Slaves No More
Sadness, bitterness, jealousy, – any kind of emotional response to events – can be passed on through DNA. Some people find the strength to make a success of their lives, regardless of the liabilities they were born with. We all have negativity passed on through our DNA, for our ancestors did not live perfect lives. Sometimes, they were the perpetrators of atrocities. Sometimes, atrocities happened to them. Sometimes, life dealt them deep blows, not atrocities, but cause for grief, nonetheless.
My father lost his mother in childbirth when he was seven years old. He did not get past his grief and bitterness until he was on his deathbed, at which time I believe he sincerely repented of his sins and received Jesus as his Saviour. Until then, he was emotionally stunted, basically having no more maturity than a seven-year-old, blaming God for his mother's death and living a life of rebellion towards Him.
My first grandchild was born after my father's death. Connor was only a few months old when I held him in my arms and watched a movie about an Irish family who lost their mother through childbirth. While the family stood by the mother's grave, I found myself weeping, as I identified with their pain. My grandmother was half Irish and had seven children, one of them a twin who died with her.
I could feel my father's sorrow in my DNA. I loosed it from my soul that day, giving the grief to Jesus, and I feel certain that it was cut off from my children through that act of faith.
I watched a movie called "A Father For Charlie," that depicted the persecution of blacks in the deep South of the United States during the Depression era. (Watch out of the suggestion that promotes euthanasia; death doesn't end suffering for humans, if a person has rejected Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.) I thought of the grief that black Americans carry inside of them due to prejudice and the tyranny their ancestors suffered. Hispanic and Asian Americans, too, have deep hurts due to not being treated with dignity. And white Americans, whose ancestors used to own slaves, carry their burden of ignominy. My grandparents were born in the USA, and their ancestors used to own slaves. I never felt any pride about that, but I have a relative who mentioned it to me, with a note of pride in their voice that their family used to be wealthy enough to own a few slaves.
On the other side of the issue, I am sure that I have ancestors who were slaves. It has been a widespread practice since before the Flood and afterwards. We are all the descendants of slaves and slave owners.
God never intended for people to own people. He gave laws in the Old Testament in regards to slaves because of the depravity of the times. He knew that it was going to take a long time for people to learn that slave owning is wrong, so He ordained some laws to give a degree of protection to slaves, until He could wean people away from thinking that it was okay to own a human being like they were chattel.
God made us all in His image, and He likes variety, so He made us with a diversity of shapes in our features and the colouring of our hair and eyes and shades of skin. As far as skin is concerned, we are all the same colour – brown, varying in shade from very light to very dark. Every one of us is an expression of God's loving creativity.
His intention was for ALL of us to rule over nature, not each other. To work as a team to steward the Earth's resources, some with more authority in order to coordinate our efforts, and some with more reward for greater input of effort, ingenuity, and responsibility. If the Fall had not occurred in the Garden of Eden, every one of us would have been magnificent and everybody would have ample reward for their efforts, ingenuity, and degrees of responsibility.
But the Fall happened and the world has been a mess ever since. Jesus came to redeem us from the slavery of sin, as well as from the penalties for our sins. Good stuff started to happen in greater measure when the Good News of redemption was offered to the Gentiles and received by some of them. Paul the Apostle was accused by sinners of turning the world upside down, but he was actually turning it right side up. He had the proper view of how things should be.
The Gospel not only challenged the practice of making idols and worshipping them, but Paul also took God's campaign against slavery several steps further. He gave Christian slaves instructions on how to avoid trouble by rendering good service to their masters and not harbouring bitterness towards them. He urged Christian slave owners to treat their slaves with dignity and fairness and compassion. Paul pointed out that some of those slaves were their brothers and sisters in Christ, possibly more spiritually mature than their masters, more gifted, more anointed, and having more authority in the spiritual realm, which they should recognize, appreciate, and honour.
He also urged slaves that, if they could be made free, to take advantage of that opportunity. In the Old Testament, some slaves loved their masters so much that they chose to remain slaves. They were gifted with a gold earring to signify their loyalty and devotion, and treated with great honour accordingly. That situation was an allegory for devotion to God, but it had served its purpose and Paul pointed the direction towards the fundamental right of human beings to never be owned by other human beings.
