If we’re clear that slavery is bad, shouldn’t the Bible be at least as clear?
Main Text: Philemon
What is the Bible? This is a huge question with many possible answers. We’ll address it from a variety of directions in this series.
This week we’re asking about the Bible’s relationship to slavery. If the Bible is so great, why doesn’t it condemn slavery?
The Bible says things that are concerning about slavery. And it never outright condemns it. But upon closer inspection, the rules and regulations that sound like they tacitly endorse slavery protected anyone from being involuntarily, permanently, or violently enslaved.
Further, as we saw last week, Jesus sums the whole Old Testament with two connected commands: love God and love people. If any master or owner took this command seriously—caring as much about the well-being, flourishing, joy, and life of the enslaved—that would be a strange kind of “slavery” indeed.
This is exactly what we see when we turn to the book of Philemon. The love of Jesus changed both Onesimus and his master Philemon so much that they became brothers. More than that Onesimus’s rise ended up with him being the bishop of Ephesus.
When’s the last time the love of Jesus revolutionized the way we treated, viewed, or loved someone “beneath” us?
Have a question about the Bible?
We’ll answer one next week during the service, so submit one now!