Slavery, God, the bible, and Religion, in General



The following image on Facebook started a conversation between me and a good fellow who happens to be both a preacher and married to my niece. I am not including his part, but I think my points stand alone.


my original post:

·         as a white guy, i think this is a VERY valid point…. i have always thought it was a little hard to see why the Bible didnt take a stand, but not having the black experience, i never thought it all the way through, but i gotta say seeing it here, i have to agree….

if you think its wrong, ‘splain it to me

By some folks, who are actually paying attention, slavery is worse today, worldwide than it was in 1860… but to say the Bible didnt take a stand against slavery because it was an accepted norm is not acceptable.


What if Jesus had never spoke against all the other evil accepted norms of the day? What would have been his purpose? Why did he not say, as he did of divorce, Moses allowed slavery because he knew the hardness of your hearts, but God made all men to be equal, and to keep another in bondage is an abomination unto God!?


What happened to those verses? Did He never say that, or did the powerful people who controlled the church from say 100 AD thru today have an agenda and needed to delete it?


Either way, it means the Bible (and any other “Holy Text” that does not draw a strong line on the matter of owning another person) is not THE Word of God. It may be great, in as far as it goes, but not addressing the sin of slavery pretty much poisons the clean water of the other truths therein.


(upon noting that the age of the Bible was not constructed hundreds odf years after the crucifixtion, and also noting that even the U.S. constitution did not contemplate a world without slavery.)


As for the U.S. Constitution, it was very much understood that the document was flawed, and many of those behind it were opposed to slavery, but then again, it was modified, it is not supposed to be the divine word of God. If Christians allowed that the bible should be amended, like the constitution, then maybe it would be a better comparison

As far as the age of the Bible, the gospels and Paul’s writings occurred in the first century, by tradition, though no copies of work from that era survives. The bible was basically composed and edited from a great collection of Christian writings about 200 yrs after the death of Jesus. Hard copies of the Gospel of Thomas predate any documents of the rest of the New Testament, but it did not fit the narrative, so it was tossed, as were many other writings.

From Wikipedia

The oldest surviving complete Christian Bibles are Greek manuscripts from the 4th century. The oldest Tanakh manuscript in Hebrew and Aramaic dates to the 10th century CE,[1] but an early 4th-century Septuagint translation is found in the Codex Vaticanus.

The Bible was divided into chapters in the 13th century by Stephen Langton and into verses in the 16th century by French printer Robert Estienne[2] and is now usually cited by book, chapter, and verse.

Development of the Christian canons

Main articles: Development of the Old Testament canon and Development of the New Testament canon

The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the 4th century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the 39, 46(51),54, or 57 book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jerome produced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council until the Council of Trent (1545–63).[76]


About anthonyuplandpoetwatkins born in Jackson, The United States August 04, 1959 gender male website genre Poetry, Historical Fiction influences James M. Lancaster, Brenda Black White, Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Al Filreis member since March 2011 About this author edit data As one of the most public lives ever lived by a private citizen, there is little about me that isn't already available at Facebook or Shelfari and countless other places. Poet, writer, construction worker, salesman, truck driver, climber into the attics of total strangers, father and husband, and all around one of the luckiest men on the planet. My luck continued with a win in the June Goodreads Newsletter Contest! What an honor! http://anthonyuplandpoetwatkins.wordp... Additional Influences: Bob Dylan, William Faulkner, Barbara Kingsolver, Gloria Naylor, Eudora Welty
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14 Responses to Slavery, God, the bible, and Religion, in General

  1. Ben, The issue of slavery comes from the Doctrine of Discovery of 1452, where the Roman Church codified what they had been doing all along. Since “Christians” were “God’s chosen” they decided to spread the word when coming to a “new” land. They were to convert, enslave, or kill the inhabitants. Without the religious overtones, this was incorporated into US law in 1826 by a USCC decision. It was the “legal” basis for the genocide we called “The Indian Wars,” and just about every other war since then. It is all about $.

