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“The Bible condones slavery!”

From Got Questions

Slavery was never part of God’s original plan for humanity and it wouldn’t exist if weren’t for humans living in rebellion to God’s instructions. The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39) and to “regard one another as more important” than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). How could slavery flourish, if we all loved one another that way? A loving person doesn’t kidnap people, lock them up, and force them to work.

Kidnapping humans is a sin that carried the death penalty in the Old Testament (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). And buying and selling slaves is condemned in the Bible alongside murder (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

Why then does the Bible have a handful of verses instructing people on how to treat slaves (Colossians 4:1)? Well, in Biblical times, people could sell themselves to be servants to pay off debts (Leviticus 25:39). And that was very common. So, for the servants’ sake, God gave the Jews instructions regarding the treatment of servants. The instructions were given to protect and help the servants, not harm them or keep them down. For example, Exodus 20:10 said that servants were to have every seventh day of the week off. Deuteronomy 23:16 said to not mistreat a slave.

It was Christians who understood God’s heart for kidnapped and mistreated slaves who led the fight to abolish slavery in England and America long ago. And Christians are at the forefront of the battle to eradicate the sex-slave trade today.

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