The Grenville Phillips Column – Bearing the Sword in Vain
Jesus asked His followers to forgive other people in the same manner that they wanted God to forgive them. With this being the standard, how do we want God to forgive us? Do we want to be forgiven entirely? Do we want to benefit from being given another chance, as if our offence had never occurred?
This type of forgiveness is very easy for us to receive, but it is very difficult for us to give. But giving it is the only way that we can receive forgiveness from God. Jesus explained that the way to life is relatively more difficult, and we can see why.
If someone harms my neighbour, then I have no standing to forgive the offender on behalf of the one harmed. That is the responsibility of the person who was harmed, and for their benefit. If a person rapes or steals from my neighbour, my neighbour must decide whether to forgive the offender or not. However, there is a context to this type of forgiveness. We trust that the state will sort-out those who grievously harm us. The Biblical teaching on this matter follows.
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:3-4)
So while we forgive the offenders, we also have a reasonable expectation that state will arrest, charge, convict and sentence them. We do not expect the state to “bear the sword in vain” and simply forgive them, so that they can boast of this lunacy and harm us again. We do not expect the state to refuse to act on our behalf by claiming that vengeance belongs to the Lord.
When the state decides to behave like a child, then the system breaks down. Individuals forgive for their own benefit and emotional healing. However, they must be confident in the Government’s management of the judicial process. Who among us will advise a victim to forgive a serial rapist whose serial actions are facilitated by the state? Would this not encourage popular vigilantism?
If the BLP administration is insistent on forgiving all of those who have engaged in bribery and other forms of corruption against us, then they should compensate those who continue to be affected by their bribes. The offender should not be the only beneficiary of the Government’s leniency.
Corruption can account for approximately 50% of a construction project. If we are to believe our politicians who regularly accuse each other of gross corruption, and the auditor general’s annual report that suggests that little is well, then we may be significantly overpaying for construction and other contracts.
Instead of paying $50M for a project properly valued at $50M, we may be forced to be repaying in the order of $100M. That is why we may be paying VAT, land and other taxes, not for any improvement in government services, but to repay the bribes that others are enjoying. If this is so, then if we want improved service, then we will be called upon to pay additional taxes for water, sewage, sanitation, and the like, which we have already paid for with other taxes.
Those who worship political parties are expected to justify anything and everything that their political party does, no matter how much it harms others. But why are private sector business leaders, who publicly objected to every new tax before the general election, actively encouraging the Government to lay these unnecessary additional taxes on the public?
If the BLP and DLP are indeed the same party, with a sworn prime directive to protect each-other from scrutiny, then the BLP’s proposal to forgive all BLP and DLP politicians for any past corrupt behaviour is consistent with this directive. So is the proposal to allow them to keep any bribes that they may have accumulated. However, why must we be forced to keep repaying any bribes, that if forgiven, they will be allowed to legally enjoy?
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com