of shackles and profits, part three
Religion is a sensitive subject, but then so is slavery. So as long as I’m already wading through the one, I might as well dive on into the other, right? Right.
Betrayal is the act of one trusted friend deliberately or at least knowingly exposing his friend to danger.
In the classic slavery case that danger is physical captivity and abuse. In the case of addiction, the danger is mental captivity and the physical consequences of drug use.
And then there is religion. Just as not all drug use amounts to slavery and not all servanthood amounts to slavery, not all religion leads to slavery. But all three can be convenient routes, if used as such. And all three are used as such.
Opinions will vary on which religions are the culprits, but at some point a mere man, a mortal, someone with no special power other than a personality, claims to be worthy of worship or even accepts worship offered. Unless the claim is true, which it usually is not, this is the betrayal. This is obviously found in cults, but also, even in mainstream religion betrayal is found when leaders teach legalism as opposed to love. Because that’s dangerous. Legalism destroys by permeating a person’s spirit with ideas like “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a bad person,” “I don’t deserve anything good.” To drive this point home, I’ll point out what goes hand in hand with these statements: “I’m worthless.” “I deserve the abuse I’m getting.” “I should deprive myself of happiness.” Here is the entrance to slavery. The person that sets themselves up as “righteous” or claims a position of moral judge and standard, or controls the victim through religion, is the “master.”
After initial betrayal is the forced submission. Jesus Himself railed against it in Matthew 23:
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
The subjugation of minorities, whether according to gender or skin tone, has always bothered me, and yes, I compare it to slavery. This is not my religion, nor my christianity, and goodness knows, I don’t believe it is God’s either.
Credit Stolen. Glory stolen. Grace abused. Every time a “pharisee” calls someone that he or she deems to be less righteous, “Godless,” the pharisee is ignoring the image of God in them (Gen. 1:27) and denying the eternity placed in Man’s heart. (Eccl. 3:11) Each time a person of religion claims himself to be more righteous than another, he claims a glory that is God’s alone and pushes his fellow “sinner” down below his feet in an arrogant effort to stand higher himself. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23. “No one is righteous, not one.” Rom. 3:10.
Keep them down. The bigots have Jim Crow and profiling, the drug dealers have the benefits of others’ addictions, and the self-proclaimed pious have the weight of guilt to pile on those who don’t know any better. If your spiritual leader is weighing you down with guilt and regret, I humbly suggest you find a new one.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Cor. 7:10
You were not created to be a slave to any man, including yourself. You can betray yourself in these ways as easily as someone else can. Don’t let anyone enslave you, and if you’re slipping into subjection, or you see someone slipping, recognize slavery to be the barbaric practice that it is, and seek or give help. Don’t give up. You’re better than that.
There is a modern slavery, perhaps the most obvious one, that I do not mention in this series because I’ve written about it before. Sex trafficking exists all around us. I know someone caught in its grip in Dallas, Tx, as I write, but she doesn’t recognize her own chains, so law enforcement can’t help her. Stockholm Syndrome is not a myth. Look it up.
Just as there are many forms of slavery, past and present, there are many ways to work against it.
Bemoaning the past is insufficient when people are still bearing the shackles.