Why Christian Lawsuits?

So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
(1 Corinthians 6:4-8, ESV)

Why are Christians suing, or threatening so sue, each other lately? Why, especially, over frivolous concerns – disagreements?

First, Jason Smathers shared that he is being sued in Ergun Caner Has Sued Witnesses Unto Me. Caner is suing over videos Smathers obtained from the United States Marines through the Freedom of Information Act. Would the material lead to Caner suffering wrong or to him being defrauded like the Scripture states?

What is so damning on these videos that warrants one Christian suing another?

Next, Alan Kurschner documents that Brannon Howse threatening to sue Chris White over a theological disagreement – UPDATE on Brannon Howse’s Threat to Sue Regarding the Video Critique of Jimmy DeYoung. Is Howse worried he would suffer wrong or be defrauded?

Do we now threaten to sue people who disagree and challenge us theologically?

There are probably other lawsuits among Christians that, thankfully, aren’t as public. Imagine if we sued each other in our local churches over disagreements. Court rooms would probably be fuller than church services!

A few years I posted an excerpt about Christians suing each other from a Mack Stiles’ book. Mack is a friend. I got to hear him tell the story in person. A large sum of money was involved between two Christian businessmen in a Muslim country. After encouraging the men that they must meet at the foot of the cross to work out their problems the story concludes.

Back in the living room with the two businessmen and my pastor, Mike said, “Well, if I cancel the legal proceedings what guarantee do I have that Robert will pay?”

“None, ” I said. “But we are not trusting in Robert. We are trusting in Christ.”

“Okay,” he said, softly. “I’ll do that. I can trust him.”

Touched with Mike’s willingness to lay aside the lawsuit, Robert leaned forward. “My board  has only authorized for me to pay fifty thousand, but Mike, I am willing to pay out my own pocket over the next number of months another two hundred.”

“And Mike, if you are willing to trust in Christ by following the principle of 1 Corinthians 6, then the church is willing to help from our benevolence fund, ” said Pastor John.

Mike’s chin fell to his chest…”Would you really do that for me?” he said. He began to weep.
~Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger. pages 58-59.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zack Stepp August 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

As a Christian and as a lawyer, this obviously resonates with me. It’s really heartbreaking when I have to see, firsthand, Christians resorting to the legal system to resolve their disputes. 
(I may have more specific thoughts later, but I wanted to go ahead and comment now, so that I’d be notified if/when there is any discussion on this post.)

2 Sergius Martin George August 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

How about <a href=”http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/category/lawsuits/julie-annes-case/bgbc-lawsuit”><b>pastors</b> who sue former congregants</a>?

3 Sergius Martin George August 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

Sorry, Mark; I thought you could use an HTML link code on my previous comment, which was supposed to read:
What about pastors who sue former congregants?, with a link to Julie Anne Smith’s story about having been sued for half a million dollars by her former pastor, Chuck O’Neal (link below).

4 Mark Lamprecht August 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

@Sergius Martin George I fixed the link. LiveFyre has it’s own text editor below, left by clicking the pencil image. No problem.
Thanks for the link.

5 LarryFarlow November 21, 2013 at 9:39 am

The recent frivolous situations aside, there’s a lot to consider here. For example, if Christians are never to take other Christians to court under any circumstances at all, should a Christian ever enter into a legal contract with another Christian? After all, the only real reason for a contract is so one party will have legal recourse if the other does not fulfill their obligation. Another consideration is the church’s willingness to get involved. For example, if we’re going to tell someone they cannot pursue legal recourse against another church member who has defrauded them, church leadership must be willing to pursue church discipline against the offending party and call him to repent and make good on his obligation – following through to the last step if he does not. It’s nice when it works out like the example cited but that won’t always be the case and the church must be willing to follow things through with both parties even when it’s messy if they are going to counsel people not to sue.

6 Mark Lamprecht November 21, 2013 at 10:10 am

LarryFarlow You make a good point about church leadership being involved which is difficult when people are in different local bodies.

7 Christine Pack September 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Brannon Howse made veiled threats about suing me during a public conflict that we had in 2013. Perhaps this is his modus operandi?


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