Deconstructing the “Bible Endorses Slavery” Meme

One of the more fashionable responses to any Christian’s objection to the legalization of “gay marriage”, or for that matter, any objection to anything blatantly immoral in modern society, is to immediately announce that since the Bible (allegedly) endorses slavery, anything it has to say on any moral issue is completely irrelevant.

I suppose the argument goes something like this for most people in their heads: “so your Bible says that (insert the sin you want to justify here) is immoral, eh? Well let me tell YOU something:

The Bible says slavery is moral. (Premise 1)

Slavery, as we all (allegedly) know is immoral. (Premise 2)

Therefore the Bible endorses something that is immoral. (Premise 3)

Therefore, the Bible is not a legitimate source of moral arguments. (Conclusion)”

Have I got that right? I think I do. So let’s deconstruct these premises and demonstrate why this ever-so popular argument is really just another lazy, uncritical, decontextualized, factually-deficient and hypocritical canard.

In the first place, we ought to concede what we can. I initially used the word “allegedly” above because I don’t believe for a moment that most of the people who throw this accusation around have actually studied Scripture or the historical context in which these statements on slavery appear. I don’t think they really know what Scripture has to say about slavery. That being said, yes, we must grant that slavery is not condemned in Scripture; it is recognized as a legitimate social institution for which rules must be developed and applied.

But if that is all one knows or says about the topic of slavery in Scripture, then one knows very little indeed. Some may think that this is all they need to know; in their righteous crusade, things like context mean nothing. With all the zeal of the iconoclasts, whom they would ironically identify as enemy religious fanatics, they rush in with rhetorical sledgehammers swinging wildly at any textual object that displeases them, hoping to use the fragments to gut and impale their helpless opponents.

We have granted the first premise then. What about the second premise? This is where I have a hearty chuckle. Most of the time we are dealing with militant, sometimes even radical atheists or at least anti-Christians who have absolutely no rational justification for their own conceptions of what is right and wrong. These people are almost entirely products of the society that produced them, unconscious idea-sponges who in spite of their pretensions to the contrary have never had a critical or original thought in their lives. So how exactly do they “know” that slavery is wrong? When exactly was this hypothesis tested and verified by the scientific method? Where are the research papers and double-blind studies that establish the truth of this moral proposition?

Watch what will happen, sarcasm aside, if you stop someone mid-argument and ask them “why is slavery wrong, exactly?” They may look at you as if you just confessed to being a mass serial murderer. When it comes to their cherished beliefs about how things are and ought to be, not a shred of evidence is required. Why its just obvious, you see, that slavery is immoral, and anyone who doesn’t agree is just evil. And yet if man is simply an animal, I see no reason why he can’t be yoked like any ox in the fields. Point of irony: the slave of the ancient civilized world (and certainly the “Judeo-Christian” world) had a higher ontological status than the (allegedly) free man of modern Western societies, who is nothing but an evolutionary hiccup in a meaningless universe.

But what shall we do with this premise, in the end? Is slavery immoral? It must first be said that there are different kinds of slavery, as I already alluded to. In different times and places, slavery has taken on different forms. The type of slavery we most often think of and most readily condemn is called chattel slavery. This is the kind of slavery through which blacks were taken from Africa, packed into ships, and forced to work on plantations in the New World. A fair number of white Europeans, Asians, and indigenous peoples were also slaves or at least indentured servants. Black slaves were the worst off because of the spread of racist ideology.

This kind of racist/chattel slavery has been explicitly condemned by the Church since it was first practiced in the middle of the 15th century. A series of Papal bulls forbade the expropriation and enslavement of indigenous peoples, and threatened with excommunication those who participated in them. Everyone from individuals to entire nations felt at liberty to defy these Papal pronouncements, but they were made. Had such things been clearly and universally sanctioned by Scripture, the Church would likely not have excommunicated those who innocently partook in them. But there was clearly something about chattel slavery that was in clear opposition not only with Scripture but with Tradition, with the natural law, and with common decency, hence the Church’s firm and repeated condemnation of it.

Does this mean all kinds of slavery are on the same moral level? Not at all. The Church permitted and even endorsed the “ancient” kind of slavery, whereby prisoners of war were made slaves. These kinds of slaves were not treated as sub-human nothings, even if they were at the bottom of the social ladder. According to one source,

Although the masters had absolute rights over their slaves, they generally showed them respect, very unlike the South in the days of Lincoln. They often treated them with human dignity and, although they could beat them, such does not seem to be as regular a practice as it was in America. Slaves could marry, accumulate wealth, purchase their own freedom, run a business, etc. Cicero noted that a slave could usually be set free within seven years; in any case, under Roman law a slave would normally be set free by age 30.

Not exactly the typical picture of slavery we have today, is it? The context is also important; in one Papal bull endorsing this kind of slavery, the context of unending war with Islamic pirates, who captured and enslaved thousands of innocent Christians year after year, is ever-present. The taking of Saracen prisoners of war as slaves was more of a retaliatory war effort than an official social institution. I simply will not condemn it as inherently evil, even if I wouldn’t endorse it today for a thousand different reasons.

Beyond the use of POWs as slaves, many became slaves through debt, through inheritance, through conviction of a crime, or sometimes through outright kidnapping. Some of these types of slavery are indeed permitted under the Old Law. However it really would be a stretch to say that it “endorses” slavery as some sort of universal and timeless good. It appears, in my admittedly layman’s view, to be on the level of dietary restrictions, or allowances for polygamy. They were once commanded or allowed by God, but with the advent of the New Covenant and the New Israel, they became moot. What about the New Testament though? Doesn’t St. Paul say that slaves should obey their masters?

I think it would be the height of naivety and the worst example of the very sort of ethnocentrism that these types are wont to condemn to insist that Scripture, in order to be legitimate, must unconditionally condemn as evil all that they condemn as evil. The fact of the matter is that slavery was at that point in time the way of the entire world. The idea that it is absolutely and unconditionally evil in every possible manifestation did not exist, nor does it exist in many places in the world today.

