Question

I know some people who don’t believe in Christ because the Bible was used to defend slavery. Is this true and if so does God condone slavery? 

Answer

This is a difficult question to answer in a way, but I will do my best to relate what I believe the Bible teaches, without imposing any prejudices on my part upon the Bible.

First, slavery, in various forms, has been a reality in the world, almost from the beginning of time, especially after nations were formed after the Flood. At various times, including today, there exists in various parts of the world some form or degree of slavery. Also, when we look back at history, we will find that all peoples, no matter what their national background, have experienced some form of slavery.

In Short, the bible acknowledges the reality of slavery in the world. Does God approve of cruelty and evil displayed by one human being against another. No, not even when we examine the relationship between slave and master.

Second, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, God gives direction to both slaves and master and how they were to behave. The type of abuse and cruelty that might come to our minds based on what happened in the 19th century in this country, was not to be tolerated, either under the Law of Moses or the gospel. God held both slaves as well as masters accountable for their behavior.

EXO 21:26 ¶ “And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.
EXO 21:27 “And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

DEU 15:12 ¶ “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.
DEU 15:13 “And when you set him free, you shall not send him away emptyhanded.
DEU 15:14 “You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you.
DEU 15:15 “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
DEU 15:16 “And it shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you;
DEU 15:17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. And also you shall do likewise to your maidservant.
DEU 15:18 “It shall not seem hard to you when you set him free, for he has given you six years with double the service of a hired man; so the Lord your God will bless you in whatever you do.

EPH 6:5 ¶ Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;
EPH 6:6 not by way of eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
EPH 6:7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
EPH 6:8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
EPH 6:9 And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

Thirdly, whether one is a slave or not, we can serve the Lord as He has commanded. The gospel seems to be focused on the spiritual situation of men and women rather than the political or social conditions. Then, as the spiritual situation changes between masters and slaves so the social conditions change, either by the cruelty and abuse being removed from them or their destruction altogether. Regardless of our condition in the world, we should treat others as we would want to be treated.

1CO 7:17 ¶ Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And thus I direct in all the churches.
1CO 7:18 Was any man called already circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised.
1CO 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God.
1CO 7:20 Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.
1CO 7:21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.
1CO 7:22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.
1CO 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1CO 7:24 Brethren, let each man remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

MAT 7:12 “Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

By Gary Hunt

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