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Speaking UP: Slavery is not wrong

Isn't it funny when something in the Bible shocks you and you go "hunh?"

In Deuteronomy God made it clear that slavery was acceptable. For fellow Israelites slavery was a way to get yourself out of debt. You were the slave of the one to whom you owed money, and you worked off your debt on his farm until it was paid or until the year of Jubilee. Your master was required to treat you well, like a fellow Israelite, a brother. If the arrangement worked well and the slave wanted to stay with the good master, he could make the arrangement permanent. Imagine that? Slave forever by choice: I have it better here than going it on my own.

Slavery is a metaphor in the scripture for our bondage to sin. We belong to the evil one until we are ransomed by Christ, and then we are slaves of Christ. Happy metaphor, to love to be the slave of the GOOD MASTER. Why then do I live as if I am on my own?

Well, here's the rub. I'm not in Israel. Much as I'd like it, I don't have Jewish blood (although there's still hope for a drop from the 10 Israelite tribes lost...). I'm an American, and not a farmer. So I have to work at whatever I can to pay off my debt. Merciless creditors demand only money and have no way to help me out. God is gracious though, and parents have helped! Am I their slave? No, their child, and by his grace, God's child.

We Americans believe that slavery is wrong because we have seen too much of its evil, abusive side. We doubt any good from it. The Deuteronomy rules must have been made for a not quite good enough society, a less civilized time. I had thought all that until I studied Deuteronomy and longed to live back then, longed to have the community to follow the blessed law of God which is life to us, not death.

Sin is wrong. Sin corrupts. The Law holds the standard of good against which we all stumble and fall. Whatever relationship we humans have can be, probably will be, damaged by sin. The cure is only and always confession and forgiveness by the grace of God.

I am glad that we don't have slaves anymore, just as I am glad we don't have polygamy anymore (that's another post) except that I wonder, how can I plumb the depths of being a slave to righteousness?




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