Christianity introduces the concept, however, that slaves and their masters are equals before God. Rather than partaking in violent iconoclasm and revolutionary destruction, Christianity seeks to humanize every situation men may find themselves in. If slaves and masters must exist, and at that time there was simply no way that they weren’t going to exist, then masters must treat their slaves with a certain dignity and respect. This was the greatest good that could have been accomplished without engaging in the vast moral evils that accompany violent revolutions and upheavals. If we may not do evil, even if good will come of it, then we must learn not only to accept certain evils but to counter them with good. The more relevant message of St. Paul is therefore this:

“Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.” — Romans 12:21

Considered once again in the context of debates with people who have nothing but their own subjective cultural preferences and emotions to justify their moral positions, the New Testament treatment of slavery becomes quite sensible – not to mention charitable and oriented towards what is truly good for everyone.

In the end, however, as Catholics we ought not be using the argument that things are immoral simply because “because the Bible tells me so”, at least not with avowed, hostile secularists who are more interested in tripping you up than actually promoting justice or anything of the sort. We can wade into secular territory and beat them at their own game, because what they put forward as good or acceptable is, regardless of any religious argument, socially destructive and often destructive to the individual as well. That’s why they’re immoral and prohibited by God in the first place.

70 Responses to Deconstructing the “Bible Endorses Slavery” Meme

  • Slavery in the Roman Empire was a mixed bag. House slaves were often almost treated like members of the family. Slaves in the mines endured living death. Manumission was not rare, and neither were slave revolts, the most famous being that led by Spartacus in 73BC-71BC. I am sure that many slaves would have agreed with the sentiment expressed in the movie Spartacus that death was the only freedom that a slave knew:

  • The interesting thing about slavery in the Roman Empire was that after the conversion of the Empire to Christ, slavery, after a few centuries, was on its way out. Likewise, eventually with serfdom in Western Europe, and afterwards with negro slavery. The Christian West was the only civilization which, over time, abolished slavery several times, a universal institution around the globe. In the absence of Christianity, I have no doubt that slavery would still be universal. Additionally, where Christianity weakens we will see a return to slavery, as happened in the Communist states, with their millions of Gulag state slaves, and with the state slaves in the concentration camps of the Third Reich.

  • WK Aiken says:

    As with so many ideas in the Bible, in the Greek, variations or levels of concepts had different words. The English “love,” for instance, has the four Greek concepts of eros (physical, romantic,) storge (familial, parental,) philia (brotherly, fraternal,) and agapas (spiritual, unconditional.) Perhaps it is this way for different types of servitude. Any chance there would be further elucidation on this subject, just to be able to smear the idiots a little more abrasively?

  • Ike says:

    Well WK, I only know modern Hebrew, but the word for slave is closer to worker. There is a second word for slave which is often translated as servant, though, but I am not sure which is used in the Bible. Either way, though, chattel slavery is not implied by either.

  • bill bannon says:

    I differ. God gave chattel slavery to the Jews; and Pope Nicholas V gave it to the Portuguese in 1455 in Romanus Pontifex inter alia …mid fourth large paragraph.
    God was right; Pope Nicholas and three successive Popes were not.
    Documentation:
    Leviticus Chapter 25…God gives chattel slavery to the Jews in a nomadic culture…
    44 ”Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess, provided you buy them from among the neighboring nations. 45 You may also buy them from among the aliens who reside with you and from their children who are born and reared in your land. Such slaves you may own as chattels, 
    46 and leave to your sons as their hereditary property, making them perpetual slaves. But you shall not lord it harshly over any of the Israelites, your kinsmen..”

     Here is Pope Nicholas V giving Portugal the right to enslave in 1455 in Romanus Pontifex which Pope Paul III tried to overcome in the quote under it in a 1537 bull:

    Pope Nicholas V:
    ” — We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”

    Pope Paul III trying to undo the above in Sublimus Dei:
    ” We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.”

    Portugal in the long run obeyed the bad one because it contained this caveat to ward off future Popes:
    ” And if anyone, by whatever authority, shall, wittingly or unwittingly, attempt anything inconsistent with these orders we decree that his act shall be null and void.”

    The bad one by the way also had the written affirmation of three subsequent Popes. Because Pope Leo XIII and another 19th century Pope wrote short histories of the Church and slavery that left out Pope Nicholas V and his endorsers (3 Popes), many many Catholics suppose unbroken papal opposition to slavery.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    I acknowledge the kind of slavery approved by Pope Nicholas V in my posts, and make a clear distinction between it and chattel slavery.

    Perhaps you didn’t catch that part.

    ” The context is also important; in one Papal bull endorsing this kind of slavery, the context of unending war with Islamic pirates, who captured and enslaved thousands of innocent Christians year after year, is ever-present. The taking of Saracen prisoners of war as slaves was more of a retaliatory war effort than an official social institution. I simply will not condemn it as inherently evil, even if I wouldn’t endorse it today for a thousand different reasons.”

    You can’t just lump every type of slavery into one category.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    But Paul III is addressing the mistakes of the Pope you are defending by context. But you’re dealing with a Pope Nicholas V who was dealing not just with Saracens but three categories to include: ” all Saracens AND PAGANS whatsoever, and OTHER ENEMIES OF CHRIST.”. All the Americas were pagan and in the Americas these permissions were soon used in line with that wording by the Pope. Later Pope Alexander VI was to give Spain the exact same permissions as the Americas were just discovered. One of his mistresses was the sister of Pope Paul III who reformed his own life and opposed this whole late 15th century group of Popes who, like Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctam a century and a half before them, saw the Popes as having both spiritual
    and physical power over all the earth. ” The Church That Can and Cannot Change” by Federal Judge, John Noonan Jr. goes into this period in great detail but also shows that contemporaneous with the 8 or so Papal bulls against slavery, there was both in the decretals and in University theologians exceptions. The one as to born to a slave mother means slavery for the child can be seen in the supplement to the Summa online where Aquinas gives the decretal ( canon law) cites: Supplement, question 52, art.4
    ” wherefore children follow the mother in freedom and BONDAGE; whereas in matters pertaining to dignity as proceeding from a thing’s form, they follow the father, for instance in honors, franchise, inheritance and so forth. The canons are in agreement with this (cap. Liberi, 32, qu. iv, in gloss.: cap. Inducens, De natis ex libero ventre) as also the law of Moses (Exodus 21).

