A Call for Christian Accountability and Ethics

images

Christianity, by its very nature, is the way of Christ, and this way is a narrow one. It is a highway of holiness in which Christians are expected to be salt and light to the world.

This is why when a Christian leader (someone who has been appointed to teach the Word of God at any level) has credible allegations of crime levied against him/her, the response of the Body of Christ to it sends a strong message to those within and without the church.

It cannot be denied that Christianity has been a strong historical and cultural force which shaped the Nigerian political and religious sphere. This is why the decisions that the Nigerian Christian body make regarding serious allegations such as rape against a popular pastor, tells us the kind of society we want to build.

In the midst of the baffling controversy of the alleged serial adulterer and rapist, Biodun Fatoyinbo, the Christian Organization of Nigeria (CAN) gave a press release that contains a number of howlers, none of which should come from a Christian body that values justice, truth and moral integrity.

In the release made public on Saturday, they wrote:

As we seek the help of CAN Elders and the Holy Spirit in resolving the current problem, it is our prayer that both parties will sheath their swords and stop the media war in the interest of the Church and for the greater glory of God.”

I sincerely don’t understand what they meant by the call to “sheath their swords” and stop the “media war”? Are CAN members oblivious to what this issue is all about or they are deliberately trying to twist the narrative? I suspect the latter.

Do they think Busola Dakolo’s allegation was borne out of personal vendetta or was she his only victim?

Is this a “media war” instigated by a scorned woman or the exposure of a sexual predator in the pulpit?

It’s indeed a disappointment to find a supposed Christian organization playing cheap politics with the lives of the wounded flock.

In the release, they made an appeal to Romans 5:8,11 and 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 as if this hoopla is all about Biodun’s sins. This is the same “we are all sinners” line that Biodun’s defenders have been chanting all across the public space.

And I wonder if someone ever informed them that there is a big difference between sins and crimes.

According to a legal dictionary, crime is a violation of a law in which there is injury to the public or a member of the public and a term in jail or prison, and/or a fine as possible penalties. In a plain sense, when there is a crime, there must be a penalty.

But not all sins are crimes though all crimes may be sins. Therefore, the redress of crimes cannot be the same as sins. Not in every instance. With the exception of those under Sharia dictates or Mosaic laws:

Fornication is a sin, not a crime.

Adultery – sin not crime.

Not paying tithes – sin not crime

Breaking the sabbath – sin, not crime.

Eating shellfish or pork – sin, not crime.

Homosexuality – sin, not crime (though some countries criminalize it).

Sorcery – sin, not crime.

Gambling – sin, not crime

Alcoholism – sin, not crime.

But when you are talking about rape, paedophilia, theft, perjury, murder, destruction of private or public property, money laundering, financial embezzlement and so on, you are talking about crimes. That’s the way the world works. Deal with it.

Some sins can result in crimes, such as sorcery being used to murder and fornication which can include sexual acts with a minor or sexual predation – which is an accurate description of a pastor taking his flock as sexual preys.

When a crime is uncovered, it shouldn’t stop at mere apology to the aggrieved, it should also be adjudicated in the court of law:

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. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:3-5).

Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:9-11).

Therefore, the first act of injustice against all the victims of Biodun Fatoyinbo is to reduce his crimes against them to mere “sins.” That’s a callous, mendacious and unchristian attempt to minimize the injuries he inflicted on others.

Furthermore, in all the accounts given by his victims and numerous sex partners, there were often large pay outs and monetary gifts. It will be vital if this is equally investigated.

The organization he heads is registered with a non-profit status, and to the best of my knowledge, he doesn’t have any allied industries or entrepreneurship schemes that serve as sources of great income. So where was the money coming from?

If the money he showered on these women were from the tithes and various offerings and other public money donated to his ministry by people who thought they were “connecting the power” for their breakthroughs, then he should be penalized and have his tax-free status revoked. 

A church leader expending “God’s money” on satiating his lust is gross betrayal of public trust, lack of financial stewardship and abuse of spiritual authority. Is there a Christian body with enough integrity to call this evil by its name?

I have read posts by church goers who highlight his benevolence, Bible knowledge and miracles that have come from his ministry. What is in dispute here is not his giving to charity or ability to teach the Bible. Anyone can do these without necessarily been born again.

And since the name of Jesus and the Word of God are effective any day, God will always honour the faith of His people even if the vessel ministering to them is as false as a 13 dollar bill.

