What We Believe

March 3 Question and Answer

Justice Postponed?


We have the wife of an elder who grievously sinned against us. Our session asked us to go to her to sort it out. We did, and she refused to meet or speak with us. She doesn’t even answer our emails at all. I then went to her session, since I have known those members for many years. I asked for help to meet with her. They refuse to do anything about asking her to meet with us or even consider it as an issue. What do I do now?


Let me begin by pointing out that there have been countless incidents of injustice throughout the course of history. Every one of them has been noted by the Lord. Some perpetrators have received temporal retribution, but all will be dealt with on the Day of Judgment. All this to say that there are matters of offense that we just have to leave with God the righteous judge, because in his providence we will never see them settled this side of Jesus’ return “to judge the living and the dead.” What we can do is pray for those who despitefully use us, pray for ourselves, lest we overlook our own faults, and pray for God to do what will most glorify him, even if it means we suffer to some extent.

I don’t know if “justice postponed” will be the case with your issue or not. But, if all were right, you should be able to have the matter adjudicated in and through the Church. Since I do not know all the details, I cannot comment on why your elders or the elders of the other church have chosen not to address the situation. Perhaps the sessions have good reasons not to act.

It sounds like your session has correctly told you to follow the procedure for settling disagreements between Christians found in Matthew 18:15–17. Your efforts to arrange a private meeting and then to involve witnesses or arbitrators appear to have gone nowhere. Give careful attention to the counsel of your session, and let the Lord speak to you from his Word.

The third step in the process Jesus outlined is to bring the matter to the church. Since the offending party belongs to another congregation, it would be proper to bring “charges” before the woman’s session. If that session refuses to go further, and assuming both congregations belong to the same presbytery, you have the right to appeal to the presbytery, asking that the session be required to hear the case. There is always the further option to appeal presbytery’s (in)action to the General Assembly. (See the OPC Book of Discipline, Chapters III & VII.)

If nothing works out in following these steps, then we are back at the first paragraph of this response. God will have to answer in his own way. In the meantime, the worst thing you can do is to hold a grudge and allow a root of bitterness to spring up in your heart. Rather, take refuge in Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”



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