  • Ike says:

    I do not know Bill. It seems to me that in giving only King Alfonso the Great this power, and giving him this power before the discovery of the Americas, Pope Nicholas’ intention is pretty clearly limited to Iberia. It sounds like the legal language which covers all possible eventualities. Alexander VI, correct me if I am wrong, forbade slavery of the converted indigenous people of the Americas, and saw slavery as a punishment for failure to convert.
    This forced conversion strikes us as pretty perverse, but given that the aliens in the ancient Levant and the Medieval New World were into large scale child sacrifice, might this practice be more amenable to our modern condemnation of slavery, which even now allows for it as a punishment in our own Thirteenth Amendment?

  • bill bannon says:

    Ike
    Again the fact that Pope Paul III took exception and he lived in that context too, argues against context as excuse. If one is against child sacrifice, then end it by war….don’t enslave in order to withdraw silver from Pitosi for a century as Spain did in Peru. Pope Nicholas V may have dreamed about Iberia converting others as primary but in fact, Brazil and Peru right now til this day lead the world in the number of uncontacted tribes.

  • Ike says:

    I am not sure that Paul III is objecting to Nicholas V so much as clarifying the statement in a post-Columbian world. Nicholas and Paul were writing in different contexts since one writes during the Reconquista and before the discovery of the Americas (and as you might expect, his statements concern the Reconquista and not the Americas – which he did not know existed) and the other writes after the Reconquista and after the discovery of the Americas (and as you might expect, his statements have the opposite concerns). And I am not saying that the practice or the reasoning behind the allowance of slavery was something other than wrong; I am just wondering if given all the evidence one can judge the papacy so harshly.

  • Ike says:

    or say that this constitutes an allowance of chattel slavery which has no regard toward defending some legitimate good – even if done in a bad way.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill Bannon,

    It is clear to me that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were at no time ever considered “the enemies of Christ”, even if they were technically pagans. This is made absolutely evident by the very first bull condemning the expropriation and enslavement of natives, Sicut Dudum, written in 1435.

    You’re hung up on what appears to me to be an incredibly thin argument, a nit-picky technicality that really doesn’t convey the truth of the situation in the least degree.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    You began by implying the Bible doesn’t endorse slavery. I gave Leviticus to the effect that it and God does. Why did He? Because there were in those nomadic or near nomadic times no prisons for three groups: criminals, captured enemies, and debtors. Therefore two violent groups were farmed out into slavery. God gave it as a solution to an overflow that was dangerous in two of those cases. That’s why the Old Testament allows violence toward fools because you as a small farmer or herder might have a robber as a slave and thus you were part warden in a culture without prisons. Suddenly these types of violent passages make sense:

    Pro 10:13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod [is] for the back of him that is void of understanding.
    Pro 26:3 A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.
    Exd 21:27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

    If you have a robber as a slave and you constantly find him dozing off, you just might blt him in the mouth.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    On Romanus Pontifex, you want to believe it had little effect and was a blip in the history.
    Unforetunately it proved to have the most power of the bulls with Portugal who became a principal slaver and the last Euro nation out of the slave trade. Romanus Pontifex was gold to the Portuguese who harried three other Popes into reconfirming it in writing: Pope Calixtus III in 1456; Sixtus IV in 1481; and as late as 1514, Pope Leo X. Pope Paul III writes just 23 years after Leo. The other bulls against slavery appear here and there precisely because traditionally Catholic countries were recurringly involved in slavery. The later Popes weren’t writing for the British. They were writing
    against the impetus caused by another Pope…Nicholas V whose permissions for Portugal were
    repeated by Pope Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope, in one of his Inter Caetera for his native Spain…the same ” privileges, favors, liberties, immunities, exemptions and indults..” ( Noonan,
    page 65 of mentioned book).

    The Old Testament slavery was dealing with a surfeit of violent men in a culture without large prisons. That’s not the situation of Portugal who caused African tribes to capture each other in war in order to barter for goods with Portugal. Africans were far from innocent in this. The Catholic universities allowed that capture in a just war was a good exception that allowed slavery. Portugal had Catholic chapels in its African trading ports. She presumed slaves were captured in just wars but really by having permanent slave trading posts, she caused the wars in part because it became an industry…profitable to the Africans who won those tribal wars.

  • bill bannon says:

    Ike
    Read Romanus Pontifex or you will create a history. It refers to a reality far away from Iberia.
    Quotes from within it:

    “The Roman pontiff, successor of the key-bearer of the heavenly kingdom and vicar of Jesus Christ, contemplating with a father’s mind all the several climes of the world and the characteristics of all the nations dwelling in them and seeking and desiring the salvation of all”

    shortly after: “vanquish them and their kingdoms and habitations, though situated in the remotest
    parts unknown to us”

    “strengthened, however, always by the royal authority, he has not ceased for twenty-five years past to send almost yearly an army of the peoples of the said kingdoms with the greatest labor, danger, and expense, in very swift ships called caravels, to explore the sea and coast lands toward the south and the Antarctic pole.”

    ” Thence also many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been sent to the said
    kingdoms. A large number of these have been converted to the Catholic faith, and it is hoped, by
    the help of divine mercy, that if such progress be continued with them, either those peoples will
    be converted to the faith or at least the souls of many of them will be gained for Christ.”

    That’s all quotes of Pope Nicholas V talking in Romanus Pontifex. In short, the Reconquista is maybe a small part of RP…exploration southward is the main topic.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    “You began by implying the Bible doesn’t endorse slavery.”

    I acknowledge very clearly that the Old Testament permits slavery. I do question the extent of the relevant contextual and historical knowledge of the know-nothing bigots who attack Scripture to further their own demonically perverse political agendas.

    “On Romanus Pontifex, you want to believe it had little effect and was a blip in the history.”

    No, I simply want to acknowledge that it is NOT referring to indigenous peoples, nor could it be, since there are Papal bulls in which the expropriation and enslavement of indigenous peoples is clearly outlawed and forbidden, such as the one I mentioned in my previous comment. You’re conflating two very distinct issues.

    “She presumed slaves were captured in just wars but really by having permanent slave trading posts, she caused the wars in part because it became an industry…profitable to the Africans who won those tribal wars.”

    This sounds like a lot of speculation to me.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps,
    You write: ” No I simply want to ackowledge that it (Romanus Pontifex) is not referring to indigenous people.”

    What the hell would you call Africans in 1455?

