Article Summary:

An answer by Watchman Nee to a question about the circumstances under which a Christian could appeal to a secular law court.

Watchman Nee on Christians Filing Lawsuits

The following exchange occurred on June 29, 1948, as part of a question and answer session in a training conducted by Watchman Nee at Kuling Mountain:


Sister Wang Shu-ging: If some schools insist on cutting the girls’ hair, what should we do? Can we sue the school?

Watchman Nee’s Response

Watchman Nee: The Bible does not permit believers to sue anyone (cf. 1 Cor. 6:1-2). If others sue us, we can respond to the suit, but we cannot initiate a lawsuit. When problems arise between believers and unbelievers, the unbelievers can be the plaintiff. Believers can defend themselves, but that is all they can do. A believer cannot turn around and file a suit. It is all right for Christians to be defendants, but never plaintiffs. This applies to a Christian’s personal affairs. As citizens of a state, however, we have the right to enjoy the freedom guaranteed by the constitution. Christians can enjoy the same freedom as others. If a school forces girls to cut their hair, the parents can sue the school, and we can help the parents in their fight against the schools. It is the freedom of individual citizens to keep their hair. There is no law that says that a person cannot be a citizen of the Republic of China if he or she keeps long hair. A school principal cannot say that a girl can no longer be a student if she has long hair. This is a matter of personal liberty. If someone asks me to intervene in this matter, I will. Nevertheless, we have to be proper in our attitude. We may invite those for a meal, go to the court together, and then drive them home afterward. In such matters we should be free from personal feelings. We are here to fight for the truth only. If the post office writes a letter saying that they will not deliver Bibles, we can invite the postmaster to a meal and still sue him. A Christian can fight for his right under the constitution. Yet we are fighting for the truth, not for personal conflicts. (The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 59, p. 239)


From this exchange we can perceive that Watchman Nee drew a distinction between a lawsuit filed for personal gain or interest, such as the one recorded in 1 Corinthians, and those involving the protection of basic freedoms and the defense of the truth.

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