Little-Known Bible Verses VI: Slavery

Of all the civil rights movements that have swept across America in its history, none is so intimately connected with religion in the popular consciousness as the struggle against racism. Civil rights leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were famous for their use of biblical allusions to demand liberty for all human beings, and from their writings, many believers today have gotten the idea that the Bible teaches the equality of all people. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as we can see from a set of little-known Bible verses.

The so-called Good Book explicitly, repeatedly and unequivocally endorses and approves of slavery, presenting it as an institution directly sanctioned by God. Consider the following passage from Leviticus, which is one of a long list of instructions spoken by God to Moses:

“Thy bond-men and thy bond-maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond-maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land. And they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession, they shall be your bond-man forever.”

—Leviticus 25:44-46

The idea that human beings can be bought and sold like possessions, and that this state should last in perpetuity, is a repugnant one that lies at the root of all the cruelties and inhumanities associated with slavery. But perhaps the Bible teaches that slaveowners should be kind and gentle to their servants, and the cruelty is a later development? Not quite:

“When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be punished; for the slave is his money.”

—Exodus 21:20-21 (RSV)

Not only does the Bible explicitly allow beating your slaves, it allows you to beat them to death, just as long as the slave does not immediately expire from the beating but lingers for a few days before dying. Can anyone dispute the savagery of such a law? Can anyone dispute that a book that teaches such things deserves the allegiance of no good person?

But the verses cited so far are all from the Old Testament. Surely Jesus, who taught a gospel of love and compassion, would have cast aside these cruel laws just as he nullified many other parts of the Mosaic law?

If you think so, you’re bound to be disappointed. Although Jesus abrogates the Old Testament provisions on kosher dining and not working on Sabbath days, he has not a word to say about the injustice of slavery. In fact, on one occasion he works slavery into a parable as if it were the most natural thing in the world, favorably comparing God to a slaveholder who beats his slaves for not obeying him:

“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

—Luke 12:46-47

But even if the Bible does not explicitly condemn slavery in general, surely it commands Christians not to personally participate in this cruel custom, and to set free any slaves they may own? Nope:

“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.”

—1 Timothy 6:1-2

In fact, as the above passage shows, the biblical authors considered it blasphemous for a slave to disobey or dishonor his owner – as if rebelling against slavery was sin against God.

These verses and others like them were not overlooked by slaveholders of the American antebellum. On the contrary, in the period leading up to the American Civil War, Southern slaveholders repeatedly cited these verses against abolitionists, as proof that slavery was a just and proper institution sanctioned by God. (Indeed, the Southern Baptist Convention – the largest Protestant denomination in the United States – was formed expressly to defend the continued practice of slavery.) Consider the following sermon, “Mutual Relation of Masters and Slaves as Taught in the Bible“, which was preached by one Joseph Wilson in the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia in January 1861:

Now, we have already seen that the Holy Spirit employs words which He [sic] has intended to be understood as distinctly enunciating the existence of domestic servitude—that He has sent to all the world a volume of truth, which is indisputably addressed to men who hold slaves and to the slaves who possess masters—and that, from the connections in which these highly suggestive words occur, He has included slavery as an organizing element in that family order which lies at the very foundation of Church and State.

Wilson’s sermon argues at length for the scriptural foundation of slavery, and the truth is, he is absolutely correct. Slavery unequivocally is taught throughout the Bible. The abolitionists who opposed it – who were both religious and secular – were on the right side morally, as everyone now recognizes; but theologically, the slaveholders had the upper hand. Only by sweeping these verses under the carpet could a religious case be made for abolition.

In the era in which the Bible was written, slavery was a common and natural part of society. But humanity has progressed morally, and we now recognize that slavery is a cruel and inhumane institution that deserves only eradication. If the biblical authors had access to a source of revelation not limited by human ignorance, we might have expected them to see what was truly right and condemn this harsh practice in no uncertain terms. But they do no such thing. Instead, they treat slavery as if it were natural and normal, working it into parables and teachings and even defending it as God’s will. The best explanation for these facts and others like them is that the Bible is simply a human creation, forged in the popular beliefs and prejudices of its time, and not informed by revelation from a being with a higher perspective.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Polly

    If slavery is so wonderful and Xian, then why was it only limited to people of African ancestry?

    which, by saving a lower race from the destruction of heathenism, has, under divine management, contributed to refine, exalt, and enrich its superior race!

    Oh, thanks reverend. They’re of a “lower race.” Oh, and they’re enjoying being “saved” from heathenism. So, it’s got something for everybody.

    The racial model of slavery is also very Biblical. Fellow Hebrew slaves were to be freed at the Jubilee (liberty every 50th year) or at the 7th year. But not so with the “heathens” from the surrounding nations. They were slaves as well as their children, grandchildren, and so on, forever.

    So, if Dominionists have their way and re-institute OT law, I wonder where there’s a supply of heathens to serve as slaves…

    DESPICABLE!

  • Polly

    If slavery is so wonderful and Xian, then why was it only limited to people of African ancestry?

    which, by saving a lower race from the destruction of heathenism, has, under divine management, contributed to refine, exalt, and enrich its superior race!

    Oh, thanks reverend. They’re of a “lower race.” Oh, and they’re enjoying being “saved” from heathenism. So, it’s got something for everybody.

    The racial model of slavery is also very Biblical. Fellow Hebrew slaves were to be freed at the Jubilee (liberty every 50th year) or at the 7th year. But not so with the “heathens” from the surrounding nations. They were slaves as well as their children, grandchildren, and so on, forever.

