A man resigned from office as a top civil servant because a politician who was jailed as a result of his manipulations has not only been released from prison but is now elected to rule the country. He will resume office in a week’s time.
A businessman committed suicide on the night of his country’s Independence because he had been bribed to frustrate the process of his country becoming independent. He could not succeed in what the enemies paid him to do. A time of joy and freedom for his fellow compatriots became a time of his death and sorrow for his family. Such sorrows as itemized above are some of the lots of those who refuse to be upright by accepting bribes to do harm and pervert justice; making nonsense of fair play and decency in the society. If you accept bribes with laughter, you will pay back with tears.
There is corruption everywhere! Most people become corrupt as a result of misusing their position of authority or power. Others get corrupt as a result of yielding to the world’s system. To overcome corruption as believers, there is a need for Christians to be passionate about living right for the Lord. In today’s study, we shall examine different forms of corruption in different spheres of life such as the home, church, other religious institutions, and society at large with a view to examining how believers in Christ can live above board in such a corrupt environment.
What is Corruption?
The Dictionary of Contemporary English defines corruption as “dishonest”, illegal, or immoral behavior, especially from someone with power. Deji Adegboyin (immediate past President of the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso, Nigeria) quoted Senturia (1931) defined the word “corruption” as the “misuse of public power”. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were established to prosecute fraud and corruption-related cases both in the public and private sectors of the Nation’s economy.
Forms of Corruption
That corruption is endemic in Africa means that it is obvious and growing rapidly. It is, therefore, no more news that corruption has become a way of life among many people. An author, Adrian N. Helleman, said that corruption takes the following forms in Africa:
1. Bribery: (Exodus 23:8, Deuteronomy 16:19). Examples of bribery in Nigeria are:
- Give a petrol attendant a bribe to place you at the front of the queue.
- Give a policeman some money so that he will not delay you any further whether you have the right papers or not.
- Give a clerk something so that he/she will process your paperwork quickly.
Both the giver and the receiver are guilty. The Bible places a curse on the person who accepts a bribe (Deuteronomy 27:25). Bribery in any form has negative effects on society. Some of these are:
It creates inflation by increasing the cost of goods and services. It destroys the moral fiber of a nation and makes it susceptible to even more evil practices. As adultery led David to murder, bribery led to further evils and greater injustices.
2. Extortion: This occurs when a person in authority demands a bribe. When someone in a position of authority forces people to pay extra or more than the actual payment, it becomes extortion. There is no excuse for greed. The fact that you receive a small salary or have not been paid in many months is not a justification for corruption in any form or way. Some examples are A policeman who refuses to allow a driver to proceed until he or she gives a bribe; a bus conductor who demands more money after the journey has started; a school principal who withholds someone’s statement of result until he/she receives an illegal additional payment, and so on.
3. Nepotism: This is giving unfair preference to one’s relatives or others known directly or indirectly to one in the distribution of public positions, favors, or property. It is a form of favoritism. Nepotism is wrong because the people we prefer are our relatives or friends who may not be qualified at all for the position or favor. For example, a school principal hires members of his/her own family to teach in his/her school, though they are not as qualified as other applicants.
4. Tribalism: This is closely related to nepotism. Tribalism is giving unfair preference to members of one’s own tribe or ethnic group in the distribution of jobs and resources, whether in business, institution, or state, for example, a person who is not promoted because he or she is not from the boss’s ethnic group. Paul instructed the Galatians that no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, neither male nor female because all are one in Christ Jesus.” Read and meditate on Galatians 3:28.
5. Educational fraud: This could be admission fraud, examination fraud, or plagiarism. Admission fraud may occur through the falsification of official documents by students or parents with the help of school authorities. Also, it is fraud when a student’s name is added to an admission list through bribery or influence. Examination fraud can take place when questions are “leaked” to some students before the examination. Plagiarism occurs during academic papers and thesis when students or lecturers copy words or ideas without giving credit to the original author(s) of such ideas or words etc.
Effects of Corruption on the Church
Experience has shown that the church is not exempted from corruption. Although this ought not to be, many start churches just for monetary gain. This has led to multiplications of denominations and churches. The aftermath is that churches are losing value in the sight of unbelievers. It also hampers the free move of the Holy Spirit and the progress of the church (1 Corinthians 14:33), especially when people in the church who are supposed to be saints are involved in corruption.
How to Overcome Corruption
- Religious leaders who want to fight corruption and immorality in the country must distance themselves from the love of money because it will distract them from playing the expected role. The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evils…” Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 6:10.
- Religious leaders must stand against injustice. Fighting corruption is a crusade that pastors should champion in the churches where God has placed them.
- Corruption is a state of mind. If it is to be minimized, followers of Christ must wake up to champion the crusade in a godly way. The values of Christianity should be emphasized everywhere and especially in our schools from primary to university level. Values such as hard work, honesty, accountability, dedication, punctuality, love, truthfulness, leadership by example, and selflessness should be emphasized and entrenched.
- Followers of Christ must live exemplary Christian life as Paul instructed Timothy. He said that no man should despise thy youth but… Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 4:12. Believers are to model a kingdom lifestyle as they follow and abide by the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Corrupt practices are wrecking our society in all ramifications. If corruption is dangerous to developed nations, it is more dangerous to developing nations. Developing nations like Nigeria require honest and faithful leaders who are interested in their people’s well-being and the progress of their land. Will you be one of such leaders? God will help us to continue to be the salt and the light of the world in Jesus’ name. Amen