“For just as the human body is one and yet has many parts, and all its parts, many as they are, constitute but one body, so it is with the Church of Christ. 13 For, in fact, in one Spirit all of us–whether we are Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free men–were baptized to form but one body; and we were all nourished by that one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
As a young Christian in college, I was frustrated one semester as I attempted to research the Biblical stance on slavery. I had no training in Bible research and was clueless about how to proceed. My results were unsatisfactory to me and left many questions unanswered… How could a just God permit such inhumane treatment of a race of people? It was not until years later that I learned about some key differences in slavery in Old Testament Israel vs. slavery in the Roman Empire vs. the “peculiar institution” of slavery in the Americas. The American version of slavery was particularly cruel and evil. It afforded no protection for the dignity or rights of the enslaved. It denied basic human rights and offered no hope of redemption or jubilee from inhumane treatment.
True freedom may be found in a vital relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God who laid down His life to redeem mankind from eternal damnation. We may receive forgiveness of all sins, peace with God, grace and power for a victorious life through our relationship with God as we allow Jesus of Nazareth to be our Master, Saviour and Lord. As we yield to the will of God and choose to serve Him and not our own naturally selfish desires, we become free from the power of the Evil One who seeks to work through men and women submitted to him. The Enemy of our souls seeks to steal, kill and destroy… He will do this through slavery if that option is available to him.
Slavery still exists today, albeit in a different form. It is in force in child slavery in various countries, forced sex workers in many cities and nations, and the abuses of immigrant workforces in many areas throughout the world.
Today, January 1, 2013, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States of America. This proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln extended freedom to many, but not all enslaved men, women and children in the certain states of the USA. Let us remember the past, not to enslave descendants of oppressors with guilt and shame, but to avoid repeating similar offences agains our fellow human beings.
Please see the proclamation from President Barack Obama below:(Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/31/presidential-proclamation-150th-anniversary-emancipation-proclamation)
150TH ANNIVERSARY OF
THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On December 31, 1862, our Nation marked the end of another year of civil war. At Shiloh and Seven Pines, Harpers Ferry and Antietam, brother had fought against brother. Sister had fought against sister. Blood and bitterness had deepened the divide that separated North from South, eroding the bonds of affection that once united 34 States under a single flag. Slavery still suspended the possibility of an America where life and liberty were the birthright of all, not the province of some.
Yet, even in those dark days, light persisted. Hope endured. As the weariness of an old year gave way to the promise of a new one, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — courageously declaring that on January 1, 1863, “all persons held as slaves” in rebellious areas “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” He opened the Union Army and Navy to African Americans, giving new strength to liberty’s cause. And with that document, President Lincoln lent new moral force to the war by making it a fight not just to preserve, but also to empower. He sought to reunite our people not only in government, but also in freedom that knew no bounds of color or creed. Every battle became a battle for liberty itself. Every struggle became a struggle for equality.
Our 16th President also understood that while each of us is entitled to our individual rights and responsibilities, there are certain things we cannot accomplish on our own. Only a Union could serve the hopes of every citizen, knocking down the barriers to opportunity and giving each of us the chance to pursue our highest aspirations. He knew that in these United States, no dream could ever be beyond our reach when we affirm that individual liberty is served, not negated, by seeking the common good.
It is that spirit that made emancipation possible and codified it in our Constitution. It is that belief in what we can do together that moved millions to march for justice in the years that followed. And today, it is a legacy we choose not only to remember, but also to make our own. Let us begin this new year by renewing our bonds to one another and reinvesting in the work that lies ahead, confident that we can keep driving freedom’s progress in our time.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 1, 2013, as the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation and reaffirm the timeless principles it upheld.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.