    So, if Dominionists have their way and re-institute OT law, I wonder where there’s a supply of heathens to serve as slaves…

    DESPICABLE!

  • http://mcv.planc.ee mcv

    But once again looking from the biblical point of view – the people you are allowed to make/buy as your slaves are non-believers, heathens.

    So taking 1960s USA as out context rev. King was justified in citing the bible since most of the counrty was christian, right?

    Not to mention the attitude of the most ancient cultures that “we” are better then “them”.

  • http://mcv.planc.ee mcv

    But once again looking from the biblical point of view – the people you are allowed to make/buy as your slaves are non-believers, heathens.

    So taking 1960s USA as out context rev. King was justified in citing the bible since most of the counrty was christian, right?

    Not to mention the attitude of the most ancient cultures that “we” are better then “them”.

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    But once again looking from the biblical point of view – the people you are allowed to make/buy as your slaves are non-believers, heathens.

    So taking 1960s USA as out context rev. King was justified in citing the bible since most of the counrty was christian, right?

    Well, the book of Philemon shows Paul sending a runaway slave, who has become a Christian, back to his former owner (who is also a Christian). If anything, it seems to say that Christians having Christian slaves is even better than having one of those nasty unreliable heathens.

    Admittedly, Philemon needs a fair bit of interpretation laid on top of it to even work out that that’s the story, and there’s some debate about it. Really weird letter to have in the New Testament.

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    But once again looking from the biblical point of view – the people you are allowed to make/buy as your slaves are non-believers, heathens.

    So taking 1960s USA as out context rev. King was justified in citing the bible since most of the counrty was christian, right?

    Well, the book of Philemon shows Paul sending a runaway slave, who has become a Christian, back to his former owner (who is also a Christian). If anything, it seems to say that Christians having Christian slaves is even better than having one of those nasty unreliable heathens.

    Admittedly, Philemon needs a fair bit of interpretation laid on top of it to even work out that that’s the story, and there’s some debate about it. Really weird letter to have in the New Testament.

  • Polly

    In the interest of fairness I should mention that Exodus 21:16 may have nullified a lot of the slavery in the New World. Kidnapping someone for the purpose of selling them was a capital offense. Since this is how a lot of slaves were rounded up (I’m open to correction if there’s a history buff out there), it could have been argued that the institution was Biblically unjustified.

    BUT, there’s an interesting development in Deuteronomy. The “2nd Law” actually narrows the kidnapping ban by only applying it to fellow Israelites. (Deuteronomy 24:7)

    There were also laws allowing escaped slaves from surrounding Heathen nations to live freely among the Isralites. Of course, heathens aren’t entitled to the same respect as Israelites. So, this is consistent with the general racism. Chances are, a poor foreigner would end up in servitude eventually anyway. So, Israel: +1, Heathen nation: -1. At least by keeping an ostensibly liberal no-return of slaves policy the Israelites could garner extra laborers at the cost of other nations.

  • Polly

    In the interest of fairness I should mention that Exodus 21:16 may have nullified a lot of the slavery in the New World. Kidnapping someone for the purpose of selling them was a capital offense. Since this is how a lot of slaves were rounded up (I’m open to correction if there’s a history buff out there), it could have been argued that the institution was Biblically unjustified.

    BUT, there’s an interesting development in Deuteronomy. The “2nd Law” actually narrows the kidnapping ban by only applying it to fellow Israelites. (Deuteronomy 24:7)

    There were also laws allowing escaped slaves from surrounding Heathen nations to live freely among the Isralites. Of course, heathens aren’t entitled to the same respect as Israelites. So, this is consistent with the general racism. Chances are, a poor foreigner would end up in servitude eventually anyway. So, Israel: +1, Heathen nation: -1. At least by keeping an ostensibly liberal no-return of slaves policy the Israelites could garner extra laborers at the cost of other nations.

  • James Bradbury

    Thanks for this! Very timely as I’ve recently got into an email debate with a Christian friend who is complaining that religioustolerance.org doesn’t mention William Wilberforce – which is probably because he was British and it’s an Canadian site. Quoting the Bibble is the way forward!

  • James Bradbury

    Thanks for this! Very timely as I’ve recently got into an email debate with a Christian friend who is complaining that religioustolerance.org doesn’t mention William Wilberforce – which is probably because he was British and it’s an Canadian site. Quoting the Bibble is the way forward!

  • Vicki B.

    Ebonmuse, you make no mention in your article that slavery and human traffic are real and growing problems. If your readers eat chocolate or drink coffee, it is likely that child slaves picked at least some of the coffee or cocao beans that they enjoy:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6517695.stm

    People have a tendency to justify their selfish behavior with lofty sounding ideals. In the 19th century it was the bible, in this century, “freedom”, “progress”, “economic growth”.

    Join the Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping in their boycott of Starbucks until Starbucks puts its promises to Ethiopian coffee farmers in writing!

  • Vicki B.

    Ebonmuse, you make no mention in your article that slavery and human traffic are real and growing problems. If your readers eat chocolate or drink coffee, it is likely that child slaves picked at least some of the coffee or cocao beans that they enjoy:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6517695.stm

    People have a tendency to justify their selfish behavior with lofty sounding ideals. In the 19th century it was the bible, in this century, “freedom”, “progress”, “economic growth”.

    Join the Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping in their boycott of Starbucks until Starbucks puts its promises to Ethiopian coffee farmers in writing!

  • AJS

    Who really abolished slavery? James Watt and Michael Faraday, that’s who. Not big-talking politicians, not civil-rights activists.

