ATP: What Does the Bible Say About Lawsuits?


This is a question often asked.  Many people are confused because they have heard that the Bible says, "Christians are not to sue."  Is this what the Bible really says.  Let's look at this subject from God's perspective and not go on "hear say."  

The position that Christians should not sue is based on a verse found in 1 Corinthians 6.  It reads: 

The very fact that you have lawsuits among
you means you have been completely defeated
already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not
rather be cheated?
                                               ~1 Cor. 6:7 

To understand what the apostle is saying to the Christian, one must look at the entire passage beginning with verse one.  So let's start there.

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? [2] Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? [3] Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! [4] Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! [5] I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? [6] But instead, one brother goes to law against another--and this in front of unbelievers! 

]7] The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? [8] Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. 1 Cor. 6:1 - 8

Paul is reprimanding the believer here for, First: getting into the position where he/she must take his/her fellow-Christian to court. Christians should be able to solve their differences among themselves, and if not, go to the elders in the Church, but to go to the world to settle a personal dispute is a disgrace.  Second: it is better to be defrauded, that is cheated or taken advantage of, than to hang your dirty laundry on the line for everyone to see.

In other words, as Christians we should not be taking civil issues to court.  

Paul is not saying we, as Christians, cannot sue or bring a lawsuit against another.  He is, however, saying that in civil matters we (believers) should not be suing one another. 

Illustration:  When we first began GCCC Satan sought to snuff out our lives.  We (Sheryl, Joel and me; Noelle was in her grandparents care) were in a head on collision on Rt. 322.  The man at the wheel had fallen asleep; it was the third time he had totaled his car in such a manner.  We filed a lawsuit for three reasons: 1) so that we would not be troubled with all of the paper work, 2) because we felt that Sheryl's life as a mother would never be the same  -- to this day she is unable to run, play sports or exercise in an even semi- normal fashion, and 3) because the continual pattern of this doctor, driving under the influence and/or while too tired to drive, needed to be halted so that other lives were not at risk.

The insurance lawyers settled this matter quietly and without dispute.  We did not know the man or his family; the entire matter was settled through the assigned attorneys.  This was not as issue where believers could not come to an agreement, therefore we took it to court.  

The law is given to be our protector. (Romans 13)  If we cannot, then we have no choice by to appeal to the civil law/courts for our protection.  In all cases appealing to the law should be the Christian's last resort, particularly when another believer is involved.  God calls believers to settle matters by "the law of the spirit." (Matthew 5)  Furthermore, amongst ourselves, He calls us to be "defrauded" rather than to give the name of Christianity a bad name.


Illustration # 2:  I do not have the time/space to go into detail so I'll make this very brief.  Years ago Sheryl and I lent $30,000.00 to a friend.  It was all that we had and had come from the auto accident settlement.  That was 15 years ago.  We never took this fellow-Christian to court, in fact, God told us to forgive him the debt. (Duet 15:1)  We did just that, "forgave the debt."

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