Slavery and the selling of humans is a big issue. It is not a new issue. Our most common understanding of slavery in America is the story of a race of people being sold and used in the days of the Civil War. But enslaving a group of people to fulfill the whims and wishes of another group of people is as old as sin itself.
Sadly, human trafficking is still a real and horrible issue, even in America. Many are speaking to it and actively working to bring an end to it. I applaud them wholeheartedly!
We used to enslave people by force. Now, we have become more sophisticated. We capitalize on the idea of equality and choice and manipulate that choice through other means.
But sometimes, we mamas hold our daughters close and think it will never happen to them. After all, they are safe with us. They are loved and cherished. They have enough to eat and enough to wear and enough hugs and an education to equip them for the “real world”.
But the rules of the “real world” have changed. And where once worth may have been evaluated by the color of one’s skin, now worth is determined in a myriad of other ways. But it is still about the skin.
We still look at this shell that wraps the real person and mark them with labels. Poor. Rich. Fat. Thin. Ugly. Beautiful. Average. Stupid. Intelligent. Lower class. Middle class. Upper class. No class.
While we Christians tell ourselves that man looks on the outward appearance and God looks on the heart, we continue to follow the uniquely human trend and ignore the part about how God looks at people. In his 2014 book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson puts it this way:
Our culture has a tendency to reduce people to labels. Not only is that unhealthy and unholy, it’s also dehumanizing.
So our very human tendency reduces the humanity of others. It reduces their worth to the wrapping paper we call skin and totally dismisses the gift inside that God calls the soul.
Every human desires unconditional love. And every human loves to be desired. We fear rejection, but often we fail to reject fear. Fear drives us to confusion and we start searching for love and desire in the wrong places.
We think first of the woman who confuses lust and love, views and value, wealth and worth. We women at once admire and disdain her beauty because it reminds us of all we think we want to be and all we know we are not. The men who admire her beauty also disdain her very person in their admiration. Because behind the Photoshopped, sculpted body is a real, crumbling soul.
The YouTube videos that go viral, often spread their germs much faster than a cold or a flu could replicate. The woman who gets paid to bare her skin to the world. The woman whose bumbling athletic attempts get attention because she is labeled “fat”. The woman who shows us that the results of health equal a certain body ideal to which we must all measure up.
So we catch the germ, and we sneeze and cough and choke on the idea of skin being the ultimate determiner of worth. And we try harder or we give up in despair.
People say beauty is only skin deep, but God says beauty lies beneath the skin. Lovely skin is sometimes only the veneer that hides a scarred soul. And skin that man calls too old, too fat, too ugly, too wrinkled, too thin……. That is the skin that often covers the most dazzling of souls.
I don’t write to men, but if I did this is what I would ask: Will you value the woman in your life as the lovely soul that she is? Let her know she is loved and desired because of her person. Tell her she is just as beautiful to you when she is scrubbing pots and pans and toilets and babies as she is when she is scrubbed up for a date. And mean it.
Can I ask you to refrain from labeling our sisters? Whether we hear you admiring or disdaining or ridiculing another woman for her skin, we feel the pain in our own souls. Because we are women, and we know that your judgment of her could very well be ours.
And to you women, my dear sisters: If you have a man who values you for your true worth, cherish him. Return that love and love him unconditionally as he does you. You have been given a man who loves as Christ does, and that is of great value.
And if you don’t? Remember this. You have been labeled by the One Who knows all. As Mark Batterson goes on to say,
Don’t let anyone label you besides the One Who made you. Take your cues from Scripture. You are more than a conqueror. You are the apple of God’s eye. You are sought after. You are a joint heir with Christ. You are a child of God.
And to us who are moms and dads, aunts and uncles, siblings and children:
It is sometimes the little, off-handed comments that shape destinies, dreams and disorders. Words spoken in jest or passing can etch upon hearts lasting fears or culminate in a fulfilled calling. Let’s use our words as keys to release the chains of slavery based on skin.
The truth is that skin and how it is arranged is just a collection of cells and tissue in this temporary body.
The truth is that color is nothing more than a measure of how light reflects back to us with these temporary eyes.
The truth is that weight is nothing more than the gravitational pull on the body that will soon return to dust.
The truth is that intelligence is just a measure of how much you know about this temporary planet.
The truth is that wealth is only measured by the amount of material things that can be obtained on this temporary planet.
The truth is that only the soul is lasting and destined to eternal existence.
“And ye shall know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall make you free.” – John 8:32