Tuesday, 28 February 2012

27 Million

intro to 27 Million: LZ7 & Matt Redman
[Edited 29 February - music video pulled by YouTube! Download the song now!]

27 million people enslaved across the world right now. Are you one of them? If you're reading this then probably not - or is that too simplistic?

I'm not against slavery as a concept. In an absolute theoretical sense it is neutral.

If you're screaming at your screen right now unable to believe that anyone could condone slavery I've probably lost you. Just hit replay on the video above [or download the song below...] and ignore what I'm about to say...

If you've ever read the Bible from cover to cover, one thing you might have noticed is that nowhere is slavery condemned. Instead it is treated as a fact of life and there are a lot of laws introduced to regulate the practice of slavery and ensure - where those laws are followed - that the life of a slave is one where the slave can actually prosper.

The problem is simply that for 99.9999% of slaves - those laws are never followed and the slaves are abused.

Does that make slavery wrong? No. 

Right now in the UK and many nations we pay billions to imprison people for what are essentially petty crimes. Why do we pay to imprison these people? Where is the justice in that?

At one end of the scale, people comit crimes. At the other, some people simply need discipline. Slavery can be a solution for making people compensate and repay the damage they have caused; it can also be a solution for some who thrive on serving - and where that service is rewarded rather than punished.

Why are there so many laws written in the Bible relating to slavery - because people abuse their slaves. They did so thousands of years ago and are still doing so today - even now, in the UK, despite slavery having been abolished!

Slavery seems to be a situation where legislation just doesn't work. It is too easy for those in the position of power to let that power corrupt them.

How do you feel about 27 million people being enslaved? What are you going to do about it?


  1. The Bible also condones genocide and stoning adulterers Mark. How do you feel about those things? Can they ever be justified...?

  2. If I can't make a fool of myself for posterity on the Internet then where can I do it?

    I love the Bible. It is a book that challenges me; one I often don't understand; one I struggle to accept. Yet also one that inspires me and gives me confidence and hope in God.

    Does the bible condone genocide? It records several instances where God destroyed people who had completely turned away from him and rejected his law. That is terrifying when I think about my own rejection of God and turning away from him. How can I or anyone believe in and love a God who can destroy a nation or a world?

    In a way, the fact that God did dispense such harsh judgement gives me hope. I have a strong desire to see justice done. All around me I see injustice. People getting away with murder; with violence; with theft; and with fraud. The thought that there is an ultimate force to be reckoned with; a being who will one day call us all to account - though terrifying - also reassuring.

    Does the Bible condone genocide? It records that God dealt out several harsh judgements and warns that he will do so again. That is all.

    How do I feel about stoning adulterers? I like Jesus approach to this law - let him who is without sin cast the first stone...

    Take a step back though... why was adultery considered so vile, so destructive? I believe that marriage is vitally important to God. When a man and woman commit to a life together - they make a vow before God. In our society today we have stopped caring about vows and in despising them we have trampled on something incredibly important to society.

    To break a vow is a terrible act. Our society is broken because on a daily basis we allow and encourage people to do whatever they feel like no matter how many people they hurt in the process.

    I believe that marriage is important for more reasons but will not be able to do them justice now.

    While Jesus acted to save a woman who was threatened with stoning - he went further than the old law when he said that to look at a woman lustfully is adultery. I am guilty of adultery by Jesus standards. I suspect that most people are.

    How does genocide or adultery compare to slavery? My post did not come close to giving a discussion on slavery the time or space it needed. In the UK and the US, slavery was abolished after long, hard struggles.

    People are forced into slavery through kidnapping; through deception; through violence. Anyone forced into slavery should be freed.

    My wife and I support the A21 Campaign (http://www.thea21campaign.org/): a campaign to abolish human trafficking.

    I've never had to face the reality of slavery in my life or around me. I am sure that if I did, my views on slavery would be affected. Yet despite believing that most slaves should be set free, despite financially supporting organisations who are working to free slaves - I wonder if today we could benefit from examining what the Bible has to say about slavery.

    Perhaps my mistake is to be a writer. I live to create fictional worlds; wonder how things would be if something changed. Perhaps someday I should write a novel about the re-introduction of slavery.

    My final questions still stand: How do you feel about 27 million people being enslaved? What are you going to do about it?

  3. Hi Mark,

    I love the Bible as well and agree with many of your conclusions about it. I'm also glad that you've given some more clarification regarding your position on slavery!

    I think the Bible is a difficult book sometimes though, that has to be thought through long and hard and interpreted in a spirit of wisdom, not always just taken at face value. Sadly, although many Christians campaigned against the slave trade, many Christians also owned slaves and campaigned in it's defence, and often cited scripture's apparent support of slavery (the way they read it) in their defence.

    >> Does the Bible condone genocide? It records that God dealt out several harsh judgements and warns that he will do so again. That is all.

    I don't think that's really true, sorry! My house group is studying the book of Joshua at the moment and there are several places where God commands the Israelites to wipe out entire towns or people groups. It is a "harsh judgement", but it does also amount to genocide, ordered - and therefore condoned - by God. I believe God has the right to judge whoever he chooses, but I believe that He will always do so justly and the use of a human agent in particular, to carry out a judgement that terrible presents me with significant moral problems! Passages like these were also used by the crusaders to justify their killing sprees in pursuit of the Holy Land - another example of why the Bible has to be carefully interpreted at times and not just taken at face value!

    I'm glad you support the A21 anti-trafficking campaign. I'm not familiar with it and will take a look around the website.

    I have had some involvement with anti-slavery/anti-trafficking campaigns in the past - e.g. the odd email sent or petition signed - but must admit that it has slipped below the radar a little of late...