    The steam engine, and later the electric generator / motor (they’re the same thing, really) made it economically unviable to use slave labour. A steam-engine eats naught but coal. It doesn’t take time off for tea or bathroom breaks. It does smoke; but at least it carries on with its work while it does so, and it has the grace to exhale its noxious fumes via a good tall chimney and not into the faces of those around it. And if it ever refuses to work, it needs only a drop of oil or a tweak of a pipe-joint with a wrench.

    A manufacturer who chose mechanisation was at such an advantage over one who continued to use slave labour, that the latter would have died out anyway of its own accord, even without political intervention.

    It’s interesting to see what is happening in the world, now that machine power has started to become more expensive than human power …..

  • AJS

    Who really abolished slavery? James Watt and Michael Faraday, that’s who. Not big-talking politicians, not civil-rights activists.

    The steam engine, and later the electric generator / motor (they’re the same thing, really) made it economically unviable to use slave labour. A steam-engine eats naught but coal. It doesn’t take time off for tea or bathroom breaks. It does smoke; but at least it carries on with its work while it does so, and it has the grace to exhale its noxious fumes via a good tall chimney and not into the faces of those around it. And if it ever refuses to work, it needs only a drop of oil or a tweak of a pipe-joint with a wrench.

    A manufacturer who chose mechanisation was at such an advantage over one who continued to use slave labour, that the latter would have died out anyway of its own accord, even without political intervention.

    It’s interesting to see what is happening in the world, now that machine power has started to become more expensive than human power …..

  • passerby

    One who controls his senses is a master, rest are slaves.

  • passerby

    One who controls his senses is a master, rest are slaves.

  • http://www.johnnysstew.com/cool/coolwet J

    Who really abolished slavery? James Watt and Michael Faraday, that’s who. Not big-talking politicians, not civil-rights activists.

    And who fought for Civil Rights? Only 50% of the credit belongs to King. The other 50% belongs to gay, atheist, ex-communist Bayard Rustin

  • Sojourner

    To be unwarrantedly fair, the “if your slave dies, it is a problem,” verse does indicate that if your slave actually gets up after a couple of days then it is okay; which is to say, it is perfectly alright to beat your slave almost to death. Here’s my question: morality aside, I can quite see how the various Israelites and other -ites might have jurisdictional questions about whom to enslave, when and why. How, though, did anyone ever convince we Africans to buy into this rubbish? No, really? Were we so entranced by the possibilities of being variously subjugated and enslaved that we just could not wait to sign up? Especially since “being peoples from faraway lands,” i.e. not those promised to the Israelites by the Lord (lucky Uganda! they had a narrow escape after the Second World War on these very grounds…)we could look forward to having all our women, children and livestock and so forth, plundered. This is a clear blueprint for colonialism, which makes it okay for the colonisers, but what on earth were we Africans about? Except of course, I don’t see how various promises made by the Lord to the Israelites then become a warrant of carte blanche for imperial powers not mentioned in the Bible, but who am I to split hairs?

  • http://badtux.net Badtux

    The problem with the notion that slavery was unprofitable is that it does not match the historical record. When I was in college at a Southern university, one of my history professors made his living examining the books of cotton planters from the 1840′s and 1850′s to answer exactly that question. His answer: slavery was quite profitable. A lot of planters went out of business because they were lousy businessmen who didn’t exercise proper cashflow management, but the core business of slave-based cotton growing was not going to go away because of unprofitability. Indeed, cotton plantations did not become mechanized until the 1950′s, when a cotton-picking machine and herbicides capable of taking out weeds between the cotton plants were invented (not to mention Roundup-insensitive cotton strains). As late as 1960, more than 50% of the cotton in the state of Louisiana was still being picked by hand, mostly by black “sharecroppers” working under conditions almost indistinguishable from slavery (since the vagrancy laws allowed them to be arrested if they could not show they were “gainfully employed”, and “gainfully employed” in practice meant “working as a near-slave for a cotton plantation owner”). Only the end of state-sanctioned segregation by law and the imposition of affirmative action programs to end the informal (not-state-sanctioned) restrictions that kept blacks restricted to picking cotton truly ended the institution of slavery in the American South.

    Law — not economics — ended slavery in the American South.

    - Badtux the History Penguin

  • http://www.maulis.com Ben Maulis

    The culture and economy of the times written about in the Old Testament are quite different than today. Employment didn’t involve W4′s and SSN’s. Do you know what your contracts read?

    It is evident that you have only studied the scripture in order to find something to make your point. But you have missed the very purpose those words were written for.

    The bible does deal with issues of slavery, and whether God condones slavery or not is very clear. He says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Slavery is just that: theft. The enslaver is taking the product of the slave by force and without adaquate compensation.

    Now Jesus himself said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” We can be sure that what the Word of God tells us applies to yesterday, today, and forever.

    He also tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”

  • Polly

    @Ben:

    It is evident that you have only studied the scripture in order to find something to make your point. But you have missed the very purpose those words were written for.

    I don’t think you’re being quite fair, here. You impugned his, and everyone else’s, motives without responding to the slavery verses in the OT.

    The bible does deal with issues of slavery, and whether God condones slavery or not is very clear. He says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Slavery is just that: theft. The enslaver is taking the product of the slave by force and without adaquate compensation.

    It also said, “Thou shalt not kill” but that didn’t prevent God from ordering Moses and Joshua to exterminate whole peoples (men, women, and children). So, how do you rationalize taking 1 of the 10 commandments and misapplying it to the practice of slavery? If God had been against slavery, he could have easily condemned it the way he did such innocuous practices as: homosexuality, Sabbath-breaking, graven images, and so forth.
    But, instead, what we have in the Bible are clear regulations for a slave system (a race-based one, at that) and no explicit condemnation other than not to beat your slave TO DEATH.

