Slavery, submission, and sonship
When the 13 colonies declared their independence from Great Britain they cited in their reasoning the “separate and equal station” they had before God and the proper role of government as one instituted by “the consent of the governed” to secure their rights, rejecting the king’s “abuses and usurpations” as despotism.
When in the following century abolitionists fought to eradicate slavery in the United States as well as in Great Britain, it was the injustice of men “created equal” being bought and sold like chattel that galvanized and impelled them.
And when the abolitionists of today spend their lives battling human trafficking around the globe, their efforts are likewise fueled by a transcendent recognition of the equal value of all people.
But is slavery or despotism always unjust?
In my previous post I shared a revealing testimony from Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, where he in effect sums up his argument against God by declaring his personal independence from him. He identifies as an atheist but his remarks clearly indicate that his objection is not so much to God’s existence as to his authority. Repeatedly expressing his disdain for the notion of having a “lord” and referencing the American revolutionaries in turning their government “upside-down” by assuming self-government, Barker showed his cards as one who is “proudly rebellious” in rejecting God’s sovereignty. The postures of prayer and worship are “identical to slavery”, he said, and even if Christianity is true he would still reject submitting to God “because I’m better than that.”
Submitting to God may be a humbling experience but it doesn’t follow that such submission is unwise or irrational. In fact, it may be the smartest move one ever makes. Speaking of fact, consider the following:
- The creator is greater than his creation.
- If God is our creator, then he is immeasurably greater than us.
- The only proper attitude of a created being towards the creator is a humble recognition of his or her subordinate position.
- Such an attitude is accurately identified as “right” and rebellion against the creator as “wrong.”
- If God is perfect in goodness and righteousness, he must require and expect right attitudes and behaviors from his creation.
- God does not force anyone to submit, but his holiness and justice demand that he punish rebellion.
- As God has given us freedom to reject his authority in this life, he has allowed us to choose to be separated from him for all eternity.
- But because he loves us, he warns us that this separation will not be the reward we may suppose for our rebellion but the punishment.
Our position as subordinate to the one to whom we owe our very being is a brute fact, and no amount of struggle or defiance can change that. Nor is there anywhere we can go to evade his dominion. God is our Master…our Lord…whether or not we like it and whether or not we willingly submit. And though he allows us to thumb our noses at him and declare ourselves independent, we can never be truly free of his control. That’s just the way it is and there’s no escaping it.
But though escaping unjust enslavement is always good and right (and there is just enslavement in human relations also – read the 13th amendment), when we truly know the God who is our Lord we do not want to escape. Because when we put our faith and trust in him, he is more than our Master, he is our Father. He is a loving, merciful, compassionate Despot Dad who treats and blesses us as children, though we are rightfully his slaves.
Being willing slaves to God does not subject us to the injustice and cruelty we commonly associate with slavery. In fact, it accords us a freedom we cannot obtain apart from faith in him; that being from sin, which is what all of us are or were enslaved to. But “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” ~ John 8:36
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. ~ Romans 6:22