Does the Bible Say Slavery is OK?
Here is what the Bible has to say about slavery:
- The Creator created all men equal (Proverbs 2:22; Ephesians 6:9; Galatians 3:28; Acts 17:26; Romans 2:11). However, sin introduced all forms of evils like slavery.
- Slavery in Biblical times was very different from the slavery that was and is practiced in many parts of the world today. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin.
- In Bible times, slavery was a form of employment. Abraham said that the heir of his wealth was his servant Eliezer of Damascusas (Genesis 15:2-3) before he begat Issac.
- Slaves were set free by the Mosaic law after seven years of service (Exodus 21:2-4; Leviticus 25:39-43; Deuteronomy 15:12).
- The Israelites sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families (Leviticus 25:47-49). Some people actually chose to remain slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters (Deuteronomy 15:16-17). In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else.
- To protect slaves from cruelty, the Lord made it unlawful for runaway slaves to be returned to their masters (Deuteronomy 23:15-16). Thus, the Lord made cruelty to slaves costly to their owners. And slaves had the freedom to choose where, and with whom (a gentler owner), they wanted to live.
- The Lord forbade oppressing the slaves (Deuteronomy 24:14). And He provided legal protection to slaves (Exodus 21:20-27; Leviticus 25:44-46)
- The Lord even commanded that the servants not work on His Sabbath day (Exodus 20:10). And He also commanded servants to participate in the annual feasts (Deuteronomy 16:9-17).
- Both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. This practice is abhorrent to the Lord. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers, liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8-10).
- The Lord judged Egypt for enslaving the Hebrews (Exodus 13:14). The plagues of the Almighty that poured out on Egypt demonstrate how the Creator feels about racial slavery (Exodus 7-11).
In His service,
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