In Leviticus God seems to be condoning slavery. Isn't slavery sinful?
Previous questions on this topic received a response like this: “Slavery was permitted in the Old Testament, but was carefully regulated (Leviticus 25:39-53, Exodus 21:2-11). Slaves were protected and had to be set free if injured (Exodus 21:26-27). Every fiftieth year (the year of Jubilee) Israelite slaves were to be set free (Leviticus 25:39-41). Stealing or kidnapping a person to enslave him or her was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 24:7, Exodus 21:16).
“The New Testament also condemns kidnappers or slave traders (1 Timothy 1:10). Nevertheless the New Testament instructs slaves to submit to their masters, even the masters who were harsh (1 Peter 2:18ff, Ephesians 6:5-8). The Apostles did not attempt to overturn the structures of society by encouraging disobedience or rebellion. Paul returned the slave Onesimus to his Christian master Philemon. Onesimus had run away and subsequently become a Christian. Paul did not command Philemon to free him, but encouraged him to receive Onesimus as a brother (Philemon 8-21).
“Christianity transcends social distinctions (Galatians 3:28). Free men are slaves to Christ and slaves are free in Christ– a person’s social position means nothing before God (1 Corinthians 7:20-24). Yet slaves were encouraged to gain their freedom if possible (1 Corinthians 7:21). Although the Bible never encourages the overthrow of social or political structures through disobedience or rebellion, wherever the gospel has taken firm root slavery has disappeared. When hearts are changed by the gospel message of forgiveness of sins and salvation in Christ, people put into practice Jesus’ words, ‘In everything, do to others you would have them do to you’ (Matthew 7:12).”
History tells us that there were different ways in which people became slaves. Some were prisoners of war. Others suffered economic losses and willingly placed themselves into the service of others in exchange for the basic necessities of life. Still others, sadly, were bought and sold as property. While people might have entered slavery in different ways, the Bible’s message to everyone involved in it was to exercise Christian love.
A recent article in Forward in Christ addressed the subject of slavery. This link will take you to it.