The Western emperor has no clothes on


Conrad Mbewe -- Pastor of  Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC) in Lusaka, Zambia.
THE WRITER: Conrad Mbewe — Pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church (KBC) in Lusaka, Zambia.

By Conrad Mbewe — via ChristianView Network

Even if you try to bury your head in the sand, you can still hear the tremor in the ground of the Western carnival that is coming. The music and dancing are getting louder and louder. It is one of human-rights-with-no-holds-barred. It is coming with all the revelry that you would expect. It cannot be ignored.

However, one problem with this procession is that it has long ago left its original route. There are no principles to guide it, except the whims of those who are hiding behind its masks and leading it in whichever direction they please. Even those of us who are in Africa are totally alarmed by its lack of principles.

The other problem is that the issues being fought for under the guise of human rights are so patently wrong that an African like me stands aghast as I look at the current campaigns, debates, and legal reforms in the West. I am asking myself, “But can’t everyone see that the emperor walking in front has no clothes on?”

A century or two ago, Christian missionaries came from the West and taught us the Bible. As a result of this, we did away with polygamy, cannibalism, tribal feuds, etc. We were taught to put on more clothing to hide our nakedness. We learned to desist from tattooing our bodies, which were now temples of the living God. We even stopped sacrificing our babies to ancestral spirits.

The perplexing turn-around
All this made sense. It was logical, once you realised that we were all created by God and in his image. But, alas, the very principles that we were taught from Scripture are now being abandoned wholesale by the countries where our missionaries came from! Sadly, the basic questions are not being answered in this turn-around. As a result, we are bewildered. A few examples should suffice:

Abortion: Who in the West does not know that life begins at conception? It must be obvious to all, therefore, that abortion is murder. Surely, we all know that we are killing fellow human beings in their mothers’ wombs in the millions every year. How come, then, that this reckless killing of babies is not being stopped?

Indecency: It is shocking to see what some adults wear when they leave their homes in the West. They leave very little to the imagination! As if that is not enough, billboard adverts all over the cities are full of naked women, or men and women poised in sexually suggestive positions. As for television and movies, indecency seems to be the stock of the trade. Add to this, public erotic kissing at stations and airports, etc. When visiting the West, I often feel like shouting, “Hey, guys, am I the only one around here who knows that all this is indecent?”

Living together”: It is commonplace now in the West to have a man and a woman living together who are not married. Their parents know it and they just shrug their shoulders. How? I mean, how? How can a man start living with your daughter without getting your permission, as if she just fell from the sky? Surely it must be wrong. But again, are we the only ones who are seeing the obvious?

Homosexuality: Another bane of the West. Men are insisting on being given the “inalienable right” to have sex with fellow men. For me, this defies basic logic. I mean, how? The anatomy itself suggests that it is not possible. But, again, it does not seem obvious to everyone. This question is made even more pertinent when entire Christian denominations in the West that once sent us missionaries are passing laws to ordain homosexual clergy. I mean, how? Isn’t it patently wrong? We thought the Bible is clear on this matter, or are we reading different Bibles?

The world seems to have gone full circle. It was the West, through its Christian missionaries who taught us decency and propriety but now Western society is walking around half naked. It was the missionaries who taught us that marriage comprised one man and one woman for life, but now their own kith and kin are totally defacing this concept. It was the missionaries from the West who stopped us from sacrificing our babies but now millions of babies are being slaughtered in the West in their mother’s wombs. As for tattooing, don’t even talk about it.

Well, while I am asking these basic questions, the carnival is getting closer. It is coming. Not too long ago, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, visited Zambia. And on the day of his departure, he stated publicly that as a nation we should give equal rights to homosexuals. The whole nation, which took little notice of his presence until that moment (as we have bigger issues to worry about than political exchange visits), was suddenly buzzing with alarm!

I mean, how does an adult come all the way from Korea or America, or wherever it was he was coming from, and tell people who are battling real starvation and endemic corruption to allow males or females to be having sex with each other? Everyone was asking if there were no more pertinent issues for him to talk about. He was obviously straining a gnat, while swallowing an entire camel here.

The intolerant mindlessness
Let me repeat. The basic problem with this carnival is its mindlessness. There is no principle by which to hold truly intelligent discussion. It is being referred to as Post-modernism. It is the claim that ultimately there is no truth. Everything is relative, and so you must keep your opinion to yourself. Hence, someone said, “Let us get rid of religion—whether it is Islam or Christianity. It is just inhibiting us. What is important is that we love one another and care for our planet.”

But that is the point! Who determines “what is important”? Is it some collective feeling of intuition or hunch? Come on! Let’s face it: ultimately, we must have a final objective authority somewhere. We must have a non-moveable starting point. Christianity says that point is, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” We may disagree on some finer details but let us be clear: an intelligent moral being created us, and one day we must give an account to Him.

