I'll Sue Ya!

As we begin the summer of 2016, let’s take a moment to reflect on the growing number of people in our country looking for opportunity, economic advancement and a nicer home.

I am, of course, referring to lawyers and frivolous lawsuits.  And the plaintiffs who initiate them.

Ever since Jacob traded soup for prominence, there have been people who want “somethin for nuthin” as Grandpa would say.  The list is long.  Gehazi, Ahab, Jezebel, Achan, Lucifer, Simon the Sorcerer, and the man who pestered Jesus for his inheritance (Luke 12:32) are just a few of the “opportunity seekers” in the Good Book. 

Speaking of the Good Book, Isaiah 59:4 says:

No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth.  They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and give birth to iniquity.  

These uhh...birthers are still around.  Let’s look at some fresh cases from 2015:

Let’s Roll

Lamberts employee tosses a pair of warm rolls to a waiting customer.

Lamberts employee tosses a pair of warm rolls to a waiting customer.

Lamberts Café in Ozark, Missouri is being sued by a customer who claims that she was struck in the eye by a flying dinner roll.  How did the rogue roll become airborne?  Lamberts is famous for the way that their servers toss dinner rolls to customers upon request.  The servers roam the aisles of the dining area their carts stocked with fresh warm dinner rolls, tossing them to customers who raise their hungry hands.  In fact, their website domain is www.throwedrolls.com.  Sounds like fun to me.  But the 67-year old black “pastor” of a church in north St. Louis is suing Lamberts for 250k.  That’s a lot of dough.

Auntie Antics

I’m not a big hugger.  I mean, I like hugging my wife and hugging the road when we are going for a drive in our vintage sports car, but I guess I’m old fashioned.  I think hugs should be the province of emotional moments between spouses or really good friends and family members.  Especially loathsome were smothering hugs from buxom aunts who drowned me in a sea of cleavage when I was 5-10 years of age.  That ranks right up there with wet kisses from my other aunt with the mustache.  But I digress. 

Jennifer Connell is suing her nephew for leaping into her arms at his 8th birthday party.  Her nephew Sean was so excited that she was there that his hug caused her to fall and break her wrist.  And though fractures heal, she responded with a $127,000 lawsuit accusing the cheerful nephew of negligence and carelessness.  The jury responded by awarding her nothing.  Maybe the family can resolve the dispute by hugging it out.

Monkey Business

Grinning selfie of said monkey.

Grinning selfie of said monkey.

This is probably my favorite.  As if selfie sticks aren’t bad enough, a monkey apparently took some selfies in 2011 with British photographer David Slater’s camera on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.  In a lawsuit filed in San Francisco, PETA is suing to have all proceeds from the pictures returned to the monkey, who is—according to PETA—the rightful owner of its own copyrighted photos.  It’s enough to drive us bananas.

So we live in a time of rampant litigation.  It used to be that hard work, desire and sacrifice would pay off in the long run, and that was good enough for most folks.  But somewhere along the way, society got short-winded and abandoned the long run of perseverance for the sprint of monetary martyrdom.  Responsibility is sooo last year, and victimhood is in.  In fact, victimhood is lucrative.  It pays generously—if you can find the right lawyer and a good grievance.

All three of these silly lawsuits involve unbelievers, except for the female “pastor” suing the restaurant and their ruinous rolls (the only thing that got ruined is God’s reputation).  That raises the question.  Do you ever wonder what the Bible says about these suers sueing ?  I did, so I looked it up.  Here’s what I learned.

1 Corinthians 6:1-7:

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers!  Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world?  And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?  Don’t you realize that we will judge angels?  So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.  If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church?  I am saying this to shame you.  Isn't there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?  But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!
Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you.  Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?  Why not let yourselves be cheated?  Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers. NLT

The Bible is saying that believers should not turn to secular courts to resolve their differences.  Especially Christian against Christian.

 Christians should settle arguments within the church and not resort to secular lawsuits.  Here are three reasons why:

  1. Secular judges are not able to judge by biblical standards and Christian values.
  2. Christians go to court with the wrong motives.
  3. Lawsuits among Christians reflect negatively on the church.

As believers, our testimony to the unbelieving world should be a demonstration of love, forgiveness and longsuffering.  As such, members of the body of Christ ought to be able to settle arguments and disputes without going to court.

 We are called to live in unity with humility toward one another.  Much more than the secular courts, the Body of Christ ought to have wise and godly leaders gifted in handling matters involving conflict resolution.  Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Christians submitted to the proper authority are able to resolve their personal AND legal differences while maintaining a positive witness.

 Religious Liberty Department

 That brings me to a current litigation practice in our church—suing employers who may require employees to work on Saturday.  My question is—why not move on?  That could be a real good opportunity to metaphorically “flee to another city” instead of lawyering up to fight.  Seek the Lord’s guidance and ask for His blessing in finding another job.  He could just find you a better one!  God will not be our Counselor when we seek to satisfy our souls by trusting the things of God to courts who do not know Him.  If we live by the law—we will also die by it. 

 This practice could have grave results as we face the encroaching hostility of a state that wants to control every aspect of our lives.  Am I unrealistic in assuming—as LGBT rights gain full-blown federal human-rights status—that our carefully crafted "reasonable accommodation" arguments that we have used to fight for Sabbath rights, will be used against our church ministries?  After all, how much of an argument could you mount that a 15-minute wedding service is an unreasonable accommodation?

 Pull in your toes—I may step on them here.  Parading people on Sabbath morning in Religious Liberty videos who initiate lawsuits against the company they work for as some sort of moral triumph is profoundly disturbing to me.  Why Mr. Wagoner?

1.  It’s kind of a labor-union entitlement mindset.  We have a right to work—just not for a company that doesn’t want us.  Move on please.  Or start a landscape business.

2.  It appears hypocritical because religious liberty departments who major in these lawsuits are pretty quiet when it comes to matters of state-sponsored immorality (aka White House promotion for LGBT).  Either they are afraid of the state, or they find themselves sympathetic with progressive encroachment against small-business.  Or they only have a stomach for cases that first pass the scrutiny of political-correctness.

3.  The Bible’s premise is that wrongs will happen in this life, and God will reward accordingly.  Taking matters into our own hands short-circuits the deliverance that God may have planned for you (Matthew 5:12; Psalm 58:10).  There is no reward in heaven for those who demand it (reward) in this life.

Class-Action Lawsuits

I have had several chances to join class-action lawsuits.  I passed over the opportunities in spite of the fact that some of them were worth real money (from $3.50 – to almost $11.00).  In fact, I just shredded one this morning against DOW Chemical Company (I believe that excludes me from the 835 million-dollar  settlement).   “But Gerry, what if your share had been $35,000?”  I don’t care,  I would follow the same principle.  I would rather work for my income than gain it in that fashion.

But I don’t wish to be conscience for other people.  Perhaps there are some lawsuits that cannot be avoided.  Whatever we do let us move with wisdom lest we wound the cause of God—and mingle with the world.  If our motivation is to know and do the will of God, He will guide us according to His Word.

In summary, should Christians take each other to court over church matters?  Absolutely not! Should Christians take each other to court over civil matters?  If it can in any way be avoided, no.  Should Christians take non-Christians to court over civil matters?  Again, if it can be avoided, no.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).