**”If the Son has set you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36 (NLT)
**”Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
**“Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.” Exodus 21:16
**”It is impossible to enslave, mentally or socially, a bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” ― Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New-York Tribune
God has been by far the greatest and ultimate source of freedom from slavery of all kinds in all of human history. He never condoned any kind of forced slavery in the Bible. In fact, throughout the Bible, God not only explicitly forbade slavery as a capital crime (Exodus 21:16), banned all forms of theft which Jews knew explicitly included theft of people (Exodus 20:15), classed slave trading with murder (1 Timothy 10:10), and protected people from various kinds of slavery with 2000 verses on 8 kinds of justice principles (Prov. 29:7, 31:8-9, Deut. 15:1 and many others), God also repeatedly freed people from many forms of slavery.
Jeremiah J. Johnston points out in his book Unimaginable by that not only did Christianity abolish slavery many times in many countries in areas under it’s control), it did it twice in history! Once in late antiquity, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries after slavery reemerged.
There’s the famous Exodus story of God doing miracles to free the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. Time after time, he freed Israel from slavery with judges like Gideon, Deborah, Samson, David. Sometimes He freed other nations from slavery as well. Through prophets, he did miracles to help widows escape debt slavery and condemned the rich for monopolizing land and charging interest that was forcing families into such debt that they were having to sell their children (Nehemiah 5:1-13) and demanded that the rich give back the interest and lands they had monopolized. God is the greatest agent of freedom in history and His principles have led to the abolition of slavery in countries around the world. The famous documentary Amazing Grace in 2006 directed by Michael Apted illustrates how Christians led the long fight to eradicate slavery in the British empire and they were also leaders to do the same in America and many other places.
In stark contrast, atheism has never in history, nor in the present every freed anyone from slavery, it has never set up any moral code against it or any other abuse, and atheists have been heavily involved in slavery all throughout history and the present. Atheism also makes people completely ignorant of what slavery is. For these reasons atheism is actually intrinsically a system of slavery of the mass population, and this is why elites love atheism and force it on populations in various ways. When a very few atheists were involved in fighting slavery it was entirely based on Judeo-Christian morals and examples. NONE of it derived from atheism which again never has ever had any code of morals against slavery.
The God of the Bible has been the agent to free more people many kinds of slavery and to pioneer more human rights than all other forces COMBINED. LITERALLY. The only rare exception that allowed any kind of slavery was as a punishment for serious crime as happened in their takeover of the Canaanites who committed countless atrocities. Our prison system is way worse than that on multiple levels.
You do need to realize though that the meaning of the word slavery has a vast range of meaning in ancient times. Much of what is called slavery in ancient times, especially in the Bible, has nothing to do with modern chattel slavery. In Rome for example, slaves (doulos) were teachers and if you worked for a boss at a job, you were also classified as a slave. Voluntary indentured servants were also under the category of slave. Numerous Jewish experts have stated that what is wrongly translated as slavery in the Bible according to Jewish experts was actually for the most part a welfare system for those in poverty who needed relief. They could choose to become an indentured servant/slave and thus not be a burden on the community or government or taxpayers and could buy themselves out when they wanted.
Jews above most others have a special hatred for slavery and so have all biblical Christians.
Jacob Milgrom, in Leviticus 23-27: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, says that the Torah tries to make enslaving others very difficult, if not impossible. He writes, “For Israelites, both kinds of slavery, chattel and debt, are prohibited.” In other words, no Jew may own another person, and strict constraints limit how long a person may be held as an indentured servant before the debt is paid off. This is especially relevant today, when debt-bondage continues to be a major form of slavery.
Many specifically invoked the Jewish experience itself to argue against slavery. “If anyone, it is the Jew, above all others who should have the most burning and irreconcilable hatred for the ‘peculiar institution’ of the South,” said Bernard Felsenthal of Chicago, later one of the first Zionists in America, who once rejected a job as rabbi in Mobile, Alabama, because it would have required acquiescence to slavery. Gustav Gottheil, another early Zionist, was still in England at the time of Raphall’s remarks, but responded with two sermons quickly published as Moses Versus Slavery. “How can we be silent,” Gottheil asked, when the Torah is invoked to condone an institution of which it is, in fact, “one grand consistent utterance of condemnation”?
