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Talk:Slavery in the Bible

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This Bible related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


We need to refute claims that Atheists aren’t moral or are morally defective. Here’s an example. Atheism. Note! Those Christians don’t even feel a need to provide evidence that we are corrupt and have done abominable works. They just quote the Bible and take care to translate it in a way they think is accurate. I’ll come back to this when I have more time. I feel thoroughly insulted. I’ve started refuting that in the article Christian morality which is linked to the Main Page. The team here can do much better than I can single handed. Proxima Centauri 07:14, 31 July 2008 (EDT)

I like the reference at the bottom of Christianity.wikia page,
The atheist viewpoint and 50 reasons why they believe God cannot exist (Note that this site selectively quotes. It might be useful to be aware of the context of the bible verses it uses to justify its views.)
And anti-atheists never selectively quote? LOL. Jollyfish.gifGenghisRationalWiki GOLD member 07:30, 31 July 2008 (EDT)

And where, if I might ask, does this "intuitive sense of right and wrong" come from? And does the current standards of morality change becaue this sense changes, or does the sense change because the standards change, or are they both linked to some entirely different third factor? And if morals change, how can this be an intuitive sense at all? --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 08:30, 31 July 2008 (EDT)

That is an interesting question which I have never had a good answer to. It seems pretty obvious that it does not come from religion - because religious ideas of right and wrong (like slavery) also change with time. It is also interesting that religious ideas of right and wrong change when society's change - sometimes some religions are ahead of the social curve and sometimes they are behind. But my impression is that, as a society, we are becoming more moral. We (well, most of us) no longer think that dog fighting is good fun, that slavery is good, that capital/corporal punishment is a good idea, etc. Why do we change in this way?--Bobbing up 09:30, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
In past centuries most people lived in Third World conditions everywhere. This could not be prevented. People, rich and poor alike suffered misery from conditions like toothache which dentists can now treat. Painkillers were far less effective than they are today. Rich and poor alike people frequently died young from conditions that are treatable today. With so many unpreventable bad things going on people had less incentive to improve moral standards. That's one explanation.
Another explanation is that we exaggerate how far morals have improved. We're biased in favour of our own society as everyone is. We think dog fighting and bull fighting are wrong. We tolerate Factory farming. I think confining an animal in a factory farm for its whole life is far worse than torturing a dog or a bull for a few hours during a fight. Both are wrong. Proxima Centauri 09:54, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
My 2d worth - there is no 'intuitive sense of right and wrong' - there's a relativistic set of rules which allow us to live together. I'm always wary of absolute values - history has shown how values change and absolute values resist that change. Silver Sloth 10:07, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
There are a lot of rational arguments for morality based on mutual self-interest. Not killing, stealing or raping; respecting our parents, telling the truth etc. The Big Ten covers the stuff that lets a civil society function. Only the having no other gods, not making graven images, not taking name in vain etc. are inherently of religious origin and can be seen as ways of keeping people in the faith. Economic arguments can explain a lot of morality and as our economic circumstances have changed so have our morals. It's not just that we are biased towards our own society, psychological experiments show that we tend to be biased in favour of people who are similar to us, even if it is only sharing a commonality of name. Jollyfish.gifGenghisRationalWiki GOLD member 10:29, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
The big ten!! about half of them are rubbish! And they don't mention rape. How would economic arguments, or arguments about helping people who are similar to us, end up eliminating slavery?--Bobbing up 11:22, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
It's a change in perception as to what 'similar to us' means. As long as slaves are 'others' then a 'morality' can be constructed where slavery is a good thing(tm) because they're better off being our slaves than in their natural, debased habitat. I know people who genuinely believe that 'blacks' are 'an inferior race' and therefore not as 'worthy'. As we progress and the world shrinks we are seeing more and more that all the world are brothers and sisters worthy of equal respect - and therefore unworthy of being slaves. Silver Sloth 11:34, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
If slaves do not perform as well or run away then you are left without a workforce. Ultimately the slave owners want to make a profit, if conditions change and the profit can be in another way then there is no reason to perpetuate the slavery. In an industrial economy slaves are not big consumers, emancipating those slaves produces a larger market into which you can sell your product. Economies of scale can produce the same profit. There is also the self-interest that slavery (or indeed any large disparity) engenders hatred of the oppressor, that means having to live in the state of fear of an uprising and retribution which uses up resources. Living in a free and open society is less stressful. Rape is not explicitly banned by the ten commandments and it was probably more common in older times. As women have become more involved in work outside the home and been enfranchised then they have become more vocal about rape and are able to exert political and economic force to changes laws and enforce justice. Jollyfish.gifGenghisRationalWiki GOLD member 12:05, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
All that you say about slavery is true. But it looks like arguing after the fact. If getting rid of slavery is such a good idea - why did the US need to fight a war to get rid of it? If slavery is so counter-productive why did it exist for most of human society? Why does it still exist?--Bobbing up 12:11, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
Slavery in the North was waning for the reasons given above. In the South it was still highly profitable, since the South was an agricultural, not an industrial economy. Slavery was even waning there until the invention of the cotton gin. Just the Cliff's notes version. ħumanUser talk:Human 18:15, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
Whether or not slavery is profitable is not an absolute. It is dependent on a range of economic factors, particularly the relationship between the cost of land and the cost of labour. Generally speaking, the higher the cost of labour and the lower the cost of land, the more profitable slavery will be. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 14:41, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
The focus of slavery in the West is often on African slavery but prior to that European feudalism was a form of slavery. As the number of free-men increased and empires expanded it was necessary to acquire slaves from less technologically developed nations. Progress was much slower in earlier times so change took a long time. But with the industrial revolution labour was diverted from the land to the factory. While factory conditions could be bad they do require a more compliant workforce as factories can be more easily sabotaged than a field. In the US, the north became industrialised while the south relied more on agriculture, there was a need for labour to work the large cotton and sugar plantations so emancipation of the slaves would have an negative economic impact on the plantation owners whic they obviously didn't appreciate. Owing to the hot summers the south did not really become a popular place to live until the invention of air-conditioning. We see 3rd world countries where people work in what we think are appalling conditions. However, for many of them it is better than what they had when working the land. As the wealth and skills base builds up those people will be able to demand better conditions and pay. The West may think they take a moral stand on this but poorer people in the west are in no position to take moral stands, they want cheap food and clothing. It seems that the bigger the disparity between rich and poor then the less likely are ethical considerations to be important. Thats why the US has failed to sign up for so many UN treaties (rights of women, children, culture, Kyoto etc.). More egalitarian (but comfortable) European countries are more concerned about 3rd world conditions than the US where there is a mind-boggling difference between the ultra-rich and the poor working for $6 an hour. Jollyfish.gifGenghisRationalWiki GOLD member 15:19, 31 July 2008 (EDT)
Feudalism, to the extent that such a concept even exists, is not slavery. Serfs, while not legally free and dependent on a lord, had control of the means of production and still had certain legal rights. A slave has neither. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 17:16, 31 July 2008 (EDT)

Marriage and childbirth in Hebrew slavery[edit]

So it says if the master provides a male Hebrew slave with a "wife" (I would hesitate to use this word, assuming the union is not necessarily voluntary), she and any offspring will be slaves for life (presumably the female was a slave to begin with). If the male slave was already married, his wife will go free with him after six years - but nothing is said about what happens to children born during their six-year servitude. Why? Since it seems young slave couples procreating during any six-year period would not have been uncommon, this seems very odd - perhaps their children were used as leverage to keep the slaves permanently? Muad (talk) 02:27, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

It says "the woman and her children shall belong to her master" - so I would assume that they are born slaves.--BobSpring is sprung! 08:37, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Four allegedly important passage groups[edit]

There are four important passage groups which this analysis has skipped over: 1) Ex. 21:16 "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death." And a similar verse in Dt. 24:7 "If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you." Since virtually all New World slavery was predicated on abduction (or abduction of one’s ancestors), slave traders in 1850’s Mississippi should have been swinging on a rope. These two verses almost single-handedly stamp “paid” to the idea that the Bible supports chattel slavery.

2) Lev. 25:49. “An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in his clan may redeem him. Or if he prospers, he may redeem himself.”  In ancient Israel, a Hebrew “slave” or his relative (called a kinsman redeemer) could buy him out of slavery to a foreigner at any time (this was about debt payoff).

3) Lev. 25.39. “If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you..."  Deut. 15.12. “If a fellow Hebrew, a man or a woman, sells himself to you and serves you six years, in the seventh year you must let him go free.” The majority of OT “slavery” was entered into voluntarily in response to debt. Note the phrase, “…sells himself”.

4) Dt. 23:15. "If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. 16 Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him."  “Slaves” could walk out anytime the situation became intolerable, and they were not to be sent back even though they would lose their current social support structure and be in debt-default. This was a VOLUNTARY INSTITUTION –at least as voluntary as debt and poverty can be.ScoobyRuvHound (talk) 06:01, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

  1. Since virtually all New World slavery was predicated on abduction (or abduction of one’s ancestors), slave traders in 1850’s Mississippi should have been swinging on a rope. These two verses almost single-handedly stamp “paid” to the idea that the Bible supports chattel slavery. Bullocks. You aren't allowed to kidnap your fellow citizens ("Israelites"), but you can purchase foreigners under Biblical law. (Lev. 25:44: "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.")
  2. You conveniently omit Lev. 25:47, which allows such redemption only for those owned by foreigners: ""'If a foreigner residing among you becomes rich and any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to the foreigner or to a member of the foreigner's clan, they retain the right of redemption after they have sold themselves. One of their relatives may redeem them:..."
  3. Again bullshit: the majority of OT slaves came from spoils of war. Yes, the Israelites had a soft spot for their fellow kinsmen, but this didn't stretch to foreigners...
  4. This verse applies to slaves who fled from foreign lands into Israel (slaves of the gentiles)
Frankly, you just try to support wishful thinking by quote-mining. --larron (talk) 06:38, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
ScoobyRuvHound's arguments are indeed absurd. The racially-defined non-Hebrew slaves taken by Israel in battle or purchased by them were pretty obviously not there voluntarily and were clearly not able to just walk out if they felt like it.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 08:27, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

1. Hogwash. You weren't allowed to kidnap anybody. The prohibition in Ex. 21:16 was universal. 2. No, nothing was left out. Now re-read the last 5 words. However foreign slaves were obtained, they could not be kidnapped and held, and they were to be treated the same as Hebrews in Lev 19:34 and Dt. 10:19. 3. You know the demographic breakdown of the sources of servant/slaves under the “Saul Administration”? Really? Source please. Lev 25:44 does not apply to war. Dt. 20 covered warfare, but this was only in response to a defensive war, and such “slaves” taken would actually be vassals and serfs. Dt. 20 also happens to be a hypothetical which was never realized. 4. It says slaves of the gentiles where?

Dt. 15:16-17 It shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; 17 then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also you shall do likewise to your maidservant. Sound like the conditions on the movie Roots?ScoobyRuvHound (talk) 19:25, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

"(Exodus 21:20-21 ESV) When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money."
So severely beating slaves was OK as long as they did not immediately die. So, yes, sounds pretty roots-like to me.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:38, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

If the beating caused death, the “master” was held accountable under the life-for-life clause. See Ex. 21:20. If it caused any permanent damage, the servant was immediately released. Ex 21:26-27 The Hebrew word for “property” in Ex. 21:21 is ksph (silver) which is not the normal word for property; see the parallel in the preceding verses of two men fighting with no one dying, but the aggressor is forced to 'retributively' pay (out of his own money--"silver", ksph) for the victim's lost economic time and medical expenses. This was all actually much more humane than what could be done to freemen of the same period and represents a dramatic improvement over what the rest of the ancient world did. Beyond that, Deuteronomy (which largely repeats Exodus/Leviticus) is an ancient suzerainty treaty entered into exclusively between God and ancient Israel...IOW, the Mosaic Law is a contract. Christians today, however, live under a new contract called grace. Since neither Christians nor the modern west signed on to this Mosaic Law contract, the nuts-and-bolts details of Exodus/Leviticus don't apply to either of us.ScoobyRuvHound (talk) 21:41, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

Right, except where do you think the slaves who where bought came from ? They certainly where not consenting victims. Matter of fact a number of stories in the Old Testement speak of the slaves the Hebrew aquired through the invasion and conquest of Heathen lands, and those peope where certainly not under the debt slavery laws of the Old Testement since they where not Jews; as the law differentiated debt slavery and chattel slavery only by the relgion of those slaves (the Jews and mon Jews respectively). Casecr (talk) 16:46, 12 January 2018 (UTC)

Removing Propaganda[edit]

I will go on to remove propaganda from the article like:

It seems quite clear that a daughter sold to be a maidservant was promised to a future marriage either with her master or his son. If such thing was to occur, her status would them move from maidservant to wife or daughter. Otherwise, she would be free at the end of the six years.

That's not "quite clear": the clarification applies to those daughters who were sold to become wives of their masters - or their masters' sons, but their is no specification for girls who didn't get such a promise.

Indeed, on should be "quite" careful thinking that some verses have a "clear" or "obvious" meaning: brilliant theologians have used such verses to argue for slavery over centuries!

--larron (talk) 14:09, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

It's evident when you read the text!!
"And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money."
How would he deal deceitfully with her if she had nothing to expect from him?! --MrXrM (talk) 18:58, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
That's only evident to you. A Christian minister in Charleston in 1820 may have argued that this is applicable only to young ladies sold with the purpose to marry the master or his son: you may read the line as if "who hath betrothed her to himself" is a general description of all maidservants, it can also be seen as a restriction to those maidservants who were betrothed, so that the following sentences aren't applicable to those not betrothed.
--larron (talk) 19:39, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
I should have put in bold also and if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money. That is :
1° She was promised to marry him -> He must marry her
2° She was promised to his son -> The son must marry her and she must be considered as a daughter
3° The son is given a second wife -> She must keep her rank
Otherwise the 6 years (max) fixed-term contract concluded between the father and the master for her to work as a maidservant come to and end.
If your point is that she is not necessarily promised to get married, I agree that it may not be that obvious after all. — Unsigned, by: MrXrM / talk / contribs
That is exactly my point. --larron (talk) 20:33, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
The other thing worth remembering when **anyone** says "it's so evident" "it seems clear", etc. is that you are working from one particular translation that may or may not be shared by your audience, much less the millions or billions of people who have read any given passage. And, that translation may have little to nothing to do with the an original language snip-it which again, may or may not exist. One tin soldier (talk) 21:20, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Exactemundo! --larron (talk) 21:22, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Nevertheless it's arguable on both sides. But I believe there is more chance that she could always be free at the end of the contract unless she get married because:
1) otherwise it would not be consistent with Lev 25:44 : " Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids."
2) "she shall not go out like menservants do" could also mean that by the fact that she is an unmarried woman she can potentially get married with her master, in this case she will be part of the household, which is not possible for men...--MrXrM (talk) 21:01, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's the point: it's arguable on both sides. And maybe your views have been the more common. But do you think that during the centuries this verses were used as a moral guideline in Galilee, your view on the restrictions of bondmaidship was always adhered to? It certainly has been used in different ways in modern times! You may call this an abuse, but why should one see the current version of Christianity as to be more valid than the one used in the first half of the 19th century in the south of America? Only because it seems to be less immoral to us? --larron (talk) 21:20, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Because the Bible and its principles must be understood as a whole. We cannot pick elements that suits our own views while neglecting the others.MrXrM (talk) 22:44, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Says whom? again, who's argument are you putting forth? a modern fundamentalist who uses snakes? A modern Universalist? a modern Chinese convert? a 12th century philosopher? a 12th century drudgery worker? a 1st century reformer? The thing about holy books is that every single person reading them is going to take something different away from them, and there is no set way to read them. One tin soldier (talk) 00:06, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Many clergy, such as Thornwell, linked support for slavery with support for traditional patriarchal families. He yoked abolitionism with women's rights and other northern reform movements that threatened to disrupt what he saw a the God-ordained order of things. From his reading of Scripture, the Presbyterian divine found "masters exhorted in the same connection with husbands, parents, magistrates"; the flip side of that equation was "slaves exhorted in the same connection with wives, children, subjects."

