The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

God’s Stance On Slavery

An excellent primer for anyone who believes that the Bible affirms that God is opposed to slavery. If your ancestors were slaves and you believe the Bible to be inspired by God and infallible, then you need to educate yourself on this issue. Stop passing myths on to our children.

The common apologetic response to the question of how God feels about slavery is that he definitely opposed the historical tradition. The long-time practice of holding innocent individuals against their will could very well be the worst crime humankind has ever committed. The Hebrew god, who is purported to love his people to a degree that we could never comprehend, would certainly have to declare some explicit opposition to slavery, wouldn’t he? Truth be told, the Bible contains not one mention of God’s desire to end slavery. Out of all the “thou shalt nots” and multitude of rules that he provides for us; out of all the chapters that God spends giving us intricate directions for making candles, tents, and temples; and out of all the chapters that God inspires the authors to spend on telling us who begat whom; not once does he ever take the time to abolish, admonish, or reject slavery. Because God is omniscient, he knew a time would arrive when the results of his silence would include the capture, torture, castration, dehumanization, and/or murder of tens of millions of Africans around the world. Even with his unlimited knowledge, God still neglects to spend two seconds of his infinite time to ensure that we have his documented denouncement of slavery. Using elementary deduction and common sense on this scrap of information, we’re already able to conclude that it wasn’t displeasing in the eyes of the Hebrew god for a more powerful individual to own a lesser.

Does the presumably apathetic preference of God toward slavery mean that we’re left with a distant ruler demonstrably indifferent toward the institution? In such a case, perhaps he wants us to use our judgment on whether or not it’s morally acceptable to own other people. Regrettably, an in depth analysis of the Bible tells us that this cannot be the case either. As hard as it may be to accept, even for those doubtful of the Bible’s authenticity, God and the multitude of his appointed biblical authors are strongly vocal in their advocation of slavery. In fact, prior to the American Civil War, slaveholders worldwide used many of the passages we’ll examine to justify their nightmarish treatment of kidnapped Africans.

The orders supposedly given by God are clear enough that I can honestly see how a mentally conditioned Christian would condone or support slavery. If society taught such individuals from birth that the Bible is infallible, even when it drastically varies from their own understanding, many slaveholders would separate from generated cognitive dissonance by submitting to the presumably superior knowledge held by the higher power. Those who broke free from the Christian mindset, illogically justified their way around it, or never supported such religious hatred would eventually coalesce as the abolitionists.

In this modern age, we’d like to pretend that the upcoming passages couldn’t be found in the Bible. Even so, that won’t make them go away. Again, the church often neglects the Old Testament due to the uneasy feelings that its controversial topics, such as slavery, create. Consequently, this chapter may be the only opportunity that Christian readers have to investigate what information we can extract from these slavery-related biblical passages. Certain verses will prominently show that the so-called divinely inspired people speaking on behalf of the Hebrew god unequivocally state that he was in support of slave ownership.

Before we start analyzing specific passages, however, I need to clarify a bit of terminology. The 1600s King James Version of the Bible often uses servant in the English translation to describe people with what we’ll temporarily designate as “freedom deprivation.” Since the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the Hebrew term ebed has an ambiguous meaning of slave or servant, some passages might be too vague to translate effectively without supplemental information. However, the New Testament was penned in Greek; and the Greek words doulos and douloi, meaning slave(s), are most often used to describe people with freedom deprivation. The Greeks had an alternative word, diakonos, for a hired servant or assistant. The authors only use this term when the circumstances obviously depict a voluntary work service.

Because the writers of the New Testament knew exactly what they meant when using the term doulos, we can conclude that ebed refers to a slave when spoken of under the same doulos circumstances. We also have the luxury of relying on the enormous amount of context clues provided in Old Testament passages. Be careful not to let the KJV Bible fool you with its use of the term servant or any derivatives of the word (bondservant, maidservant, manservant, etc.) throughout the Old Testament unless they’re used in the proper context. The New International Version and many other modern translations of the Bible wisely correct most of these assuredly intentional mistranslations.

Link to Article (complete scriptural breakdown)

September 29, 2010 - Posted by | Biblical Studies, Morality | , , , , , ,

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