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"What About Slavery In The Bible?"  

 
  

The question really is, "Why doesn't the Bible speak out more strongly against slavery?" Moreover, the Bible appears to not only condemn it, but to support it. Why didn't God come out in no uncertain terms and say, "Thou shalt not commit any form of slavery, it is an abomination." Especially if God, who knows the future, knew that many years later His Word would be used to validate the very cruel and inhumane institution that was slavery in America.  

 
 
When the Bible mentions slavery, what does it mean? Most of us probably have some sort of image of Kunta Kinte from the movie Roots. That is an inaccurate portrayal of slavery in biblical times. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in recent history especially in the early 19th century. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. The term was used in a much broader sense back then. A king would refer to his subjects as slaves. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. Some people actually chose to be slaves (indentured servitude) so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters. Many slaves volunteered themselves into servitude (slavery) as a way to earn a living or a trade. Back then societies didn't have the sophisticated form of education or financial practices that we have today, like filing for bankruptcy etc. If you didn't have a viable way to earn a living, or you were in debt, you sold yourself out to another so that you could survive.  
 
Slaves were valued and seen as more than mere property, many times they were seen as members of the household. Many slaves even owned land and property, something that was illegal in the modern version of slavery. Additionally, many slaves in the ancient world, especially those held by the Jews, were able to earn their freedom after a period of time. Although, many people became bond-slaves (pledged to remain in his master's household for life) because their situation was better as a slave than as a free person. We sometimes assume a modern frame of reference when we talk about these things, but one must remember that life was extremely hard during these times, and to be free meant you had no guarantees that you would have enough food to eat or even a decent house to shelter your family. 
 
God provides a realistic approach to the issues of the times. Slavery is definitely not the optimal form of relationship for individuals, but for most of the world's history it is a reality. Therefore, the Bible addresses slavery and provides certain safeguards to make sure that slave are not mistreated and that their humanity will be respected. Scripture gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15; Ephesians 6; Colossians 4), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. In which, many people erroneously see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. 
 
Both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of "man-stealing" which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: "Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death" (Exodus 21).  
 
Let's remember that just because God regulates a practice that does not necessarily mean He approves of it. Consider the issue of divorce. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And [Jesus] answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh' What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way." The Pharisees come with a legal question about which regulations ought to govern divorce, and Jesus responds in a very unexpected way, saying there shouldn't be any divorce. The Pharisees are immediately confused. "But how could it be that there shouldn't be any divorce if God regulated it? As with divorce, the same was true for slavery. The rules regulating slavery were added "because the hardness of the hearts". Humanity had created a situation where slavery existed and served certain functions in their societies, "but it was not that way from the beginning." In the beginning, that wasn't God's intent. Once sin enters the world in Genesis chapter 3, everything changed, and the ideal world in which to live was no longer. God, in His kindness decided to regulate the practice, because of the evil that is in man's heart. God made rules to keep the evil of the practice to a minimum. Could God have prevented slavery from ever existing? Yes, of course, just as He could have prevented all suffering, yet He didn't. But just as Joseph said of his own suffering as a slave, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good," even slavery can be used by God to accomplish a much greater good.  
 
Lastly, the message of the Bible isn't to reform society. The Bible isn't this big book of rules. Yes, it has rules, but the focus isn't to make people behave properly, it is to point the way of salvation through the savior God has been so kind to provide. When an individual receives freedom from the bondage of sin, and is no longer a slave of sin, their heart becomes changed. God is in the business of reforming, not society, but souls. It is then that people will come to understand that taking advantage of, and abusing another who is made "imago Dei", in the "image of God." God's plan is better than imposing a ton of laws that prohibit slavery which would only serve as to harden people's hearts. No, God works from the inside out. His focus is always on the heart! A person who has truly experienced God's grace will in turn be gracious towards others. That would be the Bible's prescription for ending slavery. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman." Galatians 3:28
 

 

 

   


Questions

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Does God Exist?

What Is The Bible?

Is The Bible True?

Who Is Jesus?

Is Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible?

Is Jesus God?

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What About Reincarnation?

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What Is The Truth About Hell?