--South Carolina: A History by Walter B. Edgar, p. 293
--larron (talk) 20:13, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
There were also prominent Christian abolitionists such as William Wilberforce among many. It's not fair to put all the blame on Christiannity because it is clear that slavery enforced during 18th century was more similar to that of the Egyptians (which God explicitly told Jews not to reproduce), rather than what was shown in the Bible.
Jeremiah 17:9 says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked". People will find excuses for their evil thoughts at all cost, even if it compromises their faith, conscience and reason. It was true for religion but it was also for science when people began pretending that Africans were not really humans to justify slavery...--MrXrM (talk) 21:25, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
It's not fair ? I'm not blaming Christianity for slavery, I'm only saying that Christian hadn't have any moral qualms over centuries when it comes to enslaving your brothers and sisters! Indeed, I admire Wilberforce and the powerful British abolition movement, but I'm often surprised when I read about the nonchalance with which these great advocates of anti-slavery disregarded starving Irish and working children... --larron (talk) 21:33, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Because you won't change human nature, it doesn't depend on what he believe. Christians with lust for power sometimes compromise christian doctrines, conscience, and reason. The best example is Roman Catholic church who killed many christians during the the dark-ages and reformation, because they refused to compromise their faith and acknowledge its authority. Staline and Hitler came to almost the same figures in term of deaths without religion.MrXrM (talk) 21:45, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
People will find excuses for their evil thoughts at all cost, even if it compromises their faith, conscience and reason. I doubt that James Henley Thornwell ever thought that he compromised his faith. He only compromised your faith.
christian doctrines if you prefer...
It was true for religion but it was also for science when people began pretending that Africans were not really humans to justify slavery Wow, a tu quoque :-) Shouldn't religion provide us with moral guidelines? The same cannot be said of science. --larron (talk) 21:37, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Exactly that's why I talked about compromise of principles, and conscience. There is no need for long discourses. In the Bible abuse is a sin, period. Love is the underlying principle for every moral principle it contains.
  • That's why when the Pharisees asked Jesus for the highest command, he gave them both: Love for God and Love for your neighbour, and on these two "hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt 22:35-40)
  • That's why when Israelites came out of slavery in Egypt, he told them "love the strangers among you, because you were a stranger in Egypt and it wasn't funny at all."
  • That's why he could well have told them "you may adopt children from other nations, and they will dwell forever in your house, but I command you to love them. But do not adopt them among you => If hebrew children are adopted that means they have been abandonned in the first place and I don't want that" quite similar to what the civil law say regarding poor (financially) hebrews sold to stranger, or even other hebrews -> they are to be redeemed by a member of the family.
  • *But guess what, in this day and age, pedophiles also adopt children. In the US they adopt them, abuse them, and exchange them on Facebook. Is adoption immoral? No it depends on motives, purposes, and context. => You could either leave a miserable Cambodian child in its misery, leave him as a potential prey for child traffickers who, will also adopt him but for different motives and different treatment, or pay Cambodian fees, and bring him into a foreign country where he will be tied forever to foreign family and doomed to do house chores; and give him love and esteem and respect. That's the ideal plan; sometimes parents adopting children fail and become abusive....
  • The problem with 18th century slavery partisan using the Bible is that they excluded the part that say "you must love them as yourself".
  • The other problem is that the Bible doesn't detail how to love strangers. It's difficult to explicitly tell how to love, but "love as yourself" should be enough, and I believe it's easy to determine when love is lacking. In any case it was an explicit command reiterated four times in the exact same manner. This is unique to the Bible. I agree the concept may be difficult to grasp today after all our recent history of slavery, but it still makes some sense.

MrXrM (talk) 22:11, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

You and your atheistic/socialistic/communistic/red republican/Jacobinistic ideas! Thornwell is all about love - like in Proverbs 13:24 (NASB):
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
Do you imply corporal correction is immoral? That's another debate but psychological violence can have even more terrible effects in the long term. Does it mean reprimand is something immoral?MrXrM (talk) 17:12, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
But guess what, in this day and age, pedophiles also adopt children. In the US they adopt them, abuse them, and exchange them on Facebook. Is adoption immoral? What is your point? That slavery isn't immoral, too, but that there have been some unfortunate excesses?
Why should your ideas how to interpret the Bible be more valid than those of others? Because they are obvious to you? --larron (talk) 05:50, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
It's not an interpretation it's an analogy. Is adoption moral? It could well become an issue in the future...MrXrM (talk) 17:12, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

James Henley Thornwell also wrote (in 1850):

' "The parties in this conflict are not merely Abolitionists and slaveholders, they are Atheists, Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans, Jacobins on the one side and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other."

--The Rights and the Duties of Masters - a Sermon Preached at the Dedication of a Church is Charleston, by James Henley Thornwell
Darwinists are lucky to not have been in existence at this time! --larron (talk) 20:25, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
As I have already said, that is only one side of the story because other Christian leaders also fought against slavery during that time. --MrXrM (talk) 21:25, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
As we will find Christians on both sides of every conflict, does this mean that Christianity is always right? --larron (talk) 21:38, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Christianity couldn't make up its mind on the topic of slavery which is despised generally in modern Western society. Why not? Devil? --larron (talk) 21:41, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Your Thornwell quotes are worthless. I don't care that ignoramus A decontextualized Bible passage B and did C with it. If Thornwell was as ill-informed on the subject as you-so what? It's amazing how many atheists think this approach is an actual argument.

Guilt by Association Fallacy anyone?

