he wishes no division, including lawsuits.

    Now in terms of how church discipline should be carried out:

    When a local association of local churches finds that one of its member churches is honoring immorality, those local churches break fellowship with that church. When a denominational body of believers finds that one of its member churches is honoring immorality, then those believers break fellowship with that church. This is appears to be the Scriptural method of discipline, the breaking of fellowship.

    There are countless scenarios that one can submit for this discussion. Allow me to give a few.

    Let’s say you have two believers from two different local churches in a dispute. Well, involve both churches in handling the dispute.

    Let us take the MBC situation into account. If MBC agencies are refusing to abide by MBC standards then either remove the leaders of those agencies from their positions or, if either that fails or is not an option, then dissolve those agencies.

    In the end it is God who is to ultimately handle disciplinary matters. If the methods stated in the Scriptures are not applicable and the only methods left available are contrary to Scripture, then shake the sand from the souls of your shoes and leave it up to God to handle the situation.
     

Share This Page

Loading...