Slavery in the Bible: No, it's not Voluntary and it Certainly is not Indentured Servitude
I have written about the inconsistencies and atrocities of the bible before and I am always astounded at the responses from Christians trying to defend and justify slavery in the bible. I've heard everything from it was voluntary in order to repay debt to it was a better way to do things at that time. So, I am writing this article to put an end to this silly notion once and for all. I will try to respond to all of the popular claims to justify slavery in the bible and I will use the bible itself to refute them. To see where I got these common responses from, you can look here http://emmaspeaks.hubpages.com/_3kjgjy673mbcc/hub/Bible-A-Solid-Foundation-for-Atheistic-Belief and here http://titen-sxull.hubpages.com/_3kjgjy673mbcc/hub/Bible-Verses-NOT-to-Live-By.
Right...I don't think so. I can't fathom any human in any period of time thinking that volunteering themselves for slavery was a good idea. But, Christians seem to think that this happened all the time. There's a term for this strange phenomenon within Christianity. It's called Christian reimagining. "He who controls the present, controls the past." -George Orwell. Basically, Christians like to rewrite history so that they, and their god, come out looking good, or at the very least, so that they don't come out looking like the moral depraved monsters that the bible and their god would suggest that they are.
Now, the very notion that slavery was voluntary is ridiculous. There are so many verses in the bible that plainly state that it clearly was not.
25: 44-46 However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.
This hardly sounds like a voluntary situation to me. It sounds just like what slavery is as we now know it--humans buying other humans as property. And here's what Exodus says about Hebrews, specifically, so not only is this not voluntary, but you have no control over it if you are a certain race, are a wife of a slave after the fact, or were born from parents that were married after the male became a slave.
21:2-6 If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.' If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever.
Obviously, the person being bought, as is clearly stated at the very beginning of this excerpt, has absolutely no will, unless he chooses to remain a slave after being set free so that he can stay with his wife and kids. Well, how very gracious of the Christian god to allow for that much.
Slavery as Indentured Servitude
I was actually a little disgusted when I read this comment from a Christian coming to the defense of the bible. I've actually heard this one before, though. Apparently, many Christians think that the slaves in the bible were slaves because they owed a debt and found slavery an appealing alternative. This can be seen as comparable to working at McDonalds, or something. Hmmm...well, I will have to disagree. I think with just the two excerpts above, I have already established that slavery was not in any way shape or form voluntary, but, here is another to drive the point home.
21:7-11 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.
Once again, humans were being sold, not entering into a voluntary contract. And it seems like it was a lot worse for the women--big surprise. I also do not see anywhere where it specifies slaves going into slavery to repay their own debt. It may have been more likely for a slave owner to pay with slaves for his debt. But, again, thanks to Christian reimagining, slavery was voluntary and was no worse than working at McDonalds.
Slavery May Have Been Acceptable in the Old Testament, but not in the New Testament
Well, wrong again. The fact that it was even tolerated is cause for concern. And the fact that most Christians do dismiss the Old Testament is testament to their cherry picking ways. But, no, Christians, the New Testament does mention slavery. It, too is guilty of perpetuating this horrible practice. You can reimagine it all you like.The African Slave Trade DID happen, and 100% because it was okay in the bible. Deal with it.
6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.
2:18 You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you--not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel.
The New Testament even explains how to beat your slave.
12:47-48 The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given."
So, this one is from a parable, but how much in denial do you have to be to dismiss that slavery was in fact tolerated and perpetuated in the bible, a book that Christians claim to be morally perfect?
Slavery has Been Around Since Before the Bible
Well, that is hardly a defense, is it? Honestly, Christians, isn't your position that your god and the bible showed a better way for all? How is slavery, in any way, shape or form a better way? It sounds like business as usual, in that aspect. It doesn't sound like a very enlightening practice--one worthy of praise. Wouldn't a truly revolutionary god introduce truly revolutionary concepts? Like, hey, how about we NOT have slaves? How about, instead of me as your god, guiding you in your established practices, I introduce a NEW way of doing this? How about that?
The truth is, there is nothing remarkable about the Christian god just following what everyone else was already doing, and maybe offering some advice on how to beat and sell your slaves. I am not impressed. God never once condemns slavery. He never once says it is wrong. This is what truly would have been revolutionary and moral. So, if the argument is that god perpetuated slavery because it was already an accepted practice, you fail...miserably. You fail so hard that I don't see any way for you to redeem yourself. So stop, please.
A Final Thought
Well, I think I covered most of the big ones. The bottom line is this: the god in the bible, for this reason alone, was a monster. I am only talking about his condoning and perpetuating slavery, now. I will get to the genocide, rape, incest, murder, misogyny, and other fun issues in other hubs. Christians that will try to defend the slavery in the bible beg the question, are you equally morally depraved? Is your sense of what is clearly right and wrong so skewed that you will argue this point? Let me reiterate to make it clear--slavery now, then, or in the future, is NEVER right. It is NEVER a moral practice. The fact that everyone was doing it before, and god did nothing about it, only proves what a monster he was. You can hide behind your lies and your delusions all you want, but the truth is the truth even if no one believes it. Luckily for honest people like me, I am not alone in this sentiment.
More on the Bible
- The Brutal Honesty Christians are Deathly Afraid of
Christians often cite their faith as the biggest reason for believing in god, but how honest is that? And how respectable is it to tout faith in something that defies all reason and logic?
- The Theologian's Disconnect with Actual History
Theologians, some of them, have such a disregard for ethical scholarship that the obvious line between myth and history becomes blurred and there is no longer a distinction between the two.
- Cherry-picking: The Foundation of Christian Faith
Christians always claim that the bible is the foundation of their faith, but they usually dismiss the Old Testament, unless it supports something that corresponds with their personal desires. Funny how that works, huh?
- The Bible is not a Historical Text, it is a Hagiography
Christians are always claiming that the bible is some sort of historically accurate text. It is not historically accurate, in fact it is far from it.
- The Bible: A Solid Foundation for Atheistic Belief
The bible is far from a moral guide. If anything, it is a guide on how not to live your life.