Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
A few days ago the news broke that the popular Ponzi Scheme the Mavrodi Mondiale Moneybox has been frozen on account of more people requiring help than giving it out and thus the system becoming imbalanced. The news has allowed many of the scheme’s critics to have a field day laughing at the people who engaged in it and to all intents and purposes have now lost their money.
I am (and have always been) a vocal critic of the MMM scheme in particular and Ponzi schemes in general and I have one or two things to say about MMM now that it has crashed/been frozen. However this time to say those things is not now, instead I will talk about a train of thought that I noticed on social media in the aftermath of the freezing of the MMM scheme. Of course, the trend didn’t start with MMM, it only became more glaring after MMM happened. I will describe the trend simply as the “The don’t judge so that you may not be judged” thought group. The members of this group are the people who came out to tell off those of us who pointed out that people who got their fingers burned because of greed and stupidity deserve no pity. The argument of the “Judge Not” group was that since us critics were not perfect ourselves, what right do we have to say someone is reaping the fruits of foolishness and excessive greed?
That brings me to the verses of the bible I quoted above. It is easy to see those people who brought the adulterous woman to be stoned as the bad guys in this story, because of our glee and amazement at the wisdom that Jesus Christ displayed to give them their comeuppance, it is easy to forget that the stoning was not an arbitrary decision. They were preparing to obey a law given to them by Moses who got it from God. Jesus Christ is technically the good guy in this story because he showed that God is a merciful God, who regards his creatures as precious, but he still technically perverted justice according to a law given by his own father. If we argue that Jesus Christ did the good thing by showing mercy to the adulterous woman, are we not begging the question of why God choose to give that law in the first place if he and the people he gave it to feel it is harsh?
Some years ago when I was a young fresh out of secondary school teenager, I was reading through one of my sister’s law textbooks, when a picture of the Lady Justice drawn on its cover attracted my attention and inflamed my curiosity. I asked my sister, who was a third-year undergraduate at the time, why the Lady Justice looks like that, she told me many things, but the stuff that made the deepest impression on me was the sword in her hand which symbolizes her ability to punish transgressors and the blindfold on her eyes which is a symbol that she is no respecter of persons. Thus even though we are always shouting for her to do her work, we don’t really like her very much when she isn’t partial to us. That explains part of the reason why when we think of lawyers and law enforcement agents, the first thing that comes to our minds is “asshole”. The traffic officer who tows away your car because you parked in a clear No Parking zone, refusing to listen to your insistent pleas that you did it because you were late for a critical meeting and you couldn’t find a good parking spot is an asshole, just like the raging mob who tried to stone that adulterous woman, despite the fact that they are just people trying to enforce laws that everybody agreed are necessary and then can’t be bothered to obey. The truth that one can deduct from this is all of us are hypocrites who like our justice with a sharp sword but we don’t like her blindfold.
So how does all this tie with my discussion on MMM? I am coming to that. A few Sundays ago someone on twitter mentioned that the pastor of his church said that participating in MMM is a sin of greed and covetousness which is unacceptable before God. The pastor was instantly attacked in absentia for playing God and judging people, despite the fact that the aforementioned pastor only merely stated an opinion that is in fact in the Bible. It seems that we like our Pastors when they bring out the good news of increase and prosperity from the scripture to give us, but we don’t like them so much when they bring out parts of the scriptures where God says he will punish us ruthlessly if we don’t desist from something we love doing.
No matter how much we try to show “humanity” and “feeling” and not try to judge people, there has to be a point where we must let people know that when they do something unacceptable, they deserve whatever punishment they receive for it, regardless of the reason why they did it. That is why we pay a particular set of people millions of naira a year to be law court judges and another kind of people a little less than millions of naira a year to be law enforcement agents. It is also the reasons why religious leaders who are regarded as men of great understanding in the knowledge of their Gods exist so that they can teach the followers what the respective deities like and what they don’t like. You can’t argue that a court judge can’t send you to prison for theft because he neglects his marital duties, or that a policeman can’t arrest you for murder because he also drinks alcohol, in the same vein you can’t argue that a pastor cannot condemn you for covetousness because he also commits adultery. Those people are merely acting on a community’s contract which became binding on you when you became a member of that community. That is why God continued to send messages to the people of Israel through Moses despite the fact that Moses had anger management problems throughout his life and why David still continued to remain king of Israel despite committing just about every sin in the book.
The thesis of my argument today is this; accusing someone, who is merely quoting a statement in the holy book that guides his life, of condescension, is a sign that you are a hypocrite. When Jesus Christ made the “don’t judge, that you may not be judged” statement in Matthew 7:1 I am sure he did not mean it in the “don’t condemn people even when they are clearly doing something wrong” context or else there would be no reason for salvation and evangelism. It is an insight into why Nigeria’s justice system seems to not be working. We, Nigerians, want our justice to be a respecter of not just persons, but also of the state of finances of such persons. For example the notion that poor people should somehow be above censure because they are poor. You may say that I am talking this way because I am a risk averse slacker who has never been in a desperate situation all his life, but if we have to hush up a clear case of greed and avarice with, “you have no right to talk about it because you are not perfect yourself,” then we really needto take a long hard look at ourselves.