    Romanus Pontifex: ” Thence also many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been sent to the said kingdoms. A large number of these have been converted to the Catholic faith, and it is hoped, by the help of divine mercy, that if such progress be continued with them, either those peoples will be converted to the faith or at least the souls of many of them will be gained for Christ.”

  • InvictusLux says:

    Pope Nicholas V’s apparent endorsement of slavery is easy to reconcile.
    The Muslims were persecuting Christians every where they could and enslaving them, or force converting them or executing them for not conforming in an unjust war of conquest and assimilation. They were beyond war criminals and the west was well within its just right to kill them and repel them as a just response. In these times it was the practice to execute wounded soldiers captured or if coming from wealthy families to ransom them back for booty or to enslave them for perpetual work until they perished. Nicholas was authorizing under a just war doctrine a more generally merciful condition of life long imprisonment as slaves rather than just and rightful execution for committing war crimes against the Christian Nation. That’s really merciful considering that these were deserving of execution as this particular enemy was unrelenting and radically opposed to Christianity and sworn to kill Christians at every opportunity. To even imprison such individuals was a risk since an escape could put more innocent lives at risk. This is why society still justly executes some prisoners – because some individuals are so violent and hardened to evil that they will not hesitate to kill again if given the opportunity to escape incarceration. There were no elaborate and well constructed frontier prisons in the day and it was a considerable risk to even take prisoners – not to mention the cost of guarding and feeding etc. So in this context even taking prisoners and putting them to the punishment of slavery for their crimes is VERY just – especially for the harshness of this period of time. Also, the pope’s letter was not a universal teaching for all places – only a limited area of conflict.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps,
    Sicut Dudum of 1435 by Pope Eugene IV which you say prohibits enslaving indigenous people us actually about about and against enslaving baptized natives and those seeking baptism. Read it closely. Here is its ending warning:
    ” We will that like sentence of excommunication be incurred by one and all who attempt to capture, sell, or subject to slavery, baptized residents of the Canary Islands, or those who are freely seeking Baptism, from which excommunication cannot be absolved except as was stated above.”
    A year later the same Pope gave Portugal the right of conquest over infidel Islands of the Canaries ( ibid, Noonan, page 243).

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Jesus Christ, Who came to set men free in Truth, did indeed. Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ is a free man, no matter what anybody says. The Bible is the story of Jesus Christ’s coming, His salvation of man, and His second coming. FREEEDOM is from God. FREE WILL is from God. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. Those who are bought and sold and called slaves are free men, even death cannot change truth.

  • bill bannon says:

    InvictusLux,
    You have to ignore the text of Romanus Pontifex to get to the Muslim only theme as I’ve already shown and as Romanus Pontifex shows. See e.g. my 6:23 AM post to Ike.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill Bannon,

    There is absolutely no logical connection between the two very separate statements in Romanus Pontifex.

    This: “We [therefore] weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso — to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”

    Is not in any contextual way related to this:

    “Thence also many Guineamen and other negroes, taken by force, and some by barter of unprohibited articles, or by other lawful contract of purchase, have been sent to the said kingdoms.”

    The first statement is a decree; the second statement is simply a statement of fact. There’s no sanction there for the enslavement of these people. As for the statement that follows:

    ” A large number of these have been converted to the Catholic faith, and it is hoped, by the help of divine mercy, that if such progress be continued with them, either those peoples will be converted to the faith or at least the souls of many of them will be gained for Christ.”

    Still not a decree, simply the expression of a hope. Nowhere does it say “go out and capture blacks for the purpose of converting them to Christianity.”

    Then of course there is Paul III, whom you already mentioned:

    ” We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

    Note the “may be said” – there’s never any admission that this is what Nicholas V was actually teaching. At no point did the Church say, “yes, we used to allow the enslavement of any and all indigenous peoples who didn’t believe in Christ but now we are putting a stop to it.” At BEST, Church teaching on the matter had not been clearly settled. If you look at the debates between some of the priests in the 16th century on the indigenous peoples, you can see that this wasn’t a settled matter. So as she always does, once the controversy reached a certain point and absolute clarity was required, the Church spoke. Paul III did not “correct” Eugene IV or Nicholas V, then – he ruled on a matter that had never been ruled on before.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    None of this is Church teaching. It’s Papal choices and prudential judgements which are based on papal beliefs that are not in the realm of teaching even though they are beliefs. Even teaching of a formal nature can be incorrect as when John Paul II called slavery an “intrinsic evil”
    in section 80 of ” Splendor of the Truth”. Levitcus 25:44-46 suffices to correct him. God gave chattel slavery and God never gave an intrinsic evil like incest to the Jews. Both he and Benedict have immoderate feelings about things that God commanded and they sidestep them by the use of critico-historical hermeneutics…John Paul in sect. 40 of Evangelium Vitae and Benedict in section 42 of Verbum Domini.
    In any event, neutral readers here have enough bric a brac from both of us to sort through. Two days of slavery is enough for me. I need now :) to pray for the Knicks…that Lebron…King James…and D. Wade do not murder them again and this time up here in Madison Square
    Garden. Dare I watch.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    I don’t believe the Church has ever sanctioned an “intrinsic evil.” That’s all I’m going to say on that topic. My point about the textual context of that bull stands. There’s no evidence that the Church ever permitted or endorsed chattel slavery.

  • Howard says:

    In a similar way, it’s worth pointing out that the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution does not forbid everything that might be called slavery.

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

  • Flamen says:

    I am greatly impressed by the scholarly comments of Bonchamps and Bannon. However, the original question seemed to be whether the Bible approves of slavery and, perhaps for some, does God approve of slavery. The precepts of the Torah are the works of men and reflect the institutions of the time and ancient near Eastern practices as in the code of Hammurabi. They in no way are the decrees of God or necessarily even approved by God. The interesting question debated by Bonchamps and Bannon is did the Church officially approve of slavery. Some today would consider such papal decrees as reflections of the ordinary Magisterium of the pope and quasi-infallible moral teachings. What was the authority or the Magisterium of the mentioned Papal Bulls? There seems to be here a real conflict in moral teaching.

