“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?” The Apostle Paul asked the church in Corinth. “Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world?” Paul continues,
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! 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!
Paul’s mandate is clear: matters between Christians should be mediated within the Church. This should be a rather uncontroversial standard, at least for Christians. And yet aren’t we more surprised when Christians attempt to handle legal disputes in this manner?
Since we don’t often respect the value of Christian mediation we should not be surprised to find secular outlets that find the practice unreasonable. Take, for example, the recent New York Times article, “In Religious Arbitration, Scripture Is the Rule of Law.” The authors can barely hide their contempt that some Americans might actually put their religious faith ahead of the legal system: