KIA at the ironically named The Recovering Know It All has a series of posts purporting to show that the God of the Bible is “The God of Slavery”.

ends his first post with an incomplete observation and a presumptuous question.

Question for the crowd:

So if we all know that Slavery of ANY type is inherently Evil… Why doesn’t the God of the Bible know?

So we all know that slavery is evil? How did we reach that conclusion? I suppose thinks it is obvious. He forgets that our ancestors thought slavery was obviously okay. Of course, none of them wanted to be slaves, but slaves usually don’t get a choice in such matters.

Throughout human history until very recent times men have own and approved of the ownership of slaves. In this country we fought a bitterly contested civil war over slavery. Why? Because while some men had learned to detest slavery, others still did not see (or would not admit) anything wrong with it.

How did we finally begin to learn to see slavery as evil? We received divine revelations from God through the prophets, the Bible, and Jesus, but we learned the lesson slowly. The teaching actually started with the Old Testament.

Leviticus 19:17-18 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

The Old Testament did not directly teach the Hebrews that slavery was evil, but it did teach them to love each other. Consider. These Hebrews were the children of a people who knew the evils of slavery.  Still, they could not grasp the fact that slavery was evil. They just understood they did not want to be slaves. Moreover, in ancient times the only way some could survive was as slaves. Not everyone had both the survival skills and the wisdom to make it on their own (Compare slavery with our welfare state.). So God taught the Hebrews they should love their slaves too.

Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New Testament? No. When Jesus came the first time, He did not throw out the Old Testament. Consider.

Matthew 5:17-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

Christ Fulfills the Law

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

What did Jesus mean when he said our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? Observe that that passage sits within The Sermon On The Mount.  Here Jesus made it clear that it was not enough just attempt to obey Mosaic Code (We would not succeed anyway.). We must strive to obey the spirit of the Law. Consider this passage, for example.

Matthew 5:43-48 New King James Version (NKJV)

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

From Jesus we understand the same God inspired both the Old and the New Testaments. What is new is Jesus showed us just how much God loves us. Jesus died crucified for our sins.

How can we put this matter in its proper perspective? The standard secularized public school curriculum will not much help. So I suggest some independent reading. For example, WHO IS THIS MAN? by JOHN ORTBERG — PART 7 is the last segment of my review of Ortberg’s book (contains links to all the posts in the series). What Ortberg explains — what all of us need to understand — is how radically Jesus changed our attitudes TOWARDS EACH OTHER! Here is an excerpt from WHO IS THIS MAN? by JOHN ORTBERG — PART 1.

We live in a nation — in a Christian culture — that believes that we were all made in the image of God. There was a time men did not believe any such thing. Some men, like the emperor or the king, claimed kinship with the gods, but rest of men? No. Some men were thus thought literally better than other men.

Until 2,000 years ago, when Jesus taught about the virtue of humility, the elites did not bridle their pride. In fact, except for those unfortunates at the bottom of the pecking order, most men thought it appropriate to “peck” upon those lower than themselves in the pecking order. Their justification was simple enough.

The king was divine, or semi-divine. The king was understood to be made in the image of the god who created him. Only the king was made in the image of god. This was the dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race. Peasants and slave were not made in the image of god; they were created by inferior gods. (from Chapter 2, page 25 of Who Is This Man?)

Jesus taught differently. He said there is only one God, and He made all of us in His image. Jesus destroyed any justification for a pecking order. In Jesus Christ we are all God’s children.

Therefore, when those like tell us that the God of the Bible is “The God of Slavery”, we need to remind them God said we are all made in His image, that He calls us all His children. We also need to remind them that the same Christians who believe that God’s Word includes both the Old and the New Testaments were first people to denounce and put an end to slavery, and they did so in Jesus’ name. You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that. It is in our history books.

William Wilberforce is justly famous because perhaps no one other than Jesus had more to do with helping people see slavery as a detestable evil. Here are some of his words.

God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners…

  • C. MacFarlane & T. Thomson. (1792), The comprehensive history of England, from the earliest period to the suppression of the Sepoy revolt, page 752.

Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.

  • Speech before the House of Commons (18 April 1791).

(from here)

Wilberforce fought to end slavery because he believed the God of the Bible had called upon him to do so.


  1. I don’t want to join in any sort of fracas over this, but just had some thoughts while reading. In all this, I think of Genesis 15, where God prophesied that Abram’s descendants would be enslaved 400 years — and so they were, to the very day.

    Genesis 15:13-16 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

    God was with His children during their time of slavery.

    Along with this, in Isaiah 52:13, Jesus is called God’s servant. “Servant” in that passage can have the Hebrew connotation for slave — and it was also used between Jews to express their humbleness with each other. That’s why Mary, and the apostles often referred to themselves as God’s bondslaves. It is awesome and mind-boggling how God Himself became a servant to us in humbling Himself to suffer and die to pay for our sins. When Jesus took on the work of a slave and washed the feet of His disciples, He explained that they were to serve one another in the same way.

    The Epistles don’t mention abolishing slavery, but do tell masters to be fair and good, and for slaves to serve faithfully and honestly. That is how Jesus wants us to serve one another in every life circumstance. We don’t have to be what is called a slave to have a humble attitude of serving.

    It’s a whole different ball game from our natural tendency to be proud and self-centered.

    My father was born in 1891 to very poor parents. He became an orphan at age five and was indentured at age 7. In those days orphans were indentured to families who wanted workers of various sorts. His indenture parents had him do farm and housework. His indenture mother would not allow him to go out on a date because she was afraid he would end up with problems. He did not agree with her, but obeyed. He could have left when he reached 18, but chose to stay because they really needed help. He made their farm a success and took care of them until they passed away and he was 50 years old. In a short time thereafter, he married my mother and finally had his own family.

    All those years, he sang his way through his work to make things easier and more pleasant. It’s our attitude and faith our life situation that makes the difference.

    Have a great day serving.

  2. 😆
    Freeing the Hebrews from slavery and then freeing us from the “slavery of sin” is sort of blatantly suggestive. It is not like the Bible is being subtle about it.

  3. The two greatest events in the Bible are God freeing mankind from slavery.

    In fact, God makes it clear in varies conversations with Moses and his people that he finds slavery contemptible.

    That God condones slavery is just one of many atheist hallucinations that fly in the face of the obvious.

  4. The subject of slavery is not something most Americans born in the USA cannot relate to or even comprehend. Yet in recorded history, it was common practice.

    However, if you discern everyone’s circumstances, we are all slaves because we must work to earn a salary or wages. If we do not work, we do not get fed. Same as slave master would not feed a slave who refused to work.

    Our boss reigns over us.

    That is unless you are either very rich, the President, or on welfare.
    In the USA, even all of the above masters are supported by the slaves who pay their masters tribute, or taxes.

    What is my point?

    The only thing different between the past and today is we do not allow our bosses to beat us to control us. Yet if you discern the context, our bosses control us just like a slave. If we do not do what they say, we lose our job, our livelihood, and are beaten down by ourselves for being fired because we disobeyed our bosses (masters).