To see this fallacy in reverse, I'll quote Jeffrey Dahmer's use of atheism to justify his mass murder: If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing… Ready to convert now, heathen?ScoobyRuvHound (talk) 17:22, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Oh no, Thornwell is much better informed about the subject than I am: I would never be invited to give the sermon at the dedication of a new church! Thornwell - a well educated minister (Havard!) - represented the view of the vast majority of the free inhabitants of South Carolina. That's the difference to Jeffrey Dahmer who only spoke for himself.
--larron (talk) 21:33, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Well you may also find a very long list of Harvard scholars who used darwin's findings to "preach" white supremacy to the mass and justify slavery... MrXrM (talk) 08:29, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, scholars in the early 20th century had some horrendous ideas! That's the thing: scientists have erred - and will err. The next generation looks at the errors, try to find out what was going wrong, and come up with more correct ideas. Science is ever changing...
But how can Christians, reading the Bible, come to so different an interpretation? Havn't they an unchanging, absolute moral? --larron (talk) 09:52, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes they do have an unchanging moral law : "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt 22:37-40)--MrXrM (talk) 15:19, 6 June 2014 (UTC)


Funny how, when quoting 1 Timothy 6 you slip from NIV to NKJV. Would that be an attempt to avoid the 'S' word. Can you really not accept the moral relativism inherent within a book written in such a different age. The bible is fine with slavery which is completely understandable for a book written over that time period. It only becomes a problem if you believe it to be inerrant in which case slavery is the least of your problems. c.f. this unlikely tale. Placeholder (talk) 14:59, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

->Obviously no, because the previous verse contains the 'S' word. As I said earlier some translations are bad. I consider the verse as a whole. Moreover bondservant is synonymous to slave, the only difference may be that it's less common, and therefore less connoted to abusive behaviour. But that just shows the power of words, and why comparing multiple versions can be useful.

The problem is that in hebrew the same word could apply to different situations. For instance, in Exodus 21:7-11 KJV translates by "maidservant" where other translations use "slave", although in this particular context "maidservant" seem to be more appropriate than "bondwoman" also used by the KJV elsewhere. --MrXrM (talk) 16:38, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

But all this is obscuring the basic point. Many Christians point to the bible as the source of moral absolutism. However, the fact that the bible is OK with slavery means one of either
  • Modern Christians should be OK with slavery
  • The moral code within the bible is relativistic, not absolute.
And that's a biggie. If the bible can't be trusted as absolute on slavery then what else can it not be trusted on. How about homosexuality, as a random example. Placeholder (talk) 15:51, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
On contrary, I believe that with the title: "Slavery in the Bible", the point is to know "What does the Bible say about slavery". Whether it's moral or not is quite another issue (which may also fit in the article).
The Bible is OK with something called "slavery" but what is it like really? If those who used Bible to justify slavery in 18th century had included each and every aspects of what was prescribed, it probably wouldn't have been such a crime against humanity.
In Ex 23:9; Deut 10:19; Lev 19:34,25:35-37 God systematycally recall the time when their were reduce to slavery (the kind of slavery we know) and tell them: this is not what you are suppose to do! You've been there, you no what it is, and I don't want you do the same
In fact "bondservants" or "slaves" where nothing less than workers that were tied to a particular hebrew family in a foreign land. Hebrews couldn't trade slaves so when you acquire a bondservant (KJV) he/she would be at your service as long as she lived in Israel. In compensation the hebrews were obliged to treat them and love them as themselves (verses above) otherwise, the "bondservant" could legaly step out (escape) and dwell in any other place of his preference in Israel!!!! (Ex 23:9) This alone makes a huge difference to what we expect from the word "slavery", and completely different to what supposedly christians supported during the 18th century. --MrXrM (talk) 16:38, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Talk about a PRATT. Non Hebrew slaves were quite clearly property to be brought, sold and inherited. How ever much you try to hand wave it away this condones the ownership of other human beings. Calling them "bondservants" is a weasel word to try and avoid this. Like all other societies of the time the Hebrews owned slaves and the bible is quite OK with it. The very fact that this only applies to non Hebrews reflects the racism of 18th and 19th century US slavery where it was fine to own "Negroes" because they're "not us". OH, sure, it says be kind to foreigners but only the free ones. The enslaved ones you can beat as long as the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property. (Exodus 21:21 NIV) Placeholder (talk) 17:10, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
By the way, have you looked at argument 5 in the section "Attempts to justify the Bibles slavery passages"? Placeholder (talk) 17:20, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

We should use a single version in an article. Would New American Standard Bible be agreeable? --larron (talk) 16:58, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

I guess it won't be a big issue using NASB.
As far as I know Hebrew could only buy slave but they couldn't sell them. --MrXrM (talk) 17:49, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Where is this stated? You shouldn't eat shellfish and you shouldn't sell slaves? What's about If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do? --larron (talk) 17:57, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
“And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)
And as I wrote hebrew word for slave had many different meaning. The KJV makes clearly the distinction between a maidservant and a bondwomen: the daughter sold was promised for marriage, and if it was not concluded she was free after her six years of service --MrXrM (talk) 18:44, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
If you steal AND sell a man, you are in trouble, but were does the Bible tell that you cannot sell a man who is already rightfully in your property? --larron (talk) 19:41, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
And as I wrote hebrew word for slave had many different meaning There are different meanings, and I have no doubt that the acceptance of slavery changed over the centuries in Israel, reaching perhaps a low during the times in Egyptian exile or Babylonian captivity... --larron (talk) 20:39, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

It's pretty obvious that there were three categories of slaves and that non-Hebrew slaves were slaves in any way you care to think about it. Splitting hairs about the theoretical marital rights of female Hebrew slaves (who were presumably obliged to have sex whenever their purchasers wanted) doesn't change this fact.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 21:14, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

They would have sex only if they got married. No point to open a debate on this however.MrXrM (talk) 21:31, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Well, you have to split these hairs if you want to perpetuate the impression that there is a moral absolute given by holy scripture. I'm always amused how much work it takes to fit the unchanging moral imperatives of the bible to our current ideas of morality. And it always works! --larron (talk) 21:25, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
I know that asking consistency from the inerrant bible is being a bit optimistic but I just want to get back to the hair-splitting in respect of the female Hebrew slaves.
MrXrM maintains that these women who were bought from their fathers were either married to their owners or, apparently if they were not pretty enough displeasing in the eyes of her master, given to the master's sons, or even let go. And there are biblical passages which back this up.
But in Exodus 21 we find when referring to the departure of time-served male debt slaves: "If 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." (He is also given the option of becoming a life slave is he wants to remain with his wife and family)
But my point is - who are these women who are given to the debt slave? They and their children are explicitly stated to be owned by their master. The passage implies the existence of an hereditary slave cast so perhaps they are daughters of other female slaves?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 08:14, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I guess this woman was be part of the household. So if the man didn't want to wait the end of the 6 years to get married with someone else, if he wanted this particular woman, then he would have to become part of the household also. MrXrM (talk) 21:29, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't know where this is all going, but to MR.X whoever - do you understand that the Jewish holy writings speaks in many places outside of what you know of as "the bible" about slavery, about owning slaves, about the proper way to sell them, treat them? I'm not sure how you are managing to hand wave over the whole "word for slave" thing without studying the talmud, at the very least, because there could be no way you understand the hebrew mindset about slavery from the ENGLISH christian bible alone. One tin soldier (talk) 22:31, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Hebrew mindset concerning slavery is today no less understandable for an english speaking christian than a hebrew Jewish living in Israel. However, it won't be understandable for neither of them if them try to make sense of it out of context, that is without the rest of the Bible (or Thorah if you prefer). Do you know there are many english speaking Jews around the world who read english jewish books?
Now concerning the Talmud: these are rabbinic laws instituted by the Pharisees(Rabbis), whose hypocrisy and misunderstanding of scriptures Jesus has clearly revealed. Therefore the Talmud is not authoritative for Christians.MrXrM (talk) 08:09, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
"proper way to sell them" Again they were not allowed to sell each other as slaves or trade humans. The only controversial verse on this regard is Ex 21:7 where hebrews could sell their daughters. But KJV uses the word "maidservant" instead of "bondwoman" for a reason: If she was to get married then the payment would represent dowry, and if not she would be free at the end of the 6th year and payment would then represent salary. She couldn't remain in the household forever unless she got married because that was exclusive to foreigners. "maidservant" and "bondwoman"(slave) use the same hebrew word, and KJV got it right, because otherwise it would contradict the rest of the Bible.--MrXrM (talk) 08:53, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
So what do you think the phrase: "the wife and her children shall belong to her master" means? It seems quite clear to me. As far as I can work out it means the wife and her children shall belong to her master. They are property. A slave cast.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 12:53, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
I would rather call it a status rather than a cast because when escaped they gained full citizenship equally to the native jews --MrXrM (talk) 14:54, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
So you accept that they had the hereditary "status" of slave? Hey! I feel like we're getting somewhere!--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:39, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes but they could put an end to it if they wanted to: “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” (Deut 23:15-16) – One reason more to treat him good if you want him to stay at your service.--MrXrM (talk) 21:01, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Dear MrXrM[edit]

