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“Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians? ” -From a critic of Christianity
A politically correct answer…
Slavery in ancient times was a form of social welfare. It’s importance came to the fore in times of famine or war when the alternatives were often death.
It also differed greatly from our modern perception which usually has the evils of the black-slave trade in mind. Because slavery was implemented by humans who are often evil, the way in which slavery was enforced may have also been evil. But this was not always the case. Slaves could be treated as family, given inheritance benefits, and receive many other benefits.
A Biblically correct answer…
Slavery is not considered evil by God. Rather it is central to the Christian faith and is one of the ways we relate to God – He is Lord and Master and we are His servants. Slavery, like marriage, was intended to show mankind what a relationship with God is like.
The reason a distinction was made between Israel and other countries with regard to slavery was because Israel was already a slave… to God.
They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt. -Leviticus 25:42
A person could not be a slave of two masters. Hence Israelites were forbidden to enslave their kinsman because they were already slaves. However other countries had not been redeemed by God and so were not already slaves and so could be enslaved by Israel.