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Want To Find A Good Church?

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What is the TULIP, and is it Biblical?

What are the Five Solas, and are they Biblical?

 

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"What About Those Who Never Hear About Jesus?"

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"I Can't Believe In Miracles"

"Unanswered Prayer Shows God Doesn't Exist"

"What's With All The Different Denominations?"

"Jesus Was Just a Copycat of Pagan Myths"

"What About The Crusades?"

"What About Slavery In The Bible?"

"What About Evolution?"

"What About Homosexuality?"

"Jesus Didn't Say Anything About Homosexuality"

"What About Abortion?"

 

Other Stuff

   Other Beliefs

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What I Believe

Theological Terms and Definitions

Belief Comparison Chart

An Eschatological Overview (End Times)

Good Quotes

Paul Washer Quotes

20 Logical Fallacies

17 Questions Every Christian Should Think About

My Prayer - I Have A Problem...

More Than A Holiday

Honest Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses

Honest Questions For Mormons

Questions For Skeptics

10 Reasons To Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa

A View From The Life Boat

A Collection of Helpful Bible Passages

A Story About A Boy Named Mikey

Thoughts On The Doctrine Of Definite Atonement

Questions To Ask A Child Before Their Baptism

A Critique Of An Origin-Of-Life Article

No Hope In The Pope

Terrorism - What You Can Do About It

The Impact Of A Blind Elderly Woman

Evidence For The Resurrection - W.O.M.E.N.

 

Apologetics / Evangelism

What Is Apologetics?

Why Should We Do Apologetics?

What Is Presuppositional Apologetics? 

What Do You KNOW? 

What Is Evangelism? 

Why Should We Evangelize? 

Are Christian Doing A Good Job Of Evangelizing? 

7 Reasons People Don't Share Their Faith

The Question Of Evangelism - Words Or Works? 

Is The World In Which We Live In Today Tolerant? 

Preaching What We Practice and Talking The Walk

Man vs. God Centered Evangelism

 

Around the Web

44 Reasons Why Evolution is Just a Fairy Tale

The Scientific Case Against Evolution

Evolution: The Anti-Science

A Letter From An Atheist

Are You A Good Person?

Is This Your Life?

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?

What's Wrong With The Sinner's Prayer?

An Important Aspect of Baptism

Must We Believe Jesus Is God?

Turn or Burn

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10 Principles For New Christians

10 Pitfalls Of The Foolish Apologist

Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

The Secret About How Some Christians Witness

Preaching God's Love In Acts?

The Gospel In Every Book Of The Bible

7 Key Differences Bewteen Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

A Different Perspective On Halloween

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

The Question After A Tragedy - WHY?

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoughts About Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner

A Pastor's Response To The Marriage Debate

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

Should a Woman Be a Pastor or Elder?

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands?

The Shack - Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Universalism - A Problem for Everyone

5 Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 More Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 Truths We're Keeping From Our Youth Groups

Charlottesville, Racism and God's Word

8 Signs Your Christianity is Too Comfortable

Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian?

Is God Calling Me to Be a Pastor?

 

Audio / Video

    Original Sermon Jams

     Born Again - Paul Washer

     Does Jesus Know You? - Paul Washer

     We Got An A! - Paul Washer

     A Boy On The Street - R.C. Sproul

     Fearless - R.C. Sproul

     Hypocrites - R.C. Sproul

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     Authorized Personnel Only - Tony Evans

     Drive-thru - Tony Evans

     One Flesh - Tony Evans

     Sex - Tony Evans

     The Satisfier - Tony Evans

     Who to Serve? - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     The Voice of Truth - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Transformed - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Where is the Love? - Pastor Ben Maxie

     He Claimed to be God - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Love is a Behavior - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Examine It for Yourself - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Perfect Love - Pastor Ben Maxie

