A recent e-mail from the U. S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform quoted a new survey which states that Illinois has one of the six worst lawsuit climates (45th out of 50) in the country. I feel like I’ve grown up with the idea that suing others is just not something “good, Christian people” do. But as I get older and hear of people who have been given the wrong medical treatment or who have in good faith signed a contract with someone, only to be shortchanged in the end, I hear myself saying, “there’s a lawsuit in the making.”
According to 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Christians should be able to settle disputes amongst themselves. Paul states, “if the judge and jury are not Christians, they are not likely to be sensitive to Christian values. And that the basis for going to court is often revenge.” (Life Application Study Bible) As Christians, we should be able to settle disputes with other Christians without going to court. Becoming embroiled in a lawsuit might lead to behavior on our part that would put the Christian way of life in an unflattering light. If you think this last sentence is unlikely, you can read blog comments on-line who take Christian’s behavior to task all the time. So while people may consider themselves to be “non-believers,” they do still take notice of how Christians react in certain situations.
Matthew 5:40 states, “If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.” Meaning, I guess, that we should go that “extra mile” to resolve the issue.
Should Christians never sue? I think that no matter how hard we may try to resolve things in a “peaceable” manner, there will be times when there is no other choice. In an article on this very subject, author Ruth A. Ross states, “God has called us to the ministry of reconciliation, and thus has called us to reconcile relationships by imitating Christ. We are to pursue peace and not selfish ambition (see Psalm 41:14; James 3:13-18). Remember what Jesus said when He warned us not to be caught up with legal rules but to consider the more significant matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.” (Micah 6:8: “and what does the Lord require? To do what is right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”) She also poses a good question: If you had only a limited time to live, how critical would it be to continue the lawsuit (see Psalm 90:12)?”
How realistic are these teachings in today’s world?