You should understand that slavery, including chattel slavery and sexual slavery, and other types are a huge problem now with over 40 million slaves worlwide, more than ever before in history. Sex trafficking is a particularly heinous form of slavery. While Christianity has worked hard to abolish forced slavery twice in history already, we need to do it again and many Christian organizations are working to try to do that now. Few if any atheist organizations put much effort into that.
Again, it is just a historical fact that the God of the Bible and people who were inspired by Him are actually by far the greatest agents of freedom from ALL forms of slavery (there are ~10 or more) than all other forces in all history COMBINED.
1) GOD IS COMPLETELY AGAINST FORCED/CHATTEL SLAVERY & KIDNAPPING/SLAVERY IS A CAPITAL CRIME
“Kidnappers must be put to death, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.” Exodus 21:16 (NLT)
It could not be clearer. God hated slavery made it clear that forced slavery is a capital crime. Atheism never has been nor is opposed to slavery now. It has set up no moral code or way to train people that slavery is wrong. Many atheists have been HEAVILY involved in the worst forms of slavery in history AND NOW.
2) GOD FORBIDS STEALING (and this includes stealing human beings which is the root of forced slavery)
“You must not steal.” Exodus 20:15
The Jewish intellectual Dennis Prager has a brilliant series of 5 minutes on each of the 10 commandments, showing briefly but powerfully how each is designed to promote a civilized society and you simply can’t have a civilized society without them. You will always descend into barbaric exploitation and abuse without them.
Each of the 10 commandments is essential for civilizations to thrive.
But Dr. Prager says:
“There is one commandment that, if followed by all of humanity, would instantly create a peaceful world: Do not steal. The Eighth Commandment implicitly prohibits murder (stealing a life), slavery (stealing a person’s freedom), adultery (stealing a spouse), humiliation (stealing dignity), and so many other sins laid out in the Bible. If there is one commandment that summarizes the other nine, this one is it.”
Torah (the first section of the Old Testament) views the kidnap of a person as the most serious form of theft. It is strictly prohibited on pain of death under the Noahide code and in the eighth of the Ten Commandments (Maimonides, Laws of Theft 9:1-6; Exodus 20:13 and Rashi ad loc.).
This why Jews pioneered the abolition of slavery long before any atheists or pagans even had any clue that slavery was evil. The Torah (the first section of the Old Testament) views the kidnapping of a person as the most serious form of theft. It is strictly prohibited on pain of death under the Noahide code and in the eighth of the Ten Commandments (Maimonides, Laws of Theft 9:1-6; Exodus 20:13 and Rashi ad loc)
3) SLAVE TRADING IS CLASSED WITH MURDER:
Slave trading was severely banned and warned against in the NT as well. It was classed with murder of parents by Paul who said:
“We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious,…who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching.” 1 Tim. 1:8-10
4) GOD IS THE GOD OF FREEDOM & CREATION AND SABBATH POINT TO THIS
The Sabbath was given by God as a memorial of creation (Exodus 20:8-11) which means we were all created equal with the right to freedom and that no one should even be mistreated let alone enslaved. The Sabbath was also explicitly set up as a symbol to remind people that God created people to be free and had rescued them from slavery (Deuteronomy 5:15)
5) GOD ORDERED PEOPLE NOT TO RETURN SLAVES TO THEIR MASTERS
Regarding non-Jewish slaves, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the 19th-century German scholar often identified as the father of Modern Orthodoxy, in his Torah commentary offers the following comment on the case in Deuteronomy 23:16-17 of a non-Jewish slave who flees his master:
“The Israelite authorities are obligated to extend to such a slave their patronage and concern, and according to Maimonides’ system (Laws of Slaves 8:10), which is affirmed in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 167:85), they must bring about the freeing of the slave, and towards this purpose they must offer the owner these options: either he writes the slave a bill of manumission and accepts in return an IOU for the slave’s monetary worth, or if he refuses the court will annul the enslavement and the slave will go free. (Translation by Meirowitz Nelson, from Hebrew text in a 1989 publication of Hirsch’s commentary)
In other words, the slaveholder loses ownership of the slave either way; the choice he has is whether to comply with the court’s order, in which case he is compensated for the money he invested in the slave to begin with, or to resist, in which case he loses everything. Either way, Hirsch makes clear that owning slaves — even non-Jewish ones — is not acceptable.”
