Saturday, June 25, 2011

Consulting the Bible - Part 1: Slavery

What is your favorite book?

Apparently, there is an unspoken rule in Christianity that one must answer this question with 'The Bible' before the words even finish reaching their ears. Just look at facebook. Every religious person I know has 'The Bible' listed in their favorite books section, yet I can guarantee that 99% of them have not actually read the Bible from cover-to-cover.

I can't even imagine the thought process. "Well, I've always wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird and everyone else likes it... so... I'm SURE it's my favorite book."

What I can't comprehend is how a person can call themselves a Christian when they haven't read the actual Christian text. Learning a few of the verses doesn't count, nor does reading a few psalms. If I'm going to believe in something, you can rest assured that I fully understand what I'm buying into before I go out proselytizing. I expect you to do the same thing.

Also, you don't get to pick and choose which parts / verses of The Bible you accept. If you're a Christian, I'm going to assume 1. you've actually read the Bible, 2. you comprehended the Bible, and 3. you accepted the Bible as you're religious text and live you're life based on that moral code.

You know, the moral code that embraces human sacrifice, rape, slavery, genocide, and infanticide.

Part 1 - Slavery

Even though it didn't make the Ten Commandments, one would expect The Bible to be pretty clear about slavery. It's bad. People who enslave others should be punished, right? The Bible is your moral compass, right - so, let's take a look to see what the verses say about the issue.

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. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

That's right, The Bible clearly indicates that slavery is okay and you can treat your slaves as property.

Have you ever wondered how hard you could beat your slaves? Well, there is no need to wonder, just consult your Bible:

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

What about sleeping with your female slaves? Yes, The Bible also provides guidance on this issue:

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. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Maybe Jesus himself can clear up this issue, because there is no way the Bible could actually condone slavery, right? Wrong!!! Jesus said:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn't know they were doing anything wrong.

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." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

The Bible is a scary place, and before you start telling people it's your favorite book, you should probably ensure you know exactly what that means. Educate yourself. Don't listen to your preacher or your friends or your minister or even to me. Open the book and read it. You may be surprised at the God you fall to your knees to worship...

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