  • OMGF

    @Polly,

    It also said, “Thou shalt not kill” but that didn’t prevent God from ordering Moses and Joshua to exterminate whole peoples (men, women, and children).

    You forgot the part about killing the livestock too. In fact, god becomes quite angry with Saul when he shows compassion on anyone, including livestock.

    I believe god also orders that villages that are wiped out have the Earth salted to prevent anything else from growing there, although I may be wrong about that one.

  • Polly

    Just another day in the life of an invading, barbarian horde.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Only a seriously delusional or prejudiced apologist could decide that scripture opposes slavery based on a general verse against theft, when the Bible in general and the Old Testament in particular repeatedly, clearly, and explicitly sanction slavery and condone the buying and selling of human beings.

    The answer to Ben’s argument is simple: in the biblical authors’ eyes, slavery is not theft because slaves are considered property. It’s only in modern times that we’ve attained the view that human beings are inherently free and it’s only their labor, not their self, that they can rightfully sell. That was not the view in biblical times. In their view, if you are my slave, then I own you and everything you produce, including your labor. That’s why there are verses noting that the slaves which the ancient Israelites bought would be their “possession”.

  • norman ravitch

    As an atheist I have no difficulty supporting slavery without biblical sanction.

  • Alex Weaver

    As an atheist I have no difficulty supporting slavery without biblical sanction.

    …what? O.o

  • norman ravitch

    ACCORDING TO aristotle SOME PEOPLE ARE NATURAL SLAVES.

  • OMGF

    And according to OMGF, some people should get to the point.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    God’s Will {thelema} is that each person be able to set under his own tree on his own place without fear of violence from any other person. God’s Plan {belema} takes into account the situation {at every given moment} of man’s fallen condition and the need for intervention to avoid a worse evil. The Law moderated the practices that men were doing until the time men could be persuaded {have the Law written on their heart} to treat others as they wished to be treated. We still have a long way to go {try substituting the word ‘employee’ for the word ‘slave’}, and to disparage that which has brought us this far is very foolish. The world is not going to be made perfect by doing away with the Law but rather by acting within the Law as Jesus did, in other words – fully practising and fully teaching it {and it should go without saying – fully understanding it}. The evil we find in the world is allowed so that each of us can appreciate the good, and that we can have compassion on others that have suffered evil. The evil that men do to one another is being eradicated one heart at a time.

  • Alex Weaver

    ACCORDING TO aristotle SOME PEOPLE ARE NATURAL SLAVES.

    -norman ravitch

    According to Aristotle the heart is the seat of emotion and intelligence. What’s your point?

    [Cookie-cutter theist boilerplate]

    -messianicdruid

    *sigh* Evidence, please?

  • Alex Weaver

    ACCORDING TO aristotle SOME PEOPLE ARE NATURAL SLAVES.

    -norman ravitch

    According to Aristotle the heart is the seat of emotion and intelligence. What’s your point?

    [Cookie-cutter theist boilerplate]

    -messianicdruid

    *sigh* Evidence, please?

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    Alex; I am not sent to provide you with evidence. I am not trying to convince. You will not accept stuff second hand so you will have to find out on your own, all I can provide is a hint about where to look. You might try to figure out what “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” means. This is what I find most of the bible-bashers doing when they take a few verses out of their historical context, misapproprate them and thereby showing their vast ignorance of what God is/was doing. Studying a caricature of something will not help you much in appreciating it.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    Alex; I am not sent to provide you with evidence. I am not trying to convince. You will not accept stuff second hand so you will have to find out on your own, all I can provide is a hint about where to look. You might try to figure out what “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” means. This is what I find most of the bible-bashers doing when they take a few verses out of their historical context, misapproprate them and thereby showing their vast ignorance of what God is/was doing. Studying a caricature of something will not help you much in appreciating it.

  • OMGF

    The Law moderated the practices that men were doing until the time men could be persuaded…

    What a load. God laid down the rules in the OT and those included slavery. He could very well have said, “Don’t have slaves.” Did they need more persuading than god’s words? They didn’t for all the other rules he laid down.

    The world is not going to be made perfect by doing away with the Law but rather by acting within the Law as Jesus did, in other words – fully practising and fully teaching it…

    If everyone did that, then the laws would never change. We would still have slavery, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, segregation, etc. It’s only through challenging those laws that they were changed. (Although in the case of slavery it could be argued that it wasn’t due to challenges, but still it took disobedience and unrest, not simply following the law.)

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “Did they need more persuading tha gods words? They didn’t for all the other rules he laid down.”

    They had lots of problems with the instructions in the law. Adamic man lacked the inherent ability to follow instructions. The problem began with Adam’s sin, which was imputed to all of his children, making us all mortal. Death working in us has made us weak and incapable of perfection. Until God reverses that situation, man will remain incapable of perfection. Even 40 years after God gave the law to Israel, Moses told the people in Deut. 29:4, “Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” God had not given them immortality yet, which is necessary to achieve incorruption. Many centuries later, the problem was still apparent, for Isaiah tells us in 44:18, “They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.” God told Israel what to do by giving them the law, but He did not give them the ability to actually perform it unto perfection. Many things were hidden from them that would be revealed later to those whose eyes God would open. So it was in the divine plan for the first Adam, along with Israel and Judah, to prove inability by failure. We are still proving it.
    It is not the law that failed, it is man; exactly according to the plan.

