As a form of tradition, the term “opposition” is constitutionally embedded as sustaining democracy. Democracy is adopted by most countries, as the only way that stabilizes the wishes of humanity. While subscribing to democracy is commendable, opposition alludes to a wrong connotation.
Humanity subscribes to what leads to survival. There cannot be a human being who does not want to survive. Problems of humanity get eliminated when people converge on matters that uplift their survival. The opposition would be uncalled for and unnecessary under those circumstances.
In Zimbabwe opposition has been stigmatized. Due to ignorance, most people describe opposition politicians as undesirable elements. This is viewed according to the definition of opposition, which suggests contradiction. This is what has caused political violence, leading to intolerance even in Christian organizations, as following the primordial political culture.
The only opposition that humanity faces, in this world, is death. Therefore, when a political party is conflated with the term opposition, it becomes unacceptable. Yet that political party could be the one carrying the livelihood of humanity. This leaves only the intellectually intelligent people to deduce goodness from badness. The rest would be stuck on partisan considerations.
One is deemed acceptable, as long as belonging to an acceptable political party. You could be as corrupt and as evil, as can be imagined, but acceptable, as long as belonging to an acceptable political party. Ordinary humanity is captured, as long as unable to be committed to goodness, against evilness.
Party spirit is attached to idolatry. Some people assume that politics is different from other considerations in patterns of livelihood. But the partisan spirit exists, not only in various social structures but also in families and denominational settings. The apostle Paul contended with this behaviour, in the Corinthian Church.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power(1 Corinthians 1:10-17 NIV).
Paul was contending with a partisan spirit. The people that Paul was confronting had been stuck on the idea of putting their faith in personalities. If a follower of Apollos; one would find himself alienated from those said to be the followers of Paul, Cephas or any other personality, viewed as a spiritual leader.
Nothing would be viewed according to Jesus’ teachings. Issues would be considered according to the idolized personalities. It is common to subscribe to scripturally incoherent partisan considerations. A person might believe in Sabbath-keeping, in a church organization that subscribes to Sabbath-keeping. There is nothing wrong with co-existing with such people.
A truly converted person believes in the Christian faith, requiring him to take seriously the teachings of Jesus. However, the partisan consideration requires one to sheepishly identify with the group. What is right is not considered on partisan lines. It should be clearly articulated for others to also understand.
Rather than confirm what Jesus taught, a partisan person takes comfort in what the denominational leader advances. As long as sincerely convinced, the denominational leader should not be regarded as erroneous.
The denominational leader should be allowed to stand by his conviction. But that should not tie everyone else to necessarily adopt the same viewpoint. The apostle Paul was extremely peeved by that kind of behaviour, which reeks of idolatry.
Elsewhere, Paul described such people as feeding on milk (1 Cor. 3:1-4). Belonging to a group grants the responsibility to one’s fellow group members to keep focused on Christ’s teachings. As suggested by Paul, Christ is not divided.
Safety is not found in group mentality. Safety is found only in Christ’s teachings. One Scripture can mean different things to different people. Each member should apply the same Scripture according to its communication to him. Paul grants clarity on the meaning of tolerance when remaining committed to Jesus.
Rather than focus on opposition, Romans 14 suggests allowing the person to be himself. If convinced that Jesus requires keeping the Sabbath, let it be. If convinced that Jesus does not require keeping the Sabbath, so be it.
That describes the strong meat that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. Unity requires embracing one another, even when holding different viewpoints. Disunity implies intolerance, where one seeing things differently is alienated. The question ought to be, “Does the other person believe in Jesus or not?”
The answer settles the matter. If the person does not believe in Jesus he would not be a Christian. There is no need to fellowship with him, as one cannot be yoked with an unbeliever. If believing in Jesus, there would be a common ground for discussion.
It is not a matter of who says what, but what Jesus says. No one wins or loses when both would be true believers. Everyone becomes a believer through someone else who would not, necessarily, need to be treated as an authority.
This is particularly problematic, with pastoral leaders in Church organizations. The problem of idolatry attends to ordinary people, even those identified as “Christians”. One could innocently try, in vain, to show such people that their pastor would be teaching what would be inconsistent with the Bible.
The person might give you the impression that you would be blasphemous. It is impossible to know how this came to Christianity. But this may traceably be the Catholics, emerging after the obliteration of the First Church. But the authority of Christianity ought to be based on Jesus’ teachings.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12 NIV).
