Why were Julie Anne Smith, Meaghan Varela, and three others taken to court? Over five years ago a man was fired from his position at Beaverton Grace Bible Church after repeatedly expressing his divisive accusation that the pastor “doesn’t preach Christ, doesn’t preach the Gospel, and doesn’t preach the whole counsel of God,” and then taking the church splitting action of seeking to gather two deacons and a layman to stand with him in his theological angst against the pastor and elders. Since that time (for the last 5 yrs.) the former employee’s vindictive friends have been engaged in a public, church to church, and World Wide Web assault of criminal slander; showing their willingness to harm children, to harm wives, to harm the church, and to harm the testimony of Christ’s Gospel. Through vicious false criminal reports they have repeatedly used the police and the Department of Human Services (Child Protection) as weapons of their malice. They continue to make their accusations publicly, church to church, and on the World Wide Web to this day.
It was and is our firm conviction that this cannot continue. The ministry of the local church and the Gospel cannot continue to be hindered by criminal accusations. Families cannot continue to be threatened by malicious criminal allegations. Families cannot continue to be divided and tortured by criminal allegations and other slanders. Taking legal action should never be a knee jerk reaction, or something pursued out of bitterness or greed. However, there are unusual and terrible situations where an individual or group of individuals are behaving in such a harmful manner that must be addressed legally in order to stop, or attempt to stop, the destructive behavior and protect families.
Proverbs 25:8 says, “Do not go hastily to court.” BGBC did not go hastily to court. After three and a half years of suffering a great many injuries to our church and families we attempted to use lawful means to right the ministry of the Gospel at BGBC and to protect our families from ongoing criminal accusations. We stand by our attempt to protect our families without apology. We stand in good company with Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, and John Calvin.
If you disagree with Matthew Henry, Albert Barnes, and John Calvin (see below) regarding the unfortunate, rare, but very real necessity of lawsuits to stop evil doers, please disagree humbly until you have experienced your wife, your children, and the families of your congregation suffering year after year under relentless blows of criminal slander in your community and on the World Wide Web. If you disagree, you really should disagree very mildly in light of the fact that these are three (Henry, Barnes, Calvin) of the Bible interpreters that virtually every sound Christian, Bible student, Bible teacher, expository preacher, and pastor look to and quote on regular occasion to aid them in understanding and communicating the truth of God’s Word. Please consider the following quotes.
*MATTHEW HENRY (CHARLES SPURGEON’S FAVORITE BIBLE COMMENTATOR) COMMENTS ON 1 COR. 6
“Here is at least an intimation that they went to law for trivial matters, things of little value; for the apostle blames them that they did not suffer wrong rather than go to law (v. 7), which must be understood of matters not very important. In matters of great damage to ourselves or families, we may use lawful means to right ourselves. We are not bound to sit down and suffer the injury tamely, without stirring for our own relief; but, in matters of small consequence, it is better to put up with the wrong. Christians should be of a forgiving temper. And it is more for their ease and honor to suffer small injuries and inconveniences than seem to be contentious.”
ALBERT BARNES COMMENTS ON 1 COR. 6
“Where a Christian is INJURED in his person, character, or property, he has a right to seek redress. Courts, are instituted for the protection and defense of the innocent and the peaceable against the fraudulent, the wicked, and the violent. And a Christian owes it to his country, to his family, and to himself, that the man who has injured him should receive the proper punishment. The peace and welfare of the community demand it. If a man murders my wife or child, I owe it to the laws and to my country, to justice and to God, to endeavor to have the law enforced. So if a man robs my property, or injures my character, I may owe it to OTHERS as well as to myself that the law in such a case should be executed, and the rights of others also be secured.”
JOHN CALVIN COMMENTS ON 1 COR. 6
“As for those who strictly condemn all legal contentions, let them realize that they therewith repudiate God’s holy ordinance, and one of the class of gifts that can be clean to the clean [Titus 1:15], unless, perchance, they wish to accuse Paul of a shameful act, since he both repelled the slanders of his accusers, exposing at the same time their craft and malice [Acts 24:12 ff.], and in court claimed for himself the privilege of Roman citizenship [Acts 16:37; 22:1, 25], and, when there was need, appealed from the unjust judge to the judgment seat of Caesar [Acts 25:10-11]… Such men should therefore understand that lawsuits are permissible if rightly used. There is right use, both for the plaintiff in suing and for the accused in defending himself, if the defendant presents himself on the appointed day and with such exception, as he can, defends himself without bitterness, but only with this intent, to defend what is his by right, and if on the other hand, the plaintiff, undeservedly oppressed either in his person or in his property, puts himself in the care of the magistrate, makes his complaint, and seeks what is fair and good.”