  • Alex Weaver

    They had lots of problems with the instructions in the law. Adamic man lacked the inherent ability to follow instructions. The problem began with Adam’s sin, which was imputed to all of his children, making us all mortal. Death working in us has made us weak and incapable of perfection. Until God reverses that situation, man will remain incapable of perfection. Even 40 years after God gave the law to Israel, Moses told the people in Deut. 29:4, “Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.” God had not given them immortality yet, which is necessary to achieve incorruption. Many centuries later, the problem was still apparent, for Isaiah tells us in 44:18, “They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.” God told Israel what to do by giving them the law, but He did not give them the ability to actually perform it unto perfection. Many things were hidden from them that would be revealed later to those whose eyes God would open. So it was in the divine plan for the first Adam, along with Israel and Judah, to prove inability by failure. We are still proving it.
    It is not the law that failed, it is man; exactly according to the plan.

    Emphasis mine. Make up your mind.

  • OMGF

    OK, so god laid down all these laws that men have to follow, but can’t. But, he decided to make an exception for slavery for some reason. Riiiiight.

  • http://www.messianicdruid.blogspot.com messianicdruid

    “They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.” Why didn’t you highlight this? Make up MY mind? Why don’t you try to be more specific.

  • Ohmyweareslavestosystem

    ever heard of jan van helsing,we are as my name is all what the big n rich wish us to be the slaves of todays society so that they can live a life of riches n wealth,,they do it so not to name themselves as pharoa/ceaser or kaisers for this would bring uproar but as a normal business man/woman while the rest of us slave to be bale to afford our nice little appartments or houses just enough so we have to slave on for the next pay check,no i dont have anything against work as a matter of fact I like the achievement of it,this world would be free of all its troubles if the Directors would come down n the slaves of society could go up,

  • Alex Weaver

    ever heard of jan van helsing,we are as my name is all what the big n rich wish us to be the slaves of todays society so that they can live a life of riches n wealth,,they do it so not to name themselves as pharoa/ceaser or kaisers for this would bring uproar but as a normal business man/woman while the rest of us slave to be bale to afford our nice little appartments or houses just enough so we have to slave on for the next pay check,no i dont have anything against work as a matter of fact I like the achievement of it,this world would be free of all its troubles if the Directors would come down n the slaves of society could go up,

    Really? I’ll be the first to argue that a more equitable and consistent distribution of wealth would go a long way towards relieving society’s problems, but how on earth is eliminating the upper class going to prevent hurricanes or earthquakes, say?

    Second, the experiment where “the Directors come down n the slaves of society could go up” has been tried in many countries around the world in the form of Communism and, at least in your naive formulation, failed miserably, since it simply produced a new batch of Directors even worse than the last. Clearly more is required to make society function and fulfill the needs of all its members than simply bringing the mighty low.

    Third, may I politely suggest you read up a bit on basic grammar if you want your arguments to be taken seriously?

  • Ohmyweareslavestosystem

    so dont want to get personal, but its closed minded bigamist like you that wreck this world, you your self are more than likly a manager or in higher paid position,either an american brain washed by their soceity or a upper class uk or D, as for my grammer, english is not my mother tongue, so you are arrogant to go with it,Mr Alex Weaver.not to say close minded, and whats got earthquakes n the weather to do with culture, or a different way of thinking,if u can only come up with communisn as a other way of life where as in directors n the slaves of society could go up, point of view, then you are really closed minded, the point is not that the working class get the difference but that the world gets the difference, try to be more open minded in furure.ps as I said at the start I dont want to get personal but maybe the verse dont judge another unless you have walked a hundred miles in his/her shoes comes into mind,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Alex Weaver

    A bigamist, you say? I wondered why that other woman kept following me and my wife around. ;/

    I’m an engineering technician making about the national average income and supporting a family of three on it.

    I’m curious as to what mother tongue you speak, since capitalization, punctuation, and avoidance of run-on sentences don’t seem to be part of its grammatical rules.

    Hurricances, earthquakes, and other natural disasters constitute a significant fraction of “all society’s troubles.”

    As for communism, it’s a perfect example of how overthrowing the ruling elites–which seems likely, but may not, be what you’re trying to argue for–does not automatically lead to an improvement for the people of a given society. If you’ve got a better proposal for how to go about a revolution in order to prevent it from being hijacked the same way the communist revolutions were, by all means, share. On the other hand, if you’re merely advocating establishment of greater social justice within the existing system, why are you preaching to the choir while broadcasting the strong impression that you think you’re saying something new and profound?

  • Ohmyweareslavestosystem

    ok like i said im not judging you as as I dont know u except for what u write, its a hard good life,as i trying to make ends meat etc.

    preaching to the choir is a bit harsh, but if u have read books on van helsing then maybe you see life a bit different I have always felt that there is a system out there that is only maintained for the rich n well educated oxford harvard n not the individual, after reading Jan van Helsings books it seems to make more sense,especially if your from n old old family of wealth..

    as in overthrowing,revolution talk there is no way that is ever going to happen,as todays society media driven whatever will not go for that, a lot of people are brainwashed, by the hype of being able to do/earn more n by the time you realise it you have kids to provide for and to give them a better education so they know where to put full stops n commas into their sentences, because thats whats more important than the person themselve, how you look what u do what u say what your job is how much u earn what your political view is right or leftwing,,what u drive,, all these are more important to people these day (or most people)…I dont like putting a country to my origin as i am from neither here or there as in typical for those countries but I abode in middle/south europe, the last i need to know is capitalization, punctuation, and avoidance of run-on sentences òr grammatical rules, what im realy interested in, is the person, cultures amazing how different they r being european asian american whateverbut when it comes to wellbeing of the family we all have the same in common well almost all,

    me being new in my thoughts or ways no i dont think so!!!!

    communism is not the way but neither is the western way, thats my point of view and we are all entitled to them..

    all the best n have a good un

  • bassmanpete

    the last i need to know is capitalization, punctuation, and avoidance of run-on sentences òr grammatical rules

    What you’re really saying is that your time is more important than that of all the people who have to spend THEIR time trying to make sense of your illiterate ramblings!

