Is a Christian Absolutely Forbidden to Sue Their Church Leaders?

1 Corinthians 6:1-7 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? (2) Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? (3) Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! (4) So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? (5) 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, (6) but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? (7) To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?

A pastor and his elders know full well that a man in their church has raped his 12 year old daughter, and has been doing so for years.  In violation of criminal law, they refused to report this crime to the police and instead covered it up, “counseling” the monster’s wife to keep it confidential and let them handle it.  Their way of “handling it” was largely to take some “band-aid” measures, then ignore it and permit it to happen again.  So let me ask our readers this question:

When the Lord gave us the instruction in 1 Cor 6 about not suing a brother in civil courts, did He intend for this instruction to be an absolute, all-encompassing prohibition in every case?  In other words, is the mother in the above (real-life) example forbidden by the Lord to sue her pastor and elders in civil court?

Let me open the floor for comments by stating my opinion:  I do not think it is intended to be an absolute prohibition.  I say that because the Apostle Paul speaks of going to court against a “brother.”  A fellow Christian.  But how are we to presume that church leaders who commit so gross an injustice and evidence a total lack of hunger for righteousness to be Christians?  The thing is inconceivable to me.

And think about verse 7.  Are we to believe that Paul means absolutely “Why not suffer the girl to continue to be raped by her father rather than to go to civil court to seek remedy and justice?”  I can’t buy that.  This scripture is not the “get out of jail free” card that is so often used to protect the wicked.  I believe that if there is “no one wise enough to settle a dispute ” in our church, then we must go to another authority to deal with it.  Furthermore, are we not “going to court with a brother” when we report a professing Christian who has raped a child or abused his wife?  Does 1 Cor 6 forbid us from reporting such crimes to the police?  Of course not!

So, there it is — I suggest it is well past the time for abuse victims who have been illegally dealt with by their church leaders to take them to court.  All of us are bound by the laws of the land, both criminal and civil.

2 thoughts on “Is a Christian Absolutely Forbidden to Sue Their Church Leaders?

  1. Dear Pastor,
    thank you for your wonderful work. May God bless you and all that are part of your church or blog, or have a place in your heart.

    I paraphrase: Is there no one wise enough – are these people going to sacrifice a child, for staying in good standing with a sexually immoral rapist?
    Just read on verses 8-10 or 11. Context is everything.

    8But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!
    9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
    10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
    11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)

    Verse 8 shows the context: Defrauding brothers.
    Verse 11 makes it obvious who is a brother and who is not.
    This is such a widespread twisting of scripture.

    No wonder people run away from churchianity!
    If worldly authorities will handle this more justly than church leaders, why not report a crime.
    Thank you for teaching so clearly.

    God bless you,

    1. You’re right. Its no wonder that people avoid churches and Christianity altogether. Thank you very much for this wisdom.

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