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The Bible and Slavery

Discussion in 'Opinions, Beliefs, & Points of View' started by Chargette, Feb 19, 2011.

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  1. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    I have researched slavery because of statements made about the Bible and slavery in recent posts. I re-read the recent threads on this forum and saw a pattern of circling arguments that do not advance forward. In among the round and round argument going on, I read some great posts and it is a shame that their comments get lost in the circling side of a debate.

    I went on the internet to study slavery in the world in ancient times. Wikipedia has a series of articles on the subject of slavery including history by people groups and religious groups. I like that Wikipedia flags content that needs references or appears to be biased so one can tell to look for suspicious content. These flags do appear in some of these articles. I also looked at some of the reference lists to see what works had been done in the world on the study of this subject.

    Slavery is prevalent in human history. For many today the thought of slavery is repulsive, however, the Wikipedia articles show it has been a way of life for much of human history and accepted by many in the world. The behaviors associated with slavery are horrific. We have some familiarity with slavery through stories in which we know that horrible things are done to slaves without consideration of having done something wrong. Even though slavery is now outlawed in the world, it is still practiced. I have seen news reports on the sex slave industry appear from time to time as well as stories of sweat shops, and the hiring of undocumented workers.

    There are some codices from different ancient people groups that have laws regarding slavery. I would have liked to read the actual codices of these people groups but only found a few excerpts of which none were their slavery laws. It would be interesting to compare them as I think much would be revealed in regards to what was being protected by regulation; the slave practice or the slave.

    Because I study the Bible from an overall view, I know the issue of slavery is only one Part of a bigger issue in the Bible. God did condone and codify slavery in the Bible. I have established from secular history there was a need for regulation. Many today are horrified that God would do this because they are not knowledgeable about the Bible and they think that God would do something in accordance with the current societal values they live in.

    The questions I have seen on the "lists of Bible contradictions" websites include "why would God condone and codify slavery?" and "is this what a loving God would do?" In light of the fact that much of the world does not openly practice slavery today these questions would come up. While that is an honorable aspect of questioning there is another aspect of it when a website states their intention is to promote atheism.

    Some people really want an answer they can ponder. Some think any answer is meaningless.

    With that said, I'm re-stating that the slavery issue is a symptom of a bigger issue. For all the claims of good that humans make, the bad is still with us. Is anyone claiming responsibility for the bad? Can anything be done to stop the bad? Do laws stop the bad? God gave the codifications through the law covenant to prove to man that man cannot refrain from the bad and man cannot stop the bad by himself. The proof that man can't stop the bad also applies to laws that men make for themselves. Do laws stop repeat offenders?

    When people ask why would God do this when it's wrong, my answer is it was always wrong. God did not change, however for awhile God condones some things such as divorce even though this was not what he wanted to happen. The reason cited by Jesus was the hardness of the hearts of men. Matthew 19:8 (kjv) "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."

    Do you think that humans can stop the bad? What do you think God should be doing to stop the slavery that exists today?
  2. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    So despite God's supposed omni-benevolence and omnipotence, he had neither the heart nor the power to eliminate slavery? And you're suggesting that because man is evil and flawed, God had no choice but to create laws that would codify these bad habits? That's illogical, especially for a being of incalculable intelligence. Isn't the Bible supposed to set the example of morality, rather than help to perpetuate man's flawed nature? Isn't supposed to rectify human failings?

    In any case, it still doesn't explain how God could've changed his mind on the matter even though he is not supposed to be capable of such a thing. You said that God did not change, but then followed that with a statement that he did oppose these things, but simply couldn't help it. First of all, how do you know God was making such laws against his will? What proof of this is there? Secondly, if God was creating such laws when he didn't want to, than that leaves his omnipotence in doubt.

    The thing is, it's not about expecting God to act in accordance with current societal values. God is supposed to embody good. Slavery is evil, regardless of the historical context (which shouldn't matter to God anyway). The fact of the matter is the Christian morality has never been consistent. Christianity once condoned slavery, the subjugation of woman, hated and persecution of non-believers and homosexuals, and so on. And as time goes by, and societal values change, Christianity claims to have never supported these things in the first place. It changes but claims never to change, which is contrary to the notion of an eternal and unchanging God/Bible.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011
  3. Lovecraft

    Lovecraft Well-Known Member

    Thomas Aquinas is a famed Christian theologian and is held up as a model for the priesthood in fact.

    He had no objections to slavery despite a lifetime dedicated to study of the bible. So did a whole slew of Saints and others.

    You can claim that there were many that thought that it was wrong according to the bible, but then you have a simple question: Why is God's word so ambiguous? Why would God let his book be confusing and cause such a schizm?
  4. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    Not to overload you Chargette, but I want to add one more thing.

    First off, thank you for taking the time to actually research all this and attempt to address our thoughts and concerns. Just know that I acknowledge and appreciate that.

    Secondly, the issue of slavery presents an epistemological problem. Even if God did not intend for slavery to be acceptable, how do we know some of the other teachings in the Bible are sincere and valid? What if the condemnation of nonbelievers and homosexuals is equally invalid?
  5. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    We know this man and many others are supposed to do good. The following questions bring up the possibilities of what can happen to any person including the ones who are held responsible for doing good, What happens to people when a matter is so prevalent (big or widespread)? How many turn a blind eye? How many are in denial? How many are at a loss of how to deal with a problem so big? How many are corrupt and pretending to be a good person? How many are wrapped up in their own problems? How many are facing more than one of these problems?

