Should Christians File Lawsuits?
Should a Christian file a lawsuit or not? Are lawsuits ethical or not? John Choate, Jr, a Conroe lawyer opens up the discussion biblically.
For many in the Conroe area, asking a lawyer if lawsuits are ethical might seem absurd.
However, followers of Jesus should always weigh the ethics of any situation; we walk in accordance with a different, higher standard. Every decision made should not only be weighed against whether one can do it, but also whether one should do it. Furthermore, every decision a Christian makes ought to take into consideration whether the Bible has anything to say about that decision.
The Old Testament: Our Behavior During a Lawsuit
Concerning lawsuits, there are several places in the Biblical text that assume lawsuits and other matters of jurisprudence are a normal part of society. Therefore, guidelines are provided for handling legal disputes.
First, in Exodus, Moses engaged in arbitration between Israelites. His father-in-law counseled him before departing, and provided a more efficient method of handling disputes. Further, he instructed Moses to select and teach others how to handle their disputes (see Exodus 18:13-27). Those whom Moses selected were God-fearing, trustworthy, and above reproach.
Later, the Law stipulates what our attitude should be in a lawsuit. That is, suits should be free from bribes and partiality (see Exodus 23:1-8), given these dynamics twist the execution of justice.
Besides this, subversion (intimidating either those who bring suit or those with the authority to judge a suit) as a tactic was specifically reproved in Jeremiah’s writings (Lamentations 3:36).
The New Testament: Should We Bring Suit?
Moving to the New Testament, Jesus, speaking to the crowds of poor, specifically touches on the inner motive when it comes to responding to lawsuits (Matthew 5:40). Namely, kindness should characterize our response instead of vengeance. Further, we should hunt for a solution that creates a win/win for all parties involved, rather than strife.
Indeed, the purpose of legal suits should at least be twofold :
- To correct patterns of abuse or mistreatment.
- To arrive at a place of equilibrium between parties instead of constant friction, and, where possible, reconciliation.
Paul’s exhortation to believers in Corinth focused on the squabbles, factions, and divisions that brought disrepute on all Christians. Within the scope of issues that caused division, Paul covered lawsuits between Christians. It appears that believers were suing one another through courts led by unbelievers. Paul told the Corinthians stop using secular courts to settle disputes, and instead see arbitration from other believers.
As believers, we should aim for resolution, and if possible, reconciliation, rather than division. Per the counsel of Scripture, if a lawsuit is going to become an option, then let it be the option of last resort, after arbitration and every other attempt at resolution has failed.
For further insight, see Focus on the Family’s article on the topic. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with John Choate, Jr, a Conroe lawyer, who has years of experience of handling cases whether by negotiations or mediation to resolve family, business or property disputes.