“At the end of the day, public officials are still citizens and we are all a product of society.” So stated the chief auditor of Nicaragua when explaining why he felt that government corruption was impossible to eliminate.
Would you not agree that if human society is corrupt, then any government that is a part of it will inevitably be corrupt? If that is the case, then a government free of corruption must come from outside human society. The Bible describes just such a government
God’s Kingdom is a real government that rules from heaven. It will replace all human governments. (Psalm 2:8, 9; Revelation 16:14; 19:19-21) Among the blessings that the Kingdom will bring to mankind is the elimination of government corruption. Consider six features of the Kingdom that guarantee this.
THE PROBLEM: Human governments are funded by their citizens, most often through taxes and duties. This flow of money tempts some officials to steal, while others accept bribes from individuals who want them to reduce their taxes or other payments due the government. A vicious circle may result
THE SOLUTION: God’s Kingdom receives its power from the almighty God, Jehovah. * (Revelation 11:15) It does not need to collect taxes to pay for its operation. Instead, God’s “awe-inspiring power” and his unselfish generosity ensure that the Kingdom will abundantly provide for the needs of all its subjects.
THE PROBLEM: The effort to eliminate corruption “must start at the top,” observes Susan Rose-Ackerman, quoted in the preceding article. Governments lose credibility when they try to eradicate corruption among police or customs officers while tolerating it among high officials. And even the most ethical human ruler is subject to inherent imperfection. As the Bible says, “there is no righteous man on earth who always does good.”
Jesus rejected the most massive bribe ever offered
THE SOLUTION: Unlike imperfect humans, Jesus Christ, whom God has selected to be Ruler of the Kingdom, cannot be tempted into doing what is wrong. Jesus showed this by rejecting the most massive bribe ever offered
THE PROBLEM: Many countries hold elections regularly, which in theory allows people to vote corrupt officials out of office. The reality, though, is that campaigns and elections are prone to corruption, even in so-called developed countries. By means of campaign contributions and other actions, the rich can unduly influence current and future officeholders.
Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that such influence threatens “not only the legitimacy and quality of Government but also the public’s faith therein.” It is little wonder, then, that many people worldwide have the perception that political parties are the most corrupt of all institutions.
THE SOLUTION: God’s Kingdom removes the possibility of campaign or electoral fraud by being a stable, permanent rulership. (Daniel 7:13, 14) Since its Ruler is chosen by God, the Kingdom is neither validated by elections nor subject to overthrow. Its stability helps to ensure that the actions it takes are always in the best long-term interests of its people.
THE PROBLEM: At first, you might think that enacting new laws could improve matters. However, experts have found that in many cases, increasing the number of laws just provides more opportunities for corruption. Additionally, legislation specifically intended to reduce corruption often costs much to implement yet accomplishes little.
THE SOLUTION: The laws of the Kingdom of God are vastly superior to those of human governments. For example, rather than itemizing an extensive list of dos and don’ts, Jesus gave what is often called the Golden Rule. He stated: “All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.” (Matthew 7:12) Perhaps more significantly, the laws of the Kingdom focus on both motives and actions. “You must love your neighbor as yourself,” said Jesus. (Matthew 22:39) Of course, God, who can read the heart, could actually enforce such commands.
THE PROBLEM: The driving forces behind corruption are greed and self-interest. Government officials and citizens often display those negative qualities. In the department-store collapse in Seoul mentioned in the preceding article, government officials accepted bribes from contractors who knew that paying a bribe would be less costly than using proper building materials and construction practices.
To eliminate corruption, then, people must be taught how to overcome entrenched motives such as greed and selfishness. However, human governments lack both the will and the ability to implement this type of educational program.
* This education helps them “to be made new in [their] dominant mental attitude.” (Ephesians 4:23) They learn to replace greed and selfishness with contentment and interest in others.
THE PROBLEM: Even in the best environment and with the finest education in morals, some people will choose to be dishonest and corrupt. Experts admit that this is why human governments cannot eliminate corruption. The most that can be hoped for is that the scope and destructive effects of corruption can be limited.
THE SOLUTION: The United Nations Convention Against Corruption states that to fight corruption, governments should promote “integrity, honesty and responsibility.” While this is a noble goal, God’s Kingdom does more than just promote these qualities
People can learn to adhere to these high moral standards, as the early Christians proved. For example, when a disciple named Simon tried to buy a spiritual favor from the apostles, they refused the bribe and told him: “Repent of this badness of yours.” Once Simon saw the danger of his wrong desire, he asked the apostles to pray in his behalf so that he could overcome it.
HOW TO BECOME A SUBJECT OF THE KINGDOM
Regardless of your nationality, you have the opportunity to become a subject of God’s Kingdom. (Acts 10:34, 35) The program of education offered by the Kingdom