Adorning the Doctrine of God Our Savior
I have covered the topic of slavery in numerous places arguing how, though the early Church accommodated the institution, the gospel of Jesus Christ had within its DNA the very destruction of the institution itself. There are passages that condemn the institution (Revelation 18:13) and encourage slaves to seek their freedom if they can (1 Corinthians 7:21). And let us never forget Paul’s impassioned plea to Philemon to free Onesimus, even commanding him to do so (“Confident of your obedience…,” Philemon 21). And as I have also said in other places, we have no reason to boast over previous generations, and herein lies the “progressive” delusion. There are no more dangerous people in the world than utopians, for they must bend the wills and squelch the liberties of others to achieve their heaven on earth since they can’t wait for the real heaven hereafter. And it is the utopian worm that eats within the heart of the progressive—the worm of envy, strife, and bitterness. He will never accept that man is by nature a sinner from birth but only by his environment; he, therefore, imagines that if he can only change man’s social conditions he can change the man. But though the world may seem some better when compared to the ancient world as recorded in the writings of Herodotus (thanks to the efforts of the Church down through the ages, mind you), man’s love affair with sin always renders his best efforts tainted therewith, such that one step forward is often met with two steps backward.
But let us dispense with these debates which hail from time immemorial and turn ourselves to the passage before us and, if God permits, let us apply it to ourselves rather than to slaves of bygone days that we may be personally edified thereby. The purpose of the exhortations which follow are “so that in everything [we] may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” And what is it that “adorns” this doctrine: Being submissive, well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering (one would hope), and showing all good faith. These are rules for every Christian to live by. Of course, we must be submissive to rulers and employers, but we may also be submissive to others by simply giving way to them; that is, we need not always insist upon our way. We should be well-pleasing or aim to please with common courtesy and gracious speech. And though we must contend for the faith and morality, we need not be excessively argumentative but always seek to be dignified in our manner while honoring others as well, proving ourselves faithful Christians, good citizens, and in short, respectable and most excellent ladies and gentlemen. Let this “adorn” the doctrine of God our Savior.