|Sorry, my cat must have gotten the top of it. This is the last page of the summons.|
When I got home from taking my daughter to volleyball practice the other night, my husband told me that a person knocked at the door and hand-delivered some papers that he had to sign for. I was handed a pile of legal-looking papers. I want to inform my readers that Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church have filed a legal suit against me and 3 others for defamation with damages to the tune of $500,000. The summary outlines snippets of quotes from review sites and blog comments.
Obviously it’s not every day that one is sued. And it’s not very often that I deal with a dollar amount that has so many zeros behind it, but I had some initial thoughts regarding the summons. I first laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing (this seems to be a popular response).
I also noticed a common phrase in my thoughts: “what kind of pastor”.
What kind of pastor files lawsuits against Christians?
Mary Fairchild writes an article for About.com on this topic of Christians suing here: Should Christians Sue in Court . Below we find Scripture dealing with this subject:
New International Version (NIV)
1 Corinthians 6: 1-7
Lawsuits Among Believers
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.
What kind of pastor files lawsuits, period?
What kind of pastor asks for exorbitant amounts of money from families/young adults on limited incomes?
Christians expect pastors to be examples of Christian character, modeling appropriate ways of dealing with conflict, bringing in other people when things get difficult to resolve. We expect pastors to be able to take criticism and be able to answer questions. We do not expect pastors to retaliate if they are asked questions or are criticized.
This lawsuit is frustrating and also makes me sad. I agree with scripture’s process on the handling of disputes and keeping them out of court. However, it seems this pastor has not chosen to go that route and has instead sued me in the civil court system. Going to court against another Believer never would have been an option for me. However, I now have no choice. I am obligated to respond by obtaining legal counsel or else the case will rule in favor of Chuck O’Neal and the church, including the award of $500,000 in damages.
I think there is a bigger battle going on and it is not mine, but the Lord’s. If there is something I have done wrong in this, I do pray that I would be able to hear His voice. However, I remain confident that God’s hand is in this. He knows this situation and knows my heart. This is His battle and I am His vessel. I have nothing to fear.