Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 1 decade ago

Approval of slavery in the bible?

I want to know what christians think of this?

Please don't say it's only found in the old testament because jesus approved of it.

5 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    I really think that people who raise this objection are missing the point. If you'll permit me, I'll set the stage by talking about slavery, ancient and modern, because in our culture the issue is understandably charged with overtones that it didn't have in the ancient world. In his book "Race and Culture," African-American scholar Thomas Sowell points out that every major world culture until modern period, without exception, has had slavery.

    While it could be be tied to military conquest, usually slavery served an economic function. They didn't have bankruptcy laws, so if you got yourself into terrible hock, you sold yourself and/or your family into slavery. As it was discharging a debt, slavery was also providing work. It wasn't necessarily all bad; at least it was an option for survival.

    Please understand me: I'm not trying to romanticize slavery in any way. However, in Roman times there were menial laborers who were slaves, and there were also others who were the equivalent of distinguished Ph.D.'s who were teaching families. And there was no association of a particular race with slavery. In American slavery, though, all blacks and only blacks were slaves.

    That was one of the peculiar horrors of it, and it generated an unfair sense of black inferiority that many of us continue to fight to this day. Now let's look at the Bible. In Jewish society, under the Law everyone was to be freed every Jubilee. In other words, there was a slavery ban every seventh year. Whether or not things actually worked out that way, this was nevertheless what God said, and this was the framework in which Jesus was brought up.

    But you have to keep your eye on Jesus' mission. Essentially, he did not come to overturn the Roman economic system, which included slavery. He came to free men and women from their sins. And here's my point: What his message does is transform people so they begin to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. Naturally, that has an impact on the idea of slavery.

    Look at what the apostle Paul says in his letter to Philemon concerning a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul doesn't say to overthrow slavery, because all that would do would be to get him executed. Instead he tells Philemon he'd better treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ, just as he would treat Paul himself. And then, to make matters perfectly clear, Paul emphasizes, "Remember, you owe your whole life to me because of the gospel."

    The overthrowing of slavery, then, is through the transformation of men and women by the gospel rather than through merely changing an economic system and impose a new order. The whole communist dream was to have a revolutionary man followed by the new man. Trouble is, they never found new man.

    They got rid of the oppressors of the peasants, but that didn't mean the peasants were suddenly free. They were just under a new regime of darkness. In the final analysis, if you want lasting change, you've got to transform the hearts of human beings. And that was Jesus' mission.

    It's also worth asking the question: How did slavery stop? The driving impetus for the abolition of slavery was the evangelical awakening in England. Christians rammed abolition through Parliament in the beginning of the nineteenth century and then eventually used British gunboats to stop the slave trade across the Atlantic.

    While there were about eleven million African who were shipped to America, and many didn't make it, there were about thirteen million Africans Africans shipped become slaves in the Arab world. Again it was the British, prompted by people whose hearts had been changed by Christ, who sent their gunboats to the Persian Gulf to oppose this.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    1) Please don't say it's only found in the old testament because jesus approved of it.

    This is incorrect. Indeed, nowhere in the bible is slavery *approved*. It is *condoned* throughout the bible (meaning that it was permitted without criticism) - within certain fairly strict restrictions.

    The only "slavery" actually approved in the bible is slavery in the service of God - not in the service of man.


  • 1 decade ago

    The Bible does not condemn slavery. Colossians 3:22 even states, "Slaves, obey your human masters in everything."

    This was much debated before and during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), four hundred years after the Catholic Church became one of the first groups to condemn slavery.

    The condemnation of slavery is one of those nonbiblical doctrines that Catholics have developed through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over the centuries.

    + In 1462, Pius II declared slavery to be "a great crime" (magnum scelus). Note that this was 30 years before Columbus "discovered" America.

    + In 1537, Paul III forbade the enslavement of the Indians

    + Urban VIII forbade it in 1639

    + Benedict XIV forbade it in 1741

    + Pius VII demanded of the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, the suppression of the slave trade

    + Gregory XVI condemned it in 1839

    + In the Bull of Canonization of the Jesuit Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pius IX branded the "supreme villainy" (summum nefas) of the slave traders.

    + Leo XIII, in 1888, addressed a letter to the Brazilian bishops, exhorting them to banish from their country the remnants of slavery -- a letter to which the bishops responded with their most energetic efforts, and some generous slave-owners by freeing their slaves in a body, as in the first ages of the Church.

    With love in Christ.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Volume 3, Book 46, Number 726:

    Narrated 'Abdullah:

    The Prophet said, "If a slave serves his Saiyid (i.e. master) sincerely and worships his Lord (Allah) perfectly, he will get a double reward."

    Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Book 57: Companions of the Prophet

    Volume 5, Book 57, Number 12:

    Narrated 'Ammar:

    I saw Allah's Apostle and there was none with him but five slaves, two women and Abu Bakr (i.e. those were the only converts to Islam then).

    Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Book 62: Wedlock, Marriage (Nikaah)

    Volume 7, Book 62, Number 132:

    Narrated 'Abdullah bin Zam'a:

    The Prophet said, "None of you should flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day."


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