I am not a slave.
It might seem like a simple phrase, but its power is not lost on me. My ability to say that I am not a slave came through years of hard-fought battles, most of which we lost. There were people that died so that I could have a college education, vote, or just drink from the same water fountain. But there is a kind of slavery that runs through our society much more deeply, and I think you know what it is. Religion. In honor of MLK day that recently passed, I think that a quote of his from his iconic I Have a Dream speech is particularly relevant:
It [Emancipation Proclamation] came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free.
MLK knew what he was saying here. He knew that he was making the point that blacks, though nominally free, were oppressed in the mind, and this is the only way that has ever mattered. The elephant can be free of the tether and still continue to walk around the pole.
If your next question is, “Did he just compare slavery to religion?”, you probably need to leave this conversation, and take a Bible with you. The Bible is a straight-up, full-on endorsement of slavery. In the words of one of my favorite Youtubers, Atheism-is-Unstoppable, “Slavery is about as obvious a moral issue as you’re gonna get, about as cut-and-dry, this is obvious, it’s wrong, why are we even talking about this, holy shit. So it’s not slanderous for us to mention that your Bible endorses and condones it.”
If you are a Christian reading this, just know that you are a slave. That might offend you, but keep in mind that it’s not me making that claim. It’s you. And you’re claiming it’s a good thing, too.
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.” (1 Pet 2:14)
“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” (1 Cor 7:23) Translation: Don’t be men’s slaves, cuz I already bought you. That’s MY property.
It’s like you and God are collaborating on a cringe-worthy Kanye –T-Swift moment, derailing The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade’s Best in Class award for inflicting human misery: “Yo, TAST, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but I am one of the best slavedrivers of all time! Of all time! Two days out of every week, people gather together to thank me for being my slaves!” Or as our old pal Hitchens would say, “Who wants this to be true? Who but a slave desires such a ghastly fate?”
I’ve grown up in the Adventist church and I’ve heard the hymns that we sing every Sabbath. I’m well aware of how average people understand their faith. You can tell exactly how average people understand their faith by how they sing hymns of how we have been “redeemed”. You know, like a coupon. Average people sing songs of how Jesus has bought or purchased us. They say that they will surrender all to Him and that they may never know just how much it cost to see their sin upon that cross. This idea of slavery saturates Christian doctrine and daily life. There is this constant, explicit language of costs and transactions taking place, this idea that I have value because I have been purchased by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I cannot be bought. I cannot be purchased. I am not for sale.
Any Christian who says that this is not true is either lying or deceived. I see a Christian’s only recourse to counter this argument, and the argument most likely to be put forth, is that ours is a gentle master, which for me harkens back to Malcolm X’s brilliant discussion of “The House Negro and the Field Negro.” A major reason that I can see that this motif of slavery is accepted is because it is seen as being better than slavery to sin. This becomes more difficult if you can firmly prove that God is not good, which has never been a difficult task.
And here’s the crux of the matter: I am not for sale. I cannot be purchased. I reject the barbaric practice of human sacrifice, as exemplified by Jesus on the cross. I reject the notion that someone can pay for my life and my worship by bleeding their own divine blood. I reject a sacrifice for an imaginary offense that was made long before January 11, 1991, that I supposedly needed after that date that I came into this world. A sacrifice that I was not asked my opinion on, and one I surely did not ask for. DarkMatter2525, a titan of Youtube atheism, tackles this in his video on time travel. Ask yourself: As a Christian, if you could, would you save Jesus from the cross? No, because your salvation depends upon Him dying there. What a cost indeed. Excuse me while I reject God’s oh-so-generous offer to be His slave.
And though it may be true that I will end up dying a slave to something, it will also be true that I spent my life combatting that pernicious possibility, and that I did not die praising the one who ushers it in. The pursuit of freedom makes all the difference in the world, because destinations are not nearly as important as the journeys that lead us there.
Feel free to comment, like, share, and follow below! And be my Patrons! If you liked this post and you are in support of freedom, go on and use the #NotForSale hashtag to voice your freedom.