  • Doubledad says:

    It is not the difference between ancient and modern forms of slavery that is the point of defense against this meme. The Chosen people adopted a radically different approach to slavery than all of the surrounding cultures of the time, because they understood that all men are made in God’s image and they had been slaves in Egypt. Hence they freed ther indentured servants every jubilee year and were not allowed to mistreat fellow human being’s.

    Reading through the old testament to the new, clearly shows that understanding deepening with God’s revelation until you have Paul declaring that a runaway slave is his master’s brother in Christ.

    In order to treat men like property you have to turn away from all of the lessons God so patiently and lovingly teaches throughout the span of the bible.

    Atheists like Savage don’t bother to look at or understand the whole picture. They are only interested in negating the passages that apply to their sin so as to find acceptance by turning ignorant people away from the source of goodness with out of context quotes and misrepresentation.

  • Howard says:

    The precepts of the Torah are the works of men and reflect the institutions of the time and ancient near Eastern practices as in the code of Hammurabi. They in no way are the decrees of God or necessarily even approved by God.

    That would be the heresy of Marcionism — a very popular idea these days.

  • Scotty Ellis says:

    Howard:

    You claim that Flamen is insinuating that the God of the Jews is not the same as the God of the New Testament. I can’t claim to know what he means, but I don’t believe that this is a necessary conclusion of what he says. He may simply mean that we do not need to believe that God actually said what some particular Old Testament scripture said that God said, and that we may safely believe that the passages on slavery are examples of the children of Israel assuming the divine authorship of their laws regardless of the truth of this authorship. Similarly, we may believe that the creation account does not relay the actual “words and actions” of God but rather a mythological account of the origins and nature of the universe, or that the biblical histories may sometimes put commands into the mouth of God (such as the command to kill children) which are not actually commands of God. You may still disagree with this, of course, but it is a very different claim than what you are interpreting it to mean.

  • Mary De Voe says:

    The video of Michael Savage is a picture of a lost soul enslaved to homosexual behavior. To balance the wretchedness of his face against the validity of his words is a chasm that may not be breeched. Michael Savage’s soul speaks unmitigated enslavement while his words hurl vitriol at the Word of God, God, and the children of God, for his free will choice. That, he (Michael Savage) has chosen badly is no one to blame. He refuses to accept his free will and his wretched choice. Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Scotty

    I have deleted the previous exchange because I do not want this devolving any further. Naturally I feel that your accusations were sufficiently “mucky” to justify muck of my own. I want to stop this now. I think you have horribly misunderstood my intentions with this piece, and I don’t want to debate further your interpretation of my interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of Scripture.

    You can see this as me squelching an ever-so-fascinating exchange and storm off, or you can stick around and perhaps we can have a real discussion.

    To get to the real point: no, I don’t think you can categorically say that every kind of slavery is inherently and always wrong.

    There are some things that are always wrong, and some kinds of slavery would fall into that category.

    There are other things that are matters of prudential judgment, and other kinds of slavery would fall into that category.

    That is my position. If you want to wave your arms and shout “see, he thinks slavery is ok!”, go ahead. I do think certain forms of slavery are morally permissible, though I would not advocate them or participate them myself.

  • Howard says:

    Oh, and if the God of the Old Testament was just an example of Near Eastern fairy tales, then either He is different from the God of the New Testament (i.e., Marcionism), or the God of the New Testament is also a fairy tale, which could be almost any flavor of unbelief whatsoever, but cannot be Christianity.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    “The video of Michael Savage is a picture of a lost soul enslaved to homosexual behavior.”

    Um, I take it you meant DAN Savage. If Michael Savage, the talk show host, is “enslaved to homosexual behavior” then Rush Limbaugh is a Communist, Michael Moore is anorexic, and I’m George Washington.

    Michael Savage was fired from his brief stint at MSNBC in 2003 for telling a caller who identified himself as gay: “So you’re one of those sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig; how’s that?” (He also endeared himself to me, and probably to Don and others with autistic children, in 2009 by claiming that 99 percent of autistic children are merely spoiled brats who haven’t been disciplined enough.)

  • “He also endeared himself to me, and probably to Don and others with autistic children, in 2009 by claiming that 99 percent of autistic children are merely spoiled brats who haven’t been disciplined enough.”

    Indeed Elaine. The man specializes in ignorance and bile, also the trademarks of Dan Savage. In my more intemperate moments I might wish that Michael and Dan Savage were marooned together on a very tiny desert island with one very sharp knife between them.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    Almost makes me wonder if Dan Savage isn’t Michael Savage’s evil twin, or is it the other way around? :-)

    Getting back to our topic…

    Seems to me that the Church steered more or less a middle ground between those who demanded immediate emancipation and abolition of slavery at any cost (including war) and those who insisted that the right to own slaves included the absolute right to treat them as mere objects, and not as human beings created in the image of God.

    There were Catholic slave owners in America before the Civil War, although they were a pretty small minority of overall slaveholders. I don’t know of any instance in which a Catholic slave owner was excommunicated or otherwise barred from the sacraments until they freed their slaves.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Scotty Ellis,

    I’m not going to publish your last comment, because I don’t want what became a personal dispute between the two of us to dominate this discussion.

    If you do want to have substantive discussion, you can respond to my post above about the morality of different kinds of slavery.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Flamen,

    “The interesting question debated by Bonchamps and Bannon is did the Church officially approve of slavery. Some today would consider such papal decrees as reflections of the ordinary Magisterium of the pope and quasi-infallible moral teachings. What was the authority or the Magisterium of the mentioned Papal Bulls? There seems to be here a real conflict in moral teaching.”

    Yes, the Church officially approved of certain types of slavery as far as I can tell. But it never approved of chattel slavery, and Bill Bannon’s attempts to use the mere appearance of the word “pagan” in Pope Nicholas V’s bull as proof that the Church did endorse chattel slavery is simply wrong.