At this stage of our Christian experience in Africa, miracles should no longer be the yardstick of genuineness.

Some Christians, in their desperation to launder the image of their hero (and it’s all about him), appeal to us to cover the crimes of our leaders just as Muslims do for theirs. This is the lowest watermark that people will sink to.

I must ask, since when did Christians – who are called to be the light of the world – began to model their ethical codes after the religions of this world? Indeed, it’s written in the Islamic hadith that if a Muslim covers the sins of a fellow Muslim, Allah will also cover their sins on judgement day.

Aside from the ethically flawed implications of that charge, the whole idea of sins being covered on judgement day is completely alien to Biblical eschatology and soteriology.

What does the Bible say we should do about evil or grievous sins being committed in Christian leadership?

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11).

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20).

This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13).

And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:21-22)

Nothing here about covering up crimes or criminals to protect the image of a person or church. It is actually our exposure of them that shows the world our revulsion and makes it clear to others within the church that such actions are contrary to the Faith.

If you take a look at civilized climes, you will find that accountability in the church is not often overlooked.

Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Robert Liardon, Eddie Long etc. were all exposed for their sexual indiscretions at one point and they publicly confessed their deeds, and in the case of Bakker, served his sentence for financial misappropriation.

Even David Yonggi Cho, the icon of South Korea, publicly confessed his misdeeds and was sentenced to prison for his financial embezzlement – and the earth didn’t cave in neither did the sky fall to the ground.

But why is it that when it comes to our dear country, influential church leaders are excluded from any degree of scrutiny and accountability? Why do we prioritize image and status over truth and justice?

Here again is what the Bible says about Christians like Fatoyinbo who use Christianity as a cover for their unclean practices:

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1Cor. 5:11).

Paul even said such an evil person should be expelled from the church (v. 13)! This should cover all those defending and protecting sexually loose persons in their churches with the veil of shame.

The church in Nigeria needs to take some hard, unpopular stance in order to restore its sullied image before the world.

We cannot be denouncing corruption outside the church while making allowances for it inside the church. It is a travesty of the noble examples we should be giving to the unregenerate.

Most sex predators don’t work alone; they usually have enablers, whether in word or deed. There is always someone who saw or knew something but chose to look the other way. They need to break their silence on this case because judgement will start in the house of God.

From the accounts of Biodun’s victims, his wife, Modele, “Pastor Flo” and the elders of the church (“the COZA 12”), are all aware of Biodun’s numerous sexual assaults over the years. These are the devious people helping him in covering his tracks and giving him a makeover after each of his sexual vampirism.

These are the people who “strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life” (Ezekiel 13:22). No, Biodun is not the only alleged culprit of sexual predator and COZA is not the only slaughter pen in this country.

May the Lord expose them all. And may His healing balm minister to the lives of all their victims.

Sharia: The Path of Doom (I)

images (3)

On July 27, 2016, a gang of Muslim men stormed a German swimming pool yelling “Allahu Akbar!” They warned a group of nudist swimmers, whom they called “infidels” and “sluts” that they would be “exterminated.”

In France, a woman and her 3 daughters were stabbed by a Muslim man who was offended because they were “scantily dressed.”

In Sweden, Muslims placed up posts at strategic street corners saying “Women who don’t wear a headscarf are asking to be raped” and “No democracy. We just want Islam.”

In Manchester, leaflets were posted in people’s letterboxes warning them against walking their dogs in public, in order to keep the area “pure” for Muslims. “Those who live in the UK must learn to understand and respect the legacy and lifestyle of the Muslims who live alongside them,” says the leaflets.

To an informed observer, these are cries of an ideological war brewing in the West. It’s a clash between Western civilization and Middle Eastern barbarity; between a mentality that belongs to the Iron Age and a mentality that belongs to the 21st century. Some countries have walked this path.

In 1989, key Muslim leaders from all over Africa gathered in Nigeria. They founded the Islam in Africa Organization (IA0) and made Nigeria its headquarters. Its members concluded: “We are ready to go any length to get Sharia established in this country whether we are alive or dead.”

Unknown to many, that was a declaration of war. Today, out of 36 states in Nigeria, Sharia laws are fully operational in 12. It took Muslims only 11 years to achieve that agenda.

In the battle of mindsets which we are currently witnessing, knowledge gaps must be filled with sufficient information.

