BOOK | HUMAN TRAFFICKING, THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH | MARION L S CARSON
THIS book has two sections. The first explores what the Bible says about slavery and how that can inform a Christian response to modern-day trafficking of people. The second focuses on trafficking of people, mainly women and children, for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
Marion Carson notes that, while “no priest or minister is standing in the pulpit and giving biblical justifications for slavery”, throughout biblical literature slavery is accepted as the norm – nowhere is there a direct prohibition against it.
Reviewing slavery in the New Testament, Carson concludes that Jesus came to redeem the world and set the captives free. He taught that the values of God’s kingdom are the opposite of power, wealth and status. Thus Christians should stand against modern slavery and human trafficking.
Carson provides a fascinating history of the emergence of opposition to slavery in the late 1600s among Quakers in the English-speaking world. This spread to other Christian denominations in the 1700s in Britain and the US.
However, here she reveals the Anglo-centric nature of her biblical analysis, with only passing mention of the successful anti-slavery movement in Catholic France in the late 1700s. She does briefly consider the theological understanding of African slaves themselves.
One chapter reviews social and church attitudes to prostitution/sex work over time, including the debate among feminists over whether prostitution is a legitimate career choice or another form of exploitation of women.
Carson is concerned that moralistic Christians do not add to the stigmatisation of women trafficked into sex work as such a response contributes to their exploitation.
The book does not provide much actual information about modern human trafficking, or explore different forms of human trafficking around the world. The lived experience of those trafficked is discussed at an abstract level.
This book is for a reader interested in a thorough exploration of how the Biblical text is relevant to issues of modern slavery, including sex trafficking.
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