    As for the level of authority, there is a difference between the ordinary Magisterium and the ordinary and universal Magisterium. The latter is infallible. The former isn’t. A bull addressed only to one one nation does not rise to the level of infallibility, as an encyclical letter to the universal Church does. That is why Paul III’s bull is of far greater importance than Nicholas V’s.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    You’re misrepresenting me. What affirms chattel slavery in Romanus Pontifex is not the word “pagan” but the combination of actions of taking the possessions and reducing them to perpetual slavery…” and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”. But chattel slavery can be good where it is a necessity (Leviticus 25… no or insufficient prison space) but a bad thing when it is not necessary ( making war likely due to trading goods for persons captured in war).
    Drunkeness is a related example. Condemned repeatedly in the Bible and ordinarily a mortal sin, it can however be the due act of virtue when the person is deeply troubled wherein Scripture
    requires the very thing it ordinarily condemns: Proverbs 31:6 ” Give strong drink to anyone who is perishing,and wine to the embittered;7 When they drink, they will forget their misery,
    and think no more of their troubles.”
    Amongst the uncontacted tribes of the Amazon wherein also there are no prisons, it right now may be the due act that they have slavery of criminals as in Leviticus 25 rather than having execution for simple theft and fraud e.g.
    When you go past my previous quote of RP a bit, you see the stealing involved:

    ” to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit –”. That became through the later reconfirmers of RP the tragedy of Latin America.
    The conquistador families ended up with the best land and huge tracts of it setting the stage for
    the rich poor divide that breeds crime and makes all Latin American countries less street safe than Shinto Japan.
    I’m going to try and leave again.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    You said in your last post:

    “What affirms chattel slavery in Romanus Pontifex is not the word “pagan” but the combination of actions of taking the possessions and reducing them to perpetual slavery…” and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”

    This is what you said before, though:

    “But you’re dealing with a Pope Nicholas V who was dealing not just with Saracens but three categories to include: ” all Saracens AND PAGANS whatsoever, and OTHER ENEMIES OF CHRIST.”. All the Americas were pagan and in the Americas these permissions were soon used in line with that wording by the Pope.”

    So you were building your case on that word, and I don’t think it is accurate at all.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    No….I was responding by those capitalizations to the concept that RP was only about Saracens which you gave immediately above my capitals post.. RP was about all distant humans as Portugal traveled south along the African coast. Eventually Brazil would have black slaves bought by Portugal, most of whom brought African animism with them but some of whom in Bahia were Yoruba who were Muslim.
    The capitalizations of the three groups is about the breath of RP that goes well past Saracens.
    Chattel slavery is separate and inferred by “perpetual” which is used in Leviticus in conjunction with that word…no rights henceforth is connoted by the stealing of their goods which happened in dramatic fashion in Peru with the endless taking of silver by Spain from Pitosi which became according to Niall Fergusson in the “Ascent of Money”….40% of Spain’s national budget which went into European wars.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    I still don’t “pagans” = carte blanche enslavement of whomever you find in your explorations. If people got that impression, that’s one thing; the document doesn’t actually say that.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    Well who else would you find besides RP’s 3: “Saracens” “pagans” “other enemies of Christ”…given that the Council of Florence a little earlier in that century said in the bull by Eugene IV that everyone outside the Catholic Church proper was damned even if they shed blood for Christ or gave alms if they did not enter the visible Catholic fold before death. Forget “pagan”. The really broad category was “other enemies of Christ” in that century.
    Think of the Council of Florence or at least Eugene IV’s bull therein as the anti ecumenical movement par excellence. He would have found looking for the good in Zen…a work of Satan.
    Had Eugene IV seen John Paul II kiss the Koran…oy…oy.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    Given the political nature and context of the bull, as well as the phrase “other enemies” – implying that it is referring only to those pagans who can properly be classified as enemies of Christ – I think your interpretation is wrong. There are some pagans who are actively hostile to Christianity (indeed, Muslims were thought of as pagans by medieval Christians), and others who aren’t. What happened in the 16th century was that a debate ensued about the ontological status of indigenous peoples – were they human beings as well? They’d never been seen before. Some said no. The Papacy ruled that not only were they human beings, but that they had the same natural rights as everyone else and could not be enslaved.

    So I grant that there was confusion. I can even grant that Nicholas V may have been misinterpreted to justify the slave trade. But what I can’t grant is that his document actually establishes or endorses the slave trade, or that the Church ever held the position that it was morally acceptable to go into uncharted territory and enslave people for profit.

    I don’t know what the Council of Florence has to do with this debate. That is describing the spiritual reality, it has nothing to do with temporal matters. I am very familiar with Cantate Domino, which is dogmatic and infallible by the way.

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps
    You have a paradigm you are protecting. Hence the circle we are going in. It’s endless. Romanus Pontifex and its 3 reconfirmations for 42 years until 1514 and the Borgia Pope repeating their privileges for Spain were exactly what happened in Latin America and Africa…slavery and theft (or despoiling in the ruler’s view.) That breaks your paradigm of Church history as pristine. Pope Paul III tried to overcome those Popes and lost. Look at his text…it is an exact reproof of RP…exact….but it breaks your paradigm to admit it. He actually first had a caveat of excommunication for persons who enslaved new natives but withdrew it. Find out why in your reading someday. Ask when you find the answer, why he and other Popes didn’t interdict Portugal and Spain over the slavery and theft permitted them by RP. One Pope tried it on Venice and they laughed at him.

    History is not like a Thomas Kinkaid painting….turns out Kinkaid wasn’t like a Kinkaid painting.
    I’m gone now really. In ten minutes Lebron murders the Knicks. It’s a train wreck I must watch.

  • Bonchamps says:

    Bill,

    I quoted the text above, and I don’t think it is an “exact reproof.” There’s no evidence that he is even acknowledging, let alone reproving or repealing, anything that his predecessors said. Surely he is not referring to Nicholas V as “the enemy of the human race”, whose views he is exposing and rejecting in this bull!

    You’re mentioning a lot of things that you aren’t providing any evidence for. “Find out someday?” How about you support your claims now?

  • bill bannon says:

    Bonchamps,

    Sublimus Dei text from your ” enemy of the human race” way down to the separate tone of correcting the Popes in question…keep in mind his sister was the mistress of the Borgia Pope…he did not have your problem of seeing Popes immune to satan:

    ” The enemy of the human race, who opposes all good deeds in order to bring men to destruction, beholding and envying this, invented a means never before heard of, by which he might hinder the preaching of God’s word of Salvation to the people: he inspired his satellites who, to please him, have not hesitated to publish abroad that the Indians of the West and the South, and other people of whom We have recent knowledge should be treated as dumb brutes created for our service, pretending that they are incapable of receiving the Catholic Faith.

