God the Bible and Slavery

If one reads: "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas DiLiorenzo, they will be much the wiser as to the true causes of Lincoln's unholy war against the South. The claim of preserving the Union by the invaders of the South was ineffectual in persuading European powers to abandon their support of the Southern Confederacy and thus, the invaders belatedly and hypocritically changed their tune by claiming that the abolishment of slavery was their cause. For where there is nothing praiseworthy or moral in claiming to preserve a union that is the product of secession its self, there was virtue and honor in claiming to liberate slaves.

Even so, had the outcome of the American Civil War been solely dependent upon which side was faithful to what the Scriptures teach about slavery, the South surely would have won the war. (WLH)

Slavery in the Bible: http://www.evilbible.com/Slavery.htm

"Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do. Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves.

Many Jews and Christians will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants. Many translations of the Bible use the word "servant", "bondservant", or "manservant" instead of "slave" to make the Bible seem less immoral than it really is. While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn't mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and treated worse than livestock.

The following passage shows that slaves are clearly property to be bought and sold like livestock.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

The following passage describes how the Hebrew slaves are to be treated.

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. What kind of family values are these?

The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a sex slave?

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

So these are the Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and screws them!

What does the Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don't die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing.

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)"

Christianity and History: Bible, Race & Slavery: http://atheism.about.com/library/weekly/aa112598.htm

"...when southern clergy became ardent defenders of slavery, the master class could look upon organized religion as an ally ...the gospel, instead of becoming a mean of creating trouble and strive, was really the best instrument to preserve peace and good conduct among the negroes."

"Through teaching slaves the message of the Bible, they could be encouraged to bear the earthly burden in exchange for heavenly rewards later on - and they could be frightened into believing that disobedience to earthly masters would be perceived by God as disobedience to Him. Ironically, enforced illiteracy prevented slaves from reading the Bible themselves. This is ironic because a similar situation existed in Europe during the Middle Ages, as illiterate peasants and serfs were prevented from reading the Bible in their own language - a situation which was instrumental in the Protestant revolution. Now, Protestants were doing much the same thing African slaves: using the authority of their Bible and the dogma of their religion to repress a group of people without even allowing them to read the basis of authority on their own.

Division and Conflict

As Northerners decried slavery and called for its abolition, southern political and religious leaders found an easy ally for their pro-slavery cause in the Bible and Christian history. In 1856 Reverend Thomas Stringfellow, a Baptist minister from Culpepper County in Virginia, put the pro-slavery Christian message succinctly in his "A Scriptural View of Slavery:"

...Jesus Christ recognized this institution as one that was lawful among men, and regulated its relative duties... I affirm then, first (and no man denies) that Jesus Christ has not abolished slavery by a prohibitory command; and second, I affirm, he has introduced no new moral principle which can work its destruction...

Of course, Christians in the North disagreed - and some denominations, like Quakers, appear to have never been afflicted by slavery. Interestingly, most abolitionist attacks were based on the premise that the nature of Hebrew slavery differed in significant ways from the nature of slavery in the American South. Although this was meant to argue that the American form of slavery did not enjoy Biblical support, it nevertheless tacitly admitted that the institution of slavery did, in principle, have divine sanction and approval so long as conducted in an appropriate manner.

In the end, the North won on the question of slavery. Although the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in an effort to preserve the Christian basis for slavery before the start of the Civil War, they did not feel it necessary to bother apologizing until June 1995. The reason was that even though the question of slavery had been settled, the question of race still burned.

Repression and Superiority

The later repression and discrimination against the freed black slaves received as much biblical and Christian support as the earlier institution of slavery itself. This discrimination and the choice to enslave blacks only was made primarily on the basis of what has become known as the "sin of Ham" or "the curse of Canaan." Occasionally there would also be defenses of the inferiority of blacks by asserting that they bore the "mark of Cain."

We read in Genesis, chapter nine, that Noah's son Ham comes upon him sleeping off a drinking binge and sees his father naked. Instead of covering him, he runs and tells his brothers. Shem and Japheth, the "good" brothers, return and cover their father. In retaliation for Ham's "sinful act" of seeing his father nude, Noah puts a curse on his grandson (Ham's son) Canaan: ?Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers" (Gen 9:25).

Over time, this curse came to be interpreted that Ham was literally "burnt," and that all his descendants had black skin, marking them as slaves with a convenient color-coded label for subservience. When and how this gained widespread acceptance is questionable, but anti-slavery religious and political leaders have worked to refute it for more than a century. Today, biblical scholars note that the ancient Hebrew word "ham" does not have to be translated as "burnt" or "black" - but there is unfortunately little consensus on how the name and passage should be interpreted. Further complicating matters is the position of some Afrocentrists that Ham, although not actually cursed (despite what the Bible says!) was indeed black, as were many other characters in the Bible. Once again, people end up reading the passage as supporting their own racial assumptions.

