Historians say a third of the Roman Empire population in Jesus’ day were slaves. But when Christianity came along, God’s people espoused a principle that essentially led to the end of slavery. The late Dr. Merrill Tenney and other scholars say the principles of love and respect, practiced by followers of Christ, were the serum that eventually caused slavery to die. People who genuinely accept and follow Jesus Christ refuse to hold others in servitude against their will. The Apostle Paul, writing to Philemon about his slave, Onesimus, articulated this principle. He urged his friend to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother. When we regard all people as bearing the image of God—despite our fallen nature—we will have respect for them—sufficient respect that we will affirm their dignity and hold them in high regard. Treating all people with respect is our obligation irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, social status, or education. Our respect for human dignity enables us to see the image of God in each other—even those who may not yet have accepted Jesus Christ into their lives.

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