Friday, July 17, 2009

modern slavery and human abuse.

1 Tim. 6:1-2 (ESV)
Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. [2] Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
Teach and urge these things.

It is the scandal of the day. The Bible does not condemn slavery. It is almost ambivalent towards it, and borders on condoning of it. The Bible is, however, against the abuse of other people, slaves included. It was that when slavery and abuse of slaves were synonymous that Christian’s began to campaign against slavery, and rightfully so. It has not stopped the abuse of other humans though. Nor has the outlawing of slavery, really ended the problem of slavery. To this day slavery exists in many guises. There is the outright and despicable trade in sex slaves today, fostering the ubiquitously rampant prostitution across the country. Today’s world celebrates this despicable occupation, the trading in sex slaves. It is down right disgusting to hear high school girls and boys reciting lyrics that praise pimps. The hip hop culture raves about pimping. And there is a sad irony there. They are rejoicing over the modern slave trade.
There is also the more subtle. The problem of sweat shops from which most of us buy our clothing. There is also the problem of illegal immigration. This is a paradox that needs to be addressed by a free society. How is it that it is illegal for a person to work at a perfectly respectable job? These people are given the status of illegal, and the employers are not above exploiting that, paying them less than livable wages, and threatening them with deportation should they object to long hours, or dangerous work. Many of the women are coerced into the sex trade with the same fear. We say we don’t want them here, yet we buy the strawberries they pick and would put the strawberry farmers out of business if they had to hire legal citizens. There has to be a better way.
But we can learn here too. We can learn that as Christians, in what ever vocation we have we wear the name of Christ, and have opportunity to serve him, even as we serve our neighbors, our employers, our jail wardens, or our employees, legal or illegal.


Steve Martin said...

There is one way you can be sure that you never support an unscrupulous employer that is taking advantage of his workers...never buy anything.

Make everything yourself, or buy only from people you know.

Makes it a bit tough. But it can be done.

You'll have to pay a bit more, but nobody said it would be easy.

And those people that are working in the sweatshops for not much of a living...well, they might not have any at all. That's life.

Bror Erickson said...

Luther once said something about merchants being thieves and not enough gallows for them all.

Steve Martin said...

Just goes to show you that the man was an excellent theologian, and a so-so economist.

Brigitte said...

What I also see as harmful, are the late store hours many young people are working in the service industry. How long does Walmart have to be open at night? Are we crazy? The kids do this voluntarily. However, many would be better off if this type of employment were not available.

For one, the hours of their life stop overlapping with those of their families. For two, when they want to get together with friends, this is turning out to be later and later, which is not good for them for many reasons we won't get into here but all know about. And thirdly, the paltry money they earn gets spent immediately in the stores they work in, on cell phone plans, beer, etc. on all kinds of things that are used to distance them from their families and increase peer attachment (peers that are up at ungodly hours). Many are not actually making enough money to save up for something important and they don't have much to show for the bizarre lifestyle they are falling into. Fourthly, they have the feeling they are working and making money, when in fact they are learning nothing and saving nothing and going nowhere. But it is a delusion they get comfortable with. They are not being nurtured in the right way by people who care about them. And they don't know what's wrong.

I'd be much happier if the store hours were reduced again. This is very stupid North American excess and poor youth development.

Bror Erickson said...

I don't think it was so much that he was a so so economist. I think he was expressing what you aptly surmised about supporting unscrupulous employers. I think he probably had a pretty good grasp on how the economy worked. He was supposed to be his dad's lawyer. His dad having worked himself to a comfortable middle class status from peasantry. But he also knew business deals. He knew how merchants operated. I think it is one of those things we can't really help but to do it. It's one of those things about how sin manifests itself in every aspect of our lives.

Steve Martin said...


True enough.

In that case there are not enough gallows for thew rest of us, either. Why just pick on the shopkeepers...without them we'd all be manufacturing our own goods.

I'd be in a lot of trouble (shoddy workmanship!)