Institutionalized slavery has existed in one form or another for thousands of years, and still exists in some Muslim countries today. Slavery arises when men believe they have the right and/or are endowed with the moral authority to assert dominion over another human being.
Examples of slavery, or bondage, are widespread throughout both the old and new testaments. Leviticus 25:39-46 lays out the specific rules for the treatment of gentile slaves and Jewish “bondservants”. The scriptures are full of examples, rules, and warnings regarding the mistreatment of those in servitude by their “masters”. Another scripture commonly used to support a theological basis for the subjugation of others is Genesis 9:25, where Noah, angered over the shameful actions of one of his own sons, exclaimed, “Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”
It should be noted that several Christian denominations and pseudo-Christian cults rationalized enslaving black skinned Africans on the false premise that dark skin is the proverbial “mark of Cain”, and that those who bore such a mark were cursed and deserved to be kept in bondage. Of course this claim cannot be supported by any sound reading of the scripture. In fact, the whole notion that Jesus was a blue-eyed auburn-haired “Aryan” is a purely European construct. There is plenty of evidence suggesting that the Jews of Jesus day, and quite likely Jesus himself, although not “black” in the racial sense, likely had darker skin, darker eyes, and much darker (and shorter) hair than is commonly portrayed in Euro-centric art or Hollywood movies.
In the New Testament, Paul’s letter to Philemon provides proof that Christian believers also owned slaves. In fact, Paul’s letter revolves around the close relationship he forms with one of Philemon’s runaway slaves, a man named Onesimus. But the fact that even Christians were slave owners does not mean that the scriptures, in principle, should be used to support the concept of slavery, or that the slave system is a biblical model we should follow. Using the scriptures to support genetic engineering and the creation of new mixed-up life forms is like arguing that slavery, in principle, is permissible because although God set limits and rules, He did not specifically forbid the practice. In many instances, man has treated the natural world, not as a garden created by God that man has been directed to “dress and keep” [Gen. 2:15], but as a slave he is empowered to dominate.
Even though many of the founders of this nation were slave owners, no one in his right mind would argue that the U.S. Constitution, in principle, supports slavery. Using the Bible to support the practice is equally absurd since the entire focus of the scriptures is not to provide man with the authority to practice unlimited dominion over other men, (or unlimited dominion over nature), but to point man to the Redeemer, the ONE who has the authority and power to free mankind from the “curse” of sin and death and rescue us from SPIRITUAL BONDAGE!
To this end, the Apostle Paul specifically tells Philemon to accept his former slave (Onesimus), a new Christian convert, as an equal. “Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” [1:16] Not only does Paul refer to Onesimus as a “brother”, but he also refers to him as “my son”. [vs.1:10] For those who are in Christ Jesus there is no longer any division based on race or class distinction.
So how does this relate to GMO’s? Well, in Great Britain researchers working through genetic engineering have created hybrids called “para-humans” or human-animal “chimeras”. Bioethicists (the so-called “theologians” of science) are debating over whether or not at some point such creations have a “soul”, or are deserving of the same human rights as the rest of us. Many are warning that creating a new species of para-human for the purposes of scientific experimentation is immoral, on par, or even worse, than institutionalized slavery.
The precedent for altering the genetic make up of creation and/or abusing human life for the purposes of testing new products and/or experimentation is a GENIE that escaped from the bottle years ago. The mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003 and immediately hailed as a triumph of progress. Genetic engineering promised miraculous cures and immeasurable benefits. Stem cell research became the new buzz word. All moral restraint was cast aside as bio-tech companies such as SENOMYX began experimentation with cloned human fetal cells derived from abortions in order to test chemical flavor enhancers for potential use in a variety of consumer food products including Pepsi diet beverages and Nestle coffee creamers. The University of Washington filled over 4,500 orders for these cloned aborted fetal cell lines in 2010 alone. To some, dominion means there are absolutely no limits standing in the way of the advancement of science.
The emerging field of transhumanism was born out of the utopian potential promised by unshackled dominion over nature:
“[Transhumanism] promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.”
Researchers working on manipulation of the human genome use the same rationale that those working on GM crops use, namely that the promise of the betterment of mankind through genetic engineering outweighs any concerns that a few “mistakes” might be made along the way. Indeed, wouldn’t it be wonderful to eradicate starvation or disease by genetically creating a new “super man” or a new “super food” in the laboratory? Transhumanism promises its adherents that they will be able to (eventually) defeat the aging process, overcome death and disease, and ultimately eliminate “the effects of the curse”. Transgenic plants are being created using the same “dominion” principle and false promises as the creation of transgenic humans. New GM crops are advertised as having the power to defeat insect pests, “end starvation”, and provide unlimited and sustainable nutrition for the world’s growing population. The belief that man can not only improve creation, but re-make it in his own image, is the driving force behind such genetic modifications.
The entire notion of the “advancement” of mankind is at play here. In their misguided search to derive theological principles from the Bible to support genetic engineering, Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, and Jordan Ballor in a recent Cornwall newsletter, argue that dominion over nature trumps stewardship over creation. Convinced of man’s righteousness (or at least his superiority) and the power to do as he will, such people have focused on the ability to manipulate the created order without regard to the One who created it. However, when it comes to man’s ability to combine two or more distinct life forms and “create” something entirely new, or that never was, or that should never be, the scriptures are clear. There is only one God, one Creator, and one supreme Judge of good and evil.
From the Institute for Creation Research comes the following insight:
To arrogantly assume that man has the authority to manipulate and mistreat the very foundations of creation itself, to create, patent, and own new life forms, is something that cannot be pleasing to God.
“And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more.” [Rev 18:11]