On the Issue of Suing

I have an interesting question and hopefully it’ll raise some good answers.

I’ve always looked upon suing (taking legal action against a person or organisation) as being sinful. This came from the fact that my grandmother used to tell me it was when I was a kid.
When I think of it today, I see suing as an act of vengeance, an act that defies Christ’s principle of forgiving others. For example, if I have an operation, but the surgeon performs the surgery incorrectly, shouldn’t I just forgive him and find a better surgeon rather than trying to get money out of him by suing him?
Also I see there is no official Church teaching on the matter, but this is the case with many things.
Could my observation be correct?
Let’s discuss…

Although our society is overly litigious, I don’t think suing someone is in itself sinful when it is not done out of vengeance or greed. It can be a matter of justice. To use your example, suppose the botched surgery is due to the doctor’s gross negligence, and his mistake renders me unable to support my family or with a greater medical need. It can be a matter of justice for me to compel this person via the government to pay my medical bills or compensate me for that which he has deprived me - my ability to care for my family.

I also don’t see the act of suing someone as precluding forgiveness. I can forgive the doctor or the person who damages my property while still seeking to recover what I have lost.

I would have to disagree with you that the act of suing someone is always an act of vengeance. While it definitely can be it does not have to be.

Sometimes suing someone/something is the only way to effect change. Sometimes society passes a law or acts in a way that oppressive and denies people their basic rights. Sometimes laws are applied in unfair and unjust manners. Sometimes people are simply not mature enough for the responsibilities that life has give them. Some actions require financial reimbursement for the damage they caused. And sometimes saying “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. None of these reasons are necessarily vengeful in either their intent nor their outcomes.

For the example you gave of the botched surgery there could be many reasons to sue such as replacing lost income (depending on how bad the surgery was you may not be able to take care of yourself or your family) or preventing the surgeon from making the same mistakes in the future if the mistakes were due to neglect.

Suing doesn’t necessarily preclude forgiveness nor does it necessarily include vengeance.

This is an excellent point, that suing doesn’t necessarily include vengeance. I sued a towing company in small claims court because their driver hit my car when he pulled into my driveway and they wouldn’t take responsibility for the driver’s damages. I received just the amount to fix my car and nothing more.


If you are not doing it for greed, vengeance or to get out of paying what you owe, suing can provide a platform from which a minority can make their voice heard and secure their rights. In theory anyway…

Suing is not vengeance.

If a person has genuinely been wronged/injured, they may be unable to work and should have some financial recompense. Further, there are instances of people/companies who act unscrupulously and who should be brought to task for their ill deeds. Laws exist for things like consumer protection; lawsuits can protect the public from unscrupulous business practices.

Sueing (sp?) can also be a way to give witness of the value of justice. What needs to be evaluated is the motives for which you are sueing, not the fact that you are sueing.

In 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, St. Paul rebukes those who sue their fellow Christians in secular court.

I read that to be a rebuke for not trying to get it resolved in the community before going to the courts, not a general rebuke of suing in the courts all together.

I’m pretty sure he was simply rebuking them for going to the People’s Court, IIRC.

#Doug Llewelyn

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