This is part 2 in a series of articles looking at the subject of going to Court. These thoughts are initial ramblings as I toss over issues relevant to the legal system. My thinking will obviously mature in time, but for now follow me as I graze through the matters of facing the Courts.
Machine For Hire
Courts are a mechanism, much like a machine. They are a machine available to all who have the key to activate it on their behalf.
Courts cannot go off and make a ruling about someone at their whim. The court is not an independent agent, able to pick up any case it so chooses. The court is locked into a building and must wait until someone comes along with a case they wish the court to address. In that sense the court is quite powerless, waiting like a handmaid for someone to give it orders so it can spring into life and do what it is designed to do.
Someone must make a charge or cause a court action to be initiated for the court to proceed with any deliberations.
Constraints on the Courts
A court cannot send a notice that it decided, arbitrarily, to create a charge or penalty against someone. Officials of the court can’t sit around watching television and then decide they will create a charge against someone they saw being interviewed, or in a news story. There must be “just cause”.
The Biblical requirement of “an eye for an eye” sets up the principle of Just Cause. Someone must have suffered some damage in order for the court to have just cause to press for some compensation or other legal response. Even so, the just cause does not come from the court, but from an aggrieved party who engages the court to act on their behalf in the matter.
If people are of good will they will discuss and resolve their problems. If one party is not of good will the courts will be asked to arbitrate, because the parties have not been able to come to a happy resolution.
However, if the good will party was truly good will, it would allow itself to be aggrieved, suffer loss, as the Apostle Paul advises, and let the matter go, despite the personal impost.
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? Why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1Corinthians 6:7
Advice of Christ
Rather than demand our rights we are instructed by Christ to go the extra mile, giving more than was demanded.
“You have heard that it has been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say to you, Resist not evil: but whoever hits you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue you at law and take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go a mile, go with him two. Give to him that asks you, and from him that would borrow from you do not turn away.” Mark 5:28-42
Rent a Bully
For those who are locked into the win-lose context in their fight with others, the courts become a form of “rent a bully”. If someone engages the court as their bully they have already revealed that they are not of good will as a follower of Christ.
When people feel aggrieved and are unable to resolve their sense of loss and the feelings that spring from that, they can see the legal system as a means of demanding their way, getting the justice they believe they are entitled to and even of hurting the other person by apply the strength of the court against them.
Courts were not created to be an ugly element on the social landscape, but sadly, due to the hard hearted attitude of many or personal desire to gain advantage over others the courts have often been nothing more than a bully for hire in the minds of some.
God’s design for justice and legal process is noble and holy. It is worth thinking about how to ensure that what the courts do and how they do it is protected from processes that demean the court and turn it into a weapon, rather than a blessing in our societies.
But we are just scratching the surface and prompting some ideas into the open. Let’s see where this leads us in time.