    In other words, the only difference is in words.

    You are a slave or an employee.

    You are either an owner or owned during the time you submit as a slave to work for an employer.

    If you are on welfare in the USA, you are either down on your luck, or a master of the slaves who pay taxes to support you, assuming you refuse to work ,and do not mind living a life of squalor.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    1. @scatterwisdom

      Well, there is enough truth in what you said that I cannot just write it off, but I don’t think it does justice to the fact we are not actually slaves.

      Where slavery is legal, it is a far more nasty thing than just having to work for a living. Even the so-called wage slave is worlds apart from an actual slave.

      Where slavery, true slavery, is legal, the body of a slave is not his own. Slavery is not a job you can walk away from. Try and you will be brutally punished. Offend your master enough and you can be tortured and killed. And if the master sees fit, you can be worked to death.

      When people are slaves, their children can be sold away like beasts. Husbands and wives can be separated by a simple business transaction.

      You want to understand why Christians fought the Civil War? Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a good place to start. The Lincoln-Douglas Debate of 1858 is another.

      Welfare? Well, that is odd thing. Here I see a welter of confusion. People get trapped in welfare. Like slaves they find themselves compelled to support certain politicians. Yet, those paying taxes are sort of enslaved to them. Messy, is it not?

      1. I concur with you that slavery is evil.

        My ulterior purpose was to relate the past context of slavery to our modern world. If we would take away all the welfare benefits currently in practice in the USA and around the world, the last and only choice of someone without resources might willingly consent to be a slave.

        In King Solomon’s time, the law was owners only could keep a slave for five years. Some who owed debts became slaves to pay back debtors. My point is that not all slave masters were as cruel as described in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

        Yes though, others were indeed cruel, same as we all may have experienced working for a cruel boss until we either had resources to leave or another job opportunity.

        Again, I concur that slavery was not the ideal by any means, however, it was in the past. Problem is the USA whether we know it or not, by being 20 trillion in debt, have made ourselves slaves to foreign owners and now have no other option than to become their “slaves” or “employees.”

        As for the Bible message in regards to slaves, the message was to treat everyone the same as you would want to be treated. Hopefully, an ancient Israel slave holder would abide for the five years he owned his slave. ‘

        Of course, not many people abide by five years in other cultures. Of course, we are all better off that slavery is in the past. Of course, we are slaves for eight hours if we work for someone. Of course, we can leave if we save while working for a slave master boss and leave by our own free will volition, or start our own business.

        As for welfare and debt, we are all slaves to our choices of political leaders when they make choices to increase taxes or increase debt for the nation.

        Slave is a word of the past, Wisdom and love should be the word of the future, but based on what I read daily in the news, oh well.

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        1. @scatterwisdom

          I know you condemn slavery, but I just wanted to make certain you clarified that. I feared the ulterior motive might overshadow your true opinion of the matter.

          Thanks for your comments, particularly this latest one.

          1. I would not have clarified, if you did not reply to my original post.

            I kind of thought you would be concerned enough to take the time to reply.

            Now if only, other bloggers would be concerned as you are about the sad state of our nation and world, this world might be a better place.

            Regards and goodwill blogging.

  5. Well said, Tom.

    It occurs to me that people who believe God supports slavery are unable or unwilling to see the the total depravity of mankind. So slavery allegedly came into being when these totally innocent humans who always perceive one another as full human beings worthy of love, were suddenly corrupted and led astray by reading the bible.

    So the fact that people enslaved one another…totally God’s fault. If it weren’t for faith, people would have been happily holding hands and singing kumbaya for thousands of years while massaging one another’s empathy gene.

    1. @insanitybytes22

      It is perhaps the thing we find most difficult, admitting we are sinners.

      What is the first of The Beatitudes in Matthew 5? Here is how The Message puts it.

      Matthew 5:3 The Message (MSG)

      3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

      That’s too lighthearted a way to put it. Most translations refer to the poor in spirit, but that leaves everyone scratching their heads. I suppose that is why some arrive at this phrasing, even though it too is not literally correct.

      Matthew 5:3 New Life Version (NLV)

      3 “Those who know there is nothing good in themselves are happy, because the holy nation of heaven is theirs.

  6. Hi Tom. Thanks for the bump on my posts. I’m sure there will be great discussion.

        1. If it is then you have some serious thinking to do. The mere fact you are getting increased hits doesn’t help you, not even if you are advertising. What are you actually accomplishing that does any good? What ultimately is the point of it?

          I have a motive. Because I help others, I see a reward at the end. You?

          1. I guess my ‘motive’ at the moment is part catharsis, part counter apologetics and part ‘missionary’ if you can believe it. I’ve always been a teacher and servant at heart. I hope what I write helps others too as it helps me in the writing. Thx again.

          2. My posts were not making fun. They were pointing out the falseness and showing the biblical role of slavery.
            And there was no sarcasm in my answer to you at all, or in this one.

          3. I am content to let our readers figure out your objectives for themselves.

            I would just observe this. When you come to my blog just to thank me for sending you more readers, you have let the cat out of the bag. You are fooling no one but KIA.

          4. People are welcome to visit my blog, read first hand what I write, not filtered and repositioned as you have done, and come to their own conclusions. Even comment and discuss if they so choose.
            I don’t intend in fooling anyone of anything. I want people to think.

          5. Filtered and repositioned? You don’t intend fooling anyone? What is that all about?

            It is kind of funny how people react. I point out you are making fun of the beliefs of others, and all of a sudden you flying apart at the seams trying to defend yourself. Guilt? It would seem so.

          6. You sir are interpreting more than is true. That might make you feel ‘safer’ from the evidence contradicting you apologetics understanding of biblical slavery, but it’s not honest.

          7. @KIA

            As far as I can tell, you just said I am guilty of not agreeing with you. I don’t honestly disagree with you?

            I wrote a post. It is public. I linked to your posts, and you expressed your pleasure. Now you are upset?

