Should a Christian file a lawsuit?
I often hear from clients who have suffered an injury or lost a love one, that they are afraid that by seeking legal representation, they are acting “unchristian like.” The belief that Christians should be excluded from our civil justice system often goes back to 1 Corinthians 6:1-8.
However, Paul specifically says that this prohibition only applies to other members of the Church. The statement must also be taken in the historical context of legal vs. spiritual quarrels and the fact that Paul apparently did not trust the corrupt Corinthian judges (“How dare your utilize unrighteous Corinthian Judges to resolve inter-Christian disputes.”) 1 Corinthians 6:1.
Nonetheless, if a Christian has a dispute with another member of their congregation, many commentators believe the matter should first try to be resolved according to the protocol set out in Matthew 18:15-17.
On the other hand, when your dispute is with someone who is not a member of your congregation or an insurance carrier, for that matter, there is nothing in the Bible saying a Christian should be excluded from justice in secular courts. In fact, Paul sought justice in the courts to defend himself under Roman law (Acts 16:37–40; 18:12–17; 22:15–29; 25:10–22). In Romans 13:1 Paul states that God established the Courts for the purpose of upholding justice, punishing wrongdoers, and protecting the innocent
What does the Bible say about compensation?
When someone is hurt by another’s negligence, our civil justice system makes the responsible party “compensate” the injured party. Despite popular belief, compensate merely means “to balance.” The wrongdoer should simply be held accountable and compensate one until they are made whole. We do this in Texas by allowing an injured party to recover certain elements of damage such as: (1) past and future medical expenses (2) past and future loss income and (3) reimbursement for the physical pain, impairment, disfigurement and mental anguish caused by the injury causing event.
The same system of justice can be found throughout the Bible. These Biblical laws of restitution and compensation form the basis of our system of justice. For example:
“If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution…” Exodus 21:5.
“If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed…the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.” Exodus 21:19.
“If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely, but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows” Exodus 21:22.
In fact, the Bible evens sets out apparent punitive damage awards in addition to restitution when the wrongdoer acted intentionally. For example:
“Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.” Exodus 22:1.
In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which someone says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.” Exodus 21:9
What does the Bible say about Justice?
Justice is the purpose of the courts and the passion of Browning Law Firm. Through seeking justice on behalf of our clients, we can try to hold those responsible accountable and try to make something positive come out of something so negative. Justice is also a constant theme in the Bible.
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalms 103:6.
“Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20.
“Woe to those…who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent.” Isaiah 5:23-24.
“Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.” Exodus 23:6.
“For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice…” Psalms 11:7.
“When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” Proverbs 21:1.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, your hypocrites! But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness.” Matthew 23:23