In the Islamic worldview, there is no king but Allah, and he alone is to be the supreme ruler and legislator of the world. No earthly ruler has sufficient authority to legislate any law. Since Allah’s final laws have purportedly been given to Muhammad in the 7th century, they must be followed to the core.

Muslims believe Allah has sent Muhammad with Islam to dominate all other religions even though the infidels detest it, therefore, every Muslim must overthrow democracy (and other ideologies) and enforce Sharia on the whole world under an Islamic caliphate.

A 2008 YouGov survey in the UK found that 40% of Muslim students want Sharia infused with British law.

A 2013 Pew Forum random survey of 38,000 Muslims from 39 countries also revealed that most Muslims favour Sharia and want it imposed on Muslims as well. Contrary to the rehearsed speeches of Muslim leaders, Sharia is not compatible with democracy.

Islam basically rejects the tenets of democracy, and this explains why Muslim leaders oppose the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which they insist is unislamic.

In contention, they met at Cairo in 1990 at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to adopt the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, prohibiting freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of association, equality in rights and equal protection under the law.

Now, if Allah is the king over Islamic regions where people can’t exercise their God-given freedom of conscience or speech, where they can’t openly declare Jesus as Lord; where human lives are cheap and savagery prevails; then we need to critically examine his dogmas and laws and decide whether or not he should rule our land.

We need to judge Allah’s constitution with Scripture, history and reason to determine if they are divine or demonic.

Sharia (“pathway”) is the religious legal system aimed at governing Muslims in the area of politics, marriage, economy, crime, military, gender roles and religious rites. It is primarily derived from the Quran and hadiths; making some practices obligatory, permitted and some forbidden.

As Islam moved beyond the borders of Arabia it assimilated some laws from Persia, India and Rome, thus, divergent views of how Sharia is to be interpreted developed (fiqh).

These schools rely on statements agreed on by all Muslims (Ijma), analogies from the Quran or sunna (Qiyas) and rulings of Islamic jurists (Istihsan) in following Sharia.

These schools are considered orthodox despite their different rulings. They are: Hanafi (common in Egypt and Turkey), Maliki (West and North Africa), Shafi (East Africa, Indonesia), Jafari (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon) and Hanbali (Saudi Arabia).

First we need to ask, which nation of the world has ever adhered to Sharia law perfectly? Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Iraq? Iran? or Egypt?

This question is crucial, because if Sharia is a divine law meant for the whole world there should be, at least, a single nation that has followed it ideally to show us its measurable contributions towards human civilization.

Is Saudi Arabia – a country stuck in a backwater, plagued by racism, tyranny, sexism and gross injustice – a template of an ideal Sharia? Many Muslims would disagree. They suggest that Saudi Arabia’s monarchical rule negates Islamic theocracy, and that no nation of the world currently practices Islam up to Allah’s standards.

So, if no nation in the last 14 centuries has exhibited the “perfect Islam,” then it’s time Muslims gave up this pipe dream. Here are some examples of laws of the Sharia betraying a deeply barbaric, empty and retrograde religious system.

1. Flogging Drunkards and Gamblers

The Quran’s stance on alcoholism and gambling oscillates from tepid approval to condemnation.

They ask you [Muhammad] about intoxicants and gambling: say, ‘There is great sin in both, and some benefit for people: the sin is greater than the benefit…” (Q 2:219)

Later, it says: “You who believe, do not come anywhere near the prayer if you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying...” (Q4:43)

Quranic commentator, Abul A’La Maududi said Muhammad “changed the timings of their drinking so as not to clash with the timings of their prayers” (The Meaning of the Qur’an, 1:337).

So, Muslims could take alcohol in between their prayers or afterward.

But in Sura 5:90-91, Allah finally said:

O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows are an abomination of Satan’s handwork; eschew such (abominations), that ye may prosper. Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer...”

The English translator inserted the words in brackets because he realises this verse also grates against the black stone Muslims worship. The hadiths record the penalties levied on drunks and gamblers.

When a drunk was dragged before Muhammad in anger, he “ordered all those who were present in the house to beat him” (Bukhari 8:6775).

Muhammad and his successor, Abu Bakr, gave drunks 42 stripes. But when Umar assumed the responsibilities as the Caliphate, he consulted people and Abd al-Rahman said: “the mildest punishment (for drinking) is eighty (stripes) and Umar prescribed this punishment” (Muslim, 4226).

