Sunday, September 08 2019
“You believe in god who is an immoral monster because your god permits slavery.” This is the accusation of atheists and the secular world promoting such an agnostic, negative, and distorted view of God in classrooms, in movies, and the internet. Secularism is in full attack on the Christian faith accusing the God of the Bible and Christianity for bringing chattel slavery to the world. However, slavery existed in every nation throughout the world when Great Britain and the United States were passing Slave Acts and ended unjust slavery by Christian influence.
The Bible condemns enslaving others. Paul observed in 1 Timothy 1 that the Law is just for condemning the stealing of men as Paul wrote this in reference to the sin of enslaving others (1 Tim 1:10). The Law of Moses taught, “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exod 21:16 ESV; cf. Deut 24:7). Enslavement was a serious crime against God’s Law that is worthy of death.
The Law of Moses commanded that no one return runaway slaves. Moses instructed, “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him” (Deut 23:15–16). The Bible does not permit unjust slavery.
The Bible is no more wrong than every nation who forces criminals and debtors to labor to pay their debts. God did and does permit a just form of bond-service for thieves and war captives (Exod 22:2–3; Lev 25:44–46; Deut 20:10–15). The U.S.’s 13th Amendment did not make all slavery illegal and reflects the biblical position on slavery when it states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, […].”
Some assert that the Bible grants bondservants no rights. However, Moses commanded, “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth” (Exod 21:26–27). God also commanded the execution of those who murdered bondservants (Exod 21:20–27). Furthermore, sexual relationships with bondservants were forbidden unless by free-will marriage and the spouse must treat the other as a spouse and not as a servant (Lev 19:20; cf. Exod 21:9–11). Bondservants did represent the money and property that they paid for them to cover their debts, but this did not remove their rights (Exod 21:21).
The Law commanded that no one oppress anyone from another land and ethnicity (Lev 19:34; Deut 24:14). Some Israelites could sell oneself as a bondservant to work for no more than seven years (Lev 25:10, 39–40). God commanded the managers to treat those sold as hired servants and not to rule over them ruthlessly (Lev 25:39, 43). When a servant was released, the Law of Moses commanded the manager to send them away with abundant supplies of flocks, wheat, and wine (Deut 15:12–14).
The New Testament Scriptures warned masters to give fairly to their servants (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1). The apostle Paul taught that the slave and the freedman are nothing but one in Christ (Gal 3:28; cf. Phile). Paul encouraged bondservants to seek freedom but otherwise to obey their masters (1 Cor 7:21–24; Col 3:22; 1 Tim 6:1–2; 1 Pet 2:18).
Everyone is a slave to something or someone. Whether in bondage or free, Christians are no longer slaves to sin but bondservants to Jesus Christ (1 Cor 7:20–24; 12:13; Gal 3:26–28). For this, Christians thank God and rejoice!