Although many Christians today would be horrified at using the Bible as a support for racism, they should recognize that it was used in just such a fashion by Christians in America in the same way and with the same justification as Christians today use the Bible in their defense of their favorite ideas. Even as recently as the 1950's and 60's, Christians vehemently opposed desegregation or "race-mixing" for religious reasons. The "curse" of poor Ham lingered on in the minds of white Christians who fought to preserve a constant separation of the races.

A corollary to the inferiority of blacks has long been the superiority of white Protestants - something which has not yet dissipated in America. Although "Caucasians" are not to be found anywhere in the Bible, that hasn't stopped members of Christian Identity groups from using the Bible to prove that they are the true "chosen people" or "true Israelites." This may seem bizarre, but it has long been popular among American Protestants to see themselves as being "divinely appointed" to tame the American wilderness despite the "demon Indians." Americans are supposed to be blessed with a special destiny by God, and many read an American role in Armageddon in the book of Revelations. I am ever amazed at the degree to which Christianity encourages extreme egotism and inflated sense of self-importance or personal destiny.

Christian Identity is just a new kid on the block of White Protestant Supremacy - the earliest such group was the infamous Ku Klux Klan. Too few people realize that the KKK was founded as a Christian organization and still sees itself in terms of defending true Christianity. Especially in the earliest days, Klansmen openly recruited in churches (white and segregated, of course), attracting members from all strata of society, including the clergy.

Although Klan ceremonies have varied greatly, one common form will include an American flag, a cross, and a Bible opened to Romans 12, exhorting Christians to "godly conduct, godly nature." Also common is a sword representing the war against all enemies of the Christian life an the American "Christian Nation." Opening and closing prayers may often include "The living Christ is a Klansman's criterion of character." The origin of a burning cross is unclear - it may stem from the ancient Scottish tradition of burning a cross on a hill to call together the clans, or it may be representative of spreading the light of the True Cross in an effort to promote Christian faith.

Interpretation and Apologetics

The cultural and personal assumptions of the pro-slavery Christians (and pro-slavery biblical authors) quoted above are probably obvious to all of us now, but I doubt that they were obvious to slavery supporters at the time. Similarly, today, I'm sure that few people are aware of the cultural and personal baggage which they bring to their readings. They assume the truth of what they believe, and are determined to find divine sanction for their beliefs in their holy book. I think that these Christians would be better off defending their ideas on their own merits, but I quite honestly doubt they are capable of it. Perhaps they doubt themselves too, and that's why they don't try.

My recommendation is against ever accepting any sort of "common sense" defense of any biblical interpretation. Throughout history, the idea that someone's interpretation is just "common sense" has been used on every side of every issue, including today's topic of slavery. Defense of an interpretation can only be done via rational, logical argument. Unfortunately for Christians, that has been used effectively on every side of every issue, too - including today's topic of slavery.

Maybe that means that using the Bible isn't a valid defense of an idea? Could be... "

SLAVERY and the BIBLE: http://home.inu.net/skeptic/slavery.html

Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty - - 2 Corinthians 3:17

Louis W. Cable

"There is no morality outside of the Holy Bible! We hear this cliché repeated ad nauseam by Bible believers. But is the Bible itself morally flawed? Take for example the institution of human slavery perhaps the most degrading form of social subordination. Could anything be more immoral than the buying and selling of fellow human beings into a hopeless life of involuntary servitude? What does the Bible have to say about it? Well, we'll see. But first, let us briefly review the history of slavery in the United States of America.

The importation of African slaves into the New World began shortly after Columbus' famous "discovery" in 1492. In 1517 the Bishop of Las Casas, a high official in the Roman Catholic Church, encouraged immigration to the New World by permitting Spaniards to import twelve Negroes each2. So Christianity and African slaves were introduced into the New World at about the same time. In what was later to become the United States of America it begin in 1619 when twenty Africans were off loaded from a Dutch ship at Jamestown, Virginia and sold into slavery3. From these humble beginnings the slave trade blossomed into a hugely profitable venture.

Many of our revered founding fathers were slave owners. George Washington, the father of our country, owned slaves as did the great Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence. Patrick Henry, the great orator who coined the famous slogan, "Give me liberty or give me death," was, ironically enough, a slave owner. The slaver trade was recognized as a legitimate commercial enterprise, and slave markets operated openly. The rights of slave owners were protected by law while the slave, of course, had no rights. Although President Lincoln's famous Emancipation Proclamation became effective on January 1,1863, (Only in the Confederate States!) slavery did not officially end in this country until the thirteenth amendment to the U. S. Constitution was finally ratified in 1865.

