On Sunday, Lusaka Times carried a story attributed to the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Rev. Godfridah Sumaili-stating that the PF Government won’t ‘condone and entertain unacceptable practices to infiltrate and corrupt the moral fiber of the citizens’.
Rev. Sumaili’s call is laughable except for the bad precedent it can set. The respectable and honorable Rev. Sumaili should know better — over the centuries, Church history has taught us that Christianity dies when it marries the state. We should be careful not to depend on the state to enforce Christian morality–the gospel should.
I have always opposed the marriage of the church to the state—the two are independent and must be left as such. The Church is not the State and the State is not the Church. The creation of Rev. Sumaili’s office is in many ways contrary to the gospel mandate; we are commissioned to make disciples of Christ through the proclamation of the gospel.
We should not ignore the power of the gospel. We are not called to make disciples by force as Jesuits once did, but only by the proclamation of gospel – which is sharper than a two edged sword (in today’s context powerful than the WMD). It is the gospel which would allow individuals to make godly and moral decisions.
Without the power of the gospel, sex toys will defeat Rev. Sumaili–people will always buy sex toys elsewhere unless the Rev. is willing to inspect each handbag or computer bag. Even then the business of sex toys will continue under the ladder – with adverse public health results since fake ones will hit the black market. If Rev. Sumaili’s argument was centered on public health—that sex toys do not meet health standards of the nation or are spreading HIV and other STDs, then the state can intervene as it does with other unsafe commodities.
The question before us is whether sex toys can be sold in Zambia or not. Yes, they can if they are safe and there is demand for them–but they must be taxed. The moral fiber of the nation is not something that can be secured by stopping the sale of sex toys – rather by ensuring that people’s values are transformed by the gospel of Christ.
Many Christians in Zambia are married to one partner since they consider plural marriages wrong. This is not something that the police enforce. The conviction is enshrined in the moral landscape of believers. Of course, plural marriages are in contrast with our Christian nation mantra — but outlawing them will be against natural justice.
Likewise, many Evangelical Christians oppose the drinking of alcohol. After all, how many people have died due the misuse of alcohol? How many marriages and children are ruined by the same? Following Rev. Sumaili’s logic, Zambia should stop selling beers. Zambia should not the sale condoms either—they are used sex workers, and youth people. Tobacco products too! If the government went after these commodities, I can predict that the Rev. Hon. Sumaili’s fellow cabinet ministers and the president will personally force her out immediately.
I believe that the Church must work hard to change people’s lives to reflect the values of Jesus Christ. Our task of making disciples is not sanctioned by the state but by God – thus expecting people to change by outlawing sex toys is mere politics. People will continue to buy and sell such toys because it is within their human rights to do so.
A well-discipled Christian, however, will not waste money on such products if they violate their conscience. We do this when we come across the bar—if anything we feel pity for drunkards. Like beers, sex toys will remain a lucrative business and no declaration will put them to death. We have tried this with kacasu and other traditional spirits—to no avail. We have done so with sex work, but how many men buy sex in our Christian nation? Morality cannot be enshrined in law, but in individual hearts.
Hon. Rev. Minister, Zambia may be a Christian nation, but it constitutionally a secular state. Unless you can explain how someone use of sex toys affect me, I believe it is a misuse of state power to start a fight with sex toys!
Rev. Hon. Minister, I have agreed with on many issues—but on this one, you are wrong!
By Rev. Kapya Kaoma