Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Confusing, New Testament | 31 comments

What does the Bible say about slavery? Jesus?

During a missions trip to Ghana, I found myself on a beautiful beach on the Gulf of Guinea one morning. I was surrounded by a swarm of bustling women and children who waved goodbye to all the men who were pushing their small fishing boats out through the breaking waves in hope of a good day’s catch. The sand was white, the sky was blue, the sun was warm, yet – I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder at the ominous reminder of a horrific not-so-distant past – the towering Elmina Castle, a major hub in the Atlantic slave trade (as seen here, illustrated in the background).

Later that day I found myself struggling to hear any of the words coming out of the guide’s mouth. On the verge of tears for over an hour, I thought back to a trip to Auschwitz years earlier. Something about this castle seemed completely different. Why was it so different? As I stood inside the largest cell, the darkness barely lit by a single barred doorway far at one end, I heard the only words I remembered from that day, “600 men and 400 women.” What? In here? All at once? This cell was no larger than an elementary classroom! Then it hit me – this place was so different than Auschwitz because these prisoners were expected to live! In captivity, as property, forever…  Lingering back to hide my tears behind my camera, I took this photo of… Darkness.

Slavery in the Bible - Elmina Castle - Jesus

That evening, I found myself back on the same beach, trying to enjoy an amazing sunset for which the Gold Coast is known. Instead, I prayed… “What kind of a God would issue a commandment  against coveting another man’s property but not  against making another human being a piece of property in the first place? What kind of loving God stands by as millions of His own children are bought, sold, and slaughtered – justified by the laws given by His own Word and Law? What kind of Son of God would allow the father of the early church to utter a phrase such as, ‘Slaves, obey your masters…’”

So, there I was – a mere human, knowing full well that owning another human has always been morally wrong. Meanwhile, my colleagues were out distributing Bibles that prescribed and promoted the atrocities for which Elmina Castle was built to facilitate. Looking back, as I sat on that beach with tears again filling my eyes, it may have been one of the final nails in the coffin of my Christianity.

And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared
and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished.

– Jesus Christ, Luke 12:47 (NLT)

Sadly, slavery still exists in many parts of the world today – from forced labor camps to sexual exploitation. Jesus apparently didn’t think it was important to rid the earth of slavery. We can do better. We must to better. However – it is up to us!
– Horus Gilgamesh

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Remember: Don’t blame us, it’s in the Bible!
This illustration and commentary can be found in
Awkward Moments (Not Found In Your Average) Children’s Bible – Vol #2.




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