  7. “He forgets that our ancestors thought slavery was obviously okay.” – Right they did because in the Bible God goes to great lengths discussing what kind of slavery is okay with him, using slavery in positive terms in parables and illustrations, oh, and there’s this letter called Philemon where Paul sends a slave back to his master. Our ancestors thought that slavery was obviously okay because they believed that the Bible said so.
    “How did we finally begin to learn to see slavery as evil? We received divine revelations from God through the prophets, the Bible, and Jesus, but we learned the lesson slowly.” – That’s true, too – the Abolitionists used the Bible to craft sermons that demanded freedom for slaves. Of course, the Pro-Slavery camp was already using the Bible to support their side of things … so it took a long time and a lot of bloodshed for one side to be declared the winner over the other.
    “Moreover, in ancient times the only way some could survive was as slaves. Not everyone had both the survival skills and the wisdom to make it on their own (Compare slavery with our welfare state.)” – One of my favorite Bible stories is when the Israelites were marching into Canaan, conquering everyone who was already there, this nation of people sent out some emmisaries, dressed in rags, with holes in their shoes, they said: “Hey, we heard that you’ve been on the road a good, long time; what a coincidence, so have we! So, we just have this tiny request, don’t wipe us out.” And the Israelites were all like: “We know what you’ve been though, you can count on us not to attack you.” But God eventually sent word like: “Fools! They decieved you! They’re locals! So here’s what you’re going to do – you’re going to uphold your end of the bargain, you’re even going to come to their aid when they’re attacked, but you’re going to turn them into your slaves, into your water-carriers and wood-cutters.” (Joshua 9; admittedly I have a bizzare sense of interesting Bible stories.) If God was so keen on “no slavery” he could have said so when he was creating the Temple law; “You know how other nations around you have kings and take slaves? Not so among you! I’ll be your king and you shall take no slaves!” Anyway, I’m pretty sure that when Jesus said that we should take care of the poor, we shouldn’t enslave them. Now the modern welfare state exists because no church can fill the demand of what it takes to care for the poor. Most of my churches never even bothered to try to run a charity or give out coats or run a soup kitchen because that was considered entitlement.
    At any rate, Christians in the New Testament still were slaves (Rhoda, Onesimus) or were masters (Corneilus, Philemon); being Christian never meant that they freed their slaves, sold their posesssions, and wandered the world as Jesus did spreading his teaching. One wonders if believers would have resisted slavery if the Bible had more directly taught “no slavery” or couldn’t be interpreted to be “for slavery”.
    So, it’s more like: “The Pro-Slavery God of The Man who Enslaves”

    1. @Jamie Carter

      Thank you for you comment.

      Obviously you disagree with me. Well, I am not infallible. So that is forgivable. Nevertheless, I perceive some serious errors here.

      1. You begin by blaming slavery on the Bible. With respect to even the Jews, that is not true. Slavery has been around for a long time.

      2. You observe both the abolitionists and the pro-slavery camp used the Bible to support their position. True up to a point. If you look at the Bible carefully, Leviticus 25:44-55 for example, what God is doing is LIMITING the right of the Hebrews to own slaves. Because of the Bible, the Hebrews had restrictions imposed upon them. Moreover, God used the word “may” not “shall”. He did not encourage slavery; He regulated it. Look at what Jesus said about divorce in Matthew 19. Then, perhaps, you will begin to understand.

      3. What about one of your favorite Bible stories? That is Joshua 9, The Treaty with the Gibeonites, but you distorted it quite a bit. Joshua and the leaders of the Hebrews never consulted with God. The Hebrews discovered they had been tricked. God did not tell them. Because Joshua and the leaders of the Hebrews had sworn to the Gibeonites by the Lord, the God of Israel, the had no choice except to keep their oath. Since the Gibeonites had offered themselves as servants, that is what they became.

      So why the errors? I believe you are reading the Bible with a severely jaundiced eye.

      Anyway, since I have other comments to respond to, I will forgo analyzing the rest of your comment.

      Thanks again for visiting.

      1. 1. To the extent that God that commands (Leviticus 25:44, for example) and legislates (Exodus 21:20-21, for example) slavery, it doesn’t matter whether or not slavery pre-dated God or was around to other cultures. God had an opportunity tell the Israelites that they were forbidden from selling themselves into slavery, being slavers, buying or selling slaves; but He opted to permit it as a cultural institution with moral / religious backing; this legitimized it as the will of God. It was why the Gibeonites of Joshua 9 could be taken as slaves; because God gave them permission and instruction about how to do so. For a God that is against slavery, it seems to be a pro-slavery move.

        2. Regulating something, even limiting it, doesn’t put an end to something. God told the Hebrews that they couldn’t take their fellow Hebrews as slaves; that doesn’t end the institution of slavery. Just because you can’t take one group of people as slaves, it doesn’t stop you from taking slaves from every single other group of people out there. Pro-slavery Christians combined the Curse of Ham and this instruction to say that God regulated that white people couldn’t turn their fellow whites into slaves, but since blacks were not white, then it was within the limits of acceptable slavery. (White people were indentured servants, who after a term of service were set free; blacks were viewed as slaves for life.)

        3. Yet why Doesn’t God step in there and say: “Look, slavery is a bad idea the whole way around. I get that being tricked is not cool, but that’s no reason to treat an entire class of people as second-class citizens.” Why doesn’t he stop slavery altogether, outright forbid it right up there with not wearing two kinds of fabrics or not eating unclean food? It’s precisely because God didn’t say: “Slavery is forbidden.” That Christians thought it was okay to use the Bible to take slaves. For a God who is against slavery, he has a funny way of going about it.

        I’ve had Christians remind me that anything God does is for the good people, so the slavery as outlined to Moses as God’s official kind of acceptable slavery should always be treated as valid even today because God is always right and God never changes. They tell me that the Babylonian Captivity and Slavery in the Roman Empire were corrupted forms of God’s Ideal Slavery and under those systems, Paul’s instruction for slaves to try to go free should be the best guideline. To them, we ought to try to restore God’s Ideal Slavery in order to more fully obey His word and end all forms of ungodly slavery as the perversion of God’s Will that they are.

        1. @Jamie Carter

          Are you God?

          Think about what you are doing. You are criticizing the Bible because God did not implement the moral code you think He should have implemented the way you think He should have implemented it. So that makes the Bible suspect? Yet you are judging the Bible by the very same Christian ethical code we gained from it.

          Do I understand why God did what He did. I would like too, and I try to, but I no longer expect to fully succeed. Once I reached the point where I believed the Bible is the Word of God, I began to approach it with a bit more humility. Fortunately, that makes it a bit easier to understand the Bible. With humility, we find it easier to accept God’s view of us.

          As far as I can tell God’s ideal of slavery is that we willingly serve each other as we would like to be served. I believe that is referred to as the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). The Golden Rule is basically a condensation of the Old Testament taken from the principle embodied in Leviticus 19:18.

          You want to fit slavery into the Golden Rule? You won’t be the first. People try all the time, but we know better. The ancients were still figuring it out.

          1. The point is that it’s far easier to interpret the Bible in a pro-slavery stance than in an anti-slavery stance. That’s why people used it to take and have and keep slaves for thousands of years in some of the most Christian areas and times. Frederick Douglass once wrote: “I have said my master found religious sanction for his cruelty. As an example, I will state one of many facts going to prove the charge. I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood to drip; and, in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of Scripture — “He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.”” That’s Luke 12:47. He also said that his master kept slaves for the caritable purposes of looking after them, as they were thought to be incapable of looking after themselves – after all, that’s why they were slaves, the lacked the capacity to be the equals of those who were free. Read up more about why Southern Baptists were pro-slavery and the schism that happened because of the anti-slavery crowd and you’ll see that both sides believed that their side was right and God was on their side. Back in the day, whole sermons used to be preached about how to be godly Biblical masters and how to be godly Biblical slaves. John Jea said that his master quoted from Micah 6:9, “fter our master had been treating us in this cruel manner, we were obliged to thank him for the punishment he had been inflicting on us, quoting that Scripture which saith, “Bless the rod, and him that hath appointed it.” But, though he was a professor of religion, he forgot that passage which saith “God is love, and whoso dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” And, again, we are commanded to love our enemies, but it appeared evident that his wretched heart was hardened; which led us to look up unto him as our god, for we did not know him who is able to deliver and save all who call upon him in truth and sincerity. Conscience, that faithful monitor, (which either excuses or accuses).”
            The Pro-slavery camp used the Old Testament to directly affirm God’s preference for slavery whereas the Anti-slavery crowed use the New Testament to dirrectly affirm God’s distaste for slavery. But even so, by the time that Mark Twain wrote a delightful story about Huckleberry Fin and an escaped slave named Jim, it’s clear that Huck had been taught to think that it was wrong to help slaves escape and for doing so, he would go to hell; but he’d rather do the wrong thing than punch his ticket to heaven by returning Jim to his master.
            Somehow, as obvious as it might be that God’s anti-slavery, the pro-slavery crowd read each and every page of their Bibles and they couldn’t see it.