Just to summarize my view on the whole thing: the Old Testament takes the same approach towards the existence of slavery as it does towards a Flat Earth - it is just taken for granted. Over the time, Christians got less and less pleased with these approaches, either because it became obvious that it was factually incorrect (flat earth), or because it didn't fit the moral values of the society (slavery) any longer.

So what to do? First solution: accept that things have changed, and that the OT is a product of its time, and therefore is not always applicable. The problem with this is clear - is this the same as saying that god has erred? And what about TEH GAYS? Or *shudder* the WOMEN? Will they want to reconsider their positions (pun intended)?

Thus, the second solution (the way of the weasel) has some appeal: re-translate, re-define or at least re-interpret those passages of the OT which just presuppose the existence of slavery - or a flat earth. The minor problem is that generations of Jews and Christian got it wrong, have missed the obvious meaning of some verses, and were - especially in their views of slavery - XINOs.

As slavery is a sociological concept - not a physical one like the flat earth - it is harder to determine right and wrong (even if we today think that slavery is obviously immoral): there has never been an extensive debate on the flat-earth-theory. But in the discussion on slavery, you will find some of the most brilliant theologians of various denominations on both sides. It's hubris to think that some of those weren't able to get meaning of the words bond-servants, chamber-maidens, serfs, servants and slaves...

--larron (talk) 14:16, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

It's obvious that Bible condones something called slavery but what kind of slavery? Again is adoption a moral or does it depend?
The Bible must be taken as a whole. God forbade abuse, and commands to love to love. Love is what defines his character.
Old Testament shows that Hebrews had various laws:
  • civil law: that ruled in a practical way the nation of Israel for instance "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot," was a practical way to resolve conflict and inflige a fair penalty. In our modern days it would be imprisonment. Set-aside of the agricultural land after 6 years was also introduced to preserve the fertility of the land and this is still enforced by European Union. These laws were to govern the nation of Israel. In fact many Jews immigrated in foreign countries and they had to subdue to the civil law of the nation, and couldn't apply most of their own civil law because they were no longer citizen of Israel.
  • ceremonial laws: these laws where to symbolize Christ's ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity. They were like a reminder of the promise, but once it was accomplished they were no longer needed. That's why christians no longer offer sacrifices, or observe some Jewish ceremonial feast.
  • moral law: That's God's immutable law given to humanity, expressed in the Decalogue, and of which Jesus said that it can be summed up as "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" and "love thy neighbour as thyself".
So in any case the Old-Testament cannot always be copy-pasted. What is to be copy-pasted forever is God's moral law, everything is to be evaluated upon it.
The Bible cannot be understood by picking out elements separately. It must be understood as a whole, and then the analogy with adoption is in my sense the only explanation (for why slavery is found in the Bible) that is consistent with the whole book and the principle of love it contains.--MrXrM (talk) 16:58, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm sure this probably won't get discussed in any depth in an article - but it is in fact, the way Christians handle these "problems" that is far more interesting to me at a site called Rationalwiki, than trying to prove or disprove any particular thing about the bible (since odds are, at best all we will have are academic guesses for most of it). Do you think the bible is literal, and if so, what do you do? and how does that affect the rest of your perceptions about the world, about social interactions? Do you accept the bible as inspired writing? do you pick and choose - and what do each of those approaches say about your relation (if anything) to the world at large? It seems a far richer world of discussion than trying to suss out what the word "round" means. One tin soldier (talk) 14:30, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
This could probably go as part of the apologetics article. From my experience (I love doorstep evangelists) you get a mix of
  • The courtier's reply - which is what MrXrM was mostly going for. We mere atheists haven't studied the bible enough to get the subtle differences between slave and bondmaiden or whatever.
  • All the OT bollocks was superseded by Jesus. Except, of course, the bits they want to keep about gays.
  • It's allegorical (the CofE response)
  • Misdirection - again we saw this with MrXrM where, when we pointed out problematic verses, responded with "Ah, but this verse says what I wanted to say."
Hmm... I might work on the Apologetics article when I get the time. Placeholder (talk) 15:02, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Actually the "superseded by Jesus" one doesn't really work with slavery. Given that the passages on slaves the NT tell slave-holders "treat your slaves well" rather than "let your slaves go" it's clear that the NT also has no problem with slavery.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 16:35, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
My history sucks, but very roughly, when did the Roman Empire really start to dismiss slavery (if they did?).Paul was part of Roman culture; if he'd had a problem with slavery, he'd have said so.--One tin soldier (talk) 16:49, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that it did. I rather think it was fundamental part of the way Roman society worked.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 16:57, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I don't agree with the misdirection part. But about the atheist part I think that's the real boundary between us, because I don't believe the Bible is moral therefore God exist, but rather God exist and he is moral. Therefore arguing about morality would be like putting the cart before the horse, and could lead to endless discussions. --MrXrM (talk) 17:50, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
So do you believe the Bible represents His word?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:13, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
And serious question here, his WORD, or his view, or his opinion? They are not all the same thing. The reason I ask is because I can sit down with 5 different English versions of the bible, and 10 major version of the bible in languages I read quite well, and show you that the authors of the different versions, say different things - sometimes radically different things. and they *mean* different things. So at some point, either you have to take the arrogant stance of "my bible version only", or you have to address the fact that people read things differently.
How, for example, would you translate something like 'kingdom' for a group of (so called) primitive people who do not recognize monarchy of any form. How would you deal with the concept of tax and taxation with people who have no currency? Or "wife" for the ancient Hopi who did not see marriage the same way you do, and the question of "wife" is an iffy one. Once you start looking at the real human problem of the limitations, not just of language but of communicating abstract concepts in general, you begin to understand why many people find it problematic to speak of "god's word". even if god had perfect intent, the concepts still must travel through human speech and cognition.One tin soldier (talk) 18:32, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Having multiple versions shouldn't be such a big surprise, even Shakespeare's texts have multiple versions, and it's not because there are so many versions that the Bible cannot be inspired: imagine it was effectively inspired, you could still write your own version and call it the New Enriched Version of Whatever, and that's what some people did. Personally when there is a verse that I find difficult, I compare some versions of my preference and sometimes(when really needed) I can use a tool that gives me hebrew and greek words. And that usually enriches the meaning.MrXrM (talk) 20:18, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
This is were some Christians tick me off. So without any real understanding of Hebrew or Greek, you think that picking up a dictionary and looking up words will add something to the meaning that a well versed, fluent (to the extent anyone is, of a language no 4000 years gone) academic/translator would not have understood or added to the translation. seriously? Again, how did you deal with those "problems" of translation when both language and human communication, fail? How do you translate shepherd for people who have no sheep?One tin soldier (talk) 20:23, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
I usually use it to check what are the multiple meanings attached to the word,and where it has been used. For instance it's interesting to know that the hebrew word for slave can be used to mean slave, servant, (military) subordinate, (political) minister, depending on the context. But I don't do that often. MrXrM (talk) 20:59, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
"So do you believe the Bible represents His word?" Yes I do, but I believe it should be understood as a whole --MrXrM (talk) 20:19, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Hebrews also had health laws (I forgot): they couldn't eat certain type of unhealthy animals, women couldn't have sexual relations during menstrual flow. I believe health laws are also applicable today (now we know after years of smear campaign against circumcision, that it's reduces bacteria infections and HIV risks; Before settling in Canaan, Jews were nomadic in the desert: imagine the risk of infections, yet they were healthy)MrXrM (talk) 08:21, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
I think the above is your worst attempt at changing the subject so far.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:45, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
So - the logical conclusion is the God is cool with slavery.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 13:28, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
That of the Egyptians he is against and that of the Jews he approves: there must certainly be a difference between the two.--MrXrM (talk) 14:53, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
So God is an antisemite? Father Vivian O'Blivion (talk) 14:56, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Sorry my sentence was bad. What I meant is that he disapprove the kind of slavery committed by the Egyptians, while accepting the kind of slavery committed by the Jews. Therefore even though both are to be called slavery, there has to be a difference between them.MrXrM (talk) 15:00, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
All lest you are admitting that they had slaves. Now you are arguing they they were "better" at being slave-masters then the Egyptians?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:41, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Since the beginning my point is that being Jews, their behaviour was to be subjected to God's moral principles of love. That's why I made the analogy with adoption: some children are adopted by children molester, or abusive parents and others by loving and caring adults. --MrXrM (talk) 16:12, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
So God's moral principle of love includes slavery, the selling of daughters, and the idea that you can beat a slave if you want to.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 17:02, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Nowhere it is said that beating a slave is allowed. What we could argue is that the civil law could be considered as lax in some regards. But again, Jews were instructed in God's moral law, and abuse is clearly a sin. Sin was a serious issue and they had to offer sacrifice for atonemen (which was only a symbol for christ's death for the sins of the world). They knew they would ultimately have to face God's divine judgement. God's justice is a crucial element and without it, it's impossible to make sense of this issue, we could discuss endlessly about whether or not it is moral as much as we could discuss whether or not it is moral to adopt a child: it depends on perspective.
And for the selling of daughters, I believe based on the context, that it means either receive a dowry for marriage, or payment for fix-term service contract (and of course sex was not included).--MrXrM (talk) 17:57, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Exodus 20: You are wrong. If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.
God said you could beat slaves as much as you liked as long as they survived.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:51, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Mr. X, what do you make of Luke 12:41-48? It implies that beating a slave is thing to do if you are not impressed by his/her performance... --larron (talk) 06:30, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