    There are a lot of good people (secular and religious) in the world today but slavery still exist. Is God doing what it takes for man to say "I accept responsibility for my part in this"

    The Bible is not a school room text but neither is life a classroom, in the literal sense. The Bible is to be experienced and life is to be experienced. The Bible invokes very strong reactions which is a revealing process to each individual, manifesting what each individual is.

    Each individual is forced to face these issues with their heart, their mind, and their will. Some face them, some don't; irregardless whether the individual is good or bad.
  6. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    Are the bold parts your opinions? The Bible magnifies human failings. Are you implying salvation when you use the term rectify?

    "but simply couldn't help it" are your words, not mine (this is an underhanded tactic)

    What does "he didn't want to" got to do with it? God demonstrated he is willing to work in the realm of man's understanding to prove that men cannot keep from doing bad.

    The interpretation of good in man's eyes are reflected in societal values.

    Christian are sinners just like the rest of the human race and it shows in what they do. Even so, the Bible is still the same. I applaud God for stating what he wants his followers to know in such away that sinful people (including Christians) would not know where to start to change it to fit their bad desires.
  7. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much. That did take a lot of time. I've laughed at myself for trying to convey meaningful statements while typing with one hand. That takes the most time and I know this hindrance will pass.

    What is an epistemological problem?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011
  8. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    They're not my opinions, but the logical conclusions based on the explanation. We're told that God is infinitely loving and infinitely powerful. Based on this argument, why couldn't (or didn't) God stop these practices?

    If you're going to counter that he doesn't want to intervene on such matters (i.e. give man free will), then why didn't God explicitly and clearly teach that slavery is wrong and evil? Why is it that even in the New Testament, it remains acceptable, even though most Christians today would claim that the other parts of the Bible (namely Jesus's saying) are against the practice?

    Where do you come off accusing me of deliberately being dishonest? How do you know I wasn't just sincerely interpreting what you said in my own way (which is the case). Don't muddle a perfectly civil debate, as I've gone out of my way to ensure, with such groundless attacks on my integrity.

    In any case, I stand by my interpretation. God could've indeed imbued the Bible with positive and loving teachings (as opposed to all the horrible things condoned and encouraged, only to be contradicted by Jesus later). So why didn't he? Is it because he didn't want to (which would make me question his benevolence) or because he couldn't (which would lead my to wonder about his omnipotence)?

    It has everything to do with it. Again, God is omni-benevolent and omnipotent, correct? Why would God do something he didn't want to do, even though the Bible teaches he's very power and (in the OT especially) quite tyrannical and forceful.

    Why would God work within the realm of man in such a way as to cause the suffering and death of millions of people? Why would he use some of his children, whom he supposedly loves so much, as examples to be set? If I loved a bunch of people, and had infinite power over them, I wouldn't want to prove anything to them that would cause them misery and pain. That's quite unloving.

    What does this even mean? The Bible is supposed to represent objective, unchanging, and good morals. It clear doesn't, and people's opinions - such as on slavery - changes with time and progress. These good views run contrary to the Bible's many unethical statements, which in turn contradict Christianity's claim that it is both ethical and timeless.

    In any case, societal values can be objectively good. All people know murder is bad or theft is wrong. There's no interpretation involved. Humans predicate their morality on empathy and the "golden rule" of not doing unto others what you wouldn't want done to you (which is a universal value that is behind all moral and belief systems)

    What humans do is irrelevant. The Bible is touted as the supreme law: good, inerrant, and timeless. Yet it explicitly states slavery is okay and acceptable.

    Many Christian scholars and leaders said the same thing for a long time, and quoted the Bible as proof. Yet after a while, Christian abolitionists also used *other* parts of the Bible to reach the completely opposite conclusion. Thus, the Bible isn't consistent, and isn't a reliable source for objective, universal morality.

    You applaud God for being vague, and for that vagueness thus causing misinterpretations that led to millions suffering and dying for hundreds of years? If you're admitting that Christians wouldn't know where to start, then do you admit that other parts of the Bible that you now claim are completely true could be invalid as well? How do you know what to follow? How do you know what's true? A lot of Christians felt God's will was to support slavery? Now a lot of thing it's his will to stop it? How would either of them have known it's true or not, if they both claim the Bible and God as sources.

    By the way, that's what the epistemology problem is: where does knowledge/truth come from and how do we know it's legitimacy. How do you know what is true, if you're admitting that the source can be vague and cause misinterpretations and conflict?

    Also, don't go out of your way to debate on this, especially if it's a hindrance. I could've waited for you, especially if it'd be easier. I know that we all have lives and priorities outside of the internet.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011
  9. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    I am in awe that you have extremely high intelligence. Responses that take me hours or even days to express, you accomplish in a short period of time. In that respect, I am no match for you.

    In another thread you stated you are undecided if there is or is not a God. I truly hope you find your answer.
  10. 1izombie

    1izombie Well-Known Member

    lol you notice how good his responses are too, i wish i could express myself like that as well, but dont sell your self short i read your responses and you defend your position as well as any one here.
  11. Zurkhardo

    Zurkhardo Well-Known Member

    You two need to stop making me feel so big headed :p

    In any case, thank you for your compliments. I do my best to be reasonable and though-out with my statements, though I'm certainly don't have a spotless record in this regard. Someday I hope to make up my mind about te nature of the universe as well, though for now I find that prospect quite distant. In the mean time, I'm content with just going about my life and doing what I can to seek out the truth.
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