  2. Pingback: Accusing the Messenger | Anthony Uplandpoet Watkins

  3. Ben Smart says:

    Hahaha, that’s precisely why I would never expect to persuade you. You’re neck-deep in prior commitments that keep you from reading the Bible in anything other than a simplistic, antagonistic way.
    Again, if you’re trying to find all your biblical ethics from the mouth of Jesus in the gospels, you just don’t understand the Bible. Read John 16:12ff. and tell me again how important it is if Jesus took a stand against slavery (or abortion, or homosexuality, etc.) or not. The rest of the NT exists for a reason.

    Your comments about the OT standing except where overruled by Jesus are an embarrassing demonstration of just how little you know about biblical theology, or how the Bible hangs together at all.

    But then again, you’ve got me on the Bible being so backwards about moral standards compared to modern society. Just look at the way Christians behave nowadays compared to non-Christians when it comes to things like slavery and the treatment of women. Oh wait…

    Unlike you though (by your own admission), I’m quite open to being persuaded if you can bring anything to the table that holds water. But I’ll let it be – you can bring water to a dead mule, but you can’t make it drink.

    Thanks again for the blog.

    • Interesting. As you state that you, unlike me, could be persuaded if only i could point the “truth out to you in the Bible”, you reinforce your right to pick and choose verses and your right to highlight some of the writings over others, including giving Paul more credit than Jesus. I am not persuaded on this issue because I find the whole concept of worshiping a man-made god too preposterous.

      My point, though not exactly the point of the original creator of the image i used, is that I will take from all the holy texts any advice that makes sense to me, but the failings of all three of these related religions, as well as those of the Native American faiths and the Asian teachings fall short of modern moral principle. I understand you use the divinity of the Bible as a starting point. I dont. This is the rub. If I believed in the writings of Dr. Seuss as inspired, and you wanted to discuss the merits of his books, we could never see eye-to-eye.

      Looking at both the teachings of Jesus, specifically, and the writings of the bible, i find they do not measure up to modern secular moral standards. I do find, by and large, the points Jesus addressed are far more moral and progressive than those of his “followers.”

      • Ben Smart says:

        Sorry, I seem to have hit a nerve. And now you’re getting confused. Did I say that you need to point the “truth out to me in the Bible”? No. I said, bring anything to the table that holds water. You don’t have to believe the Bible is inspired to understand what it teaches about slavery. And you can make trivial jokes about Dr. Seuss, but you’re the one that decided to speak on behalf of what the Bible says about slavery. All I did in my original comment was point out that you don’t understand what the Bible says about slavery. And that point stands, regardless of whether it is inspired or not. Deal with the Bible honestly on it’s own terms. I couldn’t care less about your worldview. Your scholarship is shoddy.

        Oh, where did I “pick and choose verses” OR give Paul more credit than Jesus? You do seem to be really confused. Can you point that out to me?
        My point is precisely that someone can only come away from the Bible with the idea that it supports slavery if they themselves pick and choose, and fail to see the big picture. Which apparently is precisely what you’ve done, unless you can demonstrate otherwise (please do).

        Well, you can conjecture about the supposed low moral standards of the Bible as opposed to ‘modern secular moral standards’, but the proof is in the pudding. Although you conveniently ignored this from my last comment, there is simply no evidence that non-Christians are more moral than Christians. In fact, all evidence is directly to the contrary. So you can talk all you like about objective evidence when you think it suits you, but you’re quite content to fly in the face of it when it doesn’t.
        And honestly, do you really think it is a surprise that Jesus is ‘more moral’ than his followers? Do you think you’re catching Christians out by pointing this out? It would go against the Christian faith to deny it.

        I know its tempting to go off on your recycled rabbit trails of anti-Christian polemic, but to be honest, it’s a bit stale. This isn’t about faith OR inspiration (you brought that in, not me). If you’re up to the challenge of bringing something to the table that holds water that demonstrates the Bible is pro-slavery, please do. If you’re really so confident about what the Bible teaches (faith aside), bring it to the table. I’ll engage you on your terms.
        Please, put your money where your mouth is.

      • speaking of nerves…. thanks again, i guess you can keep trying to spread the distorted “truths” of modern Christianity. I would wish you good luck, but if Australia is anything like the US there are enough charlatans running around spreading the message of antiChrist in the name of Jesus. take care. I will hope for your enlightenment, but i dont hold out much hope

      • Ben Smart says:

        No worries, that’s what I thought. You’re all about weak, vague, groundless polemic, but you’ve got no substance. Someone finally challenges you to present something coherent that holds water, and you back down. Measured, and found wanting. Thanks again for the blog.

