Monday, July 26, 2010

The Bible and Slavery

Way back when I myself was a Christian I would have told you that the Bible contained glimpses of the divine. Others take it further still believing the entire Bible contains the edicts, precepts, commands and moral code that God himself ordained for us. Many believe that these aren't just God's rules for man but they are inherently, or objectively moral. Things like the ten commandments and love thy neighbor, they might say, are part of God's righteous character.

But the more I studied the Bible the more I came to realize that God's moral code seemed more like the primitive morals of a bronze age group of human beings. The Old Testament is rife with violence, bloodshed and depicts God as all but merciless. Many are punished simply for one sin, other times God punishes the innocent for the sins of the wicked (as we saw in Egypt with the first born, also see the David and Bathsheba story)

Now onto the meat of this post. The Bible is meant to have that divine moral code we talked about. One might think that if its morals are divinely inspired, something like slavery would be against the law. Slavery is something that God is said to have saved the Israelites from, he brought them out of Egypt.

The ten commandments, however, show that Yahweh is showing preferential treatment to the Israelites. In the opening of the ten (Exodus 20) God says that he led them out of the land of slavery. But the Thou Shalt not Covet they neighbors goods commandment mentions maidservants and manservants as if they are property to be owned.

Exodus 20:17

" "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." "

The God of the Bible is once again LESS moral than human beings. While it did take us human beings until the 1860s (later in some countries) to finally outlaw slavery and come to terms with the moral repugnance of taking people as property Yahweh, the God of the Bible, seems okay with slavery and never recants that. Even in the New Testament slaves are instructed, by the Apostle Paul, to obey their masters. (Colossians 3:22).

In fact not long after setting the Hebrews free God sets up some ground rules for taking Hebrew slaves. So out of one enslavement and into another eh? Yahweh is lenient here though, he only allows them to take Hebrew slaves as indentured servants for six years before they are allowed to go free. Exodus 21 verses 7-11 are even more disturbing:

" 7 "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, [b] he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money. "

Apparently a Hebrew man get's to go free, but God, almighty, merciful, wonderful, loving God, says that women don't get to go free after six years. Exodus 21:20-21 gives directions on how hard you can beat your slaves. According to the Bible you can beat your slave until near-death, if he dies however the slave-owner must be punished, but if the slave manages to get up again in a few days he won't be punished. Seriously you can read this stuff for yourself people.

The book of Leviticus is where the rules for taking foreign slaves are laid down, the book even says you can purchase children as slaves. So not only does Yahweh, the merciful God of the Bible, condone and indulge in murdering kids on numerous occasions he also condones purchasing them as slaves. Slaves that can then be beaten within an inch of their lives - as long as they get up in a day or two, before the vultures get to them.


The God of the Bible condones slavery, even lays down the rules for it. The best part is that Christians cannot escape this with the Get Out of the Old Testament Free card because the Apostle Paul mentions that slaves should obey their masters. Perhaps the Christians should also have a Get out of the Epistles Free Card.

Of all the scriptures in the Bible that make mention of slavery the most repugnant and glaringly evil one that I have come across takes place in the book of Numbers in the 31st Chapter. The Chapter begins with God, once again, commanding the Israelites go out and commit genocide. They are to lay waste to the Midianites to quote "carry out the Lord's vengeance". So God openly admits the blood of the Midianites is on his hands because he wants revenge. After the Israelites have thoroughly routed the Midianites they return to Moses with the spoils of war, including women and children they have taken prisoner.

In the 15th verse of Chapter 31 Moses condemns their action and in the 17th verse tells them to:

"17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

Now I am aware that Moses is not Yahweh himself but Moses was God's chosen prophet who led them out of Egypt. Should he not be aware that taking virgin slaves is not a good idea? Some apologists will say that these virgin girls were not going to be taken and repeatedly raped for the rest of their lives by their "owners" but I think its fairly obvious that they are especially when you read the portions of Exodus where they talk of purchasing a slave girl for your son. Even if it isn't Yahweh's direct command it is still another example of how the Bible fails to be morally sound on even a human level, let alone a divine level.

So what did we learn today? We learned that the Bible and its God Yahweh condone slavery and think that when you commit genocide you should kill the boys and the sluts and keep the virgins for yourself.

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