Bribery and its Consequences

By Win Nhialahong

Regardless of what you read below, if you are not at peace paying a solicited bribe under any circumstances then, regardless of what the Bible appears to teach, it is wrong for you to violate your conscience.

Dictionary definitions

Bribe (noun)
money or other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behaviour of a person, as a public official.

Bribe (verb)
to give or promise a bribe to.
to influence or corrupt by a bribe.
to give a bribe; practice bribery.

The heart and motive behind bribery is corruption.

I see three clear categories associated with bribery:

1. Those that demand a bribe before they will provide a service.

2. Those who specifically offer a bribe to get something done that would not be normally done. (If you tidy your room, you can go out tonight with your friends). In the Bible this is usually related to getting judges to act in an unrighteous manner, i.e. to pervert justice.

3. The person that is being deprived of a service, rightfully theirs, unless they pay a bribe. In other words the victims of (1) above. In this case the person is being solicited for a bribe.

What does the Bible say about these 3 categories?

1. The person that demands a bribe.
The Bible is very clear that such people incur the wrath of God. The Bible calls such people ‘evil’.

And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Exodus 23:8

Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live. Proverbs 15:27

In whose hands are evil devices, and whose right hands are full of bribes. Psalm 26:10

For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Amos 5:12

The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice. Proverbs 17:23.

There are many more in this vein. But simply a man/woman that fills his hands with bribes is classed as an evil man/woman, brings trouble on his household and a curse upon himself.

2. The person that offers a bribe.
There are not too many scriptures in this category of people but they are condemned by association. The same condemnation rests on those that offer bribes to pervert justice; to get their own way; etc.

3. The person from whom a bribe is demanded.
There are two scenarios here that I can see:

a) The bribe is demanded to perform an unrighteous/illegal act – “I will get it out of customs for you without …”. Clearly this is wrong and a Christian would, hopefully, not consider it.

b) The bribe is demanded before a righteous deed is done. Example: “I will give you your licence now if you pay me ….. Otherwise it will be delayed!” In such instances there is absolutely no direct scripture that condemns the paying of this sort of a bribe.

Indirectly it could be argued that by paying this requested bribe we are:

i. Encouraging corruption
ii. Bringing calamity upon a person and his household.

If the service/thing required is important and there is absolutely no desire to corrupt the person soliciting the bribe then I believe that we can tell that person that you are a Christian and explain that the Bible tells us that a man/woman who gains riches through bribery is classed as a wicked/evil man/woman and that his household will be ‘troubled’. In so doing we put the responsibility fairly and squarely on that person to choose to act righteously. If he still demands the bribe then we are free to give it to him without any condemnation from the Word that I can see.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others. Thanks

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