Question: "Should Christians use mediation to settle disputes?"
Answer: Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties. In mediation, a mediator acts as the referee and makes certain all points of view are heard and validated. The person chosen as mediator remains neutral and unbiased, serving only to facilitate a civil exchange of ideas and help warring parties come to a satisfactory resolution. Usually, mediation results in a contract drawn up and signed by all parties, who agree to abide by its contents. This contract can be filed legally or used as an informal agreement between the parties. Mediation is a good way to avoid burdensome court costs, to make certain everyone’s voice is heard, and to give all parties some control over the outcome of their dispute.
Jesus made a possible reference to mediation in a parable: “When you are on the way to court with your accuser, try to settle the matter before you get there. Otherwise, your accuser may drag you before the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, who will throw you into prison” (Luke 12:58, NLT). His overall message was that we should make every effort to be reconciled to God before judgment falls. To illustrate this point, Jesus reminds His hearers that they strive for reconciliation in the face of lesser, that is, earthly judgments. It is wise to live in peace with everyone, avoiding the courts when possible. When we are proactive in settling our disputes, the outcome can be radically better than letting the chips fall where they may.
Mediation can be a healthy part of a Christian’s interactions with others. We won’t always agree on everything, and mature people seek outside perspectives to help balance the issues at stake. The Bible gives several examples of effective informal mediation. Paul instructed the church at Phillipi to act as the mediator between two of their warring members, Euodia and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2–3). Moses acted as a mediator between the rebellious Israelites and the Lord (Exodus 32:31–32). And the greatest example of mediation is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15). Mediation is definitely supported by the Bible and should be pursued whenever a dispute cannot be adequately resolved by the people involved.