Friday, September 18, 2009

Focus on Christian Mediation

The process of mediation is not faith based.  Mediation is a good tool for addressing most types of conflict.  For people who are Christians, however, scriptural principles in the New Testament have much to say not only about the value of settling disputes outside of court, but also about the spiritual ramifications that are inherent in how we respond to wrongs.  Because of these scriptural principles, Bible-based mediation can differ from secular mediation in several respects. 

First, a first key goal of Christian mediation is that the parties become genuinely, and authentically, reconciled to one another.  This is not just a matter of kissing and making up.  It is expected that this process will involve prayerful self examination, acknowledgment of and acceptance of responsibility for wrongful thoughts or actions, a commitment to genuine change, as well as a willingness to forgive and to be forgiven. 

A second key goal of Christian mediation is to follow the Biblical mandate not to take cases between Christians before the secular courts.  Bible based mediation therefore is usually structured so that parties first mediate, but they also enter into a binding agreement which provides that their dispute will be submitted to an arbitrator if they fail to agree through mediation.  The arbitrator is generally a person, chosen by agreement between the parties, who is respected as an expert in both secular law and in scriptural principles.  

A third aspect of Bible based conflict resolution is so rarely applied in modern times that is it virtually nonexistent.  Namely, expulsion (or excommunication) from the church.  This type of sanction can also take the form of some other order as well, such as mandatory alcohol or drug counseling. 

Parties interested in learning more can explore other topics on my blog, or contact me directly. 


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And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone:  if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established.  And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church:  and if he refust to thear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican.  * * *  Then came Peter and said to him, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  until seven tmes?  Jesus saith unto him, I ay not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. 

(Matt 5:15 - 21)

When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers! Don't you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can't you decide even these little things among yourselves?  . . .  So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life. If you have legal disputes about such matters, why go to outside judges who are not respected by the church?  I am saying this to shame you. Isn't there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?  But instead, one believer sues another, right in front of unbelievers! Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.

(1 Corinthians 6)


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