SPECIAL TOPIC: CHRISTIANS AND LAWSUITS (from 1 Corinthians 6)
I have, through the years, had several lawyers ask me how this context relates to our modern society.
First, the prohibition against taking someone (even another Christian) to court must be dealt with. One could argue that modern courts differ from pagan courts, but how so? Much of our law is also based on Roman law. Some judges today are believers, but that should not affect their judicial rulings.
There seem to be several issues involved.
1. The motive and purpose of the litigation are crucial, not just the legal basis of the case. We live in a litigious society, just like ancient Athens. Often pride, money, or revenge are the real motives.
2. The resulting social impact of greedy, petty, or angry Christians in open court must be avoided. Each believer has a corporate obligation to the Kingdom of God. Our witness is crucial.
3. However, the church has not provided an effective means of arbitration between believers. There is not an ecclesiastical forum for believers to air and deal with issues that are important to them or that are inherently unfair.
4. Possibly one solution is a Christian Lawyers Association with spiritual resources (i.e., Scripture, godly wisdom, etc.), not just legal precedent, which deals with legal issues involving believers. Believers (i.e., believing lawyers) who feel led to be involved in lawsuits should ask God's guidance and establish guidelines by which they choose to practice law. This could develop into a forum for arbitration between believers.
Although the NT is historically and culturally conditioned, the basic problems and tendencies of humanity are not. God is speaking through these texts and believers must hear His words and will, though not in first century Greco-Roman categories. These texts call for believers to be less litigious and more Christlike. They call for the church to provide a forum (like the synagogue courts). They shout at us that personal loss is better than Kingdom (i.e., gospel) loss!
In a day of little church discipline, rampant divorce between believers, combined with a greedy, litigious society, 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 are crucial texts for us to study and implement, both corporately (church and churches) and individually. American freedoms are based on equality under the law. This means as believers we live in two spheres or realms, one civil and one spiritual. We dare not abolish our legal system, but we must remember our heavenly citizenship. Both realms have rights and responsibilities. But one realm does have priority (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20)!
Some believers may view the issue of litigation and the proper reasons for litigation differently. We all must walk in the light we have. This context can increase that light.
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