          2. @Jamie Carter

            There are some good Christian videos out there on the Internet. In one of them, the preacher wryly observes that the Bible is the only book that everyone feels qualified to comment upon without having to read it.

            You say:

            The point is that it’s far easier to interpret the Bible in a pro-slavery stance than in an anti-slavery stance. That’s why people used it to take and have and keep slaves for thousands of years in some of the most Christian areas and times.

            Even before the Internet it was easy to cherry-pick the Bible with a concordance.

            Your next statement in the excerpt above is not even half true. Slavery predates the Bible. Until the Bible was widely read, it did not occur to most people that slavery needed justification. In the eyes of most, might makes right.

            To be properly understood, each verse of the Bible must be understood in context. We also have to pray for understanding.

            2 Peter 1:19-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

            About a decade and a half ago I slowly read through the Bible. So when you tell me God approves of slavery, I just shake my head no and roll my eyes heavenward.

            I have never owned slaves. Once I accepted the truth of the Bible, it was easy for me to understand that the God of the Bible wants to love each other, not to own each other. See silenceofmind’s comment (=> and my reply.

            Have other people had a problem with that particular issue? Of course. Here is a clue as to why.

            James 1:21-25New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

            When we read the Bible we don’t do so just to ridicule others. God sees us all as His dumb sheep. Our primary job is to see what kind of person we are and how God wants us to change. How am I filthy? How can I be a doer of the word?

            It took 1500 years and about 40 men to write the Bible. Some of it is history. Parts are theological. Much of it is the Mosaic Law. About a quarter of is prophecy. Psalms is a song book. To understand each part, we have to put our self in the position of the fellow who wrote it and the people who first read it. In addition we have to consider what other parts of the Bible say about the same issues. Often, books like Romans and Hebrews clearly explain details of theology and ethics that would otherwise puzzle us.

            When we read the entire Bible and try to understand the hearts of the men who read it and the heart of the God who inspired them, we learn the book is about the love of God, not the wrath of God. When we make our understanding all about our self and what we want, the Bible — any document — means just whatever we want it to mean. With sufficient pride, we can blind our self to any truth.

            I read Mark Twain’s books to my children. Great author! I wonder what difference it might have made if like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Twain’s book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had been published before the American Civil War.

          3. Slavery predates the Bible.

            But does slavery pre-date the God of the Bible? If you are of the mind that God created everything, then somewhere in God’s creation, slavery came to exist; if not from the creator then from the creation of the creator. God could have nipped it in the bud, told the very first master of the very first slave “No, don’t do that.” But for some reason He did not.

            I have never owned slaves.

            Nor I, the United Nations developed a Bill of Human Rights and it says in clear terms: “No, don’t do that.” Sadly, I remember hearing a news report just last year about an escaped slave who had been rescued from slavery and how the whole slave-holding ring had been taken down. Before that, shrimp from CostCo and Wal-mart had been caught through forced servitude; few things demand a stiffer punishment than slavery, legally speaking.

            People who are against slavery interpret the Bible and the God of the Bible to be against slavery. People who are for slavery interpret the Bible and the God of the Bible to be for slavery. There is a whole theology backed with Bible verses about segregation, Apartheid, slavery, regardless of whichever one God is, it doesn’t matter because people see him whichever way that matches what they already believe to be true. To outright deny that happened is to minimize the lengths that anti-slavery groups had to go to in order defeat those who used the Bible to support slavery. So it’s not one or the other, it’s not The God of Slavery vs Men who Enslave; It’s the God of Slavery of the Men who Enslave vs the God of Liberty of the Men who set Free. We’re a generation of people who only know the latter, but we only get the latter because of the conflict of the former and the victors having re-written the narrative so that we wouldn’t be taught as they were, that God approved of slavery in slave-holding societies using said pro-slavery theology as moral grounding for the institution of slavery.

          4. @Jamie Carter

            Well, you are back to complaining God did not do things the right way again.

            Let’s consider a certain Bible verse.

            Romans 8:28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

            Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to cause all things to work together for good just for one person? God is eternal. Those who love God will be with Him for eternity.

            Eternity. Who knows why God allows us to do any evil? Is it about free will? Why didn’t God stop Adam and Eve from eating the forbidden fruit? Free will? Yet you are worried about nipping a particular sin in the bud? What about all the other sins?

            What is a proper perspective on eternity? If we could be made fit to live with God for the rest of eternity, would we be worried about humanity entrapped by sin for thousands of years?

            What about your other issue? Have some people used the Bible to justify slavery? Yes. However, most peoples are not Christians, and most peoples have had slaves. Did non-Christians use the Bible to justify slavery, even before their was a Bible?

            What about the simple fact that Christian nations, pointing to the Bible, were the first to get rid of slavery? That is not important? Not relevant?

            Let’s reconsider the denial you are willing to talk about.

            People who are for slavery interpret the Bible and the God of the Bible to be for slavery. There is a whole theology backed with Bible verses about segregation, Apartheid, slavery, regardless of whichever one God is, it doesn’t matter because people see him whichever way that matches what they already believe to be true. To outright deny that happened is to minimize the lengths that anti-slavery groups had to go to in order defeat those who used the Bible to support slavery. So it’s not one or the other, it’s not The God of Slavery vs Men who Enslave; It’s the God of Slavery of the Men who Enslave vs the God of Liberty of the Men who set Free.

            What you are complaining about is the length that men will go to justify their sins.

            Look around you. Listen. How many times have you heard someone justify himself, effectively saying, “I am a good person.” How many commercials have you seen using the words, “You deserve it.” Well, the fact is we are sinners. When the people in the American South owned slaves, they liked it and they were determined to keep those slaves. So their preachers told them what they wanted to hear — what they demanded to hear.

            2 Timothy 4:1-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

            If a man believes the Bible is the Word of God, it doesn’t matter what men say the Bible says. What matters is what the Bible actually does say.

            We have the capacity to abuse anything, even the love of God. Men who want to own other men deprive their slaves of an education. Then they say their slaves are too stupid to take care of themselves. What should we blame for that? We use chlorine to disinfect our drinking water. The Nazis gassed their captives and killed them with chlorine gas. Was it the chlorine’s fault?

