When a member of the government, who happens to be a vegetarian votes to improve living conditions for cattle on the nation’s farms, does it mean that person is in favour of eating meat?
When city officials decide that it would be better for prostitutes to work within a controlled, supervised (safer) environment, does that mean those officials support prostitution? (Ok maybe that’s a bad example but bear with me).
When city officials provide clean needles to drug addicts are they saying that IV drug use is great?
When an animal rights person supports limits on hunting, does it mean that person is in favour of hunting?
The answer to all of these, of course, is a resounding “No.” These people are working with what they have available. They are working within a culture that is already established.
It's the same when God lays out specific guidelines for the treatment of slaves:
. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Col. 4:1
. Do not rule over [your slaves] ruthlessly but fear your God - Lev.25:43
. [Your slave] is to be treated as a man hired from year to year, you must see to it that his owner does not rule over him ruthlessly - Lev. 25:53
. Masters treat your slaves in the same way you want them to treat you. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with Him. Eph. 6:9
. In another place Paul encourages slaves to take freedom if they can. As well God has laid out specific punishment to come for “Slave Traders.”
God / Bible is NOT supporting slavery anymore than city officials are promoting IV drug use by establishing safe places for addicts to inject their drugs. God was working within an established culture. Why didn’t God forbid slavery among the Jews like He did with idol worship or child sacrifice? God allowed slavery to operate under His guidelines for at least two reasons. One was to establish Israel as a nation which probably couldn’t have been done without extra help. Two, was that slavery or servanthood served as a social safety net. It was that or starve.
Have people abused the concept of slavery? Of course. Each of us abuses other people virtually on a daily basis in all manner of ways. They did it back then and we still do it today. However, we can only abuse our fellow man, be it within the confines of slavery or elsewhere by disobeying the guidelines of our Lord and our Creator.