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There's no reason to panic about binding arbitration

By Scott Tibbs, April 6, 2011

A number of conservatives are apoplectic about a judge in Florida who ruled that Islamic law would be used to settle a dispute between two parties in a civil lawsuit.

First of all, I am not a fool. I understand the threat presented by militant Islam and the fact that militant Islamists want Sharia Law to be the law of the land. This case should not be causing conservatives to get stomach ulcers, because this is about one thing and one thing only: enforcement of a contract willingly agreed to by both parties.

This is not unique to Islam. In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul shames the church at Corinth for taking civil lawsuits to the pagan authorities rather than having the dispute judged by the ruling elders of the church. If two parties in a Bible-believing church were to agree in writing to submit to arbitration by the board of elders, a judge would not be establishing a Christian theocracy by simply saying the two parties have to abide by the contract they signed if one of the parties does not like the decision made by the elders.

The fact that the two parties specifically agreed to submit to Sharia for arbitration of the dispute is not the issue. The issue is that both parties agreed to binding arbitration. There is nothing wrong with the courts basically telling the parties to deal with it themselves, and declining to interfere with the arbitration process.

Obviously, there have to be limits on this and there are areas where the courts should overrule the internal arbitration. For example, if a cult leader wanted to force a family within the cult to give their 12-year-old daughter to a 40-year-old man as his wife, the courts have every right to step in and protect the child and her family from the predatory cult leadership. But in this case, there is no harm in honoring the arbitration process.