A Christian Viewpoint on Slavery

An overview of slavery from the New Testament:

Titus 2:9

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,

Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Colossians 3:22-24

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

I have been thinking about the issue of slavery for quite a period of time.  The Bible has hard lessons. The world interprets issues and lessons as it suits their own purposes.  Even though a man or woman must come to their own set of rules forming morality, slavery has become analogous with racism. I disregard this “argument” based on legal precedent: the court case recognizing slavery was Anthony Johnson. Mr. Johnson was captured in Angola and sent to Virginia. He became the first slaveholder of John Casor.

So let’s take racism out of the equation and look at slavery from the perspective of the Bible. The three excerpts above clearly show that the New Testament recognizes slavery in a Judeo-Christian culture. Does that mean that our culture should recognize slavery? At least on paper, the United States is still a republic based on the rule of law.

The 13th amendment outlaws slavery:

 Section 1.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

 If the 13th amendment did not exist, should we accept slavery in our country: now or in the future? This must be looked at from two viewpoints: that of a slaveholder and that of a slave. My personal beliefs would preclude any thoughts of owning another human being. But is that enough? Would I condone another man’s “right” to own a slave?

Jefferson’s Rightful Liberty:

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

The premise then is predicated on defining the equal rights of others. If a man or woman is a slave, by definition they are not equal to the slave owner. As the Bible states above, the slave must obey the master. A moral man must reject this premise and we must recognize that all men and women are created equally by the creator. We do not need words or moral questions to limit the natural law rights to Liberty in this country. We should not have a government or a religion dictate the worth of a man. What is your church’s position on this issue?

Looking at the second viewpoint of a slave is an interesting concept for people in the land of the free.  The closest I have been treated as a second class citizen was my abuse by the IRS for my Tea Party activities. I will not submit to being a slave to man even though the Bible teaches me to be obedient to my master.

The issue of racism clouds the definition of slavery. At what point are we slaves? By George Washington’s definition, all taxpayers in the United States are slaves since we have no representation in the dictates of “our” government.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Are we using the concept of freedom as a cover-up for evil in our government?

1 Peter 2:16

Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

The evil that has stolen our most precious freedom and has enslaved us operates as our “government”. Without sanctions. Without morality. Without the rule of law.

We must live as free people and recognize the responsibilities that freedom requires. Living as a slave to the Lord means living a moral life and helping those less fortunate that we are. We must not only count our blessings, we must share them. But this means “we”, not the state or the federal government. The Bible outlines the tithing requirements and sacrificial giving. The state outlines “fair share” which is undefined monetarily but can be considered nothing less than slavery to the state. Displacing our faith in the Lord by faith in the state means unconditional submission to our earthly “master”.

Galatians 5:1

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ has set us free: it is our responsibility to never be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. So what is a Christian’s course of action?

Ephesians 6:10-19

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Any questions?

David DeGerolamo

Related Article:

How to Eradicate Slavery in Your Life, Now and Forever by Jim Klein

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Jeff George
7 years ago

Read R. L. Dabney’s _Defence of Virginia_

7 years ago

what happened to your site?