Is Slavery In the
Over the years, I have heard comments about
slavery being in the Bible. Many claim
this is why they don’t believe in God, and certainly they don’t believe the
Bible is God’s Word (that is, if He exists).
After all, how could your God approve such a horrific thing? How could He approve of this racism?
My response to such people is: While there were nineteenth century pastors
who were against the slavery of their day; and others who wrongly considered it
biblical, we have to look at what the Bible says. Did it truly approve of nineteenth century
slavery, as we think of it? The answer
is "of course not." In order
to understand the use of the word in the Bible, we must look at how it was
used. The word "slavery" was
synonymous with "servant." A
slave in the Bible was someone's "servant."
Who Became “Slaves?”
Biblically speaking, who became these
"slaves"? The “slaves” were petty
criminals (rather than murderers) who couldn't pay back their crime. Back in the Old Testament times,
and during the times of Christ (and the apostle Paul) there were lots of these
criminals---many of them were thieves
(and most of the time, fellow Jews, so, this had nothing to do with racism).
When the thieves
were arrested, they had a choice—to either pay back the amount of money or
assets they stole, or work off their crime.
Due to the fact they didn't have the money to pay the victim back, the
injured party was able to take the thief as their "slave" and to work
off their crime.
The Old Testament
said that the injured party couldn't have the thief for more than 6 years. Here's one of the many verses: "If thou
buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go
out free for nothing" (Exodus :21:2).
"Free for nothing means that the "slave" (or thief) has
paid off his debt.
Now, not all victims
wanted to have the thief living with them to pay off his debt. What these people did was sell this
"slave" for the amount of money the slave owed. In turn, the "slave" had to work
for the one who paid off his debt to the injured party.
God's would be completely
against the type of slavery that was in the United States during the nineteenth
century. Regarding nineteenth century
slavery, we have this rebuke from God: "…he
that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall
surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:16).
This is what John Newton use to do.
He would kidnap many Africans and then sell them to people in the United
States. Thankfully, God showed Newton
his sinful ways. Newton repented of his
sins, became a pastor and wrote the song, “Amazing Grace.”
We see in the Old
Testament, and the New, the criminal
"slaves" were protected. Those who had these people (again, between
1-6 years, depending upon the crime), were obligated to treat these people
well. Paul the apostle exhorted those who had the criminals in their care:
masters, treat your slaves in the same way.
Do not threaten them,
you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,
there is no favoritism with him (Ephesians 6:9).
provide your slaves with what is right and fair,
you know that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1).
While there are several Old Testament verses that show protection for the slave, here is a sample of one:
"Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but
fear your God" (Leviticus 25:43).
Last, I would like to say:
PLEASE don't credit "Christianity,"
for the nineteenth century slavery.
The credit belongs to sinful men.
© by Donna Morley 2014