All Servanthood Is Not Equal

by Terry Wane Benton

There is slavery by force, started by kidnapping (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). Thus, this slavery is not equal to the poor loaning themselves out voluntarily for 7 years or until the 50th (Jubilee) year in Israel to pay their debts. Slavery by force and kidnapping was forbidden in Israel, and therefore those who try to make the Bible God a cruel God that condoned harsh slavery have not properly read their Bible.

The word "slave" covers a lot of territories, various degrees of servanthood, from kind contractual agreement to harsh forced kidnapping and abuse. Hired, indentured service is like employment except committed around the clock. You enter it on agreement of work for reward, and in Israel, you had to treat your servants as you would want to be treated. God regulated servanthood so that the master did not mistreat and abuse his servant, treated the servant fairly and with kindness, and knew his obligation to release the debtor every seven years or until the 50th year, whichever came first at the time of making the agreement.

Some such servants would love their master so much that they would volunteer to serve him for life, in which case he would volunteer to be marked (an awl through his ear) for life (Deuteronomy 15:1-18). This was like marrying into the family for life. So, not all slavery was wrong, abusive, or dehumanizing.

The master was obligated to treat the servant with love, justice, fairness, and mercy (Job 31:13-15), putting himself in the shoes of his servant, remembering that he himself was a slave in Egypt (how he wanted to be treated and how his masters did not care).

Notice the regulations in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1). To compare this kind of servanthood to the kidnapped and abusive slavery depicted in Antebellum Southern culture is not only dishonest, but it brings prejudice and emotion to try to over-rule truth and close minds against the Bible as God's word. This will have terrible consequences for many people in the judgment. Many people "handle the word of God deceitfully" (II Corinthians 4:2). All kinds of servanthood are not equal. We (Christians) are "servants" and slaves of Jesus Christ (Romans 6) because we want to be His forever. It is beautiful, satisfying, and rewarding to our souls here and forever. He did not kidnap us, or force us. He made His Lordship so appealing when He laid down His own life for us. This loving relationship makes us desire to commit to Him for service.

Indeed every kind of slavery is not equal.

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