The Bible and human trafficking – part 1

Are there any Bible verses about human trafficking? What does the Bible say about human trafficking?

This post is the first in an ongoing series reflecting on the way the Bible can help shape the Church’s thinking and practice concerning trafficking so that together, and in God’s strength, we can seek to tackle this terrible phenomenon as part of our participation in God’s mission.

The first point I want to make is that exploitation is nothing new, though each generation finds its own unique ways of oppression the weak and vulnerable. Consider Psalm 10:

10 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
    Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
    let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
    and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
    your judgements are on high, out of his sight;
    as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
    throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
     under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
    in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
    he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
    he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
    and fall by his might.
11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
    he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Verses 8-9 are particularly striking, reflecting as they do the experience of so many caught up in slavery.

But what biblical texts do you think are important for building up a biblical theology of human trafficking?

(PS. If you’d like to think through these and wider issues why not check out jusTice, Redcliffe’s new justice, advocacy and reconciliation initiative. jusTice feeds into Redcliffe’s BA(Hons) Degree in Applied Theology in Intercultural Contexts, as well as a forthcoming MA in Justice, Advocacy & Reconciliation in Intercultural Contexts (currently in the process of validation through the University of Gloucestershire).)

Human trafficking and mission

A practical question for those engaging in Bible and Mission: How do we relate verses like the following with the MTV Exit video below? Check out Stop the Traffik as well.

Deuteronomy 10:17-18
For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. (ESV)

Psalm 68:5-6
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
   is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
   he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
   but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (ESV)

Job 31:16-23
“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,
   or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,
or have eaten my morsel alone,
   and the fatherless has not eaten of it
(for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father,
   and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow,
if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,
   or the needy without covering,
if his body has not blessed me,
   and if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep,
if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
   because I saw my help in the gate,
then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,
   and let my arm be broken from its socket.
For I was in terror of calamity from God,
   and I could not have faced his majesty. (ESV)

(If you are having trouble viewing the embedded video, click here to see the video)