The Light of Life Magazine
A ministry of Christian writing




June 2011

DEBATE
DOES THE BIBLE CONDONE SLAVERY?

Slave means person owned by another for whom he or she works, or person dominated by another. Slavery means state or condition of being a slave or practices of owning slave. From the above dictionary meaning, it is clear that slavery is a state of man. It is also clear that a slave cannot have a slave, or aquire a slave of his own to work for him. According to The Bible (1 Cor. 19,20 and 7:23) every man and woman has been purchased by a special price, the price of the Valuable blood of Christ. So Christians, Believers or followers are spiritually slaves to their master Jesus Christ. As such, they cannot have slaves of their own. So, the answer to the question is "NO" to slavery.
Rev. Daniel Nayak, Orissa

The main theme running throughout the Bible is "freedom," starting from freedom from sin to freedom from death at the end. Slavery is sin, servitude imposed on a human being in any form by another by force or violence. Moses led the Israelites to freedom. Though the practice of slavery in the ancient world had its impact on the Israelites, they had specific rules (Lev. 25:39-55). Perhaps it was not condoned, but controlled and cleared. As far as Christians are concerned, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" ((Gal 3:28). St Paul referred to Onesimus (the converted slave) as brother and son. It was the influence of the Bible that led to abolition of slavery in the British Empire and the US. Bible condemns slavery as it condemns sin.
A. Jacob Sahayam, Thiruvananthapuram

The system of slavery was prevalent among the Jews, but it was hedged around with humane considerations and it never existed on a large scale, nor with such cruelties as were prevalent in Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome and other nations. In the Hebrew nation, at the close of every seventh year, the slave was allowed to go scotfree. But if he loved his master, the latter brought him to the doorpost, pierced his ear with an awl and then he happily served his master forever! [Lev. 25:46, Exo. 21:1-11]. When the Hebrews were a race of slaves in Egypt, God sent Moses to deliver them from servitude, transport them from one land to another, and mould them into a nation. Later, Christianity abolished slavery not by denouncing it, but by substituting it with the doctrine of human brotherhood [Tit. 2:9,10, 1Cor. 7:20-24]. When men are reconciled to God, they are drawn together. All divisions get obliterated in this new relationship and all become one in Christ! [Gal. 3:28].

Christianity also gives a different connotation to slavery. Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin [Jn .8:34]. But when we come to Christ, He frees us from the bondage of sin. "If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed" [Jn. 8:36]. Jesus sets us free from the penalty of sin by becoming sin for us!
Janet Edwin,Chennai

Concerning slavery to sin, the Bible does not condone, but condemns it because the wages of sin is eternal death. However, slavery to God (1 Pet.2:16) is a gain of life fully dedicated to Him, and the result is eternal life (Rom.6:15-16,20-23). Besides, our Lord Jesus has clearly told us that," If you obey My teaching, you are really My disciples; you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (Jn.8:31-32). But, "everyone who sins is a slave of sin" (Jn.8:34).

Concerning slavery to human masters (Deut.15:12-18, Lev.25:39-55,26:13), Bible teaches fair treatment be given to slaves, but emphasises that the people of Israel are the LORD's slaves, and He brought them out of Egypt; they must not be sold into slavery (v.42). An Israelite cannot be a permanent slave....Similarly, Ephesians 6:5-9 teaches slaves and their masters responsibilities towards each other, but concludes with the reminder that they belong to the same Master in heaven, who judges everyone by the same standard.
Mallika Accountant, Mumbai




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