Setting the Captives Free: The Bible and Human Trafficking

By Marion L.S. Carson

An examination of the complex attitudes towards slavery and prostitution in the Bible and drawing lessons for modern campaigners against human trafficking.

ISBN: 9780718894382


Written to be used in churches, activist organisations and groups as well as by individuals, Setting the Captives Free explores how a theological understanding of slavery goes against the idea of a God who is loving and just. Ardently arguing that slavery is incompatible with Christianity, Marion Carson analyses how both anti-slavery and pro-slavery movements have been justified with the help of Scripture. In Setting the Captives Free, she provides an answer to the question “What can the Bible say to us about contemporary human trafficking?” By looking through important passages from the Old and the New Testament, Carson suggests what they might have to say to us about slavery in the twenty-first century. She analyses how Christians changed their views of slavery after its abolition, before closely examining what the Bible has to say about slavery in general, especially with regards to prostitution. At the end of each chapter, study questions are included to aid individual and group discussions in the hope that they will increase awareness of human trafficking and encourage more Christians to become actively involved in its eradication.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 122

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Marion L.S. Carson is a freelance theologian and writer who lives in Glasgow. She is secretary of the European Baptist Federation’s Anti-Trafficking Network.


List of Illustrations
Foreword by Tony Peck

1. Introduction
2. Human Trafficking Today
3. Reading the Bible: Lessons from History
4. Slavery in the Old Testament
5. Slavery in the New Testament
6. Prostitution in the Old Testament
7. Prostitution in the New Testament
8. Conclusion

Appendix: Suggestions for Further Reading


Endorsements and Reviews

If believers want to eliminate modern-day slavery, they should begin by reading this book. No other book so thoroughly examines the biblical texts dealing with human trafficking and prostitution. Setting the Captives Free is the result of years of rigorous theological research – and ministry with victims. It challenges Jesus-followers to look at an ugly issue through God’s eyes – and then never see someone in prostitution the same way again.
Lauran Bethell, International Consultant, Issues of Human Trafficking/Prostitution, International Ministries ABC/USA Founder, International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (ICAP)

[Marion L.S. Carson] speaks with authority and passion. … [She] leads the reader carefully, thoughtfully and critically through the biblical texts on these topics. … The book is clearly written and well provided with points for discussion and further reading. It should prove to be a valuable tool for encouraging individuals and groups to think about these urgent issues and to see active combating of such practices as of central import to the living out of the Christian faith.
John Riches, in The Expository Times, Vol 128, No 11

While including some harrowing testimonies from victims, Carson’s intention is not to analyse the political or economic causes but rather to explore what the Bible says on such issues. Despite passages in the Old and New Testaments which seem to condone slavery, [Carson] knows that the central message is of a redeeming God who wishes ‘to set the captives free’ and that Christians have a moral imperative to challenge those practices which treat human beings as commodities to be bought or sold. Discussion questions provide thought-provoking material for Bible study groups.
Margaret Ives, in The Reader, Winter 2017

Not only does the author write in an accessible fashion but she provides questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate discussions within reading groups. Sprinkled throughout the text are illustrations by Ian Smith that are simple but effective, and they serve to lighten this oppressive topic. The span of Carson’s book is impressive for such a short text, leading from an overview of human trafficking today to the biblical treatment of issues such as slavery and prostitution.
Gaye Williams Ortiz, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 24, Issue 4

[A ] bold and much needed book … this book is a ‘must read’. Well worth buying.
Robin Gill, in Theology, Vol 121, No 2