We all know that what the Bible or Quran calls sin is indeed sin as per holy requirements such that the people living under a theocratic state such as Saudi Arabia or Iran have no or little democratic right or freedom to claim. In a liberal democracy like Japan, Mexico, Israel, Holland or Russia, sins and crimes do not share the same standard definitions.
In a functional democracy, laws are defined from a right based approach and not as per Holy Bible or Quran yardstick – that’s a functional theocracy-rule by God/the divine. In mature democracies like the US, Sweden, Spain, Italy or Denmark, sins are totally differentiated from crimes and citizens are governed based on the sound Republican Constitution as the Supreme law. But in a theocracy like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, ISIS, Syria or Libya, sins and crimes are not differentiated and citizens are governed based on the Holy Quran as the binding moral standard and law. In democracies such as South Africa, Canada, Australia, Germany, Britain or France, the state exists primarily to defend and protect the inherent rights and fundamental freedoms of every citizen regardless of their age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, tribe or political alignment; that’s why commercial sex workers, homosexuals and bisexuals are respected and protected by law across liberal Europe.
In the same manner, African states that claim to be baptized democracies like Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana, Botswana, Kenya or Zimbabwe must understand this right based approach or political consequence; they are expected to rule by liberal laws and than to demonize and harass sinners. This is the philosophical hallmark and political standard in any sensible liberal democracy which cannot be a theocracy at the same time as Zambia tries to project itself. The moment we decide to Christianize or Islamize the Republican Constitution, is the moment we denounce and start departing from defending the core principles of liberal democracy – a right-based society. This is where the Zambians have lost and missed it. However, as mature Christians, some of us now know that the teachings of Jesus Christ are purely democratic and based on respect for inherent human rights and fundamental freedoms.
If there is one society that is supposed to be more tolerant, merciful and loving on earth, it is one that bears the name of Jesus Christ like ours. Jesus Christ instructed that, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”, Apostle Peter equally observed that, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV). Given that this is a ‘Christian Nation’, this is what is expected in Zambia. But how many holy Zambians are ready to condemn either by insulting, rejecting, beating or stoning those considered sinners in the name of Christianity? Many Zambian Pharisees (who are either habitual adulterers, fornicators, prostitutes, polygamists, drunkards, plunderers, death sentence defenders, witches or abortionists themselves) could be ready and openly willing to judge others, condemn them to hell and throw the first stone on the ‘worst sinner’.
If there is a place where all sinners, regardless of the colours and size of their sins, are supposed to be embraced with God’s love, it is the community of believers of the gospel. The Bible says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in these words, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” Romans 13:8-10 (NIV). The Apostle John agrees and notes that, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” 1 John 4:20 (NIV). In the same vein, Apostle Paul further stresses that, “For the whole law is fulfilled in this statement, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” Galatians 5:14 (NIV). Generally, this is what is expected from majority Zambians but they practice the opposite as many are holy sinners or wicked saints.
The simple reason why many Zambian and African Pharisees will miss heaven is that, they have a short list of sins they passionately hate and a long list of sins they religiously embrace and habitually commit. They fail to recognize that sin is just sin regardless of the size, colour or name. Before the word of God and Jesus Christ, a prostitute or polygamist is not different from any other sinner such as an adulterer, fornicator, liar, drunkard, plunderer, gossiper, witch, wizard or abortionist. In other words, all these are birds of a feather. Jesus Christ is clear when he instructed that “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” Matthew 7:1-5(NIV). In the Bible, Jesus Christ refused to judge, condemn or authorize stoning of a woman caught in adultery and consequently made the Pharisees to leave her alone. In a sound Christian society, sinners are treated free people.
In conclusion, we need to stress that Zambia is a democracy and our Republican Constitution says so. If we want to defend our democracy, we should not accept the imposition of this theocratic framework from our crooked politicians who are merely using it as a political strategy to blindfold, plunder, oppress and exploit us in the holy name. The church is a holy community of upright Christians; Zambia and many parts of Christian Africa are supposed to be the safest places for all sinners and not the crucification arenas, especially that we are now right-based democracies.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a political scientist, author, PhD scholar, lecturer, researcher and consultant