Alister McGrath describes the clash of values involved in abolition.
I think, for many people, the classic example of someone who is inspired by a Christian vision of human nature to make social change would be William Wilberforce and the campaign in England for the abolition of slavery. And the problem was that for many people in England, slavery was economically productive and valuable. And so it required a major challenge on ethical grounds for this to be declared to be improper. And the point I’d want to make is that religion provided that framework: these people all bear the image of God, we cannot commodify them. That was a really important theological challenge which went beyond utilitarianism.