    We, who, though unworthy, exercise on earth the power of our Lord and seek with all our might to bring those sheep of His flock who are outside into the fold committed to our charge, consider, however, that the Indians are truly men and that they are not only capable of understanding the Catholic Faith but, according to our information, they desire exceedingly to receive it. Desiring to provide ample remedy for these evils, We define and declare by these Our letters, or by any translation thereof signed by any notary public and sealed with the seal of any ecclesiastical dignitary, to which the same credit shall be given as to the originals, that, notwithstanding whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary, the said Indians and all other people who may later be discovered by Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen, it shall be null and have no effect.”

    Note the distance from your enemy passage to “whatever may have been or may be said to the contrary”…and hardly the same tone. Popes in those days fought each other. Pope Julius II had to flee for his life from a previous Pope, Alexander VI until the latter passed away. Paul III’s sister was Alexander VI’s mistress. Your seeing their reality as though it were your time. It was a very different time.

  • Thom says:

    The Bible has countless passages endorsing slavery and telling slaves to be loyal to their masters.

    I was expecting a decent argument against this actually using the Bible, but you danced around this and ignored the Bible entirely. A church can teach whatever it wants, but what’s in the Bible is in the Bible, and the Bible is full of endorsements for humans as property.

  • Doug says:

    @Thom,
    Actually… not. “full”? not. “endorsements”? not. “countless”? not.

    Since when is telling slaves to be loyal to their masters an endorsement of slavery?
    That’s like saying telling folks to be responsible citizens is an endorsement of [insert your favorite government over-step, whether rendition, militarism, corruption, etc].

    But speaking of what’s (actually) in the Bible… have you read any of it? In context?

    Are you aware of the book of Philemon (of which someone wrote elsewhere:

    In the time of the Roman Empire, runaway slaves could be tracked down and returned to their masters, who then had the ‘right’ to execute them; certainly a runaway slave would have been a fugitive for the rest of his life. Paul’s letter to Philemon concerning Onesimus makes sense in that light – by returning him to Philemon, Onesimus would no longer be a hunted man, and he would be welcomed back into Philemon’s household as a brother in Christ. So far from endorsing slavery, Paul was being realistic about Roman laws and their implications.

    )?

    Are you aware of the seminal Gal 3:28:

    There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Are you aware that long before the enlightenment, the vast majority of anti-slavery writing (of which there was considerable) was Christian?

    Are you aware that the basis of American abolition was also Christian?

  • Doug says:

    @Thom,
    One last thing: there is not a respectable scholar on the planet who imagines that “humans as property” fairly represents the Biblical instantiation of slavery. The difference between “indentured servitude” and “chattel” is not inconsiderable — even if both have been historically labelled “slavery”.

  • bill bannon says:

    Doug

    Leviticus Chapter 25…God gives chattel slavery to the Jews in a nomadic culture…
    44 ”Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess, provided you buy them from among the neighboring nations. 45 You may also buy them from among the aliens who reside with you and from their children who are born and reared in your land. Such slaves you may own as chattels, 
    46 and leave to your sons as their hereditary property, making them perpetual slaves. But you shall not lord it harshly over any of the Israelites, your kinsmen..”

    Slavery in primitive cultures where there are no large prisons for criminals and war captures and deep debtors…makes sense and so God gave chattel slavery for that context. Modern slavery was wrong because as in Portugal’s slave trading stations vis a vis Africa, capturing people in war in order to sell them to Portugal became the purpose of tribal wars not a result of
    just war but the purpose of unjust wars.

  • Doug says:

    @bill bannon,
    …as long as you don’t pretend that the Biblical provision for chattel constitutes support for

    the Bible is full of endorsements for humans as property

    …and as long as you don’t pretend that chattel represents the normative form of slavery in the Bible, I’m won’t disagree.

  • bill bannon says:

    No….as time went on and prisons did exist, the legitimate reason for chattel slavery diminished.
    But in ancient times without prisons the alternative was to execute every criminal and all those captured in war. Leviticus’ chattel slavery was part of a system that saved lives in that context then and there.

  • Valentin says:

    In the book of Sirac it says that if you have a slave you should treat him like a brother. The word slave came about towards the end of the Roman empire when most slaves were Slavic slaves who were servants because they were captured during war and the word slave is actually just a racial slur of Slav.

  • Andy says:

    God did not want his chosen people to be slaves, but he did not mind if they enslaved others?

    Exodus 3:7

    “The Lord said, “I have seen my people suffer in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering. ”

    Exodus 6:5

    “Also, I have heard the groans of the Israelites. The Egyptians are keeping them as slaves. But I have remembered my covenant. ”

    When Moses saved the Israelites from Egypt, God set forth the rules “his” people should follow in their new settlement

    ~ God shares these laws right after God his Ten Commandments

    Exodus 21:20-21

    “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.”

    Beating a slave is ok, as long as they do not die, because they are your property!

    I am trying to learn about Christianity by securing the Bible in my mind as the ultimate authority of truth, but it is so hard. I am sorry, you can justify anything.

    I believe in a higher power and I know there are some good truths in the Bible, but I believe this book was compiled by men.

  • Bonchamps says:

    “I am trying to learn about Christianity by securing the Bible in my mind as the ultimate authority of truth, but it is so hard. ”

    Ah. Well, it is a good thing you are really trying to learn about the faith, and not just saying that as a sort of sarcastic way of dismissing a religion and a book you know almost nothing about on the basis of an isolated quotation translated into modern vernacular.

    My Douay-Rhemis Bible renders Ex. 21:20-21 much differently. The word “property” is nowhere to be found in reference to a human being. Just a few verses later, which I am sure, in your diligent study of Scripture on your journey to a greater knowledge of Christianity, you are already familiar with, Exodus 21 states:

    “[26] If any man strike the eye of his manservant or maidservant, and leave them but one eye, he shall let them go free for the eye which he put out. [27] Also if he strike out a tooth of his manservant or maidservant, he shall in like manner make them free.”

    So if they actually did beat their slaves and cause them serious injury, by the law of God, that slave would have to be set free. Clearly we are looking at a situation in which slavery is an acknowledged reality (the entire world practiced slavery), but not one in which people are treated like animals. As I said in my post, the laws of God make humane even a situation like slavery when it is unavoidable. Masters have duties to their servants no less than servants do to their masters.

