Thursday, July 12, 2007

Questioning Beta Upsilon Chi's Piety

The Independent Florida Alligator Online has a letter to the editor from Daniel Morgan, in which he accuses Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX) of not being "pious." He writes that truly "pious" Christians are "to use persecution and unfair treatment as a testimony to their moral rectitude," rather than resorting to lawsuits. He says that instead of bearing up under persecution, BYX is "clamor[ing] loudly for special privileges."

Morgan unfortunately has an incomplete grasp of what the Bible says regarding lawsuits. He relies on 1 Corinthians 6:7, which says, "To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?" On its face, the verse seems to support Morgan's point. But in context, the verse's meaning is clearly limited to lawsuits between Christian believers.

In verse 1 of Corinthians 6, Paul talks of the believers within the Corinthian church having “a grievance against another” (i.e., another believer). Paul says in verses 5-6, "Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers?" So the passage only deals with lawsuits between believers.

Indeed, if Paul was prohibiting Christians from exercise their legal rights, then he failed to follow his own teaching. In Philippi, he asserted his rights as a Roman citizen and received an apology for having been wrongly beaten. In Jerusalem, he invoked his Roman citizenship to prevent a centurion from whipping him. He subsequently defended himself in a Roman court, and ultimately he exercised his right to appeal to Caesar.

For those interested, a great article dealing with this topic is Christians & Lawsuits: Bizarre or Biblical? by Travis Barham.

It's also worth noting that BYX is not seeking a "special privilege." The University of Florida recognizes a host of single-sex student organizations, such as the Women's Chorale, Men's Roller Hockey Club, Progressive Black Men, etc. BYX is only asking that it be treated the same.

1 Comment:

d said...

Hi, I am the author of that letter to the editor, and I just found this post randomly.

The group will not sign the same non-discrimination policy that all student groups are required to sign. Religious exclusion is your constitutional right, but it is not your right to exclude others while demanding financial support. That's the crux.

The point I was trying to make was not that believers ought not use the law, but that in this case, the group is using the law for special privileges, rather than to defend themselves and protect their rights. My point was that in the Bible, it seems that one can make the argument that believers who suffer are told to rejoice in it, while here believers who are not suffering are trying to force an issue.