A guest commentary by Stuart Hall, originally published at Pistos.com, 24 SEP 2022. Primarily religious (christian) in content, it applies to all lovers of liberty, christian or not. TPOL has done some stylistic editing and made some further comments in brackets. [..]
“Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men” (1st Corinthians 7:21-23).
At first glance, these words may seem to have no practical value for us [in 21st Century America especially for non-christians]. But look a little closer.
The chief problem with being a slave was that it put you into a position in which it was difficult to be a Christian. There are many other circumstances, however, that might make it equally difficult. Paul’s teaching would apply in principle to any such circumstance. [Note that many people claim that the Bible (especially the Old Testament) endorses and encourages slavery. These passages often are used to support that untrue claim. This is seen in the New Testament (andrapodistes =”manstealer” also translated as “slave trader” and “kidnapper”) in 1st Timothy 1:10. The crime was directly forbidden in the Hebrew law (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7), and was made punishable with death. God regulated slavery, and allowed people to sell themselves into slavery. He did not endorse it anymore than He endorsed divorce.]
If there is no honorable escape from the position, just make the best of it. If you are a slave, just be a better slave. “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against” (1st Timothy 6:1). If you are married to a non-Christian, “the wife shall not leave her husband…and…the husband shall not send his wife away” (1st Corinthians 7:10-11) If one is under contract to those not Christians, the contract should be fulfilled so long as our action does not involve something wrong in itself. Under all circumstances, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). But we do not have to sever the relationship.
If the relationship is such that it can be honorably terminated, the Christian should take advantage of the opportunity. “If you are able to become free, then do it.” If a job hinders you from being a Christian, quit it. If a school you are attending, if the company you are keeping, if the community in which you are living, if the places you are going, if any of these hinder your Christian service, make the changes that are necessary to free yourself of the bad influence. And do it regardless of how precious the thing may be to you. Jesus said, “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell” (Mark 9:45). We cannot afford to remain at a spiritual disadvantage if we can honorably escape it.
Above all things, if you are free of entanglements or alliances that might hinder you, remain free. You have been bought with a price; you are Christ’s slave; He has first claim in you; do not allow yourself to be placed at any disadvantage in serving Him. Avoid any contract, any relationship, any companions, any came, any amusement, any sport, any job, and promotion — anything that would hinder.
[Although Mr. Hall is writing to christians, his comments apply to any and all lovers of liberty: if we truly love liberty, love freedom, we will accept any opportunity to gain liberty for ourselves and others. Each of us must individually decide whether or not we can escape from slavery – or anything similar to it – in an honorable manner, just as we must decide what we will do to defend ourselves and others from aggression. (A subject on which Jesus also taught.)]
Please share your feedback, either from a christian or non-christian viewpoint!