  • Ohmyweareslavestosystem

    another one with negativity,, carritas has estimated the iraq war at 230 million dollars this could have been put to a lot better use in the third world countries or New Orleans like places,, but go on have a pun at my grammer and punctuation,,

  • Alex Weaver

    another one with negativity,, carritas has estimated the iraq war at 230 million dollars this could have been put to a lot better use in the third world countries or New Orleans like places,, but go on have a pun at my grammer and punctuation,,

    If we were opposed to the general ideas you’re attempting to advance (social justice, etc.) wouldn’t we be encouraging their advocates to employ this level of stylistic and mechanical competence?

  • Ohmyweareslavestosystem

    If we were opposed to the general ideas you’re attempting to advance (social justice, etc.) wouldn’t we be encouraging their advocates to employ this level of stylistic and mechanical competence?

    we, who is we, as in we of this modern wolrd, who are taught/told brainwashed into this society.

    as to your question, “wouldnt we be encouraging their advocates”, if it has a financial gain for some big oil company or the equivalant yes, if not no, nothing is being done in this day n age without it being of profit,

    shouldnt it be more for the good of nature not just mankind but all,

    we all have to gain more profits every year either by staff cuts or higher sales
    sooner or later we will all be back in 1890s with a industrial revolution, just because the big man wants more,

    how does a new age start…

  • MikhailMulentov

    It is sad when people don’t know any of the historical background on the Bible and feed their fellow men the lies of the ignorant, however, it is certainly typical to man’s nature; the common clash of the ego and the inherent morality that is given to man.

  • MikhailMulentov

    It is sad when people don’t know any of the historical background on the Bible and feed their fellow men the lies of the ignorant, however, it is certainly typical to man’s nature; the common clash of the ego and the inherent morality that is given to man.

  • Zach

    The Bible was not written by God’s hand, but by a man. It’s word is not necessarily that of God, but surely of one who thought it was.

  • Zach

    The Bible was not written by God’s hand, but by a man. It’s word is not necessarily that of God, but surely of one who thought it was.

  • Journey Jay

    Is slavery inherently wrong? On what grounds can you say anyone’s belief is wrong?

    “The flaw of slavery is not slavery itself, but that one human would treat another lower than himself.”

  • Journey Jay

    Is slavery inherently wrong? On what grounds can you say anyone’s belief is wrong?

    “The flaw of slavery is not slavery itself, but that one human would treat another lower than himself.”

  • Luke

    I know this is an old forum, but I cannot help my self. I did not get a chance to check all the quotes from the bible listed above, but the one from the Gospel of Luke is blatantly taken out of context. The servant in question is being beaten by the lord/master for beating the other servants, being drunken, and generally not doing what was asked because he mistakenly believed the master of the house would not return so soon. Conversely, the good servant, when the master returned, was made the lord of all. Yes, that’s right, given the master’s belongings (ie put in charge), not exactly what one does to a slave huh.

    I respect your right to disagree with the bible and wonder about some of the strange messages in it, but to intentionally take select passages out of context just to warp the message to favor your own beliefs is not only dishonest (meaning morally wrong), but also calling me stupid which I find to be most insulting. You should be ashamed of yourself for not treating your fellow human beings with the respect their intelligence deserves; for treating us as no better than the slaves you rail against others mistreating.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I wonder why this Word of a Perfect God did not take the opportunity to condemn slavery in the passage, don’t you?

    Aftyer all:

    All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

    Right?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I wonder why this Word of a Perfect God did not take the opportunity to condemn slavery in the passage, don’t you?

    Aftyer all:

    All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.

    Right?

  • DSimon

    The servant in question is being beaten by the lord/master for beating the other servants, being drunken, and generally not doing what was asked because he mistakenly believed the master of the house would not return so soon.

    So it’s morally just to enslave people as long as they’re assholes?

    And don’t even start with the “But it’s just like jails and the justice system!” stuff. No, it’s not. Slaves do not get legal representation, they do not get a jury of their peers, they do not get habeas corpus, they do not get a guarantee of equal treatment to other people who have committed similar offenses, and they have no ability to influence the laws that govern them.

    Yes, that’s right, given the master’s belongings (ie put in charge), not exactly what one does to a slave huh.

    Um, yeah, actually, that is something one can do to a slave. There’s a lot of cultures with slavery mechanisms that involve eventual release, or the release of the slave’s children. That doesn’t make the slavery they committed any less wrong.

    A slaveholder eventually setting one of their slaves free, perhaps after giving them lots of stuff, is great and all… but it doesn’t morally cancel out the fact that they were withholding the slave’s freedom for all the time they were owned.

  • DSimon

    The servant in question is being beaten by the lord/master for beating the other servants, being drunken, and generally not doing what was asked because he mistakenly believed the master of the house would not return so soon.

    So it’s morally just to enslave people as long as they’re assholes?

    And don’t even start with the “But it’s just like jails and the justice system!” stuff. No, it’s not. Slaves do not get legal representation, they do not get a jury of their peers, they do not get habeas corpus, they do not get a guarantee of equal treatment to other people who have committed similar offenses, and they have no ability to influence the laws that govern them.

    Yes, that’s right, given the master’s belongings (ie put in charge), not exactly what one does to a slave huh.

