Does God approve of slavery?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Jan 26, 2021.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Let's start with the Christian God (or the Jewish one).

    Here are some extracts from the bible about slavery. This is from Exodus, Chapter 21.

    21 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.

    7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

    20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

    26 “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.
    Here's one from 1 Peter 2:18:

    18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
    And from Colossians 3:22

    22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
    And Leviticus 25:

    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.
    Christians and other believers:

    Do you agree with and support these biblical commandments on slavery?

    Is this the word of God?

    If you don't agree with slavery, can you please explain how you reconcile your God's words about slavery with your own beliefs?
    Dennis Tate likes this.
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Don't see anything in there about payment (guessing any would be minimal or consists of only food)

    If he (slave) obtains a wife is the work and any wage shared or master up for master up for a wage increase?

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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Slaves aren't paid. Slaves are property, as is clear from the passages quoted.

    Paying them would be like paying your fridge, or paying your wristwatch, or your house.

    As iceaura often notes, the language often breaks down when dishonest people start to dissemble and evade.

    Do you intend to engage with the thread topic or not, Michael?
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  7. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    I'm done since I don't believe in god

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  8. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Folk think thats the olden times but they fail to think about how good christians of the South held up the bible as their authority to own slaves.
    This is another example of something that is best thrown out...I have heard many christians argue that these passages are ok well because it was different back then...but these folk who argue that way are brain washed fools incapable of seeing anything bad about their terrible cult.
  9. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Not just the southerners. Slavery is enshrined in the US Constitution. It took an amendment to abolish it. Washington and Jefferson owned slaves. The Whitehouse was built in part with slave labor.
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    James, I think this is a bit naive. For one thing, the Old Testament is far older than the New and is a lot more brutal and tribal. The New Testament is meant to be an advance on the thinking of the Old. So if this is supposed to be a critique of Christian attitudes to slavery, it is the New Testament that we should look at.

    Secondly, slavery was a fact of life in societies of that time and it was not the purpose of Jesus or St Paul to start a political revolution. That is very clear from the Gospels and Epistles. SS Peter and Paul are basically teaching a kind of stoic acceptance of the unfairness of life - something that many religions teach, not to mention Greek philosophers. By the way, St Paul addresses the slaves as well as the free men in his writings. So he evidently expects slaves to be Christian, just as much as free men, treats them as equals and is at pains to say there is no slavery in the kingdom of God. Many slaves became Christian, in fact.

    There is a fairly comprehensive Wiki article on all this here:
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    The quotes I provided from Peter and Colossians are New Testament, not Old.

    I might also point out that nowhere is it recorded in the bible that Jesus said owning other people as property is wrong. Slavery is taken for granted in the New Testament. None of the New Testament books speak against it, explicitly.

    Moreover, Christians didn't throw away the Old Testament when the New Testament was compiled. Fundamentalist Christians often say that they adhere to the Old Testament rules as well as to the New, which is rarely true but it is what they say.

    More importantly, Christians say that the bible is the Word Of God. If God doesn't support or condone slavery, how hard would it have been for him to make sure that there was at least a verse or two explaining why He considered slavery an abomination?

    It's hard to say what Jesus's purpose was, since we only have accounts of his sayings and activities that were written decades after he died.

    As far Paul, it seems that, like most of the people of his time, he took slavery for granted. A lot of the New Testament rules that have become entrenched in modern Churches are more down to Paul than to Jesus.

    A promise of freedom in the afterlife is a good way to gain converts to one's new religion. Paul was nothing if not a good publicist.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Indeed, Jesus himself says "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." (The Law being the laws laid out in the Old Testament, which of course at that time wasn't called the Old Testament.)
  13. Q-reeus Banned Valued Senior Member

    What you are leaving out in conveniently trying to equate OT (Jewish/Hebrew) 'slavery is good - here are the rules' to NT (Christian) 'if a slave be a diligent one' is the eschatological mindset of the latter. It's easy to show all the NT prominent figures/writers including Jesus and Paul believed and taught the End Times were upon that generation. God would soon intervene to bring in His Kingdom where presumably slavery would cease. Hence to start some campaign to abolish it beforehand would only invite a harsh backlash that would be a huge impediment to their main aim of proselytizing as a somewhat urgent imperative. Save souls now, leave the rest till later.
    By contrast the Jewish/Hebrew OT take on slavery was a permanent mindset to continue from generation to generation into perpetuity. So your clever emphasizing Christian over Jewish approval of slavery is bogus. And btw you left out what imo was the most outrageous example of Jewish OT approval of slavery - Exodus 21:4. Part and parcel of what is declared to be 'Good and Just and Holy' laws and precepts.

    I also notice you deliberately exclude Islam from the equation. Islam was and remains in certain quarters a notoriously aggressive upholder and plier of the slave trade. I'm unfamiliar with the Quran so can't quote pro slavery passages from it, but given the known history, they must be there.

