Many of our ethical dilemmas can be solved by understanding with precision, what it means to be a servant of the Lord.
In the New Testament, the word “doulos” is translated indistintively as servant or slave. However, in Jesus parables, servants are always given a certain ownership and responsibility, while slaves of the ancient times was just part of the property of the master.
God has given us “some” ownership and the ensuing responsibility. We can use creation, but not abuse it. We are called to dominate creation but not domineer it. We may respect and serve persons, but we may not use them. We should be each other’s keepers or stewards, but not lord over them or be enslaved by them.
From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were called to be mere stewards, were tempted and sinned in their attempt to become lords like God. Satan again tempted Jesus with the same temptation–to betray His service to the kingdom and to the Father. Jesus was tempted to abuse His power (jump from the pinnacle of the Temple) and to acknowldge the lordship of Satan.
This continues to be our temptation too. Biotechnology offers a unique possibility to domineer others’ lives and bodies. Political power continues to tempt authorities and systems with the opportunity to lord over others. In our daily lives, we seem to forget that we are all stewards, but at times we insist that some stewards are more equal than others.
“… as for the servant who says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time in coming’, and sets about beating the menservants and the maids, and eating and drinking and getting drunk, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know. The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.” (Lk 12:39-48)
We are not called to be masters, slaves or abusive servants, but to be responsible stewards.