Why should god be moral and/or even necessarily be moral? Surely if god is omnipotent then you do what he says whether it be moral or not? Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member Moderator 16:15, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Indeed, even if god is moral this raises the age old question which is "are certain sorts of slavery moral because god says they are or are they inherently moral and god is - through the bible - telling us of moral absolutes". The difference is non-trivial. Placeholder (talk) 16:49, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
I believe that God is a moral supreme being who defined a moral law based on love to rule a moral universe.Luciferians call Satan their "Light bearer" (Which is the meaning of Lucifer). They generally advocate "Do what thou wilt" as their supreme principle, which find growing number of supporters among people of influence. The Bible say to the contrary that "every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Roman 14:12), and that He "will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness" (Psalms 96:13). Otherwise why not do what we want? (actually we do have free will. We can choose to do good or evil, but we will have to give account for that). Empathy is a good thing but we it can be overridden.
And I would like to repost Jeffrey Dahmer's quote given previoulsy by ScoobyRuvHound : "If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…" larron said that Dahmer only spoke for himself, but what he said makes a lot of sense from an atheistic perspective...--MrXrM (talk) 17:17, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

"Sorry my sentence was bad. What I meant is that he disapprove the kind of slavery committed by the Egyptians, while accepting the kind of slavery committed by the Jews" - you were dancing around with your idea of translations before. You know the hebrew word used in both contexts is the same, right? the whole "sometimes it means maidservent, and sometimes it means servent" is a whole lot of "I don't understand the art of translation" hand waving, right?One tin soldier (talk) 16:54, 6 June 2014 (UTC)

Dahmer. vs Thornwell[edit]

  • The important difference between Dahmer and Thornwell is that Dahmer was an extremist, while Thornwell represented the mainstream of white Christianity in the antebellum South.
  • what he said makes a lot of sense from an atheistic perspective... that's just lazy thinking - it may make sense for your idea of an atheist, but that's just a caricature (reminds me of the handling of the Epicureans) . And fortunately, your idea can be shown to be empirically false, as we don't see millions of Dahmerists violating the boundaries of common decency, but instead observe atheists who behave more or less the same way as their Christian neighbours.
--larron (talk) 19:24, 6 June 2014 (UTC)
Now it's your turn to do a « tu quoque ».
It doesn’t really matters who said it (in fact it amazes me how a crazy man like him could make such sound logical statement), the question is does it make sense or not? I think the answer is yes.
Thank God if we don’t see millions of Dahmerists. His personal trip was to rape, murder, dismember, practice necrophilia and cannibalism, others may just like to rape, sell drugs and run drug cartels, practice extortion, steal, murder, exploit poverty to build their personal wealth(most of the time they don't go in prison for that), sexually abuse minors, exploit women for prostitution networks, etc…
“If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…” ... --MrXrM (talk) 21:06, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Next time I will think twice even thrice before posting. I will try to better explain my thoughts in this section: Talk:Slavery_in_the_Bible#My Comprehensive Understanding (MrXrM)--MrXrM (talk) 21:52, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
  • You really should try to do so. Your penultimate statement is just ridiculous:
  • Thank God if we don’t see millions of Dahmerists. That's really amusing! The fact that we don't see millions atheists acting the way you think atheists should act is ought to your deity? The more simple explanation is that your idea how atheists should act isn't shared by them.
  • Frankly, you should be a little bit troubled to think of this statement of a very crazy man as sound!
--larron (talk) 22:06, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Bertolt Brecht

Die Frage, ob es einen Gott gibt

Einer fragte Herrn K., ob es einen Gott gäbe. Herr K. sagte: " Ich rate dir, nachzudenken, ob dein Verhalten je nach der Antwort auf diese Frage sich ändern würde. Würde es sich nicht ändern, dann könnten wir die Frage fallenlassen. Würde es sich ändern, dann kann ich dir wenigstens noch so behilflich sein, daß ich dir sage, du hast dich schon entschieden: Du brauchst einen Gott."

The question whether there is a God

Someone asked Mr. K, whether there is a God. Mr. K answered: " I advice you to ponder whether your behavior would change depending on the answer to this question. If it wouldn't change, we can drop the question. If it would, than I can help you at least by telling you that your mind is already made up: you need a God.