    Um, yeah, actually, that is something one can do to a slave. There’s a lot of cultures with slavery mechanisms that involve eventual release, or the release of the slave’s children. That doesn’t make the slavery they committed any less wrong.

    A slaveholder eventually setting one of their slaves free, perhaps after giving them lots of stuff, is great and all… but it doesn’t morally cancel out the fact that they were withholding the slave’s freedom for all the time they were owned.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    The servant in question is being beaten by the lord/master for beating the other servants, being drunken, and generally not doing what was asked because he mistakenly believed the master of the house would not return so soon.

    Yes, I agree that that’s what that verse says. What word would you use to describe the relationship between that servant and that master, if not slavery? What other sort of relationship gives me the power to beat and whip you if you don’t do as I say?

    Conversely, the good servant, when the master returned, was made the lord of all. Yes, that’s right, given the master’s belongings (ie put in charge), not exactly what one does to a slave huh.

    Luke, you really need to try reading the Bible in its original language. The Greek word used in this verse which is translated as “servant” is doulos. Here’s how Strong’s Concordance translates that word: “a slave, bondman, man of servile condition”, and notes that it derives from a Greek root word which means “to bind with chains”.

    Obviously, the parable is being used to serve Christian theological needs, which is why it ends with the good slave being put in charge of his master’s house. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus favorably compares God to a slaveholder who beats and whips his slaves for not obeying him, just as I said.

  • jim

    Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” It’s just a heads-up.

  • jim

    Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” It’s just a heads-up.

  • RevLucifer

    It’s amazing how Christian apologists will bend over backwards to justify their beliefs in the face of the atrocities that their faith condones. So far, on the “pro-Christian” side, I’ve read posts from people who claim that a quote was taken out of context (and not very far out of context, from the explanation given); that “God” expected us to figure out on our own that slavery was bad, when he explicitly outlawed certain things; and a convoluted remark about not stealing. I’ll tackle the second one first, because the first one is just too easy, and the third has already been addressed (according to the Bible, a slave and all his labor is explicitly the property of the owner, and you cannot steal something that you already own).

    If we are to now accept that Biblical law is not absolute, how can it be used to justify other legal prohibitions? If slavery was okay according to the Bible, but only because God wanted us to figure out for ourself that it’s okay, doesn’t that hold true for homosexuality? How about bestiality? Does that mean that it’s okay to steal now? What laws in the Bible are absolute, and how are we supposed to figure that out?

    According to every single Biblical tradition (Christianity and Judaism as a whole), even when certain passages are to be taken as metaphorical, the laws laid down by God are absolute. How can you come and say that when God says it’s okay to beat your slaves as long as you don’t kill them, that he truly meant that slavery was wrong? Did God condemn the slave owners to hell because slavery was inherently wrong, or did he allow them to pass on to heaven because they followed the letter of the law? Does that mean that I can still own slaves and get into heaven, because neither God nor Jesus explicitly said that doing so was wrong? How can God condemn me for something that is explicitly condoned according to his Law, just because we, as humans, think it’s wrong?

    If I’m to be condemned to hell for violating a law of man that contradicts a law of God, does that mean that the law of man trumps the law of God? If that’s the case, then how can we consider abortion to be wrong when it’s a legal medical procedure? I would think that if man can decide that he knows better than God, and that we are to accept that the law of man trumps the law of God, then the debate over the legality of abortion or homosexual marriage should be over; we have the moral authority to decide what is and is not acceptible, and God will defer to our wisdom. That is the explanation provided by MessianicDruid.

    As for the issue of “context”; please provide a single Biblical verse that says clearly that slavery is inherently wrong. Even putting the verse in context, it condones slavery, as the slave is being sent back to his master and being chided for being disobedient. In fact, the Bible specifically speaks out *against* slaves being unruly. And as for the slave that got elevated in that story, it was common practice to place certain slaves in positions of authority in the household. Being the personal servant for the head of the household was an enviable position, because the work load was typically more managerial than laborious, you were sometimes even given (somewhat) private quarters, instead of having to share the servant’s quarters like the common slaves, and you were allowed to exercise some control over the rest of the household slaves. In exchange, however, you were usually held responsible for the failings of the common slaves, and could be beat alongside them for their failing to perform their duties, as you failed to perform yours, which was making sure they did as they should.

    You may have been given a degree of autonomy as well; while most slaves were not allowed to leave the household without their master, you may have been allowed to come and go relatively freely, since you have earned the trust of your master. This is not the same as freedom. As Ebonmuse stated, even if taken as only a parable, and not a literal story (which doesn’t condemn slavery), then it’s clearly meant to demonstrate that if you are good slave for God, then in the end you will become a favored slave. Not free, just a slave who has a little bit more freedom than the rest of the slaves.

    None of these arguments have effectively disputed the preponderence of evidence supporting the institution of slavery in the Bible. And even if you began quoting the verses that have been previously used to argue against slavery from a Christian perspective, those are general or vague at best, but mostly irrelevent to the act of slavery, and are in short supply compared to the sheer volume of verses that explicitly condone and regulate slavery. And if you wish to continue in the vein that God secretly wanted us to figure out it was bad on our own, then that leads to only one conclusion. God lied to mankind, and violated his own commandment; “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” (that means no lying). That means that God feels he is above his own laws, and we have a word for rulers that feel they are above the law: Tyrant. Not exactly the type of God I’d like to worship.