Slavery was legal in the United States for almost two hundred and fifty years. Why so long? Isn't this a Christian nation founded on God's word, the Holy Bible? That's what many Christians tell me. Well, if that's so, maybe that's where the rub comes in because the Bible not only condones slavery, it actually encourages that cruel institution and has, in fact, been effectively used to promote and preserve it. Here, for example, is a quote from Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederacy, "It (slavery) was established by decree of Almighty God and is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation4."

President Davis was right. God approves of slavery. In Exodus 21 the guidelines for the buying, selling and treatment of slaves is given. God says in verse 4 that if a male slave marries, his wife and children shall remain with the master when the slave departs because technically speaking they belong to the master. How's that for family values? Now if the slave is imprudent enough to protests because he loves his wife and children and wants to stay on, the consequences can be pretty drastic. In verse 6 the master is directed to "Bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever". This is all repeated with some minor alteration in Deuteronomy 15:16-17. Here the master is told to "Do likewise to your maid slaves." In Exodus 21:7-9 God even instructs men how they are to go about selling their own daughters into slavery.

Concerning family values, in Joel 3:8 God warns that, "I will sell your sons and your daughters to the Judians, and they shall in turn sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off." In case you are still unconvinced, try 1 Tim. 6:1-2; "Let slaves regard their masters as worthy of all honor." Matthew 10:24 and John 13:16 remind us that slaves are never better than their masters. Women take note that in Titus 2:9-10 slaves are ordered to, "Be submissive to your master and give satisfaction in every respect." Also check Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22 which say, "Slaves obey your master." Of the venerated Ten Commandments, numbers four and ten recognize and therefore give tacit approval to slavery. In fact, neither the Old or New Testament contains an outright condemnation of this infamous institution.

In Genesis 3:16 God decrees that as a result of the "fall" the wife will henceforth be ruled over by her husband thereby relegating women to the status of a slave. This second class status for women is reinforced throughout the Bible. Although somewhat offset in Ephesians 5:25 where husbands are told to love their wives, there is an unresolved contradiction here. The question remains: How can a master truly love his slave - and just as important - how can a slave truly love her master? The biblically mandated husband/wife relationship breads nothing but resentment, contempt and hatred.

What did Jesus have to say about slavery? Well, in the cherished Sermon of the Mount, allegedly given by him and recognized as a prescription for Christian living, the institution of slavery, so prevalent at the time, is never mentioned. However, in Matthew 8 Jesus heals the Roman centurion's slave while (v10) praising the centurion for his exemplary faithfulness. Why didn't Jesus seize this opportunity to condemn slavery and forbid it? But the most astounding pro-slavery statement in the Bible is made by Jesus himself in Matthew 10:24-25. Here he not only reminds slaves that they are never above their master, he actually recommends that they strive to be like him.

Throughout the gospels Jesus ignores countless opportunities to condemn slavery. Another good example is the parable of the ten pound (Luke 19:11-27). Here we read how while visiting at the house of Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector, Jesus ceases upon the opportunity to lecture us on the proper technique of profitable money investment. In verse 27 the greedy, wicked nobleman tells his slaves, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Instead of condemning such a display of wanton cruelty and intolerance as he should have Jesus simply ignores it and goes on with his money-saving lecture thereby passing up another opportunity to register his condemnation of slavery.

What are some other Bible commentaries concerning slavery? Peter, Jesus' favorite disciple, directs slaves to obey and fear their master without question, even though he may be cruel and unjust (1 Peter 2:18). This directive is repeated in Ephesians 6:5. In Exodus 21:26-27 and Proverbs 29:19 God tells the masters how to punish their slaves. In Leviticus 25:44-46 God instructs his chosen people on how to treat their slaves. Here he sets a more lenient standard for the Israelite slaves than for those who are not Israelites. But, God is not totally without a sense of justice because in Exodus 21:20-21 he says that if the master beats a slave to death, the master shall be punished. If, however, the severely beaten slave lingers on for a day or two, the master is off the hook. God says in Exodus 21:28-32 that if an ox gores a slave, the ox's owner shall give the slave master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned to death. In Deuteronomy 20:13-14 God tells the Israelites what they should do with the inhabitants of a conquered city, "Whereas the men must be killed, the women and children are to be taken as the spoils of war." Presumably that gives the Israelites the green light to sell them into slavery.

Those among us who remain dedicated to the Bible, especially African Americans, should realize that while it may be morally correct in some cases, the Bible's unrelenting endorsement of slavery is certainly immoral. Now, some Bible apologists have been quick to point out to me those verses such as Colossians 4:1directing the slave owner to be kind to his slaves. I would just remind them that regardless of whether the master is sweet and gentle or mean and cruel the slave is still a slave and therefore is bereft of freedom and stripped of human dignity. In the final analysis it is the liberal secular state, not the Bible, which we have to thank for ending slavery. Also, it is the liberal secular state, not the church, which stands as the guarantor of freedom and human rights. The truth is that human rights were (and are being) achieved today not because of the Bible but in spite of it. "

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 

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