Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scripture We Like To Ignore: I Corinthians 6:1-8, Lawsuits Among Believers

“Know your rights!”

“Get what you deserve!”

“Injured? Call…”

With a major biblical emphasis on denying ourselves and serving others, you might think that Christians would have a lot to say about our culture’s hyper-concern about personal rights and a court system flooded with people demanding compensation for times they were even slightly wronged. But the church is remarkably silent on these issues.

Using secular courts to defend the helpless certainly has its place, and our freedom to speak and worship freely should also be defended in the courts, but Christians shouldn’t be as concerned with being wronged as most people are. In Deuteronomy 32:35, a verse quoted twice in the New Testament, God tells us to let vengeance up to Him.

As a whole, believers are no different from the rest of the world when it comes to taking others to court, often over relatively minor issues. Even worse is when Christians sue each other. We Christians don’t agree on everything; we shouldn’t expect to. However, I Corinthians 6:1-8 specifically tells us to settle our differences within the church. Making our internal battles public makes the church look bad in front of non-Christians. Who would want to be a part of a group with so much infighting?

This passage reinforces my belief that we really have a need for Christian arbitration services, something that may not even exist. (If you know of any, I’d love to hear about them!) Why aren’t we taking advantage of the wisdom of Christians who are willing and able to help others make peace with each other? Arbitration promotes reconciliation, keeps private matters private, and lessens the burden on our nation’s courts. It makes a lot of sense.

I am writing a series of posts about Bible passages Christians tend to overlook or underemphasize. If you have any suggestions for any ignored Scriptures to include, please let me know!


  1. I work as a litigation lawyer in Scotland. I'm also a committed Christian. I quite agree with you that this scripture makes uncomfortable reading for many of us. But I also believe that the Courts have their place. People often view lawyers - litigation ones in particular, as lowlife. But actually, our God is a God of absolute justice. We're called to walk humbly and to love mercy, but we're also called to act justly. As ever, our witness is often in the way we do things as much as in the things we do. The UK is very different to the States as far as litigation's concerned, but in the UK it's a little known fact that something like 98 - 99 % of litigations settle before they ever make it to a trial.

  2. Thanks for this series. It's thought provoking. I'd like to suggest another passage for your series: Mark 10:17-29. It's a common passage, but there are aspects of it we like to skirt around, re selling all you have to give to the poor; and being as a child before God.

  3. Thanks for your comments! I agree that Christians need to be concerned with justice, and I am thankful for believers who are working in the secular courts .

    I'm glad to hear so many cases in the UK are settled out of court. I'm not sure of the percentages here, but I do know that a lot of what we call "frivolous" lawsuits make it to trial.

    Thanks also for the Scripture suggestion -- I'll add it to my "to write" list.

  4. Great thoughts! Your idea for Christian arbitrators is excellent! I'm not aware of any such ministry.


Thanks for your comments! Agree or disagree, but please comment respectfully.