--larron (talk) 22:13, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

I really think Dahmer's statement makes more sense than Brecht's. We may rephrase the question as : "In this infinite Universe, of which we only know one one-thousandth (probably even less), and which some even think it is only a portion of a Multiverse (I don't), is there a possibility that a God may exist?" If we are seeking for truth why should we drop the question?--MrXrM (talk) 22:33, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
Could you be more precise? How do you think that Dahmer's statement makes sense? Do you think that atheists generally think along his lines? --larron (talk) 06:26, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
The word "sound" may not have been appropriate because I believe humans have this built-in feature called conscience that gives them a sense of what's right or wrong, and reason in order to evaluate what is appropriate or not. Atheist may not "generally" think along his lines, but from an atheistic perspective this is not absolutely irrational reasoning, yet not a recommendable one for the good of mankind. Dahmer was certainly an extremist and did horrible things, but his line of thoughts can also be found among mainstream random atheists : In french there is an idiom "pas vu pas pris". I don't no the exact equivalent in english but it could be translated by "not seen, not taken". Dahmer was crazy so the evil desires out of "acceptable range" he wanted to satisfy were to do the horrible things he did, others do things that are less horrible but also blameworthy (Though - unlike Dahmer - they may have a more clearly defined boundary between what is acceptable and what is not, but both category of people think they won't be held accountable for what they did) --MrXrM (talk) 09:00, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
However I will agree on the fact that even though fairness is not always possible in a Universe without a God, this in itself doesn't prove that God exist. I didn't meant to open that debate...--MrXrM (talk) 14:22, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

My Comprehensive Understanding (MrXrM)[edit]

In this section I will attempt to explain my take on the issue of slavery in the Bible.

First of all it should be pointed out that some aspects of Bible can only be understood with a God-centered rational.

I believe God tolerated slavery described in Leviticus, because He envisioned something good from it. God doesn't support abuse or coercion, this is clearly against his moral principles of love given to jews and mankind, otherwise it would make of him a liar. That's why he expressly commanded them to love strangers as themselves because they were strangers in Egypt and they experienced oppression:

  • (Exodus 23:9) "Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."
  • (Deut 10:19)“Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • (Lev 19:34) “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
  • (Lev 25:35-37) “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.”

Love is the core principle in the Decalogue and throughout the Bible, and this is reiterated by Jesus in Matt 22:37-40 as well as in all his teachings.

One of the leitmotivs you will find throughout the Bible is love for the stranger, the widow, the poor, and the orphan (here are some verses among many):

  • (Is 1:17) “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. ”
  • (Zec 7:10) “ And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. ”
  • (Jer 7:6-7) “ If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. ”
  • (Micah 6:8) “ He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ”

You'll find it over and over again, and God also tells us that we will be judge according to these principles of love towards others. Being a jew (or christian), it is our duty to reflect his character of love, and to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ” (Matt 5:16). The Hebrews knew that in spite of the civil law they would ultimately have to face God's divine judgment :

  • (Mal 3:5) “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty. ”
  • (Is 1:23-26) “ Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them. Therefore the Lord, the LORD Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel, declares: “Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes and avenge myself on my enemies. I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.”
  • (Is 10:1-3) “ Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights, So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans. Now what will you do in the day of punishment, And in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth? ”
  • (Psalms 96:13) “ Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. ”
  • (1 Cor 4:5) “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. ”

In Matt 19 Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce : “Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” They *said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 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.

Here Jesus showed the distinction between the civil law that was to govern the nation of Israel in a practical way, and the ideal he had for mankind. If their character was pure and in accord with God's moral law, divorce wouldn't have been necessary, however they were men with their turpitudes and “hardness of heart” therefore divorce was instituted. But in verse 9 he also reminded them of the clear boundaries that are set: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” -> divorce was not a tool to switch between women, it was a safeguard needed because of the “ hardness of the heart ”.

Likewise God's ideal diet for men (in Eden) was a vegan diet, but he allowed men to eat meat with clear boundaries indicating which animals where unhealthy.

So I believe God tolerated slavery because He saw beyond human eyes: (Is 55:8-9) “ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I believe He saw it as an opportunity for heathen in miserable situations (they had to be in a miserable condition for them to be bought by Jews: either slaves or constrained to sell themselves as slaves) to gain knowledge of the true God, like Rahab (the Canaanite prostitute) did :

(Joshua 2:9-11) “And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”

But this could only be possible if they are showed love and respect as God ordained to the Jews (who would willfully accept the God of his torturer? God doesn't forces us: He has made us with free will, and constrained love would be of no interest for him, it would be like having a robotic dog forced to show love), and not showing them love and respect would have been an infringement of his moral law.

In fact, slaves were heathen people who either had been enslaved in their country or where is so deep misery that they had to sell themselves as slaves, and who then would become part of the household of their Israelite master who had bought them, as long as they lived in Israel. However just like in the case of divorce, safeguards and boundaries also existed:

  • Jews were instructed in God's moral law that commanded them to show love toward their neighbor and act with righteousness;
  • They were not allowed to abduct or trade slaves (Ex 21:16);
  • If they killed a slave, they were sentenced to death penalty (Ex 21:20);
  • A slave could escape from his master and gain full citizenship in the land of Israel “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him. (Deut 23:15-16) – One reason more to treat him good if you want him to stay at your service.

Concerning the controversial verse saying that if a man's slave dies after a day or two, his sole punishment would be the loss of his money (Ex 21:21), my answer to that is: In Texas a murderer would be sentenced to death penalty, but not in Iowa. Which law is the best ? The only thing I know is that if this murderer doesn't repent, no matter in which state of the US he committed his crime, he will surely be convicted by God's own court : (Ezekiel 18:20) “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. ”

It is possible that some jews may not have understood the purpose behind God's acceptance of slavery. However God's commands of love were so clear that if they were obedient to God, they would have to be kind and compassionate towards them, and the initial purpose would have been achieved : (Isahiah 56:1-6) “Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Because God is not only the God of Jews, but of all mankind: (Romans 2:9-11) “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.” - (Rom 3:29-30) Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

If they were unfaithful in their actions God's divine judgment will be applied in due time. (if the people had decided to be disobedient to God's commands, whether or not slavery had been authorized, it would've been practised for coercion and abuse anyway -> Roman Catholic Church didn't have any difficulty in practising inquisition because they were corrupted and decided in conscience to override divine principles):

  • I repeat, it is possible that some jews may not have understood the purpose behind God's acceptance of slavery. Likewise, the ideal purpose of adopting a child would be taking this child out of his misery, and providing him love, care and security. However some parents may adopt a child for what at first sight seem to be selfish motives (infertile couple, single person, homosexual couple desiring to raise a child for instance), but if love and care is provided, the first purpose will also be achieved even if it wasn't the adoptive parent's initial purpose. However, similarly to slavery, some parents adopt children with the primary intent of abusing them.
  • => Is adoption something moral?

Again, the comprehension of certain aspects of Bible is possible only with a God-centered rational. That is, you cannot make sense out of it by excluding the existence of a moral supreme and omnipotent God. Therefore discussing about these topics is endless and futile because we don't have the same referential.