          5. But the Bible does say that (1.) God gave the Israelites permission to take slaves. (2.) God gave instruction about the treatment of slaves and resolution for legal disputes about slaves as property. (3.) God gave instruction about slaves who choose to be slaves – for – life as a different category of slavery from those who were to be set free on Jubilee. (4.) God used the letter of Philemon to establish that slaves should return to and submit to their masters. (5.) God says things like: “Thou shalt not kill.” but not “Thou shalt not enslave.”
            The Bible says that God was into slavery.
            Yes, the Bible also says that slaves should try to go free in one place. But the overall emphasis is on the taking of slaves and regulation of slaves so much so that slavery was the practice of the Christian church over the last fifteen hundred years. If I had slave-owning ancestors, it was because they believed that God ordered the races to be unequal and for them to have slaves who submit to them as part of his divine will. It was unthinkable to them that God didn’t want them to have slaves given the overall number and content of verses that instructed them on how to take slaves and be masters. Why, if they, as Christians, didn’t take slaves, then those poor souls will be the slaves of non-believers who would treat them even more harshly!

          6. @Jamie Carter

            I suppose God was into divorce too.

            Matthew 19:7-9New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            7 They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

            Think about this.

            To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation. — George MacDonald

            Concede for a moment, for the sake of argument, that the Bible is the truth. Then contemplate what men do with the truth.

            The Bible contains the Mosaic Code. The Mosaic Code consists of laws for men, not angels. The Hebrews well understood slavery. They did not want to be slaves, but they had no moral objections to it. As it is the Hebrews were unable to abide by the Mosaic Code. So you are complaining God did add an 11th commandment? And you are serious?

            Take the time to read The Good Samaritan.

            Luke 10:30-37 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
            The Good Samaritan

            30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

            Does it really take a genius to figure out that Jesus would frown upon the behavior of any Christian who thinks it is okay to enslave his neighbors? No? Yet we also know how to rationalize away unpleasant conundrums like that.

            Rare is the man who loves the truth more than himself. What we don’t want to believe, we find a way not to believe. What we want to believe, we find a way to believe.

          7. Jesus did talk about the Old Testament, “you have heard … but I tell you” in effect making a number of commandments harder to the point where nobody could really obey them; he was pointing out that obeying the literal commandments meant that they were missing the spirit of the commandments. But he never once taught: “You have heard that you may take slaves from the nations around you, but I tell you, anyone who enslaves another enslaves himself.” Rather, Jesus used servants in parables, to make a point about spiritual truths ‘no servant is above his master’ ‘anyone who wants to be first/great has to be the servant of all’, Paul refers to himself as a slave in chains for the gospel, and the household codes that tell wives to submit to their husbands usually contain an instruction for servants to submit to their masters and masters not to rule over their slaves too harshly and yet it doesn’t tell them to set their slaves free. What the Bible says affirms slavery, was written in a slave-holding society and directly speaks to that context.
            “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.” – 1 Peter 2:18
            “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” – Ephesians 6:5
            ” 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.” – Colossians 3:22
            In these verses; slavery is not only assumed as a reality, but affirmed in it’s already existing context. Every Biblical household had instruction for masters and slaves. This is probably why it took so long for the anti-slavery crowd to convince the pro-slavery crowd that the Bible could be interpreted to mean the opposite of what it literally says.

          8. @Jamie Carter

            Your primary argument remains the notion that you could have written the Bible better. Well, you would not be the first to think that. Some have even tried to write their own versions of the Bible.

            Why didn’t God directly prohibit slavery instead leaving for us to figure out it is an awful idea, that He detests it? I say again that we can only guess. You claim that He got it wrong. Meaning? It is your conjecture. I will leave it for you to explain your conclusion.

            When we read the Bible, it does not take long to figure out that God is quite interested in our politics. Nevertheless, it is our hearts, not our method of governance that He seeks to change. Thus, the Mosaic Code called upon the Hebrews to worship God instead of idols or a king. The Mosaic Code demanded justice and mercy, but it stopped well short of demanding Utopian society.

            Did God see throwing out slavery as something beyond the ability the Hebrews to handle? Before you answer think long and hard about that bloody civil war Americans fought.

            When Jesus instructed His apostles, did He teach them how to overthrow Rome? No. What Jesus did is He taught His apostles to spread the Good News. God loves us! He has saved us. He commands that we love Him above all and each other as we love our self.

            Thus, the apostles did nothing directly to undermine the governing structure, which included the institution of slavery.

            How come Jesus had no interest in removing the Roman Empire and replacing it with something more humane? Why have you stopped at the institution of slavery? If you are going to be your own God, what is stopping you from your Second Coming?

            Well, we know you ain’t God. So we know the answer. What exactly causes God to wait? That we don’t know.

            Isaiah 40:28 English Standard Version (ESV)

            28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
            The Lord is the everlasting God,
            the Creator of the ends of the earth.
            He does not faint or grow weary;
            his understanding is unsearchable.

            We can only guess why God does what He does when He does it. We know, however, that He loves us. We know that even a bad government is better than one that does not work at all.

            During what some call The Age of Enlightenment, those who came before us tried an experiment. In England and America, they reformed existing institutions. Building upon the institutions they already had in place, the Brits and the Americans instituted governments that allowed the People self-rule. In France, perhaps the leading nation of that day, more radical revolutionaries seized power. These revolutionaries threw out both the monarchy and the Catholic Church. They replaced the monarchy with majoritarian tyranny. They replaced Christianity with the goddess of reason. What ensued? Terror! Eventually Napoleon Bonaparte seized power. Then Napoleon spread the chaos of war across Europe.

            So why then did the apostles tell slaves to obey their earthly masters? The apostles had nothing with which to replace the established order. Jesus had not given them any such thing.

            Our government is a device of our own making. We do not live under the Mosaic Code. The New Testament did not implement a theocracy. Two thousand years ago most people believed that slavery was good, that slaves should obey their masters. So the apostles just told slaves to follow the dictates of their conscience. That actually is quite Biblical.

            Romans 2:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

            12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

            Half of the people of the ancient world were slaves. Had all the slaves simply quit working and run away, many people would have starved. It would have been equivalent to the horrors of no government at all. Chaos!

