“The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” [Proverbs 22:7]
Some have expressed an inability to submit themselves to Biblical authority because they proclaim it endorses slavery. A passive relationship with Scripture would certainly lead one to that conclusion. In my experiences, though, the Bible simply recognizes the institution of slavery, but on a much larger scale than we normally do.
It would seem our images are of African nationals traded from their homelands to serve unmercifully on early American farms. However, this is a very limited view of bondage.
Anything we trade our freedom for is our master, and we its slave. Of course, we fashion ourselves as free because we have the liberty to choose our master, but make no mistake, it is still slavery.
If we look past the specific context of slavery to the principles behind it, we allow for a much broader application of the relationship. One party is restricted in its choices by another party.
Whether our master is something as overt as drug or sex addictions or as seemingly benign as compulsive shopping or public affirmation, we have traded in a freedom for the perceived benefits that the master offers.
If perceived security and conformity are our idols, could that be why many of us spend a quarter or a third of our weeks working for organizations whose causes we share little passion for the compensation and benefits they provide?
These are heavy questions and there are no easy, cookie-cutter answers, but rather fodder for deep introspection and prayer.
Paul wrote to those in Rome that “you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
I believe the question is not whether God condones slavery, but rather to what we should be slaves. We are all made for worship and the evidences are clear when we observe how quickly we are to wrap our identities and spend our resources in associations with ideologies, thoughts and behaviors that are inconsistent with God’s purposes for us.
Many people reading this have but a few decades left on this terrain. Are we living in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs? Are we contributing to legacies we can be satisfied with? Are we glorifying and trusting the God who made us?