6) PRO-SLAVERY PEOPLE CHOPPED OF MOST OF THE BIBLE
The only way to follow slavery and claim to be a Christian is to chop off major parts of the Bible. This is what all who pretended to be Christian and had slaves did, either in their minds…or in actual fact. There is a Bible that slave masters gave to slaves. But most of the important parts were chopped out.
“About 90 percent of the Old Testament is missing [and] 50 percent of the New Testament is missing,” Schmidt says. “Put in another way, there are 1,189 chapters in a standard protestant Bible. This [slave] Bible contains only 232.”
7) SDAs WERE LEADING PIONEERS IN THE OPPOSITION TO SLAVERY
Dr. Benjamin Baker is an African American historian for the SDA church with a Ph.D. in history from Brown University (and a friend of mine who worked in missions in Korea). He points out that SDA pioneers said that America was a beast already even in the 1800s (because of slavery and treatment of Indians as well as poor whites) and refers to research at Andrews University on this. He rates the SDA church as a 10 out of 10 in fighting slavery from its beginnings. SDAs are about the only denomination to my knowledge to be always throughout its history opposed to slavery.
The Adventist Pioneers and Slavery – Dr. Benjamin Baker
“For our SDA pioneers, when Jesus didn’t come in 1844, there was “a shift in their thinking and they realized…they had to preach the gospel to the entire world [and] so maybe slavery could end before Jesus came…because they had to reach the black American slaves and how could you reach them with infrastructure of slavery in place? It was against the law in many states to teach slaves how to read. So they can’t get the gospel this way…as war time approached, they became very strident and vocal and outspoken in their publications against slavery…
In fact, John Andrews, John Loughborough, Uriah Smith, identified the United States as the eschatological villain of Revelation 13, the lamb like beast who speaks as a dragon. They identified America as that dragon like beast because of chattel slavery. You can’t get more dragonish, more beastly than this.
[Slavery] was religious bondage. They could not take the seventh day off. And so they saw American as speaking like a dragon through slavery and secondarily through their treatment of the native Americans.
They were extremely outspoken against slavery. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give them a 10. When you read the Adventist Review from 1850 to the end of slavery, 1865, there are endless articles condemning slavery.”
Slavery and America in Revelation 13 – Dr. Benjamin Baker
Some of the research for what Dr. Baker is saying is here:
Dr. Benjamin Baker is also founder of https://www.blacksdahistory.org/ and has written several articles on how EGW said we must oppose all injustice in whatever form it takes and strongly support and protest to strengthen justice.
The facts above and many others prove that the God of the Bible is love, and highly pro freedom and that the principle He gave in the Bible are extremely anti-slavery, more than all other worldviews combined. Because Christians are supposed to imitate God (Eph. 5:1), all genuine Christians who follow the Bible area against slavery. This is why it was Jews and Christians who repeatedly abolished slavery in their countries long before any other worldview did. Atheists didn’t pioneer abolition, nor did Hinduism, or Buddhism. It was Jews and Christians that pioneered most of the major kinds of anti-slavery efforts in history or people influenced by them.
So if you want yourself, your family and friends and others to live free from various kinds of slavery, the only way to preserve that freedom is to live for God and follow His principles of freedom!
And if you follow God’s principles, Jesus promises that you will be truly free, that you will have the maximum possible level of freedom.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:31,32,36