          9. Odd. I thought it was more like: “Obviously the Bible says that God permitted slavery which sparked the interpretation that the pro-slavery Christians used to justify the institution of slavery as God’s unchanging will.”
            To me, it seems that you’re the one who is more directly re-writing the Bible to support the idea that God is and always has been anti-slavery; but you have to explain away every single pro-slavery verse in the Bible to do it. The verses you have presented thus far don’t establish an anti-slavery stance. Take the golden rule: “treat others as you would want to be treated” somehow, for centuries, masters never saw that as an obligation to set their slaves free; just a prohibition from cruelty. Otherwise you’re quoting from all over the place in passages with precious little to do with the institution of slavery. Rather, your focus seems to be:
            1. only the Bible is the true source of light; it comes not from human interpretation but from God (2 Peter)
            2. only the word can save your souls if you are a doer of the word and not just a hearer of the word who is deluded (James 1)
            3. God works all things for the good of all humanity in a big picture long-term sense, with little regard for the individual (Romans 8)
            4. There will come a time when people won’t endure sound doctrine and will hear only what they want to hear (2 Timothy)
            5. Then Divorce! Divorce is totally relevant to slavery. (Matthew 19)
            6. The Good Samaritan for Good measure. (Luke 10.)
            7. Nobody knows how God thinks! He’s God. We know because the Bible says so. (Isaiah 40)
            8. The law and justification is totally relevant to slavery. (Romans 2).
            You’re all over the map and for the most part either telling me because I don’t share the same understanding of the Bible that you do then I’m not saved or are trying to share tidbits from Sunday School that aren’t in context or aren’t relevant and don’t make sense. How you get all of that into proof of God being anti-slavery is more than a little confusing. I feel like I’ve had to say the same things over and over again because you seem to like going off on tangents like divorce and justification in terms of the law. So why not enlighten me on how all those pro-slavery verses are actually anti-slavery verses in disguise rather than quote quotes about the Bible from the Bible about those who don’t believe the Bible?

          10. @Jamie Carter

            God permitted slavery. God permitted divorce. Even though we sin, He allows us to exist. Think about Romans 8:28.

            Do I have to have to explain away every single pro-slavery verse in the Bible? No. I can point to an obvious fact, something you seem strangely reluctant to consider. Christians decided to ban slavery before anyone else considered doing it. Given the tenacity of slavery as a human institution, that in an of itself is remarkable.

            What about my focus? Well, let’s see. I fear your bias is showing.
            1. 2 Peter 1:19-21 does not say the Bible is the only true source of light.
            2. James 1:21-25 does not say only the Word can save our souls.
            3. Romans 8:28 speaks of those who love God, of those who are called according to His purpose. The notion that the God who has numbered the hairs upon each of our heads has no regard for the individual is absurd. You are silly to suggest such a thing.
            4. That time? Yes. This time too.
            5. Divorce and slavery are separate, but God provided the means for the Hebrews to easily divorce their wives. Yet God clearly abhors divorce. You don’t see the relevance? You don’t abhor divorce? Two people bond. They have children. They separate. No problem? Yet God has chosen marriage to model the sort of relationship He wants with us. One where each of the partners loves the other with all their heart.
            6. You don’t think The Parable of The Good Samaritan is relevant to slavery? Then I suppose loving our neighbor is not relevant either. What then is your objection to slavery? Slavery is just obviously wrong? What is so obvious about it?
            7. Is it true that we know that nobody knows how God thinks just because the Bible says so? No, and the Bible does not make any such claim. What the Bible says is that we are without excuse if we do not accept the truth of what God’s Creation has revealed about Him (Romans 1:18-23). Before we know God from the Bible, we know Him from what He made. Before we know the difference between right and wrong from the Bible, our conscience informs us.
            8. Romans 2:12-16 is irrelevant to slavery? Then what is relevant? You say slavery is wrong? Why? If slavery doesn’t offend your conscience, then why are you making such a stink? Does the fact slavery offends your conscience (I guess it does.) necessarily mean that the citizens of Rome thought slavery was wrong? What is the logic that condemns slavery?

            It is up to you whether you read the Bible objectively, but it is apparent you don’t. I wonder. Can you objectively understand that people in the past saw slavery as perfectly normal? Did it occur to the ancients that slavery was wrong? I suppose some saw it that way, but for the most part I think people objected to being enslaved, not enslaving others.

            Imagine yourself in ancient Rome. Suddenly you have this insight. Half of the population is enslaved. Slavery is evil. So the fact so many are enslaved is a terrible evil.

            Since you are noble soul, you decide to tell everyone slavery is evil and must be abolished.
            1. How would you convince everyone slavery is wrong?
            2. What kind of reaction do you think you would get?
            3. Given that Rome had a hierarchical society, odds are you would either have a master or a patron. What do you think your master or patron would do with you?
            4. What if by some strange quirk of fate you were the emperor? Caesar Augustus himself. Could you free the slaves? How would you do that with a revolt?

          11. You have a magnificent ability to answer the wrong question; let me clarify – How does one interpret Leviticus 25:39-46; Exodus 20:2, 10, 17; 21:2-11, 20-21, 26-27, 32; Deuteronomy 15:12-18 (doesn’t apply to non-hebrews!); Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1, 1 Timothy 6:1-3; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:13-25 and Philemon to affirm God being anti-slavery?
            What does the list of God’s anti-slavery verses look like? The God of the Old Testament only banned taking Hebrews as slaves permanently; but permitted it temporarily; not only that, but he assumes it to be a reality that people have slaves in the Ten Commandments!
            You only have one clear-cut verse to support God’s anti-slavery stance, and that is in 1 Corinthians 7: “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” Even then, it’s more of an “it’s totally cool to be a slave, but if you can go free, that’s cool too.” Sort of dead. I’m not surprised you weren’t up on this verse, it’s in the same chapter where it says it’s okay to be single and as such, it’s not frequently preached on.
            you can slice it and dice it anyway you want, but the only way you end up at God is anti-slavery is by interpreting the Scriptures to mean the opposite of what it says. The question is, how exactly would you do that? What verses would you use to put the last nail in the coffin of the institution of slavery? What arguments did the Abolitionists use against the Bible literalists who were for slavery?

          12. @Jamie Carter

            Well, I guess you finally realize that you could not be God, not even a Roman Emperor. So now it just back to hammering at those supposedly pro-slavery verses.

            The passage you cite as being anti-slavery isn’t anti-slavery. It is not dead, but it does help to understand it. That passage says that whether you are a slave or not doesn’t matter, not in the greater scheme of things (eternity).

            When one becomes a Christian, he or she receives gifts from the Holy Spirit.

            Galatians 5:22-23 New King James Version (NKJV)

            22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

            Even a slave can receive the fruit of the Spirit and share those gifts with others.

            Slavery was man’s invention. Our ancestors did not know a better way. God does not like slavery, but God wants to change our hearts, not the way we govern ourselves. Because He changed the hearts of so many — because so many accepted the fruits of the Spirit — those Christians decided slavery had to go. They saw what should have been OBVIOUS. Slavery is incompatible with loving one’s neighbor, which is what the Bible tells over and over and over and….. that that is what God wants us to do.

            This passage explicitly says that slavery doesn’t matter. Only Jesus matters.

            Galatians 3:26-29 New King James Version (NKJV)

            26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

            You want an anti-slavery passage from the Bible? There are many. This is one of my favorites.

            John 8:31-38 New International Version (NIV)

            To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

            They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

            Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

            Here is my commentary on it =>
            When God “worries” about slavery, what He “worries” most about is our enslavement to sin. It is those who are enslaved to sin who think they have the right to enslave others. It is the slave master Jesus pities most, not the slave.

          13. @Jamie Carter
            Well, I guess you finally realize that you could not be God, not even a Roman Emperor. So now it just back to hammering at those supposedly pro-slavery verses.

