Christians use the Bible as the source of their Theological beliefs. Muslims swear by the Quran . Other Religions also have their Holy books which serve as guides to their form of worship. Christianity the Religion practiced largely in the Western World is now coming under increased scrutiny as intellectuals and others not content to have blind faith are questioning certain teachings in parts of the Bible.
Exodus 21:1-4 “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.”
Deuteronomy 15:12-18 “And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine-press: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.”
Exodus 21:7 “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the men servants do.”
Regarding the beating and killing of slaves, the Book of Exodus contains laws regarding punishment for the one who kills the slave as well as injunctions to avoid injuring the eyes and teeth.
Exodus 21:20-21 “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.”
Exodus 21:26-27 “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.”
The Book of Leviticus prohibited the harsh ruling over other Israelites, but that slaves could be taken from the Gentiles.
Leviticus 25:44-46 “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”
Also, in Leviticus, a distinction is made between the hired servant and the slave.
Leviticus 25:48-53 “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.”
There are many more instances in the Bible where the Abominable Institution of Slavery is actively condoned and counselled.
Many opposed to Christianity, particularly intellectuals of African Ancestry point to these instances which they believe to be the very words which kept their fore-parents in bondage for hundreds of years.
The institution of Slavery has been around since the beginning of man’s recorded history. Man has systematically engaged in the enslavement of each other. Those enslaved were generally on the losing end of wars. Others became bondsmen as a result of debts they incur.
Some believe the New Testament did not condemn the practice either, some go further to say Jesus himself did not condemn it. Some who come from the class which owned slaves argue that the Bible gives the practice legitimacy. Those who are descendants of those who suffered and died under the cruel yoke of enslavement, points to this as exactly the why the Bible should be shunned, at least by black people.
I do not have the answers for these questions. Was the issue of slavery so deeply ingrained in human culture that the Bible actually counselled how it should be handled?
When the woman broke the precious Alabaster box of Ointment and washed his feet, Jesus chided his disciples who complained that the Ointment could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor.
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor. Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.
This was an acknowledgement by Jesus that there would always be poor with us. Are the Scriptures relating to Slavery an acknowledgment that Slavery and servitude would forever be with us?
Whether the issue is Servitude or Poverty, it is important to recognize that the fact that the Bible references both maladies is not proof they are sanctioned by God. In fact the Scriptures are explicitly clear on how God wants us to treat each other,
If we follow God’s Commandments the issues of Slavery and Poverty are moot. We may chose to ignore God and live with our choice, he gave us free-will. Let’s not point to bits of pieces of writings which we believe indict the Christian Religion,then assume we are indicting God Almighty. There is much in the Bible which we can disagree with, it does not make the existence of God a less obvious.
Unless you have a problem with a scripture which says “Thus saith the Lord“, you are merely indicting someone’s writings .