Why Did A Loving God Allow Slavery?
Pastor Chinaemerem Ibezim
January 3, 2018
According to Wikipedia, “The history of slavery spans many cultures, nationalities, and religions from ancient times to the present day. However the social, economic, and legal positions of slaves were vastly different in different systems of slavery in different times and places.”
Collins dictionary defines slavery as, “the system by which people are owned by other people as slaves; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune.”
The first mention of “servant” in the Bible is in Genesis 9, when Noah cursed Canaan:
“Then he said: ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren.’ And he said: ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.” Genesis 9:25-27
It’s already obvious that God did not institute slavery. Slavery was, and is, man’s idea. When God created man, He gave Adam a helper and not a slave.
But it is a fact that God permitted slavery in the Old Testament. In the Law, one of the instructions on slavery is stated below:
“Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever. And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.” Exodus 21:1-11
People who understand the Scriptures know that there’s the perfect will of God and the permissive will of God. The perfect will of God is God’s original plan for creation, while His permissive will is what He allows man to do, in exercise of man’s freewill. For instance, when the disciples asked Jesus about divorce, Jesus said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” Matthew 19:8. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “See, this only have I found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”
So, one may ask, why didn’t God do something about it?
Well, He did.
We read in Acts 17:30 that there were days of ignorance that God overlooked, and that He has now commanded everyone to repent.
Jesus came with truth. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Here are some truths about slavery in the New Testament:
1) “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” I Corinthians 7:22-23
2) “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Chinaemerem Ibezim is the pastor of Able Ministers Chapel, Calabar