            History tell us that Emperor Agustus took up the title Divi Filius; or “Son of a God” and wrote it on Roman coins. Octavian used the title to great effect; taking out a great many rivals. Other Emperors were referred by the title when they were deified after death. This wasn’t uniquely Roman; I remember that one Egyptian Pharoah tried to overthrow the pantheon of gods and goddesses by declaring faith in another higher god for whom he was the representative of – Akhenaten (the Pharoah) and Aten (the solar deity). It was common in ancient times for rulers to declare themselves as gods or as the human representative of the gods. As long as he lived, the religion he created thrived. But once he had died; other kings came to power and restored the ways of old. Even the Bible shows a similar change in that Solomon’s sons did as they wished, eventually Josiah restored the old ways, but after that, things went back down-hill. So there’s no question that an emperor could have set all the slaves free; but his successor could just as easily re-enslave them all. Defeating the institution of slavery is a battle of the heart and mind; ultimately, the Romans didn’t have the equivalent of the Abolitionist Movement to challenge them to change their hearts and minds. So if anyone freed the slaves, they would see nothing wrong with returning them to slavery because they believed that there was nothing wrong about slavery in the first place. That’s the problem ancient Christians had, they didn’t believe there was anything wrong with slavery from the time of the Bible up until the Abolitionist movement; the Bible justified slavery and they added a Christian spin; those slaves were people who, without the charity of their masters, wouldn’t have anywhere to live, anyway to support themselves, any way to eat; so slavery was an outlet of charity to many of them. It stopped being a cultural practice and became a Christian practice with God’s divine approval because of what was written in the Bible. Somehow, for those centuries, the passages about being slaves to sin never registered as an instruction to set slaves free. Probably because they understood it as a metaphor about sin and not as a literal instruction about slavery.

            Jesus often referred to slaves and masters in a number of his parables: The unmerciful servant, the faithful servant, the great banquet, the wicked husbandman, The unjust steward, the master and servant; among others; he casts both masters and slaves in both good and bad lights in order to make his points. It’s not a strong argument against the institution of slavery. Because there’s a tendency for Paul and others to refer to themselves as slaves within the gospel; because Jesus says that those who want to be masters have to be the servants, there’s a tendency in Christianity to affirm certain concepts of slavery only so far as it affirms the ideas of Jesus’ upside-down kingdom; Jesus, after all – is the suffering servant. Perhaps that’s half the reason why Christians who followed Jesus perpetuated slavery as long as they did or it took them so long to re-interpret the Word. Jesus might pity masters, but he does nothing to free them from the burden of mastering their slaves.

            I find it an interesting point that the literalists who were into the word-for-word; or inerrant in our modern parlance; understanding were proslavery; whereas the figurative readers who discerned the spirit of the text; who today are something of heretics were anti-slavery; that the Bible had to be interpreted to mean the opposite of what it says for slavery to be defeated; and that today we often say: “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” It makes you wonder where our inerrantists today have gone wrong because they deny the spirit of the text and why they can’t see it given the lesson history has shown us; but if it took over a thousand years to defeat slavery; it’s evident that lessons are slow in coming and take a really long time to learn.

          14. @Jamie Carter

            Bingo! You are finally getting it.

            To make an effective law requires three things:
            1. Those subject to the law must understand the law.
            2. Those subject to the law must want to obey the law.
            3. Those enforcing the law must have the means and the will to do so.

            In ancient times, none of those conditions could be met. Not one. Even today we have wage slaves, exploited illegal immigrants, entire nations in bondage to police states, and so on.

            Where your grasp of the issue fails is your interpretation of the Bible. We cannot read the Bible to suit our personal agendas. We exist for the glory of God, not the other way around.

            Read Romans and read it trying to understand God’s agenda. God’s concern is our slavery to sin, not to each other. God knows those enslaved to sin will try to enslave each other. He knows those He has freed from sin will strive to love each other.

            Why is the Bible hard to understand? Until we admit our spiritual poverty, we cannot know Jesus. We will not admit how much we need Him. We will not accept the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love He offers us. Our pride will not let us.

          15. The problem does lie in interpretation; always has and always will. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t debating evil non-believers enslaved to sin; but fellow Christians who believed that the Bible said that slavery was perpetual and ought to be extended because it was right. To them, arguing otherwise was to deny the authority of their inerrant scriptures. Same debate going on today different subject. Sadly, the inerrant perspective is edging out those who affirm the spirit of the text.

          16. What arguments did the Abolitionists use against the Bible literalists who were for slavery?

            Here are some references.






            Since I have read the Bible myself and see it doesn’t support slavery, other than reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin (the last link to what is a decidedly Christian work), I had not much bothered to look up what the abolitionists had to say. So I thank you for your suggestion.

            The next to last link contains this paragraph.

            Then why is there no command in the Bible to free the slaves immediately? Because the commands in the Bible already documented would subtly undermine the institution far better than a slave rebellion. E.g. the prohibition on trading in slaves would drastically localize it. Compare the application of Paul’s teachings with the tragic end to the rebellion of Spartacus (c. 120–70 BC), or in modern times, compare Martin Luther King’s peaceful (and Bible-based) protests with the secular revolutionary Malcolm X.

          17. I liked how this one:
            talked about five propositions that supported slavery. I think Lincoln was right when he said “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.”
            Alas; because slavery was the subordination of slaves to their master; there’s an undercurrent of the concept preserved in the subordination of wives to their husbands; but if it took us that long to defeat slavery; it’ll take just as long to correct that Biblical oversight.

          18. @Jamie Carter

            Jesus aimed many of His parables at the legalism of the scribes and the Pharisees. Can you imagine the horror and the hatred of the Pharisees when they heard the words in Matthew 23.

            What the Pharisees did was they carefully read the letter of the law, and then they piled upon it their own traditions. Jesus offended them by telling them their salvation depended upon their faith in God, not their own works. He shamed them for their displays of pride, making it emphatically clear that with that outrageous pride they offended God. He told them that God cares for the sinner, that He wants ALL OF US to repent.

            You complain that the Bible is big on the concept of subordination. What it big on is the concept of servant hood. Even God washed the feet of His disciples.

            Why should we be wary of loving the world? Our world — the world as WE HAVE MADE IT — is one where MIGHT MAKES RIGHT. Throughout history the strong have sought to justify their rule over the weak. The Bible refutes such claims. The Bible says RIGHT MAKES RIGHT.

            Don’t confuse the Bible’s record of history with approval what happened. Observe the subtleties. When the Bible gives us the names of the Kings of Israel and Judah, it gives us the names of their mothers. Thus, we know that God regarded some kings as a credit to their mothers and others as shameful.

            The Bible has both its heroes and heroines. To the complete befuddlement of His apostles, Jesus treated women with respect. In fact, the woman at the well was one of His first successful evangelists, and it was women He first accorded the honor of seeing Him after He rose from the dead.

          19. But that goes back to the problem we’ve been discussing; people who used the Bible to define what’s right saw all those proslavery verses and affirmed it as God’s will and therefore always right. To them any other interpretation of the Word of God was heresy. Christians didn’t understand the Gospel as an immediate instruction to free the slaves in the year 55 a.d. It took a long, long, long time for them to get around to reading the Bible that way. To learn how to question the authority of people who used their authority to twist the Bible by using it’s authority against them as a testament to the truth of itself.

