RE: Kenya’s degeneration towards moral relativism: “Sin” ndio nini?
I have been thinking about events of the last several months and the dichotomous views regarding what constitutes “right” and “wrong” behavior and/or actions. Inevitably, given the current zeitgeist in Kenya and here in the US, my thoughts migrated towards the constructs of “morality” and “immorality” – of “sin”. And as I am wont to do during such moments, I pulled out my Bible.
The Holy Scriptures has a definite definition of “sin” and what constitutes “sin” or “sinful” behavior”.
Said definition notwithstanding, it is equally important to provide the context which informs that (biblical) definition of the word. In his book “The Foundations of Christian Doctrine”, Kevin Conner provides a context (for “sin”) I have always defaulted to:
That “belief in the existence of God is absolutely foundational…to understanding…the (message and content of the) Bible….”
Having absolute faith and belief in the teachings of the Bible has been a consistent theme in most of my discussions regarding faith, spirituality and on religion. Without said steadfastness, the discussion/s, which usually start of benignly – as intellectual exchanges – eventually devolve into talking past one another and worse – if participants are intolerant or fanatical about their religious perspective. The latter has been repeatedly illustrated as recent as yesterday in Egypt (when 300+ lost their lives due to religious extremism)
It is thus this faith and belief in God’s word that enables one who believes i.e. a believer to embrace and internalize God’s definition of “sin”. Faith and belief in God’s word also provide clarity regarding the existence of “sin” in the world today.
Hebrews 11:1 says this of “faith” – that it “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” i.e. an acceptance that something one has NOT seen is true and/or exists.
Given this context – of faith and belief in God and His word – one can then ask the question:
What is “sin”?
The Bible defines “sin” as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Simply put, “Sin is the act of violating God’s will; the willful breaking of God’s law.”
The following three scriptures are among several in the Bible that provide definition of “sin”:
1 John 3:4 says that “everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact ‘sin’ is lawlessness.”
Deuteronomy 9:7 describes “sin” as “rebellion against God”.
Joshua 1:18 follows up on Deuteronomy 9:7 and explicitly says that “whoever rebels against your (God’s) word…will be put to death.”
The Holy Scripture thus offers very clear definitions of “sin”; especially for believers. The last qualifier “especially for believers” is particularly important given events of the times we currently living in. Today’s world is caught in a relentless struggle between believers and non-believers; an on-going war of moral relativity that has thrown into question the Bible’s definition of “sin”.
As a believer and someone who aspires to have a closer relationship with God, at the very basic level, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 3:17) provides me with a framework to identify the sins that exist in today’s world.
Additionally, Proverbs 6 16:19 also gives me additional guidelines regarding what constitutes lawlessness or rebellion against the teachings of the Lord. These include:
“…..haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
To be even more specific, the Scripture is very clear about two acts of “sin” that have been part and parcel of the current discourse in the country. The two are (i) stealing and (ii) the brutal and violent actions of the opposing sides in Kenya’s political divide – oftentimes resulting in serious injury or loss of lives.
The Ten Commandments ((Deuteronomy 5 & Exodus 20) are very clear about murder and theft:
Deuteronomy 5:17: Thou shalt not murder and v19: Thou shalt not steal
I am singling out these two issues – murder and stealing – because they are arguably two of the most contentious and emotionally-charged examples of “sin” in Kenya.
As a culture, we now rationalize murder with an ease, an aplomb and a comfort that is as shocking as it is common place.
Kenyans have become contortionists in their attempts at explaining away the oftentimes brutal murder of those they disagree with and/or those who disagree with them – including children as young as six months old!
We have also normalized and become disturbingly comfortable calling for the death or physical assault of one another.
And when we do not verbalize outright support of said sin (of murder or assault), our silence, especially the silence of our so-called leader speaks of (their) acquiescence – to said acts.
For good measure, just as telling is the inconsistent punishment meted out against those accused and convicted of committing murder oftentimes as determined (manipulated) by the so-called leaders – again depending on the perpetrator’s political and ethnic bias.
Similarly, our culture steals AND rationalizes stealing with an ease and a comfort that is now legendary. As I write this particular sentence, I find myself smiling because I have to define the word “steal” given the demographics and comments of those who visit my wall!
Steal: take (another person’s property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it.
For this article, I limited my definition of the word “steal” to that found in the book of Ephesians 4:28:
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
Ephesians 4:28 is so apt and on point that I am surprised a polity as religious as Kenya – with “God-chosen” leaders – has not made it part of the national anthem or some variant of its national motto!
Question: What constitutes a “sin” or a “sinful” action – in Kenya?
Answer: An act that has been committed once by someone with a “bad” name.
** The 2nd picture juxtaposes a book about the Ten Commandments next to one about the darkness of America, a society that professes “religion” as much as Kenya.