Muhammad is even quoted as saying “flog them, again if they drink wine, flog them. Again if they drink it, kill them” (Abu Dawud, 4467). But Muslim scholars say this hadith has been abrogated. The penalty for gambling is to “give something in charity (as an expiation of such a sin)” (Bukhari 8:6107).

The Shafi Law code says: “If any person drinks wine or any other intoxicating thing, its hudd [fixed punishment] is forty stripes and it is lawful that by means of tazir or discretionary punishment to bring it up to 80 stripes” (p. 119).

This raises some questions. If wine is an abominable handwork of Satan on earth, why is it a reward in Allah’s paradise?

And if Muslims eschewed these vices as Allah commanded in the Quran, why did Muhammad need to institute severe punishment for it?

Here is a man who supposedly sliced the moon into two like water melons unable to help his disciples overcome their sins? How does whipping even quench a person’s thirst for alcohol or gambling? A “scientific miracle” perhaps? These laws must have come from someone quite ignorant of the human nature.

Expectedly, drunkenness and drug trafficking thrive in Islamic climes today. Thousands of Muslims reportedly drive from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain every weekend to indulge themselves at the pubs.

In contrast, the New Testament, instead of corporal punishments, invites sinners to an inner transformation to overcome their sins “As many as received [Jesus], to them he gave power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

2. Stoning and flogging the sexually immoral

Strike the adulterer and adulteress one hundred times. Do not let compassion for them keep you from carrying out God’s law – if you believe in God and the Last Day – and ensure that a group of believers witness the punishment.” (Sura 24:2)

This was recited when Aisha was accused of committing adultery with Safwan, whom Muhammad exonerated.

The penalty for fornication is flogging and stoning for adultery. An accuser is mandated to present four male witnesses otherwise he is lashed 80 stripes (Sura 24: 4).

In a situation where a man cannot prove his wife’s adultery, he will follow the rule of Li’an by swearing 4 times and invoking Allah’s curse on himself or herself if he/she is lying. These are plainly retrogressive rules.

In the modern world, you don’t need four witnesses to prove a sexual crime, when there are audio, video and forensic evidence available. But these items would violate the sunna.

Besides, fornication and adultery are often committed behind closed doors, so this law would rather cause many rape victims be stoned to death for immorality since they can’t provide four male witnesses.

In the hadith, after a woman confessed her adultery and subsequent pregnancy to Muhammad, she was first allowed to give birth. “Muhammad handed the child over to the community. And when he had given command over her and she was put up in a hole to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face, he cursed her…” (Sahih Muslim, 4206)

If there are no witnesses, the guilty is also punished if he confesses his sin 4 times.

When a man came to Muhammad “and informed him that he had committed illegal sexual intercourse and he bore witness four times against himself. Allah’s Messenger ordered him to be stoned to death as he was a married person” (Bukhari 8:6814).

With such severe penalties awaiting fornicator or adulterers, many Muslims prefer to hide their sexual sins.

Muhammad even said an immoral Muslim “should better remain hidden under the curtain of Allah but if he discloses it to us, we shall certainly enforce the law of Allah on him” (Maududi, 3:305).

This betrays the myth that Islamic nations are more sexually chaste than Western nations. These vices also persist there, but they are mostly covered up under Allah’s broad curtain. Only few cases slither out to the media. A law that is so counterproductive to genuine repentance can’t be said to be divine.

Islam operates a situational ethics. On the one hand, it’s a crime to engage in “illegal” sexual intercourse, but on the other, it’s islamically “legal” to take non-Muslim ladies as sex slaves and engage in Mut’ah.

Muhammad himself was a sexually immoral man who used his position to warm his bed.

Fornication and adultery (as well as drunkenness, gambling etc.) are sins, not crimes. With the exceptions of sexual molestation and assault, sex between consenting adults are not crimes because they are not detrimental to another person’s well being.

In fact, we now know that sexual promiscuity can stem from childhood sexual abuse or spiritual problems.

A divine law should provide a reasonable solution to sin and give the sinner a chance to live a new life.

It seems Muhammad selectively incorporated some laws from the Torah, but even while the Torah lays down death penalty for adulterers, it’s silent on the actual carrying out of the punishment.

Even Jesus didn’t stone the adulterous woman in John 8:10-11, showing us that physical punishment doesn’t take away sin. He fulfilled the Law by taking the penalty of our sins and through the Holy Spirit He resides in His people, enabling him to live a changed life.

This is something Allah, Muhammad and his laws can never do.

Go to Part II