WHAT ABOUT SLAVERY?

Unbelievers challenge Christians with ‘What about?’ questions. These are not requests for an answer, they are ‘Gotcha’ questions intended to stump Christians and silence us. What unbelievers don’t realise is that their ‘What about?’ questions give us an opportunity to explain something of Scripture and the faith. Today, with cultural vandals pulling down statues of slave profiteers, the question confronting Christians is ‘What about slavery?’

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The challenge basically runs: ‘The Bible does not condemn slavery therefore it accepts and condones slavery, the Bible got slavery wrong therefore the Bible is wrong.’ That this is not logical doesn’t deter unbelievers; because something is not condemned does not mean it is condoned. The challenge nevertheless has to be answered. If the Bible condones slavery then Christians have a problem.

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I Can’t Blame Them

The problems which have given rise to the riots in England are the consequence of decades of policies from the progressive establishment, that is the two major parties, the media and the intellectual elites.

A culture has been created which makes no value judgements, which absolutely rejects even the notion of moral absolutes, which has destroyed the notion of the family as a social structure to be defended and promoted, which has undermined the very concept of personal responsibility.

In the face of the signs of a disintegrating society we find Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, laying blame for the riots on “the cuts.” Never mind that the cuts have not yet come into effect, can anyone seriously believe that the children trashing shops in Enfield were doing so because their local library was under threat? Did the Birmingham thugs who deliberately drove a car at a group of men and killed three of them do so because their local swimming pool just might close?

Sleazy politicians will take any event and attempt to turn it to what they see as their own party political advantage.

Harman is merely the standard bearer for progressive apologists who see this as an opportunity to promote their own failed policies which have caused the crisis. In coming days we shall hear even more like Harman. To react to the present crisis by advocating more progressive policies is as responsible as saying to an alcoholic, “You know your problem, you haven’t had enough whisky.”

Christians, however, cannot blame politicians, academics or the media elites. We have our own progressives who have taken the reins of power in the church. No doubt they too will soon be excusing the rioters. Not condoning of course, but understanding “where they are coming from.” The blame will lie with society and of course, government policies.

The blame lies immediately with the perpetrators. There are millions of young people in Britain who did not riot over the last few days, who went to work, who contributed to family life, who cared about others. To blame poverty for the riots is to insult the people, like those of my parish, who face enormous problems and deal with them. what they don’t choose to do is to burn, destroy, steal and terrorise.

After the perpetrators it lies with a church which is squeamish about Christianity. The New Testament teaches us about personal responsibility, about earning and showing respect, about caring for the family, about upholding standards of morality, about naming wrong instead of excusing it. If the church doesn’t proclaim the standards we find in Scripture how can we expect others to uphold them?

Church leaders have been agonising over the plight of every victim group imaginable; they have shouldered each other aside to get on TV to pontificate on the wickedness of bankers, they have decreed environmental laxity a sin, they have wrung their hands over the correct labelling of goods from Israel, and all
the while our society and culture has been sinking into a quicksand of moral relativism.

The things they speak out against are, sometimes, worth speaking out about. But they are not vital, they are not the leading questions of the day, they are not important to the majority of the people of Britain. Perhaps to middle-class trend setters desiring to be cutting edge they are. Not to Jim and Jean who work as a labourer and a cleaner, who live in a tenement where they are concerned about their stair being used as a urinal and where they are afraid to let their children out to play. To Jim and Jean the plight of polar bears in the arctic is of secondary importance if that, they have real problems to face.

They want a church which speaks out for the old fashioned values they still hold. Parents staying together to care for their children. Children being encouraged to go to school and learn. Going out to work so that you don’t sponge of others. Trying to do what you know is right, even when the environment is against you.

Thankfully Jim and Jean and others like them don’t riot. Unfortunately neither do they attend a church which doesn’t prioritise them and their problems. They don’t believe in a God who apparently doesn’t care about them. I can’t blame them.