Yesterday I enjoyed sharing responses to questions relating to slavery. Why did Abraham have slaves? Why didn't God forbid slavery? Does God (or the Bible) condone slavery? And, was slavery in the Bible different than slavery as practiced in the British Empire?
Yes, I changed the original question from "America" to "the British Empire," because what started in what became the United States was started and practiced under British law, politics and economics.
While most universal statements are not universally true, this one certainly approaches universal truth: The slavery practiced under the British Empire in Britain, Africa, and the American colonies, Canada included, was in direct violation of the word of God. How so? Easy: "All" of this period of slavery in world history was by kidnapping. And kidnapping for slavery was not only morally and legally prohibited in the Mosaic Law, but it also carried the death penalty for both the kidnapper and those buying those kidnapped and sold as slaves. (See Leviticus 21:16).
Not only that, the New Covenant through faith in Jesus Christ continues that same prohibition in 1 Timothy 1:8-10. Kidnapping slavers will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
As such, yes - slavery in the Old and New Testament was quite different from that practiced in the British Empire on that basis alone. Of course, in yesterday's sermon we covered lots of other reasons, too.
NOW BACK TO THE TITLE QUESTION OF THIS BLOG...
Above summarizes a basic difference between "old world" (i.e. in the Old and New Testaments) with "new world" (i.e. in the British Empire) slavery.
But slavery still hasn't ended in the world today: It's estimated that somewhere between 21 and 29 million people in slavery today, with some counting as high as 46 million! Wow. Plus radical Islamic groups are reviving slavery - both force labour and sex slavery - in the areas and amidst the peoples under their control. Orthodox or historic Islam does not provide any end to slavery at all; rather, it promotes it.
You and I don't live in the Old world nor the New world of 200 years ago. Here in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain, slavery is illegal and - while it probably does continue in our countries - can only be conducted under great cover.
Yet millions are still enslaved in Canada, the U.S. and Great Britain right now. And I'm not talking about those who are secretly coerced into it. Rather, most are entering into it willingly...though probably without knowledge that we're doing so.
Debt. Addictions. Each and every thing "I can't do without!" Every one of these things, from our cell phones and ubiquitous internet access, to chocolate, wine, beer and chips to the evening news, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, you name it. Each thing that has a hold over you is actually the thing in power over you.
Paul said to the church in Galatia,
Steps to Freedom from Contemporary Slavery
- What has Christ set you free from? Walk in the freedom he provides not only from those things, but all others, too.
- Examine yourself: 2 Corinthians 13:5. Yes, the philosophers were right, the "unexaminded life is not worth living." Let the Holy Spirit illumine your mind and heart right now, showing you what you're enslaved to at this moment.
- Let the truth set you free: John 8:31-32. PLEASE don't gloss over this one. Read it carefully. This is one of the most abused passages. Here...I'll help you. "So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Notice that this is conditional upon two things: First, believing faith in Jesus; and second, abiding in his word - in other words, obedience. We must do these two things in order to be set free.
And this is His desire for you and me: Let's walk in other-worldly freedom today!