The topic of slavery in modern times usually sends a
chill down the spine. Is God crazy to endorse
slavery? Most people think of slavery as an
evil and wicked practice, but did God really tell us
to practice this evil thing? The truth of the
matter is this, God does endorse slavery in the
Bible and it is a practice that we should still
practice today. The problem we have with
slavery is we do not understand it from God's
perspective. If we understood the purpose
behind slavery in the Bible then we would most
likely be more acceptable of it. The purpose
of this article is to identify slavery and how it is
to be practiced from a scriptural viewpoint.
This might seem odd, but I contend that every law
that God invented is for our good (Deut. 6:24) and should be
practiced today (Deut. 10:12). Perhaps if we better
understood the laws of slavery in the scripture we
might gain an appreciation of the benefits of
Modern slavery is different than slavery in the
past. Today, our understanding is very skewed
by the history of slavery in the United States.
To tell the truth, slavery that was practiced in the
United States in the 1700s and 1800s was not slavery at all,
but something entirely different. We practiced
kidnapping, not slavery, here in America.
Early Americans went to Africa and took men and
women without cause and against their will to be
slaves here in America. This is not biblical
slavery at all. This is what the Bible calls
man steeling (Ex. 21:16). In fact, kidnapping
another human being was a capital offense and the
penalty was stoning. This is not scriptural at
all and God no where endorses what America did in
its early years.
The truth is America removed biblical slavery as a
result of the civil war, and this was against the
will of God. America has been paying the price
of this move ever since. After the civil war,
the United States enacted the 13th amendment.
This amendment removed slavery and involuntary
servitude from our laws. Here is the text as
written in the amendment:
Section 1: Neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
for crime whereof the party shall have been duly
convicted, shall exist within the United States,
or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2: Congress shall have power
to enforce this article by appropriate
The consequences to our legislation are interesting.
The problem we had was that of kidnapping, which was
already illegal. The result of the kidnapping
was an illegal slavery. It has been said that
the civil war was
fought to eradicate slavery, but in reality it
should have been fought to eradicate kidnapping.
Slavery has always been a valid social status under
the Common Law. Removing this valid social
status only hinders us as free people and as a
result, Americans lost some of their rights.
This might sound strange, but continue reading and
this will become clear.
Defining Scriptural Terms:
Before we continue it is important to define some
scriptural terms. After all, many times we
read in the scriptures of a certain topic, but we
understand that topic from our modern times.
Here are some terms to consider.
Servants/Hired: Servants in the
scripture are different than we might think.
The word servant has a very negative connotation
today, but it shouldn't. Being a servant
is simply a social status. Here are a few
laws regarding servants:
Servants can serve for only six
years. The seventh year they are set
free (Ex. 21:2).
When set free, a servant departs
with all he had prior to his service (Ex.
If a servant is injured by his
master he is to be set free (Ex. 21:26-27).
The wages of the servant are to be
paid the same day (Lev. 19:13).
Servants are not to be ruled over
with rigor (Lev. 25:43).
Servants are not to be released
empty handed (Deut. 15:13-14).
Servants are not to be oppressed by
their masters (Deut. 24:14-15).
Servants are voluntary
Slaves/Bondservants: Slavery in the scripture is much
different than what we think of slavery today.
Today we see slavery as an evil activity that is
illegal. Here are a few laws regarding
Brethren cannot be compelled into
slavery, but must be treated as servants
Slaves from foreign nations can be
forever (Lev. 25:46).
Foreign slaves cannot be extradited
We are not to mistreat a foreign
slave (Deut. 23:15-16).
Based upon the previous description of servant and
slave we can make a few determinations. A
servant is someone who is paid (Lev. 19:13), has a
sabbatical (Ex. 21:2), has injury protection (Ex.
21:26-27) has employee rights (Lev. 25:43), and
receives a serverance package when he leaves (Deut.
Does this sound familiar? If you work for wages and
have an employer you are what the scripture calls a
servant. This is a social status God created
and is necessary for a nation to survive. The
other option is for you to have a private business
and work for yourself. What the scripture
calls a servant is what we currently call
The same is true of slavery. Slavery is a
social status that God created and is governed by
laws. If someone owes a debt they cannot pay,
a trial takes place to determine guilt (Deut. 17:6).
If guilty and the guilty party cannot pay, a
sentence of slavery is given (Ex. 22:3). This
sentence is to last until the debt is paid or until
the year of release. This is a very different
slavery than what was practiced in early America.
This is the difference between Strict Liability and
Strict Liability vs. Limited Liability:
The law identifies the difference between
slavery in the scripture and slavery in America.
The law of God endorses Strict Liability while
America has moved from Strict Liability to Limited
Liability. The difference between the two is
significant. When one is convicted of a
crime/sin, the scripture makes the guilty party
solely responsible (Eze. 18:18-19). He has to
pay in full. If he does not have the means to
do so he will have to sell himself into slavery, or
bond servitude, to
the damaged party and make a full restitution.
This status is not permanent for the enslaved must
be released every seven years. This is the law
of the year of release (Deut. 15:1-3). Slavery
in the scripture has a purpose. That purpose
is to make full restitution to a damaged party.
In America, if a criminal cannot pay he is placed in
prison and everyone in America now has to pay for
his life in prison. This causes the population
to have to pay for his crimes. This is why God
does not allow for
prisons. Instead, slavery makes the guilty
party solely responsible.
In America, we practice limited liability.
Limited liability is more commonly called insurance.
Insurance is the act where we pay someone to be
responsible for our crimes. There is a fixed
amount that damages cannot go over.
Corporations have this in their corporate charter.
The corporation can be sued at a fixed amount, but
not the president or owner of the corporation.
This is limited liability. The scripture does
not allow for limited liability. The reason is
obvious. God expects each person to be
individually responsible for their crimes/sins (Eze.
18:18-19). This will cause each person to be
careful and diligent to respect the rights of
Slavery has a very negative connotation today, but
if we saw slavery as the scripture does, this
negative connotation would disappear. Slavery
is simply a social status that a Hebrew could have
for causing a damage he could not pay. If he
were found guilty of a crime/sin, but could not pay,
he would become a slave until all was paid for, or
until the year of release. America used to
practice this, until we removed this law of God with
our 13th amendment. Bond Servitude is
different than slavery. It is a social status
for the poor and a right given by God Himself.
A poor Hebrew could sell himself into
servitude/employment to make a living. This
gives the poor a chance to better themselves.
We call this employment today. A higher status
than employment is that of a private business (one
who works for himself). Abraham worked for
himself as a cattleman (Gen. 13:2). He had
hired servants to do his work (Gen. 14:14).
His status was much higher than that of his hired
servants. Bill Gates works for himself as a
software developer. He also has many hired
servants/employees. Bill Gates statutus in
America is much higher than that of his employees. We have changed the meaning of these
terms and have started calling them by different
words. Biblical slavery was a social status
for someone who could not pay his debt, while
American slavery was really kidnapping.
Biblical bond servitude is the same as what we call
employment today. Both are social statuses
acceptable to God and should be practiced today.
Maybe some day America will recognize this and
return to the Law of God.