Giving money to extortioners: Is it a sin?

(Charles G. Pewee) #1

Hello everyone, is giving money to extortioners a sin?

Many times we want things done. Maybe we want to prepare some documents or we want to travel. In these processes, we come across people who delay or deny service to us because we are not wiling to meet their demands. What if I don’t want to face delay or denial at the hands of such people, will I be committing sin by giving them money? This is even more visible in the traffic, where police officers are taking money from drivers - when in fact there has been no violations. The question that comes to mind is: Should I pay the money and go or resist and be delayed?

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(SeanO) #2

@Charmawee I think in Scripture you see that:

  • giving or taking a bribe that promotes injustice is always, unequivocally wrong
  • there is a time when giving a gift in a culturally appropriate way can be wise

2 Chron 19:7: Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.

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

1 Samuel 8:3: Yet Samuel’s sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

Proverbs 17:8: A bribe is like a magic stone in the eyes of the one who gives it;
wherever he turns he prospers.

Toy points out, the sage is merely affirming a point without making a comment – those who use bribery meet with widespread success ( Proverbs [ICC], 341). This does not amount to an endorsement of bribery. NET Bible note

Proverbs 21:14: A gift in secret averts anger,
and a concealed bribe, strong wrath.

Bribes in Other Cultures

I found this article on whether or not missionaries should pay transactional bribes interesting and helpful in thinking through this question.

People working cross-culturally may pay transactional bribes in which they give officials money to do what those officials should do without payment. Those same people may pay variance bribes in which they get people to do something illegal.

Like “bribe” Shochad, the Hebrew word most often translated as bribe, also has several meanings. In addition to bribe, it is also often translated as gift or reward. So, like the English word “bribe,” shochad has more than one meaning, meanings similar to those of transactional and variance bribes.

Here are some arguments in favour of giving bribes under some circumstances:

  • Small-scale bribery is an accepted mechanism for legal transactions in many cultures.
  • A “bribe” is really just a tip, a gift, or a donation.
  • In many cultures missionaries can accomplish little without providing some financial incentive. In fact,
  • They may not be able to get a visa to enter the country where God has called them to serve.
  • The bribe provides additional income so the underpaid workers can support their families

Here are some reasons against giving bribes under any circumstances:

  • When you pay, you help corrupt the one you bribe.
  • Such bribery may have unintended social consequences, keeping a culture unstable.
  • Paying shows a lack of faith in God to accomplish his purposes.
  • Giving bribes sears the conscience of the giver.
  • Your supporters may lose confidence in you if they find out you paid a bribe.
  • Bribery may cause dissention on your team if others have different convictions about it.

(Charles G. Pewee) #3

Hi @SeanO, thanks for your helpful comment. I wanted to ask for the difference between bribery and extortion but I have found the answer in the article you shared. It’s quite a useful piece. Thanks!

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(SeanO) #4

@Charmawee Glad you found the answer :slight_smile: Yes, I found the article very helpful in processing this question because it offered a good Biblical definition and both viewpoints.

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