Written by: Christopher Sernaque
Before we get too far into the article I would like to answer the title’s question with a resounding “NO!” The Bible does not in any way condone, permit, or endorse the atrocious practice of American slavery which began in 1619 and ended around 1865. *The Spirit of Prophecy, the writings of Mrs. Ellen White, also make it very clear that American slavery is evil. “God is punishing this nation for the high crime of slavery. He has the destiny of the nation in His hands. He will punish the South for the sin of slavery, and the North for so long suffering its overreaching and overbearing influence.” Ellen G, White – Testimonies Vol. One pg. 264. Now what about Christian people that practiced American slavery? The simple answer to this is that those Christians are hypocritical, or ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches, as the Bible does not support slavery. I can already hear the Biblical skeptics stampeding to different passages of Scripture that “support slavery”, however these statements do not support “Americanized Slavery.” So, what does the Bible teach about the practice of slavery and how does that compare to the slavery that was practiced in the United States? I have created a chart that will irrefutably demonstrate that Biblical Servanthood is not Americanized Slavery.
As can be seen by the chart above the Biblical model of slavery is not the same thing as the American slavery. American slavery is abhorrent, but Biblical servanthood is actually better than the modern-welfare system. Biblical servanthood offered Israelites who were financially irresponsible, or in debt, a chance to get out of the debt they accumulated. If the Biblical model of servanthood was not made clear from the chart here are the steps to the process:
A person ends up in a situation where they have a debt that they cannot pay.
The indebted person requests to become the servant of a wealthy individual. (Leviticus 25:39, Genesis 47:19)
The indebted person works for the wealthy person until their debt is paid off, or they have worked for a period of 7 years. (Leviticus 25:50, Exodus 21:2, Deuteronomy 15:12)
At no point during those 7-years was the master allowed to abuse their servant. (Leviticus 25:43, Exodus 21:26-27)
When the debt is fully paid, or the 7-year maximum workload was met, the servant was freed and given a liberal portion of the master’s wealth so they could maintain themselves economically. Servants were also given the option to stay with their master if they so choose to do so. (Deuteronomy 15:13-14, 16)
It should be obvious now that the Bible’s version of “slavery” cannot even be compared to the American system of slavery. In fact, Biblical Servanthood has benefits for the person functioning as the servant. Not only does the servant get to pay off the debt they could not pay on their own, but they gain experience by working with their master, so when they are set free they can use the means given to them responsibly to start their own enterprise. I will now close with some precious promises from the Word of God:
“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.“-John 8:34-36
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”-Romans 6:17-18
May the Lord richly bless the readers of this article. Maranatha.
*Ellen White is the most translated female author in the world and she has written light-years ahead of her time on health and nutrition. She meets all the Biblical qualifications of a prophet, and thus her writings are inspired. For more information on Mrs. White please see my post entitled: “Defending the Spirit of Prophecy” or Vance Ferrell’s book entitled: “Prophet of the End”