Archives For slaves

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“Wives: be submitted to your husbands as is appropriate in the Lord. Husbands: love your wives, and don’t treat them harshly or respond with bitterness toward them.

Children: obey your parents in every way. The Lord is well pleased by it. Fathers: don’t infuriate your children, so their hearts won’t harbor resentment and become discouraged.

Slaves: obey your earthly masters in all things. Don’t just act earnest in your service only when they are watching. Serve with a sincere heart , fearing the Lord who is always watching! So no matter what your task is, work hard. Always do your best as the Lord’s servant, not as man’s, because you know your reward is the Lord’s inheritance. You serve Christ the Lord, and anyone who does wrong will be paid his due because He doesn’t play favorites. Masters: treat your slaves fairly and do what is right, knowing that you, too, have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 3: 18- 4:1, The Voice)

This passage (as well as similar ones in Ephesians and 1 Peter) is often cited as a confirmation that the Bible is pro-slavery and anti-woman. At first glance, that certainly appears to be the case. I believe a deeper look at what’s going on in this letter ( and in the letter to Philemon, which was written about the same time and addressed to a member of the Colossian church) will help us understand what is truly happening here. Continue Reading…

In the previous posts, I noted two key points in relation to Old Testament law. First, the laws cannot be understood apart from their context and purpose. Second, many of the laws that seem unusually restrictive served an important purpose: God wanted a people who understood what it meant for something to be “holy” – separate, undefiled, and distinct.  God used laws governing seemingly insignificant things to help the Israelites understand what it meant for them to be distinct from the cultures around them.

Even with these caveats, it’s hard to read the Law without cringing at more morally significant mandates, such as those concerning slavery or the treatment of women.

It is important to note that while the Israelite Law was a solid move toward a better world, the laws were usually incremental instead of complete.  The laws were intended to show a redemptive movement in the broader context of the world.  In Christian terms, this means God at times used progressive revelation to reveal truth.  The cultural climate of world was at a particular place; God used the Law to begin a redemptive movement away from injustice and toward justice.  It was a cultural shift that can only be appreciated by understanding what God was pulling people from and what he was pulling them toward.  The Old Testament shows the beginning of a restorative work in a very broken world through a particular group of people. This was the start of that process, not the finished product.  Continue Reading…