The Form of Slavery That Impacts Us All
In our previous blog post, we looked at modern forms of slavery in our world. But there is a more subtle form of slavery—a form that affects us all.
Slavery is an evil that tragically still exists in our world today.
But the Bible describes another form of slavery. This kind of slavery is even more widespread than the types we discussed in our last blog post. The apostle Paul wrote about this kind of slavery: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
According to this verse, sin is a form of slavery. When we sin, we willingly choose to enslave ourselves to sin. When we choose righteousness, we willingly choose to be enslaved to God. (However, we’ll see later that the Bible shows being obedient to God is true liberty and freedom.)
The apostle Paul shows there are two ways of life: one way leads to death and the other to life. But sin is a unique form of slavery because it’s an enslavement we choose for ourselves. When we allow ourselves to become a slave to sin, we allow our sinful desires to control us.
When we allow ourselves to become a slave to sin, we allow our sinful desires to control us.When Cain envied his brother Abel, God warned him that “sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:7). Instead of gaining control over sin, Cain allowed himself to become enslaved to his envy and hatred. He chose to kill his brother, which further enslaved him to a life of even greater suffering and estrangement from God and his family (Genesis 4:8-13; Isaiah 59:2).
Sin is defined as breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4; James 2:10-11). Living a life of sin leads to death. Seeking God’s forgiveness and striving to live a life of obedience to God’s law leads to eternal life (Romans 6:23).
In fact, many of the things we consider freedoms in our culture are actually enslaving us because they are based on sin. The breaking of God’s law causes suffering and eventually death and does not lead to an abundant and happy life.
“Freedoms” that enslave
Consider the following examples of so-called freedoms that are enslaving Western nations:
Freedom of sexual expression. In the Western world, unrestrained sexuality is often described as sexual freedom. This faulty idea of freedom has blinded our society from discerning the difference between morality and immorality. God warns that sexual immorality ultimately leads to a lack of fulfillment and population stagnation (Hosea 4:10). A recent study shows that the casual sex culture is having a detrimental effect on mental health. Even men have said that casual sex “damaged their soul” and made them feel empty. Some reported that “promiscuity could feel almost dangerously addictive, interfering with important functional activities such as employment and education.” Other enslaving consequences include the rise in STDs among youth between the ages of 15 and 24, accounting for half of all STD infections in the United States each year.
In addition, sex outside of marriage has led to a rise of fatherless households. Nearly half of all births among U.S. Millennials are outside of marriage. A 2019 study found that the U.S. leads the world in single-parent households, with almost a quarter of children living with only one parent. This results in many negative conseqences, including a higher likelihood of living in poverty, doing poorly in school, getting involved in criminal activity and substance abuse, and becoming pregnant as teens.
On the other hand, other studies show that those who pursue an education, find work, marry and then have children (in that order) have more successful lives and more freedom to live life as they choose. This is one reason the apostle Paul admonishes us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Not only does it please God, but in the long run it leads to more happiness and freedom.
To learn more, read our article “Adulting Milestones: The Success Sequence.”
Abortion. Many consider abortion to be a freedom for women to choose what happens to their body. A 2004 study by the Guttmacher Institute found that the most frequently cited reason for having an abortion—given by 74 percent of the women—was that a child would interfere with their education, work or ability to care for dependents. Some women develop psychological conditions within days or (sometimes) years after an abortion. Symptoms include eating disorders, relationship problems, guilt, depression, flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, sexual dysfunction, alcoholism and drug abuse.
The Bible commands us not to murder (Exodus 20:13).
To take a closer look at the biblical perspective on this controversial topic, read “Is Abortion Wrong?”
Freedom of speech. A cherished freedom in the West is the freedom of speech. Yet this freedom to unleash the tongue can also cause its share of broken relationships and suffering. The Bible shows that our words can be like a sharp sword or arrows—in other words, hurtful to others (Psalm 64:3). The apostle Paul wrote that even though we have the freedom to say something, we shouldn’t always exercise it (1 Corinthians 10:23). If our freedom of speech is not used to speak truth or build others up, it can do more harm than good.
The Bible shows that exercising destructive freedoms can result in “passing pleasures” (Hebrews 11:25) that have harmful long-term consequences. In the long run, all sin robs us of true freedom. To learn more, read "Does God Grant Freedom of Speech?"
The perfect law of liberty
When our so-called freedoms are outside of God’s law, they actually enslave us. Billions of people around the world are enslaved to various forms of sin, leading to the chaotic and dangerous world we live in.
True freedom is only achieved when everyone obeys God’s laws. Though it may seem counterintuitive to the human mind, real freedom comes through laws, or restrictions, on human conduct. This is a truth of God’s Word. God’s laws bring true freedom because they liberate us from all the suffering and complications that come from sin.
If we want to be truly free, we have to begin obeying God’s “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25).
Read part 1 here: "Modern Slavery: It's More Widespread Than You Think."