  • RevLucifer

    It’s amazing how Christian apologists will bend over backwards to justify their beliefs in the face of the atrocities that their faith condones. So far, on the “pro-Christian” side, I’ve read posts from people who claim that a quote was taken out of context (and not very far out of context, from the explanation given); that “God” expected us to figure out on our own that slavery was bad, when he explicitly outlawed certain things; and a convoluted remark about not stealing. I’ll tackle the second one first, because the first one is just too easy, and the third has already been addressed (according to the Bible, a slave and all his labor is explicitly the property of the owner, and you cannot steal something that you already own).

    If we are to now accept that Biblical law is not absolute, how can it be used to justify other legal prohibitions? If slavery was okay according to the Bible, but only because God wanted us to figure out for ourself that it’s okay, doesn’t that hold true for homosexuality? How about bestiality? Does that mean that it’s okay to steal now? What laws in the Bible are absolute, and how are we supposed to figure that out?

    According to every single Biblical tradition (Christianity and Judaism as a whole), even when certain passages are to be taken as metaphorical, the laws laid down by God are absolute. How can you come and say that when God says it’s okay to beat your slaves as long as you don’t kill them, that he truly meant that slavery was wrong? Did God condemn the slave owners to hell because slavery was inherently wrong, or did he allow them to pass on to heaven because they followed the letter of the law? Does that mean that I can still own slaves and get into heaven, because neither God nor Jesus explicitly said that doing so was wrong? How can God condemn me for something that is explicitly condoned according to his Law, just because we, as humans, think it’s wrong?

    If I’m to be condemned to hell for violating a law of man that contradicts a law of God, does that mean that the law of man trumps the law of God? If that’s the case, then how can we consider abortion to be wrong when it’s a legal medical procedure? I would think that if man can decide that he knows better than God, and that we are to accept that the law of man trumps the law of God, then the debate over the legality of abortion or homosexual marriage should be over; we have the moral authority to decide what is and is not acceptible, and God will defer to our wisdom. That is the explanation provided by MessianicDruid.

    As for the issue of “context”; please provide a single Biblical verse that says clearly that slavery is inherently wrong. Even putting the verse in context, it condones slavery, as the slave is being sent back to his master and being chided for being disobedient. In fact, the Bible specifically speaks out *against* slaves being unruly. And as for the slave that got elevated in that story, it was common practice to place certain slaves in positions of authority in the household. Being the personal servant for the head of the household was an enviable position, because the work load was typically more managerial than laborious, you were sometimes even given (somewhat) private quarters, instead of having to share the servant’s quarters like the common slaves, and you were allowed to exercise some control over the rest of the household slaves. In exchange, however, you were usually held responsible for the failings of the common slaves, and could be beat alongside them for their failing to perform their duties, as you failed to perform yours, which was making sure they did as they should.

    You may have been given a degree of autonomy as well; while most slaves were not allowed to leave the household without their master, you may have been allowed to come and go relatively freely, since you have earned the trust of your master. This is not the same as freedom. As Ebonmuse stated, even if taken as only a parable, and not a literal story (which doesn’t condemn slavery), then it’s clearly meant to demonstrate that if you are good slave for God, then in the end you will become a favored slave. Not free, just a slave who has a little bit more freedom than the rest of the slaves.

    None of these arguments have effectively disputed the preponderence of evidence supporting the institution of slavery in the Bible. And even if you began quoting the verses that have been previously used to argue against slavery from a Christian perspective, those are general or vague at best, but mostly irrelevent to the act of slavery, and are in short supply compared to the sheer volume of verses that explicitly condone and regulate slavery. And if you wish to continue in the vein that God secretly wanted us to figure out it was bad on our own, then that leads to only one conclusion. God lied to mankind, and violated his own commandment; “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness” (that means no lying). That means that God feels he is above his own laws, and we have a word for rulers that feel they are above the law: Tyrant. Not exactly the type of God I’d like to worship.

  • HisChild

    Your applying race to this debate. in the bible slaves were not of a specific color. and slaves were slaves because they had to pay off debts, more of indentured servants. or it was their only means of survival, their owners gave them a home and food. sure along with the title of slave you were beaten for wrong doing, but that was the justice system, they were like children being punished, and unlike the slavery of African American’s in the 1800′s these people weren’t looked as, as lesser humans

  • GCT

    Your applying race to this debate. in the bible slaves were not of a specific color.

    No, they were of specific tribes.

    and slaves were slaves because they had to pay off debts, more of indentured servants.

    Some were, some were not. Jews were allowed to sell themselves or their family members into slavery to help pay off debts (which doesn’t make it right BTW) while other slaves were taken from the non-Jews around them. They were not simply indentured servants, but conquered people taken into slavery.

    sure along with the title of slave you were beaten for wrong doing, but that was the justice system…

    A) You’ve rejected the idea of absolute morality, which defeats your Xian stance.

    B) You’re now defending the beating as well as the owning of another human being.

    …and unlike the slavery of African American’s in the 1800′s these people weren’t looked as, as lesser humans

    Absolute and utter bullshit. Even if this were the case, this is still a terrible defense that essentially boils down to, “At least it wasn’t as bad as that other slavery system.”

  • Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes

    What’s most sad is that the people who’s ancestors had Christianity violently forced upon them are today the most religious people on the planet. On a recent visit to the slave castles in Ghana, I actually saw inscribed on one of the walls a statement expressing that slavery wasn’t all bad because it brought with it the Christian religion. I was simply appalled but that is how many Black people feel. It’s better to be a Christian servant than a free heathen is an expression I’ve heard over and over all of my life. I can understand people who say that there must be something beyond ourselves. I don’t think that there must be or see any evidence that there is but okay if you say so. What I don’t get are Biblical literalist who refuse to take a critical look at what the doctrine they are upholding is actually saying and how it has historically been manifested.


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