          20. @Jamie Carter

            The Bible says what it says. That has not changed. However, because we have changed (largely because of the Bible with respect to the subject of slavery), we see some things in the Bible from a different perspective.

            The fact we have differing perspectives and biases is one of the reasons we will never get people from different nations and cultures to wholly agree upon the message of Jesus Christ. The defect, however, is not the message; it is in our ability to receive it. Even we had the intellect required to understand, we still would not perfectly objective.

          21. I guess that means that it’s entirely possible that all those anti-LGBT verses are actually pro-LGBT verses in disguise as well; all those anti-divorce verses are actually pro-divorce verses in disguise as well; etc. only Christians who have sin-hardened hearts end up in legalism and hatred. The message itself that God is love is sound; but people lack the ability to understand his unconditional love demands nothing from them.

          22. @Jamie Carter

            It seems you want to change the topic. Don’t really know what it is, but I suppose you have an agenda. Do you want to impose it on the Bible? Works better when we just try to figure out what the Bible has to say to us, but that is harder work.

            What is sin? It is disobedience to God. What does God call a sin? He does not want us to hurt ourselves or each other. So He prohibits us from hurting ourselves or each other either spiritually or physically.

            The Bible is not a science textbook, but the Bible and science don’t disagree. The types of sexual relationships associated with the acronym LGBT are demonstrably unhealthy. They are just perverse forms of fornication. Fornication results in the spread of disease and messed-up minds. Fornication always hurts us spiritually and risks physical damage.

            In the Old Testament, the Hebrews tried to live in accordance with the law, as if that effort alone could save them. So they brutally punished sinners. Because the Hebrews were all sinners, they all suffered from punishment. Made for a tough life.

            Why did God put the Hebrews through that? I don’t really know, but I can see that the Hebrews chose to separate obedience to the Law from faith in God. The Hebrews believed they could obey the law and thereby save themselves.

            The Hebrews could not save themselves. Even so, when they tried the Hebrews were generally better off than their neighbors.

            In the New Testament we have a different covenant. Instead of the grim Law putting the fear of God in us, we have the Holy Spirit nurturing the love of God in us. At least that’s my best understanding of it.

            So the Hebrews, under the Old Testament ruthlessly punished every kind of sin, and so Christians love the sinner and hate the sin. Same God, but a distinctly different approaches. Christians don’t execute sinners; we condemn each others sins.

            Christianity and Judaism illustrate how differently we can see God. The ideas of faith and how much God loves us are in the Old Testament, but God called Moses His servant. Jesus called the apostles his friends. With His death and resurrection, we became children of God.

            Did the First Coming of Christ end sin? No. Because it hurts us, God still does not want us to sin.

          23. No, not really. So far the conversation has been: “Yes, there are Bible verses that support slavery when read literally, but subert slavery when taken in a spiritual sense.” So that logic must uphold in the rest of scriptures, that there are verses that support anti-LGBTQ thinking when read literally, but subvert anti-LGBTQ thinking when taken in a spiritual sense.” I just want to see whether it holds for just one kind of thinking, or throughout scripture, that anything the BIble can be interpreted to be for, it can be interpreted to be against, as well as anything it can be interpreted against, it can be interpreted for. So I’m looking for consistency. Can’t you see how it weakens your thinking to only have the Bible be against things you’re against, like Slavery and never for things that you’re against? (not that I’m personally against LGBTQ; but it’s a common one that many Christians are.) If that’s the case, then The Bible is just a matter of interpretation.
            One translation I read called itself a meaning-based translation, it would often add concepts to clarify a verse according to popular modern interpretations that didn’t exist when the Word was written. If we can decide that the Bible doesn’t always mean what it says, then the original confusion returns; after all, some people can read the Bible and decide that it doesn’t really mean anything anti-slavery because of what it says in the pro-slavery sections of the Word. I guess the question is whether or not the Bible always means what it says or if it says things that it doesn’t mean.

          24. @Jamie Carter

            Scripture says what it says. The Bible told the Hebrews that under certain conditions they could own slaves. The Bible did not encourage slavery. In fact, those “slavery verses” made it more difficult to own slaves.

            Our Constitution did something similar. The clauses related to slavery were clearly put in our Constitution with the hope they would discourage slavery. Otherwise, there was no point in having them. Yet people say the Constitution endorses slavery, and they say it with a straight face. Can I stop them? No, but I don’t have to agree.

            So what about your proposition?

            So that logic must uphold in the rest of scriptures, that there are verses that support anti-LGBTQ thinking when read literally, but subvert anti-LGBTQ thinking when taken in a spiritual sense.

            Because you approve of LGBTQ thinking, whatever that is, the Bible has to approve? Doesn’t work that way. The Bible tells us something about what God thinks, not what we think or want to believe.

            Are there multiple translations of the Bible? Yes. Some are better than others. The Word of God is the Bible in the original language as originally written. I wish I could read Greek and Hebrew. I can’t. So I compare translations and read commentaries. Generally, I have found few substantive differences between different translations.

            Because the Bible contains expressions and sayings only the original readers would have understood, meaning-based translations are useful. However, when translators take too many liberties and start trying to make the Bible say something it doesn’t, they just create controversy. Over time such translations tend to appeal to smaller audiences.

          25. I still don’t understand why people who want to stop slavery stop just shy of stopping slavery by limiting it as opposed actually prohibiting it. Why allow even the tiniest aspect of it the end goal to to deny all of it?

          26. @Jamie Carter

            Often we are blind to our own sins. Have you read about the American Civil War? Do you understand what the Rebel soldiers were willing to endure? Some of them, like General Lee, understood slavery was not right, but his pride rejected the notion that the Federal Government could force Virginia — his people — to give up slavery.

            By the end of the war, the Southern armies were poorly armed, poorly fed, and fighting in rags. They gave up because they had no other choice. It was surrender or die. That is why General Sherman made the war Hell. It was the only way to end it.

            Still, after the war was over and Reconstruction had ended, the South set out once again reduce the status of blacks as much as they could.

            To get people to do what they ought to do, first they have to be convinced that they want to do it.

            Fear is an option. Consider.

            Psalm 111:10 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

            10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
            A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
            His praise endures forever.

            Wisdom requires reverence for God, not craven fear. We may begin the process of becoming wise in craven fear, but we don’t become wise if we remain in craven fear if God. This meaning-based translation shows that.

            Psalm 111:10 Good News Translation (GNT)

            10 The way to become wise is to honor the Lord;
            he gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands.
            He is to be praised forever.

            What does becoming wise truly entail? We become wise when we learn to love the Lord.

            John 14:15-18 New King James Version (NKJV)

            15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

            There is no fear in love (1 John 4:18).

          27. I suppose it is not especially important, but I like to get things right. Apparently, the Nazis did not use chlorine gas to kill people in their gas chambers. They used engine exhaust at first (carbon monoxide) and Zyklon B later.

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