It’s been on my mind a lot lately that The Bible seems to condone and even support slavery. I mean we were able to determine that “owning” another human being is just wrong, so why couldn’t god figure that one out? In fact he made that whole list of ten things we just shouldn’t do and slavery isn’t even mentioned. Christians hate talking about this because, admittedly, it’s uncomfortable. It’s tough to admit that your holy book supports a practice that most modern people find abhorrent. In fact, it’s so tough that most try to explain it away by saying that biblical slavery is somehow “different” than what we understand slavery to be. Slavery back then was some kind of indentured servitude, they insist. Slaves were held until a debt was paid off or a specific time limit was reached.
The web site got questions.org, a biblical “answer” site, puts it like this:
Question: “Does the Bible condone slavery?”
Answer:There is a tendency to look at slavery as something of the past. But it is estimated that there are today over 27 million people in the world who are subject to slavery: forced labor, sex trade, inheritable property, etc. As those who have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, followers of Jesus Christ should be the foremost champions of ending human slavery in the world today. The question arises, though, why does the Bible not speak out strongly against slavery? Why does the Bible, in fact, seem to support the practice of human slavery?
The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15;Ephesians 6:9;Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.
Yeah. Sure it does. Interestingly, this “answer” leaves out Exodus 20:20-21 which states
“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”
So, it is permissible to beat your slaves literally within an inch of their lives, as long as you don’t actually kill them. That would be wrong. There are also specific rules set forth for the wives and children of slaves.
Exodus 21:2-6 (NASB):
2If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. 3If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. 5But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
I can hear them now. “The Bible does NOT condone slavery!”
“This guy just hates god!”
“This guy just hates the Bible!”
I don’t actually hate god any more than I could “hate” Lord Voldermort or Darth Vader or Count Dracula or Hannibal Lecter or Freddy Kruger or any other fictional baddie. The Bible? Yeah, I hate it. I hate that its looked at as a handbook for morality when, in fact, it is anything but moral. I hate that, even today, it is used as an excuse to justify hateful behavior and the exclusion of certain people from the same rights that everyone else enjoys.
But I suppose that’s just me.
I mentioned that I recently started a new job. Well the other day (some time last week, anyway, a few days after I started) we had one of those “meet and greet” type affairs where the “coaches” (supervisors) came in to meet us new hires who will be working for them directly in a couple of weeks. One of these said something like, “I’m just here to do my job and bring glory to god. And that’s all I expect of you.”
Really? It’s not enough that I have to work for your shitty company for slave wages, now I have to support your corrupt deity too?
Hopefully she’ll understand if I take a pass on that.