Christians eventually gained respect and positions of influence. They promoted education for the common man. They built hospitals, orphanages, schools, colleges, universities. They helped people get free of addictions and degrading lifestyles. Their preaching brought conviction on some who contributed to drug and alcohol addiction and sex slavery, and leave off their vile activities. They participated in making laws against slavery, prostitution, child labour in factories and mines, and pedophilia.
One of my heroines is Katherine Bushnell, a feisty 19th century Christian doctor who campaigned against the British Empire practice of enslaving women in the countries that it conquered, forcing them into brothels to serve their soldiers overseas. Admirable Christian values influenced people who were not Christians to fight against injustice and alleviate poverty.
Slavery has been perpetrated against both whites and blacks. Thousands of Irish were sold as slaves. This was done to counteract Vatican plots to rule the world, and Ireland was one of its strongholds, as well as a thorn in the side to the ambitions of the English crown. James VI got the ball rolling in 1625 by selling 30,000 Irish political prisoners to land owners in the colonies and it snowballed, so that Irish women and children were soon sold into bondage, as well. The prices for white slaves were lower than black slaves and their treatment much worse.
Irish Catholics had a history of committing atrocities against Protestants. I had ancestors on both sides of that issue. My father was Catholic and my mother's family were Protestants, some of them Huguenots who had to flee for their lives from France due to Catholic persecution.
I certainly do not defend prejudice against the Irish in America, selling them as slaves, refusing to give Irish immigrants jobs, but I understand the fear that drove it. It will never be a good thing for Roman Catholicism to rule the world. A better solution would have been to teach all the Irish to read, using the Bible as a textbook, so that they could make a more informed decision about whether their church's doctrine is Biblically correct or not, instead of relying on their priests to teach them right from wrong.
It is a fact that we all have a big jumble of guilt, shame, bitterness, and grief in our DNA because of our ancestors. Black Americans have ancestors who were slaves, and they have ancestors who were killers and slave owners in Africa, who warred on other tribes, took slaves, abused slaves, sold them to other African tribes, to Arabs, and to white men. As a species, regardless of our shade of skin, we’re a spiritually impoverished and wicked race, and Jesus Christ is our only hope of becoming what God intended us to be when He made mankind.
I propose that we not only repent of the sins of our ancestors, but that we also forgive them, all the way back to Adam and Eve who sunk us into this quagmire of greed, pride, wars and murders, rapes and degradations, thefts and wanton destruction. What they did is no more of an excuse for our failures than our immediate parents are an excuse for our failure to take hold of God's strength and become what He intended us to be.
He says in His Word that His plans for us are good, not evil, to give us hope and a future. With His strength, which begins with repentance for our sins, we can be every bit as noble as a son or daughter of the King of kings ought to be, regardless of any deficits that we started out with in life, or whatever trials and tribulations we pass through.
For my part, I ask forgiveness for wrongs done by me and my ancestors towards other human beings that have in any way adversely affected my generation. I repent for my ancestors of owning slaves, of their killings and tortures and rapes and thefts. I repent on behalf of my victimized ancestors for spiteful acts of revenge that just made everything worse, sometimes perpetrated on innocent parties to vent their rage. I repent of the whole sorry mess that Adam and Eve made and got passed down generation after generation. I also rejoice that, through Jesus Christ, my sins are forgiven, and by His power, I have the potential to become all that He intended for me.
We all have been part of the problems in this world. Regardless of our tribes, clans, birth places, citizenship, skin shade, status in society, degree of intelligence, degree of education, and economic advantages or disadvantages, we are not entitled to oppress others. Let us all just admit our guilt before God, turn from our wicked ways, receive His forgiveness, take hold of His strength, and be the beautiful crown of Creation that He designed us to be. If we made a mess, clean it up. If we stole something, return it. Let's make amends, however we can, in regards to anything we’ve done directly to wrong another. Let's live up to God's design for human beings and not be sucked any longer into satan's plans to degrade and destroy us.
Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against you.