The key question is: does God really exist? --MrXrM (talk) 22:34, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Well actually the best you could ever hope to do is prove the existence of an exceptionally powerful supernatural being. Because a creature of that description would have no trouble whipping up a fake Yahweh ID. It could lie about creating the universe in general, and humankind specifically, and we would be incapable of seeing through the deception. --Inquisitor (talk) 23:17, 7 June 2014 (UTC)
"Does God exists?" is the key question on the talk-page Talk:Does God exists?. On this talk-page the question is: How is slavery treated in the bible? --larron (talk) 06:32, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) Mr XrM believes in his personal version of the magical being called "God". His problems begin here as there is no good evidence which supports the existence of this being.
He also believes that this "God" is good and moral.
Finally he believes that The Bible represents this God's word.
This last gives him a problem as the God described in The Bible is far from good and moral. Slavery is one example of this but the various episodes of utter genocide carried out at His command is another. One could also add the large number of examples of God personally killing people.
It then becomes necessary for Mr XrM to somehow wave away the bad bits of The Bible. He does this by either some imaginative re-interpretation of what he believes The Bible must (or should) say, or by concentrating instead on parts of The Bible where his God acts in the way Mr XrM wants or expects.
To be fair to MR XrM, he is doing what many people do when presented with evidence which contradicts their beliefs, the problem is that he feels that these explanations will be convincing to others. They are not.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 06:36, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
It is possible that some jews may not have understood the purpose behind God's acceptance of slavery. Well, the majority of Hebrews over thousands of years. And most of the Christians until a few centuries ago. I'm alway impressed that the current crop of Christians not only think that they are right, but that their views are the obvious interpretation of the bible - despite very learned (well, mostly) men holding quite different views for most of the time... --larron (talk) 06:41, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Love is the core principle in the Decalogue and throughout the Bible It is just not clear, what love is. When Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson said that African Americans were happier before the era of civil rights, wouldn't it be the loving thing - in his opinion - to get rid of civil rights for blacks? --larron (talk) 06:45, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Many things have been said by people, but what they say is not necessarily consistent with everything the Bible teaches. I gave the understanding that I have developed based on what the Bible teaches, however it might be imperfect. Yet there is only one truth and because I don’t pretend to have full knowledge of the truth, everything I say should be evaluated against the Bible. --MrXrM (talk) 10:06, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
'Many things have been said by people, but what they say is not necessarily consistent with everything the Bible teaches.' - true, but the bible isn't self-consistent, so it's hardly surprising. Worm (talk) 10:36, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I think the contrary is true, but there is no point to argue on this...--MrXrM (talk) 11:46, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I do believe the Bible represents God’s word. Aside from archeological artifacts supporting Bible chronology and historical accuracy, the Bible is to my knowledge the only religious book where God gives a criterion by which we can evaluate if he really exists (Psalms 19:1-3):
(Isaiah 46:9-10) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”
(Ezekiel 12:28) “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God.”
So one of God’s characteristics among many is his ability to predict the future, and this isn’t something too difficult to evaluate. One example is the prophecy of the destruction of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:4,12,14)"And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her...and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water...And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
This was fulfilled to the letter by Alexander the great, who ordered his troops to build a causeway to the new island city of Tyre by throwing dust and ancient ruins from mainland Tyre into the midst of the sea - picture. --MrXrM (talk) 11:46, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Oh deary, deary me. Talk about cherry picking. The list of biblical events for which there is no other historical evidence and there should be is as long as my arm, and longer. Funny how the whole jews in Egypt thing gets so little mention by the Egyptians - who were otherwise exemplary record takers. Not to mention the whole cock up of the history around the birth of Jesus, or the way no one else seemed to notice the total eclipse when Jesus is purported to have died. Sorry that one doesn't work.
As for the list of prophecies - try this RW article.
Funny how we only see what we want to. Placeholder (talk) 15:02, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
Incidentally, if you're not happy with RW as a resource try this web page. Placeholder (talk) 15:10, 10 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm surprised to see that RW doesn't mention Jonah's prophecy against Nineveh condemned to destruction after 40 days... MrXrM (talk) 16:57, 10 June 2014 (UTC)


I found this article which goes into a lot of depth regarding concepts of slavery within the bible. Not saying all of it is accurate, but the author includes a number of sources which dedicate themselves to the topic. I think the general flow of his argument is quite persuasive, even if there are inaccuracies.

Summary: He argues that the bible does not condone Chattel slavery as a legal institution in the old testament. It is most persuasive upon accepting his distinctions between different types of slavery.

https://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/slavery-in-the-bible-25/ — Unsigned, by: some BoN / talk / contribs

Are you arguing from silence (i.e. absence of a then-nonexistent legal formalism)? PacWalker 00:26, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Actually, retraction: he's just straight ignoring passages disproving his claims as to the nonexistence of chattle slavery. PacWalker 00:41, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
A fundamentalistThe posts tagged "Biblical errancy" suggests the blogger is an inerrantist cherry picking the bible to avoid inconvenient facts and invoking all kinds of Rube Goldberg scenarios to rescue inerrancy? I'm shocked! I tell you, absolutely shocked! (hehehehehe) ScepticWombat (talk) 10:46, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Shocked? This kind of shocked? PacWalker 13:28, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
It's obvious that Lev 25 doesn't really mean: "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves." It obviously means something else entirely.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 13:48, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, PacWalker, just about that level and type of shocked.
As for Bob M, you clearly need to read the text with a pair of Ken Ham's bible-coloured glassesTM and suddenly all problems evaporate. ScepticWombat (talk) 15:18, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. It's amazing the way the bible stops being literal as soon as it says something obnoxious.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:26, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

Legalize it, tax it, regulate it (not weed)[edit]

I heard that view, that since the Israelite religion couldn't ban slavery (at that time, banning slavery seemed as unrealistic as today banning gravity. Today, of course, it's a whole other ballgame), it tried to regulate it (some regulations are written in the Hebrew Bible itself, tons more in the oral tradition (Mishna, Gemeara and so on), E.g. "forever" in regards to slavery meant in the bible not "until the heat death of teh universe", but "until the yovel yearWikipedia"). For the time back then, it was more or less a novelty, today, most of Jewish or Christian scholars don't even think about bringing that back.--Arisboch (talk) 16:56, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

You write: "since the Israelite religion couldn't ban slavery ..." You seem to be implicitly assuming the the "Israelite religion" wanted to ban slavery. Why would the "Israelite religion" want to to that if it was endemic in the culture?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:42, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
I didn't. It apparently wanted to "soften" it.--Arisboch (talk) 19:02, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
What makes you believe this?
Also you wrote: "since the Israelite religion couldn't ban slavery" - which presumably means that banning it was their preferred option.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:10, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

Use in an Argument against God[edit]

Let's assume, for a moment, that a definition of God as a maximally great being (MGB) holds. Christians often like to use the ontological argument anyway, so debate them on their ground and beat them at their own game. For God to be the MGB, he must at all times past, present and future be the epitome of morality and justice. Therefore, condoning slavery in the Bible leaves a handful of options:

  • God is not perfectly moral since he allowed something below the standard of morality to go on.
  • God tolerated something that's clearly sin, debasing the basis for throwing people into hell.
  • This particular passage in the Bible is flawed, which calls into question the validity of the rest of it.
  • God is a construct of humanity. "Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer".

Given these, I would propose that this may be one of the more compelling arguments against Christianity. None of the options is a good choice for a Christian to agree with, but there is no other way to reconcile God condoning slavery, leaving them with little to no options (aside from a typical escape hatch like "We'll know why in heaven" or "We can't explain it here on Earth with our finite minds"). Anim (Carfa) 02:25, 17 March 2017 (UTC)

I agree. But in my experience the usual Christian response is to argue that the bible doesn't really say what it clearly does say. If I remember correctly you can find examples of this in this talk page. But it's a hard line for them to defend.--Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 07:25, 17 March 2017 (UTC)