At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, potential clients often ask us if we think it is Christian to file a lawsuit. Sometimes, the potential client feels that 1 Corinthians 6:1 prohibits going to court against a brother, or suing another Christian, and other times with the added reminder that in the book of Matthew, Jesus counseled his followers to “turn the other cheek.”
Is Suing Another Christian Okay?
Our firm is made up of Christian lawyers who attend churches in Shelby County, Tennessee and Desoto and Tate counties in Mississippi. Over the years, our experienced team of attorneys has given this question a lot of prayerful consideration. We believe the work we do to bring justice, accountability, and truth to this imperfect world is in line with walking with Jesus. Here are 3 reasons why.
1. Turn the Other Cheek
Let’s start with Jesus’s direction to turn the other cheek. The full quote from Matthew 5:38-39 reads as follows:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
Turning the other cheek does not mean backing away and getting run over, but requires that you still be standing there in front of the person doing the striking. Most of the cases our firm takes do not involve an evil adversary. Car wrecks and other injuries typically occur unintentionally, even if one party is found to be negligent and at fault, wether you are suing another Christian or not. Asking for fair compensation for one’s injuries is not supposed to punish the other party, but put you in the position you would have been in if the accident had never occurred.
2. The Parable of the Persistent Widow
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable that directly discusses the legal system.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The lesson contained in the parable is on the importance of persistent prayer, but the insight into Jesus’s view of the justice system is also enlightening.
The judge acts for selfish reasons, but justice is served. And the widow is not condemned for seeking help in the court system. Our Earthly legal systems are a poor substitute for the will or healing power of the Almighty, but they are what we have available, and nobody should be ashamed to use them.
3. Do Unto Others
Finally, let’s go back to the book of Matthew for chapter 7, verse 12: “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Mark 12:31 and Luke 10:27 follow this up with Jesus’s commandment to “…Love your neighbor as yourself…”
These scriptures are often referred to as the “Golden Rule.” The Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman team talks about this with our clients who are uncertain that filing a lawsuit is the Christian thing to do. We remind them that if the shoe were on the other foot, and they had accidentally injured someone else, they would expect to be held accountable and asked to assist the person they harmed.
We also point out that many Christians carry insurance in order to help them pay for damages they have suffered or caused. Oftentimes the only way to get an insurance company to do the right thing is to file a lawsuit, and bring them into court, or at least to the negotiating table. The insurance company should bever be mistaken for a brother in Christ and there is no requirement that you go to court to allow others to decide your matters even when the suit has been filed and discovery completed most cases are resolved between the parties
The Lawyers That Listen Help Determine If Suing Another Christian Is Okay
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, and are unsure what steps you should take next, the Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman team is here for you. Our experienced attorneys will listen to your story, and your concerns, and counsel you on the best path forward. Please contact us today to set up a meeting.