A gracEmail subscriber and her husband are owed a debt by a young couple as the result of a business deal. The young couple profess to be Christians but have ignored the scheduled payments, apparently thinking the creditor couple does not need the money. The gracEmail subscriber wonders if it would be wrong to sue the debtors, in view of Paul’s disapproval of Christians going to court against fellow-believers.
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Some within the church at Corinth were airing internal disputes in public before pagan judges. The Apostle Paul addressed that situation disapprovingly in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and said it was shameful to the cause of Christ. Our situation in America and many other Western countries is different from that in ancient Corinth. Our courts perpetuate an ancient lineage of common law that draws heavily from biblical principles. Many of our judges are Christians. Under these circumstances, I do not believe it is automatically wrong for one believer to sue another believer in search of justice.
However, that does not mean that litigation is the best course or that it ought to be the first. Would the leadership of your adversaries’ church, for example, be willing to serve as arbitrators and would the disputants in this matter be willing to submit the matter to them for binding resolution? Does your town have a Christian Conciliation Service that might help? Have you thought of inviting the other couple to dinner, or coffee and dessert, and simply explain that you extended the no-interest loan (in effect that is what it was) as a gesture of Christian kindness and generosity, that you nevertheless need the money and that you are counting on them to be prompt and businesslike in making their scheduled payments?
It would be wonderful if such a conversation could resolve the matter. If you try that first, and it does not work, and especially if you then went to their church leaders about it (having told the couple first that would be your next step) and that did not work, then I think you could file a civil lawsuit with a totally clear conscience.