    Finally, it was a Christian - William Wilberforce - who initiated the abolition of slavery in the Christian West.
    I'm no longer a Christian but object to distorted representation of the topic.
  14. river

    It is known . In ancient times as well .
  15. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes but you chose to mix quotations from the OT in with those from the NT, to make it look worse.

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    This about the bible being" the word of God", therefore Christians must agree with every word of going to go nowhere. The bible is full of assumptions that were culturally normal for the period and its purpose is not to be agitprop. Where, for instance is the demand for women to be treated as social equals of men? How scandalous! And why did Jesus not agitate for a revolution, to throw off the Roman oppressors? Another shocking dereliction of duty!

    The bible is not a manifesto for social revolution, any more than it is a science textbook (something we've all been over ad nauseam on this forum, over the years). It is a series of texts from various ancient periods that contain the ideas that underpin Christianity. The primary object of Christianity, as with other religions, is to provide a guide to help individual people live their lives.
  16. Bells Staff Member

    The guide needs to be updated.
    Xelasnave.1947 likes this.
  17. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Maybe, the 'authors' of each book of The Bible thought it 'bloody obvious' nothing had to be said whether owning slaves was right or wrong. Just how to treat them.

    A lot like the US Constitution and its take on slavery.
    Aside, I can't find its now, but... There was an Arch Bishop in England who inherited a Caribbean plantation. What did he do, he sold it slaves and all. This was 1830s
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
  18. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    For the pre-Reformation churches (Catholic , Orthodox etc), it is continually updated. It is only those Protestants that insist on sola scriptura that have no other source of authority.
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    All institutional gods approve of slavery.
    Civilization was built on slavery, and so were the belief-systems of civilized societies. All organized religions are hierarchical - though the Eastern ones less obviously so, and all hierarchies require a numerous underclass to support them. Whether that class is designated slaves or something else, its members are expected to obey their superiors uncritically, uncomplainingly and slavishly.
    Primitive gods tend to be egalitarian.
    parmalee likes this.
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    And if it's a critique of Jewish attitudes, one needs to examine a veritable shit-ton of material, i.e., millenia of Talmudic and Midrashic commentary--and, if we're to be fair, that includes, say, listening to every freakin John Zorn album. Seriously.

    Perhaps for certain bizarro sects of Christianity--and the occasional Jew freak--this sort of analysis can be meaningful, but mostly... Well, we all know what Gary Glitter done, but it doesn't change the fact that "Rock and Roll Pts. 1 and 2" is a great song.

    Edit: Ages ago I enlisted a Midrashic scholar to help me locate some passages about Gawd giving Cain a dog to accompany him in his exilic wanderings. (Don't ask me for a reference--I follow an academic tradition that doesn't cite for shit.) One dude, Reb Whatever, deemed it a further punishment, as Semites at the time inexplicably loathed canines, making Cain ever more the pariah; another saw it as Gawd showing mercy--at least Cain had a traveling buddy.

    So is he a vengeful or merciful god? WHo the fuck knows?
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2021
  21. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    A note on my preceding post: I _think_ it reads ok, but I honestly can't tell at the moment. I've been seizing like a motherfucker the past few days and everything is looking all funky to me--like Ray Milland's character in X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes. So apologies if that sounded completely batshit.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Thanks for the responses so far. A lot of you seem to be avoiding the main question, though: does (your) God approve of slavery (now)?

    If you are religious, and your answer is "No, He/She/It regards slavery as wrong.", then my next question is: what evidence supports your view that this is (your) God's opinion?

    Also, if you hold the bible, say, to be a holy book containing God's Word, and you think that verses like the ones I have quoted can now safely be ignored, or have been superceded by a kinder, gentler set of rules, can you explain to me when and how God changed this Word to set out the new rules in an unambiguous way?

    I will also respond individually, below.
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Are you saying that God was too busy worrying about the End Times to put in a word or two against slavery into his Holy Book?

    Or are you saying that the bible is a flawed text that reflects the prejudices and assumptions of its human writers/compilers, rather than being the divine Word of God, or similar?

    Or something else?
    It sounds like your argument was that slavery was a minor concern to early Christian writers of the New Testament, and that therefore excuses them for failing to mention anywhere that slavery is wrong. Would that be a correct summary?

    Firstly, I can't see how I've emphasised Christian over Jewish belief. Most of the verses I quoted above come from the (shared) Old Testament.

    Secondly, as usual, you've made an accusation of "bogosity" and made absolutely zero attempt to support it in any way. Why do you keep doing that kind of thing?
    Read the opening post again. Try not to skim.

    Where did I do that?
    Okay. And so...?

    Does that excuse Christianity and/or Judaism?
    I've read it, but I'd have to go looking to find specific examples.

    We can discuss whether Allah approves of slavery, too, if you like. Does anybody here want to act as apologist for the Muslim god? You, perhaps, Q-reeus?
    Is that somehow relevant to the thread topic?
    You haven't yet shown any distortion (which, I suppose, would equate to misrepresentation). Maybe you'll do better in your next reply.

    Hint: if you weren't so determined to be angry at everything, you might find your thinking becomes less clouded.

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