Therefore, there cannot be any opposition to Christianity. The current divisional enclaves are man-made but without any basis in Christ’s teachings. Those assuming to know better than others can be described as fools, unaware of what Jesus taught in the above Scripture.
This leaves the question of whether a political opposition is necessary, or not, in our country. We are a Republican State, expected to be governed through democratic channels. That does not make us a Christian state, necessarily. Democracy allows choosing candidates, based on how people desire to be governed.
Democracy may not necessarily be good for Christians. If the majority chooses to be governed according to Islamic laws that close the door for Christianity. This is just as if the majority chooses Christianity; that closes the door against Islam. Christianity and Islam are used as examples, but the choice could be any consideration from the effects of democracy.
In a democracy, if the majority favoured Islam, Christianity cannot necessarily be regarded as opposition. It would be inaccurate to label those with different opinions as opposition. They cannot be pitted against Islam, based on different religious viewpoints.
Christians would be expected to endorse the electoral results. The same applies to the Moslems if the majority would have become converted to Christianity, in the next elections. Islam cannot be opposed by non-Moslems, necessarily, just as Christianity cannot be opposed by non-believers. Opposing is possible with facts for the opposition. Jesus could not be opposed by infidels. He was opposed by the Jews because he was a Jew.
One has to be well educated to understand Islam, to be able to oppose Islam. Similarly, to oppose Christianity, one needs to understand its principles, before opposing it. An intelligent analyst produces anti-survival facts against Christianity or Islam, to be compared with pro-survival details.
This could be done by allocating arbitrary points to each fact, to determine the favourable one. The maxim applied can be the most intelligent form of determining what would be good from evil. What is good would be good because it would be supporting survival, and justifying its workability.
What would be wrong, as a general norm, would be to oppose for the sake of opposing? The fact that one is a Moslem does not make one wrong in every area of living. Neither does being Christian make anyone wrong in every aspect of Christian living. The workable points for Christian and Islamic groups could be listed against each other. The one with the highest points gets adopted, accordingly.
Logic implies allowing what is workable to prevail against what is unworkable. When using this method to determine what is acceptable or unacceptable, the two viewpoints cannot be regarded as opponents. Without facts, opposing can be calamitous, especially, in a democracy.
Political parties should advance their manifestos, to convince the electorate. The choice of the electorate should be driven by logic and reason. The losers in an election should not be regarded as opponents, necessarily. The basis of reasoning should always be the projected political manifestos, whether foretelling what is acceptable on the ground or not. In a good democracy, the electorate should be allowed to shop around.
It would be immoral for political organizations to regard each other as opponents. They should regard each other as competitors, but not opponents. Each projects what is considered as good for the electorate. The record, or the profile of individuals seeking support, requires special vetting by the electorate.
Due diligence should be exercised by an informed citizenry, who should not allow criminals to occupy political offices. The labels, representing political parties should not necessarily make the person the right candidate. In a democracy, a Citizen cannot be regarded as representing outsiders. Hence propaganda and rhetoric should not be allowed to dominate, in a democracy.
The party spirit, having infiltrated the political landscape, starts with what prevails in Church organizations. What is right should not be associated with the faces of individuals. What is right is capable of standing independently. The loyalty to a Church organization appears noble, but it carries the innuendos of idolatry.
The idea of belonging to a Church organization tends to close the intellectual capability of an individual. The desire for a person to have a backup group is driven by cowardice. Many people feel incapacitated when not belonging to a group. This is typical of the Corinthians that the apostle Paul referred to.
Each person should be convinced on issues, considered right, against what would be wrong. Having been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, why does one need a spiritual leader? Similarly, when a voter knows what is good for his constituency, what would be the purpose of a leader?
Politicians are not, necessarily, evil people. They succumb to being evil when allowed to behave as if they would be gods. Similarly, Church leaders are not necessarily deceptive. They would have started their respective Church organizations with good intentions. But they get corrupted by those treating them as if they would be gods.
There is no human being who should be viewed as an enemy. Legally, a person is said to be innocent, until proven to be guilty. As good citizens, it is necessary to evaluate data, before deciding on things that make sense and those that do not. Otherwise, we become victims of our stupidity.
There is no need to condemn anyone. But what is necessary is to evaluate data and make informed decisions. Everyone needs love and consideration of value addition in society, without prejudice.
A reasonable person cannot just label people based on race, tribe, class or background. The evaluation of information should be based on reason and workability. Good things should be based on the principle of the greatest good for the majority, rather than the greatest good for the minority.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99