    And if slaves were really considered just “property”, how do you explain Deuteronomy 23:15-16?

    “Thou shalt not deliver to his master the servant that is fled to thee. “He shall dwell with thee ill the place that shall please him, and shall rest, in one of thy cities: give him no trouble.”

    So, a slave who escapes is considered free. Finally:

    I return to the point I made in my original post. What is your criteria, your standard, for judging and condemning the Bible? Your personal preferences?

  • Mary De Voe says:

    Andy
    God did not want his chosen people to be slaves, but he did not mind if they enslaved others?

    Exodus 3:7

    “The Lord said, “I have seen my people suffer in Egypt. I have heard them cry out because of their slave drivers. I am concerned about their suffering. ”

    Exodus 6:5

    “Also, I have heard the groans of the Israelites. The Egyptians are keeping them as slaves. But I have remembered my covenant. ”
    Only the Chosen People cried out to the true God, therefore, only the Chosen People were heard by the true God.

  • Andy says:

    I greatly appreciate the Christian Churches and followers for their service to God, which ultimately leads to a better humanity. All of the devout Christians I know are good people and our world is better having them in our world. I believe the Bible has really good stories, parables and lessons that are valuable to everyone.

    I am sorry if my language is strong, please read this in a light a manner, even though my writing may seem heavy at times.

    I question the Authority of the Bible, especially when followers of any religion judge and condemn others through claims of Divine Authority based on “God’s” word. For example, gay marriage, slavery and women’s rights. It just bothers me when people validate their opinions from the Bible, because it is “God’s” words. Did God write the Bible? Did Jesus write any of the books?

    Some religious folks say we get our morals from the Bible and without God we would be lawless. Was it a decree by God that we should abstain from enslaving or fellow humans? Was it a decree by God, that we should give women the right to vote? I believe it was noble men that knew it was right.

    Let me ask you this…

    What if one of your friends tells you, they met God at the park. They even describe some of the miracles he performed. Also telling you all of the noble parables and lessons they have learned. They even explain some of the laws you should now follow. Some of them you agree with some of them you don’t. Well, wouldn’t it be blasphemy to go against God’s words. You may also, not really know where you will go when you die and you are scared because you do not want to go to hell.

    Would you believe them? Or would you question their sincerity and ask to see God for yourself? Then they tell you, “you just have to believe and if you don’t believe you are going against God’s will.” In the time when many of our world religions were founded the people on earth, our ancestors were struggling to provide food and shelter. These holy books comforted our ancestors and helped them make sense of their environments.

    However, what about all of the other religions that were enslaved and conquered because they did not follow the one true God. What about all of the wide array of forms Christianity that did not make the final cut, therefore they were persecuted and prevented from following their form of Christianity, like the Gnostics, Marcionites, Ebionites and many of the early sects. The Dead Sea scrolls were hidden to protect them from the deadly ‘authority’ of the ruling Christian denomination.

    You may have known your friend at the park, but do you know anyone who wrote parts of the Bible? What makes the Bible any holier than any other book? Why is it that people from India follow Hinduism and people from the Middle East follow Muhammad?

    The Bible was used on both sides of the Civil War, and that was 1830 years after Christ came to earth. With all of the different sects and denominations of Christianity it seems all facets are up for discussion. I am saying the Bible might not be the word of God, based on some of the inconsistencies that can be attributed to archaic men.

    Jesus came to fulfill the law not to abolish it. He was so enraged with the money changers, yet he did nothing about the enslavement of humanity. It is a sin to own someone else. The slaves/servants were getting paid nothing and their labor was very valuable to the master. Slavery was avoidable.

    Let’s say, God intended for us to go through slavery and suppress women’s rights.

    Are those God’s words? Or just some rulers who wanted to justify the slavery, so they could line their pockets with their handwork? What about Eve the temptress causing all other women to be subjugated to ruling men. Were these laws from men who wanted to assert control? Immediately when the Bible was formed it was the ultimate authority and any other religions were destroyed. How did our form of the Christian Bible come to be? Why did it take 300 years to get a final cut of the Bible? What was left out? What was added? Who gave those leaders Divine Authority?

    Bonchamps as you said

    Your Douay-Rhemis Bible changes property for money. I am not really sure what your Bible means by money, but I can see how property, money and capital are interchangeable.

    You said: “So, a slave who escapes is considered free. Finally: ”

    The slaves were only free if they agreed to leave. What if they had formed a family?

    Exodus 21: 4 – 6
    “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.”

    ” But if the servant declares, ” I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free, then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.”

    Slave goes free, but they would have to leave their family behind?

    That is nice of a master to give his slave a wife, but was it just to make more slaves? Did the slave raise his family and grow attached to it? That is cruel to offer freedom to the man only, and force him to leave his family behind.

    Or he can stay and get branded with a dehumanizing slave earring, to mark his slavery?

    How humiliating would that be to know you are someone’s property and you and your family are supposed to obey them as you would the Lord for your entire life.

    The Bible does relay an attitude to be an obedient slave,

    Ephesians 6:5
    “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”

    I would think a righteous God would be appalled by one man being a slave to another. Especially because he is giving him the respect he would to God. Doesn’t the Bible say not to have any idols besides the one and only Lord.

    Respect your masters and fear them? Fear of what? Fear does not seem like a friendly form of slavery, but I was not there and neither were you.

    In Deuteronomy, it explains how profitable slaves were even if you were to set them free.

    Deuteronomy 15: 18

    “Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.”

    No wonder slave trading was so lucrative, not only did the slaves get nothing, but the owners were able to double their profits off of the free labor. I have great respect for the Source of our world and the universe, but I do not believe the Totality of God is in one book and especially one that displays the ruling class of men.

    It is appalling to think that babies are born sinners and they deserve to burn in hell and the only way for their salvation is to worship the Lord. Part of me thinks portions of Christianity are trading one form of slavery for another. It just bothers me when I hear Christians say, “well the Bible says this, what you are doing is wrong.” It is kinda like one of those ink blots, you see what you want to see. I could be wrong and everything in the Bible could be the word of God.

    Sorry for my rant. Maybe I am spending too much of my energy on this, but it bothers me when people pick and choose parts of the Bible. I know you can attain Godly wisdom through reading the Bible, I just question its Divine Authority.

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