Is It Okay for Christians to Take People to Court? (Part 2)

A Little Lesson

Read the transcript of this video below.

We ask for the second time, is it okay for Christians to take other people to court?

Picture of lawyers before judge in courtroom

Hi, welcome to today’s Little Lesson. This is a continuation of our previous Little Lesson where we asked the same question, but we didn’t have time to give a full answer. This is also a special Australian edition of Little Lessons.

There, once again, is the beautiful city of Sydney, Australia behind me as the sun is slowly setting on the city. Here I am blessed in this beautiful high-rise hotel where some of my Australian brothers in Christ have landed me. I’m so thankful for that.

Anyways, what about Christians taking people to court? Without going into a long review, we know that Paul had something to say about this in 1 Corinthians chapter six. I’m going to take a look at that in my Bible here. Just give me a second to get to it.

This is 1 Corinthians chapter six and verse number one. He says, “Does any of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? If you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account to the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between the brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?”

Now, can you see what Paul is decrying here in the Corinthian church? Christians were taking Christians to court, brothers against brothers before unbelievers, and letting the unbelievers arbitrate in their controversies. Paul’s saying that’s something you don’t want to do. That’s wrong.

He goes on to say you might as well just be defrauded. It’d be better if you just let it alone and just be defrauded if that’s what’s actually happened than to actually go to court before unbelievers. Is he saying, though, that you should never go to court with a believer? No, not if we take seriously what we just read that he said.

He says you don’t go before the unbelievers, but you do go before believers. Isn’t there a wise person within your church? You guys are going to judge angels. You’re going to judge the world. You know, he asked this question, “Are you not competent to constitute the smallest law court?” Again, the idea of arbitration and going before impartial judges or a jury to amass all the evidence on both sides, to let them make a decision, render a decision on behalf of those who are having the controversy, that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing.

Blessed are the peacemakers. These are peacemaking situations, where’s there controversy and difficulty between two Christians. Paul said you ought to have court in church. Get a wise brother or get a few among you.

Remember, Jesus said if your brother has something against you, go to him privately. If he doesn’t receive you, then get a couple others with you. Then, have them hear both sides. You’re having court. You’re just not having court with the unbelievers presiding over it. That’s I think the first thing that I wanted to get across in our understanding of all this.

Is it wrong for Christians to take others to court? Yes, it’s wrong for Christians to take Christians to court. However, now, here’s the next scenario. What about taking non-Christians to court? Is there something inherently evil or wrong about that? No way.

You have to do it in fairness, in righteousness, in humility and in love and in mercy and all those things, but if somebody has wronged you in a significant way and you, perhaps, I hope might be the best thing to try to work it out between you just as if that was a Christian brother, but if they will not, if they refuse to work it out and refuse to repay you the damages that you suffered because of their negligence or their harm or whatever the case might be, well, then, what could possibly be wrong with taking them to court?

Now, I know what some folks are going to say, and say, “Well, we’re supposed to always forgive. If we forgive, then we won’t take them to court.” That’s exactly right. If the transgression, if the offense against you is such that it’s possible to forgive them and just let it go and show them incredible mercy, that could be the best course of action. No doubt about that. There are some cases where, you know, it just doesn’t fit that scenario.

I was talking to a brother recently who has a business. One of his suppliers provided defective materials. As a result, their product was defective. As a result, there had to be recalls. As a result, it caused losses of significant amounts to his company, which hurts his business, which hurts the employees of the business and so forth. You have to lay people off because our company is suffering so much. Well, you know, are we going to love our neighbor as ourself? Are we going to love our employees? Are we going to treat them like we want to be treated? They’re suffering because of someone else’s negligence.

In such a case, I don’t see anything wrong at all with humbly and without malice or hatred going to the offending party, requesting for them to make it up, and, if they refuse to, perhaps suggesting that you go to arbitration as a step before going to court and so forth because it might be a little easier on everybody that way.

To just say carte blanche, that there’s never a situation where a Christian should take someone to court, I think that’s, quite honestly, a little bit unbalanced and unrealistic. I don’t think that it fits the tenor of all of what scripture would tell us. On major infractions, the kind of things that are discussed by Jesus and mention the law, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, people are losing their eyeballs, they’re suffering for the rest of their life. There should be some kind of repayment for that type of thing. That’s why people have insurance. Right? Right.

This is a Little Lesson. There’s a lot more to be said, but I just hope that I could provoke your thinking a little bit anyways to consider that there might be more to think about than sometimes what folks think about. Thank you for joining me in Australia. God bless. See you next time.