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The Bible against slavery

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I was chatting to a Christian about slavery in the Bible, and showing a bunch of verses that show God's support of the practice, when the guy tells me "No that's all just about contract work, indentured servitude and not slavery.  Slavery is stated as wrong, just look at 1 Tim 1:10"

Now I knew of the many places that supported slavery, but had always thought there was no verses against.  So I looked up 1 Tim and it reads:

"We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."

 

Now to my mind this just makes this a contradiction to the other sections which support slavery, but that one line was enough for this guy to hand waive the other verses and latch on to that as proof God is good.  I pointed out the sections about taking girls after a battle, which was obviously nothing to do with indentured servants, but he just took that in his stride as God commanding the army to look after the orphans.

I could see the numerous passages that contradicted this indoctrination bubble just flying past without being considered.  The eyes glaze and the "... but 1 Tim sez its bad, anything else is just mis-understood".

A frustrating conversation that I stopped at that point.  But it made me wonder if others have heard of this verse and why it is not widely mentioned in the slavery discussions?

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I've not heard it come up specifically. I had another forum tell me straight-faced that god completely forbade rape of captives. They really can't even read the verses without their minds slapping interpretations over them to protect the programming.

 

Hi there captive virgin! I'm Chad, I just killed your mommy and daddy, brothers and married sisters. God told me to spare your life and take you as my "wife", even though he forbids intermarrying (Deut 7; 1 Kings 11:2) with those we are purging so that we don't learn about their gods. Isn't that just awesome! Praise God for his great mercy! Well, enough chit-chat...

 

 

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     Timothy is among the disputed Pauline writings.  I doubt that would make any difference here however.  I wouldn't have listened to this when I believed (I wouldn't have listened to anything said by anyone who didn't simply accept it as fact so...).  To me it reads kind of late with a lot of later ideas tossed in.  Again, no believer will accept this.  Paul wrote it.  He did so right away (even the strange ideas for setting up the church positions and all that...which makes no sense when there's only like 10 people in your religion but whatever...he was really organized I guess).

 

     The whole thing he's preaching about here is the law.  So it's no good for the righteous.  Which would mean that xians are righteous (I'm not sure where that comes from) but it's mean for the unrighteous.  What the law is used for is to show, to reveal, unrighteous behavior.  It's a sort of litmus test when used properly.  He then lists off a bunch of folks that will fail that test.  Slave traders among them.  But does that mean slavery is abolished?  Or only people trade in slaves?

 

     The Jews had a system of slavery that differed from other cultures.  And while it was similar to indentured servitude it was still slavery.  Moreover they were generally only so kind when we're talking about Jews with Jewish slaves.  So Jews would acquire non-Jews if they wanted to get into a little more of your mainstream slavery situation.  It would be my understanding they didn't really have a "slave trade" like other cultures but that didn't stop them from "getting" slaves <wink wink> (almost how the United States used the bible to justify slavery later on by getting tribes to do their dirty work in capturing the people but, once done, well, no harm in taking those now slaves off those nasty low-lives).

 

     I would imagine this verse may well be an indictment of slavery to some degree but probably not the way we might think.  The Jewish, or biblical, way is the way it should be.  The "other" ways (however any of the Roman and surrounding cultures were engaging in it) were certainly wrong and should be judged through the lens of the law to reveal how wrong they are.  I would say this is why we're being told there is the right and wrong ways to apply the law and these examples are being listed.

 

     My guess is any believer you say this to, or anything else if what I say makes no sense, will just tell you slavery was abolished.  End of conversation.

 

          mwc

 

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Now to my mind this just makes this a contradiction to the other sections which support slavery, but that one line was enough for this guy to hand waive the other verses and latch on to that as proof God is good.  I pointed out the sections about taking girls after a battle, which was obviously nothing to do with indentured servants, but he just took that in his stride as God commanding the army to look after the orphans.

I could see the numerous passages that contradicted this indoctrination bubble just flying past without being considered.  The eyes glaze and the "... but 1 Tim sez its bad, anything else is just mis-understood".

A frustrating conversation that I stopped at that point.  But it made me wonder if others have heard of this verse and why it is not widely mentioned in the slavery discussions?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_views_on_slavery

 

Quote

It was seen as legitimate to enslave captives obtained through warfare,[17] but not through kidnapping[18][19] for the purpose of enslaving them.

 

It seems more likely that the writer of 1 Timothy was roping in the "men stealers," with laws against 'unlawfully' obtaining slaves, such as kidnapping which is stealing. That goes along with the running context of everything else listed which there were laws against. This may be the simplest explanation. And doesn't at all represent an end to the institution of slavery at all. Which is why: 

 

Quote

In the early years of Christianity, slavery was a normal feature of the economy and society in the Roman Empire, and this persisted in different forms and with regional differences well into the Middle Ages.

 

The thing is, you're right, 1 Timothy never seems to come up in slavery discussions nor formal debates with believers and atheists. This is the first time I've heard it argued in say, the last 15 years of arguing online with christian apologists about things like slavery. It probably doesn't come up because it doesn't really outline an end to the institution of slavery for christians and so apologists just don't bother trying to go there. 

 

More citation: http://www.bible-researcher.com/slavery.html

 

Quote

1 Timothy 1:10

 

Sometimes 1 Timothy 1:10 is mentioned as one verse which might indicate that the Bible considers slavery to be sinful. This misinterpretation was often put forth in abolitionist writings of the Civil-War Era. For example, in 1836 Angelina Grimke (a feminist abolitionist who was neither a scholar nor a believer in the Bible) wrote, “how can it be said Paul sanctioned slavery, when, as though to put this matter beyond all doubt, in that black catalogue of sins enumerated in his first epistle to Timothy, he mentions ‘menstealers,’ which word may be translated ‘slavedealers’?” (12) The verse lists ανδραποδισταις “menstealers” along with other ungodly and sinful persons (murderers, fornicators, sodomites, liars, etc.), and indeed this word is translated “slave traders” in the New International Versionand in the New Living Translation. The New International Reader’s Version (a revision of the NIV for children) even interprets it as, “people who buy and sell slaves.” This is in keeping with Grimke’s interpretation.

 

But this is certainly not the meaning of the word. Thayer’s Lexicon explains that the word means “one who steals the slaves of others and sells them” or “one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery.” This crime was often committed in ancient times. Penalties for it are specified in the Mosaic Law (see Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7), and it is frequently mentioned by Greek writers as the crime of ανδραποδον. In the ancient Roman code known as the Lex Fabia (third-second century B.C.) these slave-snatchers were called plagiarii, and so the word is translated thus in the Vulgate. (13)So ανδραποδισταις in 1 Timothy 1:10 does not refer to all slave traders, any more than the word πορνοις “whoremongers, fornicators” in the same verse could refer all men who have sexual relations with a woman. It refers to those who engage in an illegal activity, kidnapping of slaves, and not the legal slave-trade itself. For this reason, most Bible versions translate the word “kidnappers.”

 

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The children of slaves were generally slaves themselves, so no slave trade needed there either.  If Timothy wanted to condemn slavery, the book would have said that owning slaves was sinful, not just trading them.

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Since it came up, it's good to have the argument laid out for any future reference where it may apply. 

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On 8/21/2018 at 6:19 PM, 1989 said:

The children of slaves were generally slaves themselves, so no slave trade needed there either.  If Timothy wanted to condemn slavery, the book would have said that owning slaves was sinful, not just trading them.

WET.  The passage only mentions slave traders and says nothing about owners of slaves, or, here's a new thought, breeders of slaves.

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