This is the term given to the illegal trade of people for commercial sexual exploitation or forced labour. Because of extreme poverty or the chance of a ‘better’ life and job prospects, the victims are taken advantage of. Once ensnared by this deception and coercion they don’t have any rights and are held captive against their will. Most often it involves women and children who are exploited for the sex trade, being degraded to mere objects for men’s sexual gratification. Fellow humans are to be valued, respected and not manipulated for wrong and selfish ends. The Bible’s message is, We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, helping those in need and doing to them what we would they do to us (Mt 19:19; Lk 6:31, 10:30-37; Mk 12:31). This includes speaking up and defending the rights of the poor and needy (Prov 31:8,9).
This large and growing worldwide problem is a gross indignity against men, women, and children who have been created in God’s image. As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to pray, to speak out against human trafficking and modern slavery, and to live in ways that help create change in the lives of those impacted by this tragic crime, coerced for the benefit of another. Helping or failing to assist those who need care is the equivalent to caring for, or rejecting Christ (Mt 25:35-46).
Slavery was allowed and supported by the civil authorities in the time of the NT, with the Christian teaching for slaves to submit to their masters and the system (Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:22-24). Today, slavery has been technically abolished in every country yet in effect, such practices continue in parts of Africa and Asia.
Various organisations help those victims who are exploited, and we can endeavour to purchase fair trade products that keep slavery out of the supply chain. Yet even more important than the physical is the spiritual dimension, which is addressed by presenting the message of eternal salvation and release from the penalty of sin.