Slavery, Oh Sign Up Right Here!

As for your male and female slaves whom you may have–you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possessionYou may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.” (Leviticus 25:44-46)

It’s obvious the bible (in some parts) supports slavery, well Leviticus cannot be read more clearly than what’s in bold above.

Christianity, well literal Christianity, has to accept that slavery is ‘a-ok’. By this I mean, the people of God (Israel according to this law) can buy and sell slaves and even pass them down as possessions to their children (which is really a sweet inheritance). Which also means, as Gentiles we would be the ‘slaves’ and not the ‘slave owners’ (or we can have the option of keeping this law by becoming a slave to someone Jewish). Not really a bad deal, no worse than being hated for being gay.  

But the question for me is, do things change over time? Can something like slavery, previously supported by the law, eventually be something no longer supported by God?

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “Slavery, Oh Sign Up Right Here!

  1. I think there is much in the Bible incorrectly accredited to God. I know this would not sit well with those who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, but there are some sections like this that just do not seem to be consistent with the character of God. Does God have to be consistent? Maybe not, but if He is not, then how would we know when to take Him serious? And I am not talking about God having to be always loving and never angry. When dealing with us “stiff necked” people, His anger is justified at times. But condoning slavery? I just can’t buy it.

  2. Are you serious? You are wondering if a god is watching and saying, “OK, they are a little dumb now, let them have slaves.” Then later, “Finally, they have climbed the moral later, so I will disapprove of slavery now.”

    You didn’t say that, did you?

  3. “Are you serious? You are wondering if a god is watching and saying, “OK, they are a little dumb now, let them have slaves.” Then later, “Finally, they have climbed the moral later, so I will disapprove of slavery now.”” (Sabio)

    What I am questioning is the changing of ideas (over time). It is completely obvious slavery was acceptable at one point in time – according to the Torah (likely during Moses’ era). Which is really strange since they just came out of being in slavery and needed an Exodus to be ‘saved’.

    However, Torah is ‘law’ and can be re-interpreted.

    “”The Bible” he wrote, “merely tolerates this institution as an evil not to be disregarded and therefore infuses in its legislation a mild spirit gradually to lead to its dissolution.”” (Rabbi David Einhorn quoted from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/history/Modern_History/1700-1914/America_at_the_Turn_of_the_Century/Civil_War.shtml)

    “Bertha Pappenheim, a Jewish social activist and fighter of slavery in 20th century Germany, wrote, “You feel oppressed by your Judaism only as long as you do not take pride in it.” The presence of slavery legislation in the Torah can be a blemish in our textual history, or it can be a call to our collective responsibility for the vulnerable among us. Though we aren’t slaveholders today, we have the opportunity to be matir asurim–freeing the enslaved.” (Rabbi Dorothy Richman quoted from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Bible/Weekly_Torah_Portion/reeh_ajws2.shtml)

    I have come to realize that ‘times do change’ and what acceptable in a period of time is not always going to be acceptable. This is not hard to comprehend, it is happening now around us in various forms (ie: gay bashing used to be part of the norm of society as late as the 80’s). I see slavery, as a practice, this way.

    It is certainly true that the Torah supports slavery – or at least provides the rules for such a practice. But does this make it right? Or does this just make it part of the norm for that society? Dependant on one’s views about that issue – that will confirm for them one way or the other their feelings on this subject.

    Slavery still occurs on this planet (we need to remember that Sabio) in many ways in many countries. In fact, I would bargain we all support slavery incomplicitely via our purchases at stores (ie: diamonds might be the best example; but cheap clothing and food aren’t cheap because we make them ‘locally’). This really isn’t some ‘yesteryear’ issue – it has ramifications even now.

    For me, the intent of the Torah (and the NT) is still speaking – concerning our reactions about the use of slavery in the 21st century. I stand 100% opposed to slavery, I see it is a dead institution that was meant to die after the Exodus period, and did in Israel over time, but planet-wide has been nothing short of persistent. It should be abolished and we need to make sure this is the case.

    Times do change Sabio, whether we like to think the bible contains this flexibility or not, and we change with them. What seemed like a manageable practice at one time period is not neccesarily going to be expected of the next era. Slavery is an issue, even if on the lawbooks, that can be put to rest as a law that helps humanity (as happens to many laws as times change).

    I admit it is certainly there, but I also admit the perspective one takes with this issue does not neccesarily have to be ‘pro-slavery’…in the same way the issue with gay rights does not neccesarily have to be ‘anti gay rights’. Times change, I follow a God with such flexibility and compassion.

  4. Dude, I agree about cultures changing, present day slavery and the like. I just don’t get the theological gyrations to make a god say one thing at one time and then change.

    Why can’t we admit slavery is wrong both pre and post exodus, now and then. We can fight it without god talk.

    It ain’t complicated.

  5. 1. we can’t project our 21st century standards back onto pre-modern people.

    2. all societies at the time had some form of slavery. on a scale, the Jewish model is one of the better ones because every 7 years they were commanded to set the captives free and forgive all debts. whether this ever occurred is up for speculation.

    3. while the bible still may support slavery, or take it for granted, it still has stories of slaves and unexpected heroes triumphing. like Jacob, Ruth, Daniel, the Ninevites, etc.

    4. in no way is it cool to have slavery today, so interpretations change, even though the bible doesn’t. so it would be nice if the WTO and IMF adopted a jubilee stance, but i don’t think that will ever happen.

  6. “Why can’t we admit slavery is wrong both pre and post exodus, now and then. We can fight it without god talk” (Sabio)

    I agree 100% Sabio. However, in the world of religion that is impossible to avoid (the ‘god talk’) but the same issue still needs to be addressed in that audience as well. So I make my best attempts at it.

    For me, slavery is simply wrong on the basis I wouldn’t want to be treated that way – so why would I treat someone that way. My reasoning is obviously veiled in ‘scripture speak’ but oh well, you get what you get with me.

  7. To be perfectly honest, this blog was a veiled attempt at showing how one idea in scripture can change (ie: slavery) while another is sitting on deck for change (ie: gay rights).

  8. “we can’t project our 21st century standards back onto pre-modern people” (Luke)

    I agree, to a certain degree. I think we kind of have to admit that times have changed and what was the ‘norm’ in that era we may not accept in this era (nor do we have to). I also think we need to admit that looking back, that era made some mistakes and to be freed from slavery and then keep it as part of the law was a misnomer.

    “while the bible still may support slavery, or take it for granted, it still has stories of slaves and unexpected heroes triumphing. like Jacob, Ruth, Daniel, the Ninevites, etc.” (Luke)

    This is true, heck the whole Exodus event was about freedom from slavery (thus the Moses figure and salvation from Egypt). That is the same story that inspired Christianity models (namely the Matthew gospel) and other Jesus narratives.

    “in no way is it cool to have slavery today” (Luke)

    Agreed. I take a very harsh stance on this subject – seeing the history of slavery in Britian and America – and I can never stand to support actions that make people so indebted they become property (and without basic human rights).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s