The foolishness that goes on in today’s churches never ceases to amaze. There are so many recent cases of Christians suing fellow believers that it is sickening.
Here are a few examples of the church’s issues being judged by the world, clearly violating the Bible’s admonition of going to law before the unrighteous.
- An Oregon pastor is suing a mother and her daughter for $500,000 for posting a critical review of his church on a blog started by a former church member.
- A former evangelist and retired semi-pro soccer player is suing the Baptist Union in Great Britain for allegedly defrauding him of a lucrative, professional soccer career.
- A family in Illinois is suing the Rossville-Alvin School District and the Rossville Church of Christ for placing minors in harms way by hiring a man known as a sexual predator.
- In Bakersfield, California, Jessica Bowman has filed a lawsuit against a church and a youth pastor for sexual molestation that occurred over a period of four years. Her attorney, Anthony De Marco, states, “they encouraged Jessica and her family not to report to law enforcement. Jessica was quieted. …Church leadership did not report it to law enforcement as they are obligated to do.”
- In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a pastor, his wife and a board member have filed lawsuits against members of the deacon board for wrongfully removing them from their positions and against a policeman for assaulting the pastor’s wife when trying to enter the church building.
- Riva Tims, wife of deceased pastor Zachery Tims of New Destiny Center in Apopka, Florida, is suing the church over their decision to appoint Paula White the new senior pastor. Tims believes she is the rightful heir to the position of senior pastor and is willing to go through legal means to attain it.
- In a slew of recent legal disputes dubbed “swoon and fall” cases, individuals have been suing churches for failing to protect them from being injured as people are “slain in the spirit.” One such case in East St. Louis, Illinois features a woman suing the church for $50,000 for injuries she sustained when a church member “caught the Holy Spirit”, lost control of herself and fell back into others like a domino effect. This has caused much scrutiny outside the church. The following statements from a legal expert following the case are very revealing.
When filled with what is often called the holy spirit, “participants are worked up into such a frenzy that they may no longer appreciate or respond to risk. The question is how much is the church responsible in anticipating people will be acting without concern for danger or injury,” (emphasis added)
“The whole idea of being touched by the holy spirit is to surrender yourself. In doing so, these are people that surrendering themselves to collapsing involuntary. These churches tend to treat this response as the holy ghost has taken away the power of the individuals to even stand,”
— Jonathan Turley, Tort Law Professor, George Washington University
Do Christians today really take the scriptures seriously? Why is it that someone outside the church has more common sense than those in the church? This law professor can see that there is something wrong with this picture. Why can’t those in the church? In Galatians chapter 5, Paul states, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” In apostle Peter’s second epistle, he instructs the church to add self-control to other Godly characteristics like faith, virtue, knowledge, kindness and love. However, Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3 that in the last days (the times we are now living in) people would be without self-control. If you carefully examine the context of these verses, it is clear that Paul is talking about the church, for he states they will have a form of godliness, but will deny its power. This is becoming evident even to the world. Falling down uncontrollably and putting others in harms way is not a fruit of the spirit! Losing control is not a fruit of the spirit! If you are a part of this kind of demonstration, you really need to examine what spirit it really is.
So why are so many saints suing churches, pastors suing their members, and outsiders filing lawsuits against churches? The simple reason is because much of the church is carnal, unspiritual and does not obey the book they claim to live by or the Lord they claim to love. However, these things are not new, just increasing in frequency. Paul experienced the saints of God behaving like mere men in his encounters at Corinth. He left us wise words of instruction regarding the church’s responsibility in handling disputes and judging matters between its members. He writes,
Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! I Corinthians 6:1-8
A large portion of the church has completely failed in its responsibility to be peacemakers and those that judge righteously. The mature, wise members of any local body of believers are charged with the task of mediating disputes so that all parties receive their just do. It is obvious that this is not taking place in today’s lukewarm, Laodicean churches. The church’s dirty laundry is being aired out before ungodly people in the secular court system instead of being properly handled by the saints of God. Are there no wise men in the church anymore? Can mature men and women who love God and their brethren not judge what is right and wrong in their midst? Has the church become so carnal it can no longer execute justice in a righteous manner, setting order and preserving the moral integrity and spiritual authority it should possess?
It is very shameful that God’s people often have to seek justice outside of the church. The church is failing to discern right from wrong and good from evil and is sorely lacking in judgment. The aforementioned cases are an indictment of a weak, worldly church whose members have lost self-control and the ability to discern what the will of the Lord is. While some of these cases might be absurd, they have shined a light on the church before the world and have exposed its sins for all to see. This is a form of God’s divine judgment most Christians have not recognized. When the church will not discipline its own properly and keep the church pure, then God will have those on the outside do it and the penalties are usually more severe.
In closing, Paul reminds the Corinthians that certain behaviors will exclude them from the kingdom of God.
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6: 7-11
We have been cleansed from these evils by Christ’s precious blood, but sadly many saints have returned to their sins like a dog eating his own vomit. I only hope that as the world and abused saints continue to expose the sins of the church that it will lead to repentance and a return to the foundations of the faith, for if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
- Mother Gives Former Church Bad Reviews Online; Pastor Sues for $500,000 (patheos.com)
- Court forces Missouri church to pay its attorney (styronblog.com)
- Family gives church bad review. Church decides: let’s sue! (1minionsopinion.wordpress.com)