Many religious and non-religious observers have said that one remarkable trait that separates us moderns from ancient peoples is our belief that we are basically good. We’ll readily agree that “no one’s perfect,” but other than that, most of us have a fundamentally good orientation and are of a wholly different moral and psychological make-up from a Hitler, or a serial killer, or a rapist. From a religious and specifically Christian perspective, then, we have no need to be forgiven, much less “saved” from anything, since we haven’t done anything terribly bad. I would argue that this view is dangerously mistaken, however, and the excerpt below from Mike McKinley’s Passion shows this error in stark contrast to what is true. There is a place in this (so far) excellent and short book where McKinley argues that because God is perfect and holy, his anger at human oppression and injustice is completely justified and righteous; indeed, God’s wrath is “actually part of His perfection – not a suspension of it.” He then argues that if people are made in God’s image, then we would expect this righteous anger to be expressed at times by people. To illustrate this, he tells:
“A friend of mine recently told me about a time in an east Asian nation where his hosts drove him into the capital city. As they entered the city, they were confronted by a long line of young girls, lined up by the side of the road. These girls had been sold into slavery as prostitutes (often by their parents), and they would spend their lives being used and abused until they were finally cast aside when they were no longer desirable. My friend described his feelings as he saw these girls: an anger, a rage in his heart that made him feel as if his chest was going to rip in two. “…If that goes for humans, it goes for the God who made humans, too… [And here is the key part for us] But where we really run into a problem, where we really object to God’s wrath and justice, is when it comes to us. We may be happy with a God who punishes the rapists and the murderers, but we aren’t happy with a God who punishes us. But where would you draw the line? How much should He tolerate from you? How much of your pride, anger, deceit, manipulation and selfishness do you think God should overlook?… The Bible tells us where God draws the line: He demands perfection” (18-19).
Though many of us think of slavery as a thing of the past, a shameful part of our history that has been rooted out in a world of increased equality and tolerance, the reality is that today there are millions of slaves around the world. Estimates put the number between 20 and 30 million – an alarming figure.
So what can we do about it? It’d be easy to become overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task when we begin thinking about it, but like me, you’d be surprised to know that the most effective thing you can do do help end modern slavery is in fact very simple.
In his important book Ending Slavery: How We Free Today’s Slaves (University of California, 2007), Kevin Bales tells the story of a college student who was given the assignment to determine the most effective thing a person can do to end slavery.
She spent weeks researching and analyzing the possibilities, organizing letter campaigns and fundraisers, and volunteering at human rights organizations. She came back to her professor with what to many of us may be a surprising conclusion:
“At the end of her analysis, one action stood head and shoulders above the others. According to her research, the most effective thing the average person can do to end slavery is this: Join an antislavery organization like Free the Slaves, and send it $10 a month.”
Bales goes on to say, “What the antislavery movement needs more than anything is for every person who wants slavery to end to make a small regular donation. When that happens, there will be a stable income needed to build the long-term projects that will roll back slavery around the world” (234).
So are you ready to start giving $10, $15, $20 a month to an organization that does the hard work of fighting slavery? If so, here are a few reputable organizations, faith-based and secular, where your contribution can go a long way:
International Justice Mission: http://ijm.org/
World Vision: http://www.worldvision.org/
Polaris Project: http://www.polarisproject.org/
Free the Slaves: https://www.freetheslaves.net/
International Organization for Migration: http://bit.ly/1dgWKci