QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
recognition of the
freedom, justice and peace in the world,
rights of all members of the
Whereas
the equal and inalienable
inherent dignity and of
human family is the foundation of
The
Universal
Declaration of
Human Rights
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Jesus states in Mark 10:43-45, whosoever desires to be great among you must serve.  
And whosoever wishes to be most important must be servant to all. The Son of Man
came not to have service rendered to Him but to give his life for a ransom for others.
Jesus would oppose human trafficking because he prohibits the prostitute from being
stoned by the man that she served which was a sin unto the body. Romans 12:1-2, 9a,
Jesus suggests that we abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good. It is for
the believer to present his/her body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God
which is one's reasonable service. +++
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Shirley offered this observation:
Article Four
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No one shall be held in
slavery or servitude;
slavery and the slave trade
shall be prohibited
in all their forms.
When you think of Jesus—in scripture, tradition, reason, and spiritual experience:
--How is Jesus' affirmation of servanthood different from the “servitude”
condemned by Article 4?
--What basis do we have for thinking that Jesus abhors slavery?
--What would cause us to think Jesus objects to commercial trafficking in
human beings?
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James added:
One of the most important messages of Christ is who Christ is and what that means for
our identity. Jesus declares himself to be the Son of God in scripture. John assures us
that through Christ, we have been made children of God as well (1 John 3). This, to me,
is Christianity’s seminal claim against slavery. Slavery is the reduction of a person to
something that exists entirely for the benefit of another person. If we have all been made
children of God, then that identity bestows a fundamental dignity on us. As God has
claimed us as children, we exist to serve God and not the whims of other people.

It is in this spirit that Paul can command us “through love [to]become slaves to one
another” (NRSV, Gal 5:13b) This does not indicate that we should exist merely to fulfill
the whimsical desires of other people but rather that, as every person is a child of God,
we must me mindful of their needs.

Paul sees this servitude as liberating. Because of our identity as Children of God, we are
freed from the wills of other people and free to serve each other in love. For this reason,
we must distinguish between the slavery described in the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the slavery described in Galatians. While the Declaration describes a slavery
that destroys the identity of a person, the slavery in Galatians is an extension of the
powerful claim that a person is a child of God.

Furthermore, the church carries a long tradition of supporting people in liberation from
identities of dependency on others into identities as God’s children. The theologian James
Cone writes about Christ’s continuing work struggling with and through oppressed
people, particularly black people. Cone notes that Jesus was a Jew, a marginalized person
in occupied Palestine. Jesus’ identity as an oppressed person allows Jesus to struggle
with the oppressed today in bringing liberation. Jesus' identity as one who struggles
against oppression and our identity as Children of God require us to decry and abolish
slavery. +++
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Annie said:
"And if your brother becomes poor beside you, and sells himself to you, you shall not
make him serve as a slave: he shall be with you as a hired servant and as a sojourner. He
shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee” (Lev 25:39-40 RSV).  Lev 19:13 also
calls for just wages. The general sentiment is anti-slavery because all are in God’s
image.  When Jesus calls for servanthood, it is a choice made, not imposed due to a
broken society and the needs and affluence of someone else.  The servitude we are called
to frees us. +++
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Salai observered:
Indeed, altruistic service is at the heart of Christian ministry. Jesus said, “The Son of
Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many
people” (Matthew 20:28). Nevertheless, it never means slavery. As a matter of fact,
Jesus implicitly rejected slavery by saying that the Lord’s Spirit has come to me to tell
the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to
give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers, and to say, ‘This is the year the
Lord has chosen’ (Luke 4:18-19).

Also, Passover reminds us always that God [Christ] never approves slavery. The LORD
said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have given
heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings
(Exodus 3:7). In fact, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). We should, hence,
treat one another with respect, dignity, and recognition because we are surely brothers
and sisters in humanity. Theravada Buddhists also stress liberation from all forms of
human oppressions, social, economic, political, racial, sexual, religious, and
environmental.

Jesus must oppose modern human trafficking, for He would lay emphasis on the value
and sanctity of life. Last but not least, Jesus opposes human trafficking, for He bought
human life at the cost of His own life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:
16). +++
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Josiah shared these thoughts:
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. [Jesus] unrolled the scroll and
found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has
anointed me, to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to
the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are
oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and
gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were
fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in
your hearing” (Luke 4:17-21: ESV).

To say that slavery will be abolished, whether through prophecy, legislation, or a
Universal Declaration, is very different from the abolition of slavery itself, and the latter
of those two is, furthermore, not necessarily the same thing as setting those enslaved
free. To paraphrase a metaphor Malcolm X often favored using to describe the fallacious
claims of racial progress in America: “if someone plunges a knife nine inches into my
back then it’s not really progress if he pulls it out three inches. Even if he pulls it out all
the way then I’m still bleeding and he is still the one who stabbed me.”

Thus, it is incredibly significant that Jesus proclaims not only the abolition of slavery, but
also the healing of the conditions/consequences of oppression and the newfound favor of
the formerly oppressed in God. Jesus not only takes out the knife, he heals the wound as
well and provides a new life for the victim. Whereas Mary Magdalene is the perfect
example of the social victim turned wounded healer, the apostle Paul is the perfect
example of the oppressor made new, reformed, and set free from the slavery of
oppression. The new community instantiated by Jesus’ life-model makes slavery
obsolete, liberates slaves and slaveholders from their captivity, and then teaches them to
liberate others in the same fashion.  +++
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Sam said:
The servanthood of Jesus is something that someone does voluntarily, in response and
gratitude for what God has done for them. There is nothing coercive about the
servanthood displayed by Jesus Christ. In Philippians 2:5-8, we see that Jesus voluntarily
emptied himself and took the form of a servant, and humbled himself.

Jesus was not forced into the role of a servant. Article 4 however, speaks of people
being forced in service against their will; an act that is the antithesis to what we see in
Jesus.  

One does not have to read too far in the Bible to reach Exodus, the story of God
miraculously delivering His chosen people from the bondage of slavery.  In addition, the
Psalmist tells us that “When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh”—a phrase
that today could certainly include human trafficking—the Lord will cause these evil men
to stumble and fall. +++
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Sean offered these comments:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words that
I am commanding you today in your heart…take care that you do not forget the Lord,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deut. 6:4-6,12)

While not having a prohibition of all slavery in their history, the witness of scripture
marks the Exodus as a central event in the Judeo/Christian faith history. Receiving a new
beginning, faithfulness to the liberating work of YHWH points one toward the memory of
the hardships of slavery and the divine opposition to that situation. Faithfulness to that
history should call one to participate in that liberating character.
+++
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