The Bible Supports Slavery? - Part I

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, May 16, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

It may come as a shock to many people to realize that the Bible promotes slavery.  Not just any kind of slavery, mind you, but slavery nonetheless.

Really?  Yes.  Why?  Because slavery can be a good thing.

Last week I asked, “Who owns you?”  I challenged all of us to carefully examine how we are living, because ultimately our lives either support good or evil, God's purposes or the devil's. We do have a choice in the matter, and slavery is actually a really good choice.  Huh?  What?  Hang in there, and read Romans 6:19-22.

In early Middle Eastern culture and much of Roman culture, slavery was not what we know it to be today.  We think of slavery as oppression, forced relocation, murder, and removal of personhood, among other things.  And we relate it to what we know of in American and European history and the slave trade of African people.  This is NOT the kind of slavery Paul writes about in Romans 6. When Paul refers to slavery it is more accurately translated as bondslavery or bondservant.

There were many ways you could become a slave in early Middle Eastern and Roman culture.  Most of the time it was due to owing a debt.  You would work for the person you owed a debt to until your debt was paid, and then you were free again.  You could be sold as a slave, but only for the value you owed or would bring through paying off your debt, and then you would be freed.  Owning people was not the goal; providing a system for debts to be paid was.

Many “owners” of slaves took tremendous care of their slaves, knowing that if the tables were reversed someday, they would want to be treated kindly as well.  And slaves didn't have to leave at the end of paying their debt.  If a slave loved their master and wanted to stay and work under the care and provision of the master, they could ask to stay.  They would offer to “bind” themselves to the master as a servant / slave.  They would willingly surrender their freedom, and be marked as “property” of the master, in order to have the life the master could give them (and their family).  This process at one time involved the ear of the bondservant being pierced and decorated with some symbol of the master's name or ownership.

Take a moment and reflect on the picture of being “bonded” to someone or something.  What activities, desires, or behaviors have you allowed to “mark” you and your life? Are you satisfied with the benefits you are getting from that thing, or habit, or person you have let “master” you?

Read on next week to see why this “bonding” is a life and death decision.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.