Slavery in America is the sin that won’t die.
It just will. not. die.
It won’t die because we won’t let it die.
Now, before your righteous indignation gets triggered, by “die” I do not mean ignore slavery as a historical reality.
The reason slavery in America is history is that slavery in America was once a reality.
But that isn’t the case any longer.
No one in America today, regardless of his or her ethnicity, can be deemed a ‘slave’ in the same sense as the Africans who were brought to these shores against their will beginning the early 1600s.
So, again, yes, slavery was once a reality in America for more than 200 years.
But it isn’t anymore.
So, why can’t we accept that reality for the history it was? Why is slavery the one sin of which some Christians can’t or, perhaps better, won’t, let go? Why is American slavery deserving of such special treatment as to be set aside as the one sin for which the blood of Christ somehow did not atone?
I say ‘American’ slavery because many who insist on resurrecting the sin of slavery in this nation seem to conveniently forget, or ignore, that it wasn’t white Americans who first enslaved black Africans but black Africans who first enslaved black Africans.
For centuries prior to the Atlantic slave trade, slavery was practiced by indigenous peoples in Africa. Slavery was intrinsic to the African kinship structure. There was chattel slavery, domestic slavery, debt slavery (called ‘pawnship’ from which the contemporary idea of ‘pawn shops’ is derived). There was military slavery, as well as sacrificial slavery in which slaves were offered as human sacrifices during tribal religious rituals.
These are historical facts.
And I haven’t even mentioned the Arab slave trade which, at its peak, shipped upwards of 10,000 Africans per day along the Red Sea to countries in the Middle East.
That said, the intent of this post is not to offer an exhaustive treatise on the genesis of slavery, either in Africa or America, but to highlight the hypocrisy of Christians who would treat slavery in America as if it were some kind of unique phenomenon or experience.
Black Africans were selling and trading their own people for hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years before the first African slave landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. And yet, many Christians, particularly black Christians, act as if this history never happened; that the only slavery that ever existed what the enslavement of black people in America by white people.
There are several questions I have for those who might hold to that line of thinking, and they are these: What is your purpose or objective in continuing to resurrect the history of slavery in America? What is it you want and from whom do you want it? Do you want reparations? Is that it? If yes, from whom do you seek it – from the ancestors of those who owned slaves or from the government who allowed such an institution to persist for so long? In either case, how much reparations would be enough? What, if anything, will satiate your indignation over the reality that slavery occurred in America so that you will be content to once and for all put it to rest (if that’s even possible)? In other words, what atonement will suffice for you to place the sin of slavery at the foot of the cross of Christ with all the other sins for which His sacrificial death atoned?
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that He might bring us to God.” – 1 Peter 3:18a
The ‘unrighteous’ for whom Christ died includes the repentant slaveholder.
As such, you have no right to continue to resurrect the sins of anyone whose sins were paid for by Christ on the cross.
Tell me, which of your innumerable sins would you like for God to resurrect and prosecute you?
Name one. Just one.
Slavery is history, yes, but it is not unique to white people. Black people were enslaving each other long before a white person ever stepped foot on the continent of Africa. So, stop with the selective hypocrisy and leave the sins of slavery to a sovereign and righteous God who will one day not only judge those who participated in and profited from it but who, in His sovereignty, allowed slavery to exist in the first place.
“God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man, for a time for every matter and for every deed is there.” – Ecclesiastes 3:17