      • Given you have neither measure nor challenge, I will continue to wait for a worthy opponent!

        Funny how when you had no argument, you attacked my credibility, not my points.

      • Ben Smart says:

        “neither measure nor challenge”… ok, let me try this one more time, if you really do think you hold any credibility at all. Here is the challenge that I gave you before, and I’ll give it again. Build a credible case for your idea that the Bible supports slavery. You didn’t seem to get it the last two times I said it, so I’ll say it again. Build a credible case for your idea that the Bible supports slavery. Does that make sense? Simple enough?
        Do you see it? I’ll quote myself if it helps you:
        “If you’re up to the challenge of bringing something to the table that holds water that demonstrates the Bible is pro-slavery, please do. If you’re really so confident about what the Bible teaches (faith aside), bring it to the table. I’ll engage you on your terms.”

        I’ve said the same thing multiple times now, but all you do is dodge the issue and shrink back from the challenge. Here’s another chance. I welcome you, please, build your case.

  4. Ben Smart says:

    You should look closely at what the Bible really says before making claims on its behalf

    • Ben, thanks for reading and commenting. As a matter of fact, i have read the whole through several times, I studied it for many years. I still have not seen anything that contradicted the statement that Jesus did not take a stand against slavery. yes, he commanded us to not be enslaved, and Paul said slavers were sinners, if you are to read a new revised version. There are all kind of instructions about how to treat a slave, and instructions on how a slave is to act, and how often slaves are to be released. I stand by the blog. and i certainly have read the Bible as much as almost anybody I know, more than most preachers I know. but again, i am very glad you read it!

      • Ben Smart says:

        Great to hear that you’ve read the Bible lots.
        It’s interesting that you put such weight on your statement about Jesus not condemning slavery; Jesus didn’t ‘take a stand’ against a lot of things, but surely you must agree that it’s a simplistic misrepresentation of that biblical ethics to say that the Bible approves of anything Jesus doesn’t condemn.

        Do you really think that the Bible – the OT regulations for the nation of Israel to improve the conditions of slaves and prevent their abuse, and the NT exhortations to submit to unjust slavery for the sake of the gospel – supports or condones slavery?
        If so, can I challenge you to read the NT on its own terms?

        In particular, read the book of Philemon, 1 Corinthians 7, Ephesians 6:5-9, and throw in Galatians 3:28 for good measure, and dig deep on how the gospel plays into their understanding of slavery. I know you’ve read them before. But ask the question of how what they write is influenced by the truths of the gospel, and you’ll get right at the heart of the Bible’s teaching on slavery.

        I don’t pretend to think I can persuade you on anything. But I challenge you to push past the simplistic surface of things and ask the hard questions about what the Bible is really saying, and most importantly, why it is saying them.

        Thanks again for taking the time to write the article.

      • You are correct. You have not persuaded me, nor do I see how you can persuade me that a dead mule is alive. The more you quote Paul, the more you make it obvious that Jesus did not take a stand. The point is that the Bible is generally presented as the basis for the Christian faith, with the teachings of the Old Testament standing except where specifically, or at least overwhelming inferentially overruled by the words of Jesus. No matter how deep you dig, neither the old nor the new take a real stand against trafficking in humans. Considering the effort Jesus put into certain things, things that I tend to agree with, even though I have moved on from being a person of faith, the issue of slavery, and the issue of equality of all men and women are sadly lacking in both His message and the overall message of the Bible.

        One could argue the Bible is correct, and that modern society is wrong, that women should not be treated equal, that slavery is not a big deal, only that those who are in the business or those who “mistreat” their slaves are sinning. If that is your position, then you get an “A” for consistency, but I, and most of the civilized world, would hold you in very low regard. For myself, I would say, in spite of the advancements of both the old and new testaments, as well as the Quran, all three lack the moral authority to lead us into the future.

        Having been to your blog, I am quite certain I cannot persuade you of anything, either. Nor do I really care to.

  5. Pingback: Slavery In The Bible — How Does a Loving God Support Slavery? | Bible Bubbles

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