Again, we are back to the emperor and his lack of clothes. In the ecstasy of Western carnival euphoria, adults nod at each other’s claim that science has proved that no one created this finely balanced and intricately complex universe. Everything was simply produced by a big bang aeons ago. They call that education. Surely, even a child can tell us that where there is a design there must be a designer. Even a child can see that the emperor doesn’t have his clothes on.

Sadly, this mindlessness is becoming intolerant of dissenting views. It sounds familiar. When an older generation here in Africa tried to hang on to the empty ways of our forefathers after the Christian missionaries taught us better, many of them simply refused to reason with the younger generation who were questioning the traditions. They would simply insist, “Ni ‘ntambi!” [“It is our culture!”]. In this way, they would halt all intelligent discussion. Any questioning was deemed high treason and serious repercussions would follow.

Sadly, I seem to be hearing the same song being sung in the Western carnival that is getting closer. Laws are being passed to the effect that anyone who says anything against homosexual practices, for instance, is liable to be prosecuted. It is being called “hate speech”, even if all you are doing is to show its abnormality and senselessness. At the rate we are going, it will be hate speech for me to say, “Look! The Western emperor has no clothes on!” Oops, I have already said it.


  1. Great article. Nice and clear expression of what we’re all seeing. The scripture says that this carnival is going to get worse before the Lord comes.

  2. More than just a great article, this would be a powerful sermon that should be encouraged to be preached from all churches. Our men’s group were discussing how important it is for Christians to stand up and start telling the truth with love. To avoid watering down the gospel for the sake of numbers in the Church. To resist compromising Gods word and the best way to do this. This article tells the truth in such a powerful, clear and non offensive way. it is also direct and very cleverly put together. A big wow and big thanks for this. I love it.

  3. Shiney Alexander George

    Well-articulated article. As the Bible says those who reject God will be given over to a depraved mind which sees good as evil and evil good. Human culture, through globalised valued system, is permeated by such a mind. While it is shocking, it also serves as warning for believers to take stock of their own faith and not be found wanting when the Lord returns. It is only going to get more difficult for true believers.

  4. Pastor Mbewe’s fears are justified, and it’s too bad that any positive changes on the political landscape only appears to exacerbate the problem. Democracy means more freedom to choose, while uplifting people out of poverty, educating them, and giving them an opportunity to modernise, means greater temptations. Westernisation brings the bad with the good, or increased secularism with economic upliftment. It is therefore no surprise that the world’s oldest democracies, the USA and Europe, are now being called the world’s biggest mission fields by most Christian missionary and research organisations, and that there is now a shift in missionary movements, with more African missionaries going to the USA and Europe than vice versa.

    Ironically, the USA’s huge slide into liberalism and secularism has taken place despite the fact that evangelical churches such as the Baptists, Pentecostals and the Charismatics have become more and more outspoken against unbelief, sinful behaviour, and God’s judgement. One would have expected that the use of such forthright and forceful apologetics would have turned a nation to God, but instead, it seems that the USA has never been as agnostic as it is today, or as polarised between believers and unbelievers. More and more young people are either falling away from their faith altogether or dangerously compromising it. That the USA Church has failed to balance their faith with cultural relevancy is clear for all to see.

    Africa does not have to go that way, especially if the Church in Africa can learn from the mistakes made by the Western Church. But first we have to stop being so gullible to Western influence, and here I am speaking about all aspects of it, not only secular but also spiritual. As a simple example, we all know that there are still many instances in Africa where men dress up in their finest suits to attend church in the steaming heat of the African sun. There is no evil in that, except that it is ridiculous and a classical example of how we are still holding on to the Western culture rather than the Gospel which the early Western missionaries brought to Africa, and we still confuse the two.

    Secondly, we have a huge advantage over our Western Christian counterparts in that we are more culturally adept to the ministry of Jesus than they are. Our belief in the supernatural (even though much of it is still the darker side), our cultural teaching style of telling stories (parables), and how we look after our neighbours when they have no food are some of the many unique similarities that we share with the ministry of Jesus. Like Jesus, we communicate in a more personal one-on-one way, completely different to the slick marketing style of the West, which ranges from the obnoxious TV evangelists to the bumper sticker “my God will kick your god’s ass” type of mentality. And unlike the West, we are not as savvy in politics, which Jesus Himself avoided as He pointed us to a higher Kingdom. Today, the line between politics and Christianity in the USA is so blurred that it’s not unreasonable to believe that Mormons will go to Heaven and Methodists will go hell just because of the way they vote.

    I believe that Africa is the hope of the future Church, and of relevant Christianity in this sad and sick world. We have nothing much to defend, not too many splendid cathedrals, not too many mighty ministries, not too many reputations. In fact we probably read the scriptures differently to the West as well, because in them we see that our Gospel needs no defending at all, only release. One Western Christian leader said that the Holy Spirit, or “Christ in us, the hope of glory”, is imprisoned in the lives of too many believers. That is generally not true of African Christianity unless of course you’ve been duped by the Western Christian carnival, where shouting your Biblical opinions from the public galleries is considered to be working out your salvation with fear and trembling.