Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Who Owns the Slave?

*This is a satire. Don't take it too seriously, mkay?*

Just a quick note about "slave labor." The real question for those who would understand the nature of slavery is the question of ownership. Say there is a particular slave working in the fields, or at the factory, or in the house on Main Street. Who owns that slave's labor?

The assumption behind the free labor movement is that the worker owns his labor. The biblical understanding is that the one who owns the worker owns the labor (1 Tim. 6:2). This is not the same as saying that the slave owner is a great guy. No, the slave owners are frequently evil, and they abuse their position of ownership (Exod. 1:11).

Owner/slave disputes often fall into a false good guy/bad guy dichotomy, and it betrays a false understanding of the antithesis. In the Bible the owners are often the bad guys. But that does not mean they are not the owners of their slaves. Bad guys can own things. And the commandment does not say, "Thou shalt not steal, except from bad guys."

So there is absolutely nothing wrong with slaves deciding that conditions on the job are horrendous, and asking the owner to remedy the situation. And there is no problem with the slaves using whatever persuasive ability they have to make his case. Say they are asking for an increase in rations, or for safer working conditions. That is fully legitimate as well. What is not legitimate is for them to refuse to provide the owner with their labor as though they are the owners of it. To refuse to work until your demands are met is a claim of ownership, which in this case is a false claim.

This sin (and it is a sin) is in evidence when slaves abandon their duties entirely by running away. This deprives owners of both the slave's labor and the slave himself, and also negatively affects all the remaining slaves, who must shoulder the extra burden left by the runaway.

In other words, the proposal to emancipate slaves and pay them for their labor is nothing but extortion, and Christians should do everything in their power to have nothing to do with it.

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