Pastor Sues Former Parishioners

Christians are not supposed to sue one another. If they have disputes, they should work them out privately, within the church, not in public courts. That’s the gist of I Corinthians 6:1-7.

Here’s an especially egregious violation of this command: a pastor has filed a lawsuit against former members of his church. One would expect a pastor to exhort his members not to sue, and to lead by example, not to be the plaintiff himself. Moreover, the people he is suing have accused him of sexual harassment, and he is suing them for defamation. Whether he’s guilty or innocent, this looks like a serious attempt to squelch accusations and even defame his accusers. And it could have a chilling effect on other victims who now have one more reason not to come forward.

Whether or not he’s guilty, and whether or not his accusers have defamed him, this kind of dispute belongs in the church, not in civil courts. Hopefully the Indiana court will dismiss this action and send it back to where it belongs, the church. Indeed, the former pastor’s denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America, has initiated disciplinary proceedings against him. According to some reports, the process is not going well – but that’s not a reason to bring this into the civil court system, contrary to God’s Word. That’s a reason to beef up church discipline systems so that they mete out justice even better than the legal system.


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