     We Need Preachers - Mike Bongo

     The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism - Mike Bongo 

     I'm Ready - Mike Bongo

     Our Day in Court - Mike Bongo

     Examine Yourself - Mike Bongo

     Exclusivity - Mike Bongo

     Our World - Mike Bongo

     The Great Exchange - Mike Bongo 

     True God - Mike Bongo

    The One Minute Apologist

     Intolerance - Greg Koukl

     Legislating Morality - Frank Turek

     Intelligent Design and Creation - Bill Dembski

     Tolerance is Unbiblical - Josh McDowell

     Homosexual Forgiveness - Michael Brown

     What Must I Do To Be Saved? - Hank Hannegraaff

     Is Jesus A Copycat Savior? - J. Warner Wallace

     The Resurrection - Gary Habernas

     Contradictions In The Bible - Mike Licona

     Is It About Winning Arguments? - Mary Jo Sharp

     Does Christianity Oppress Women? - Dianna Newman

     Is Evil An Argument For God? - Brett Kunkle

   WWUTT (When We Understand The Text)

     Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?

     Thou Shalt Not Judge?

     God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

     Do We Have To Prove That God Exists?

     Preach The Gospel, If Necessary Use Words?

     You Don't Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian?

     I Stand At The Door And Knock?

     God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?

     Spare The Rod, Spoil the Child?

     The Bible Says Slavery is Okay?

     Are Catholics Saved?

     God Foreknew Who Would Be Saved?

     Does The Bible Say Homosexuality is A Sin?

     Alter Calls And The Sinner's Prayer?

     Worse Than An Unbeliever?

    Kids Section

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     David Platt On Sharing the Gospel With Children

     For The Children: Are You Saved? - Paul Washer

     2 Amazing 11 Year Old Boys

   Other Audio / Video

     Rescue The Perishing

     Emeal Zwayne's Dialogue With A Homosexual

     The Big Questions of Life - Voddie Baucham

   Explore God

     Is There A God?

     Can We Know God Personally?

     Why Does God Allow Pain And Suffering?

     Is Jesus Really God?

     Are Christians Judgmental?

   The Bible Project

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 1 of 2 

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 2 of 2 

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Leviticus Overview

     The Book of Numbers Overview

     The Book of Deuteronomy Overview

     The Book of Joshua Overview

     The Book of Judges Overview

     The Book of Ruth Overview

     The Book of 1 Samuel Overview

     The Book of 2 Samuel Overview

     The Books of 1 and 2 Kings Overview

     The Book of Job Overview

     The Book of Psalms Overview

     The Book of Proverbs Overview

     The Book of Song of Songs Overview

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Hosea Overview

     The Book of Joel Overview

     The Book of Amos Overview

     The Book of Obadiah Overview

     The Book of Jonah Overview

     The Book of Micah Overview

     The Book of Nahum Overview

     The Book of Habakkuk Overview

     The Book of Zephaniah Overview 

Street Conversations

Street Conversations Disclaimer

Street Conversations - George & Paul

Street Conversations - Don

Street Conversations - VeeJay

Street Conversations - Joe

Street Conversations - Ralph 

Street Conversations - Charles

Street Conversations - Ed

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Street Conversations - Earl & Evadel 

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Street Conversations - Raheem

Street Conversations - Raheem part 2

Street Conversations - My Mom

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Street Conversations - Hippy part 2

Street Conversations - Butch

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Street Conversations - Will & James

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Street Conversations - Jacob

Street Conversations - Nolan

Street Conversations - Fred and Frank

Street Conversations - Phillip

 

Me      

My Baptism

Parable Of The Talents  

Survey Says  

A Hard Lesson  

Talking About Jesus  

The Perfect Gift  

A Faith Worth Thinking About  

Stand Strong  

Peace At Christmas  

Resolutions From Revelation  

Takin' The Gospel To The Streets  

Responding Rightly To The Gospel Of Grace  

A Defense That Honors God And His Word  

Encouragement In Corinth  

The Dash

Surrendering To Win

The Gospel

The Laborers Are Few; Therefore...

Love Has No Labels - A Response

Faith That Works

Atheists: They Don't Exist

YOU Must Be NEW

Making a Difference - Outreach and Evangelism  

Luke - A Careful Investigation to be Sure  

Be Kind! Yeah, But Why?

A Close Encounter of the Divine Kind

The Formula For Forgiveness

The Parable of the Soils 

 

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