The offense of the ESV translation committee's debate over how to translate the Hebrew ebed and Greek doulos isn't so much their final choice of "bondservant" over "slave." Rather, it's the arrogance of the prior discussion.
Take, for example, Wayne Grudem's claim that non-scholars can't comprehend how slavery in biblical times differed from the slavery of blacks in the American South. Wayne says ancient slavery differed radically from the modern understanding of slavery in the following ways: 1) Ancient slavery was temporary and voluntary rather than permanent and involuntary; 2) Ancient slavery was not racially, but economically, based, and; 3) Ancient slavery had status and carried legal protections.
All this may be entirely true of many forms of ancient slavery. But what Wayne glosses over in his eagerness to rid Scripture of the unfortunate implications of the word "slave" is that the essential experience of slavery in Scripture was everything Wayne denies it to be. The paradigmatic slavery of Scripture is Israel's bondage in Egypt, a slavery that was permanent, racial and entirely lacking in legal protection.
The parallels between slavery in the American South and Israelite bondage in Egypt are extensive. In fact, America's slaves were comforted by faith in the God who set His people free from a slavery as horrific as their own. The failure of the ESV translation committee to see these parallels when black slaves in the American south saw them so clearly in their oppression smacks of racism.
How Wayne and the others on the ESV translation committee managed to ignore the Egyptian bondage of the Israelites in their discussions boggles the mind. One could be forgiven for thinking they'd never actually read the Bible they're translating.
More likely, they just don't like it that Scripture reveals slavery to God as the highest privilege of the human life. (DB)