In his latest Worldnutdaily column, which was written in response to a question he got on Facebook about slavery and the Bible, Ray Comfort does a rather obvious snowjob over the subject of slavery in the Bible. Like most Christian apologists, he mentions one kind of servitude and then pretends that it is the only kind:
The Old Testament contains 613 precepts of Hebrew law: moral (for example, the Ten Commandments), civil (if you steal an ox you pay back an ox – what we call “restitution”) and ceremonial (ordinances of worship – what to wear, building the Tabernacle, etc.). A slave in Scripture is also called a “bond servant.” If someone got into debt, they could pay off that “bond” by working for the person to whom they owed money.
Nowadays we throw people into prison, costing the state billions, and no one gets paid back. In American history, human beings were kidnapped from other countries and sold into cruel slavery. Kidnapping under Hebrew law, however, was outlawed and was punishable by death.
He’s lying. Yes, it’s certainly true that the Bible does command this kind of indentured servitude, which was temporary. That’s all in Exodus 21. But Leviticus 25 clearly spells out two entirely different kinds of servitude, one for their fellow Israelites that fall into debt (the kind Comfort mentions) and one for foreigners (the kind Comfort conveniently pretends does not exist). Here’s the rule for Israelites:
39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
When the Israelites conquered another group of people, they took many of those people as slaves (which was the norm for all nations at the time). So yes, they did kidnap people and keep them as slaves to be bought or sold as property forever, handing the slaves and their offspring down to their children and grandchildren. And all of that is done at God’s explicit command.
And the excuses that Christians come up with for this are utterly laughable. I’ve heard some claim that God was always opposed to slavery, but he knew he had to bring his people along slowly in this regard rather than just telling them straight out to stop. But that doesn’t seem to be the case with any other rule. According to the Bible, God hands out hundreds of very specific and explicit commandments, down to what to eat and how to dress, and makes violations of many of those commands punishable by death. But nowhere does he say “Oh yeah, and don’t own other human beings. It’s wrong.”