In church yesterday morning my pastor was preaching on Ephesians 6:1-9. He addressed a subject I get questions about from time to time by people whose motivation is typically to discredit the Bible.
So does the Bible endorse slavery? No. Here are some points my pastor, Shawn Barr, made during his sermon at Grace Fellowship in Des Moines, IA.
- Just because the Bible mentions a cultural problem does not mean it is condoning it.
- The purpose of the Bible is not to change society. It’s God’s proclamation for salvation. As people’s hearts are changed by the Gospel, then society can be changed.
- The Christian religion at the time the New Testament was written was unlawful and politically powerless.
- The gospel immediately began to undermine the institution of slavery. For instance in Philemon and in Ephesians 6, Paul says that slave and slave owner are equal in Christ. For instance, Paul indicates in Ephesians 6:5-9 that both slaves and slave owners who were believers were brothers in Christ and they were to treat each other accordingly.
- It was an integral part of Roman society. Even if Christian slave owners released their slaves they would have likely condemn them to unemployment and poverty.
- The system was already improving in the Roman Empire, slaves had the ability to win their freedom and they had certain protections under Roman law.
So while the Bible discusses slavery and actually defines those who follow Christ as slaves it is not an institution that Scripture supports. Not to mention it was Christians who led the abolitionist movements in the United Kingdom and in the United States.