Bible encouraging slavery!? :o

i’m super worried. i’m a 19 year old catholic, but i’m not sure about anything anymore. mostly because I found too many passages in the old testement telling that

  • slavery is good
  • also parts where god is saying that you should kill certain people
    and many other disturbing passages.

the old testement is really really bothering me.
can someone please explain to me why in the world our lord would tell us to own people and to kill certain people???

he goes from being an angry and violent God in the old testement to being a nice God in the new testement.

help. I would really appreciate

  • Matt

Right, this is one thing that atheists like to point out. It’s not why they don’t believe, but if they hypothetically give that the premise is true, they point out how Christians pick and choose from the bible. There are some pretty sick things in the bible in my opinion, but yet people act as if we get our moral code from it rather than rational discussion.

Here are some passages normally not picked for Sunday’s gatherings:

  1. God drowns the whole earth.
    In Genesis 7:21–23, God drowns the entire population of the earth: men, women, children, and fetuses. Only a single family survives. In Matthew 24:37–42, gentle Jesus approves of this genocide and plans to repeat it when he returns.
  2. God kills half a million people.
    In 2 Chronicles 13:15–18, God helps the men of Judah kill 500,000 of their fellow Israelites.
  3. God slaughters all Egyptian firstborn.
    In Exodus 12:29, God kills all Egyptian firstborn children and cattle because their king was stubborn.
  4. God kills 14,000 people for complaining that God keeps killing them.
    In Numbers 16:41–49, the Israelites complain that God is killing too many of them. So, God sends a plague that kills 14,000 more of them.
  5. Genocide after genocide after genocide.
    In Joshua 6:20–21, God helps the Israelites destroy Jericho, killing “men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” In Deuteronomy 2:32–35, God has the Israelites kill everyone in Heshbon, including children, and plunder the country. In Deuteronomy 3:3–7, God has the Israelites do the same to the people of Bashan. In Numbers 31:7–18, the Israelites kill all the Midianites except for the virgins, whom they take as spoils of war. In 1 Samuel 15:1–9, God tells the Israelites to kill all the Amalekites—men, women, children, infants, and their cattle—for something the Amalekites’ ancestors had done 400 years ago.
  6. God kills 50,000 people for curiosity.
    In 1 Samuel 6:19, God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the ark of the covenant.2
  7. 3,000 Israelites killed for inventing a god.
    In Exodus 32, Moses has climbed Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments. The Israelites are bored, so they invent a golden calf god. Moses comes back and God commands him: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” About 3,000 people died.
  8. Amorites destroyed by sword and God’s rocks.
    In Joshua 10:10–11, God helps the Israelites slaughter the Amorites by sword, then finishes them off with rocks from the sky.
  9. God burns two cities to death.
    In Genesis 19:24, God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. Then God kills Lot’s wife for looking back at her burning home.
  10. God has 42 children mauled by bears.
    In 2 Kings 2:23–24, some kids tease the prophet Elisha, and God sends bears to maul them.
  11. A tribe slaughtered and their virgins raped for not showing up at roll call.
    In Judges 21:1–23, a tribe of Israelites misses roll call, so the other Israelites kill them all except for the virgins, which they take for themselves. Still not happy, they hide in vineyards and pounce on dancing women from Shiloh to take them for themselves.
  12. 3,000 crushed to death.
    In Judges 16:27–30, God gives Samson strength to bring down a building to crush 3,000 members of a rival tribe.
  13. A concubine raped and dismembered.
    In Judges 19:22–29, a mob demands to rape a godly master’s guest. The master offers his daughter and a concubine to them instead. They take the concubine and gang-rape her all night. The master finds her on his doorstep in the morning, cuts her into 12 pieces, and ships the pieces around the country.
  14. Child sacrifice.
    In Judges 11:30–39, Jephthah burns his daughter alive as a sacrificial offering for God’s favor in killing the Ammonites.
  15. God helps Samson kill 30 men because he lost a bet.
    In Judges 14:11–19, Samson loses a bet for 30 sets of clothes. The spirit of God comes upon him and he kills 30 men to steal their clothes and pay off the debt.
  16. God demands you kill your wife and children for worshipping other gods.
    In Deuteronomy 13:6–10, God commands that you must kill your wife, children, brother, and friend if they worship other gods.
  17. God incinerates 51 men to make a point.
    In 2 Kings 1:9–10, Elijah gets God to burn 51 men with fire from heaven to prove he is God.
  18. God kills a man for not impregnating his brother’s wife.
    In Genesis 38:9–10, God kills a man for refusing to impregnate his brother’s wife.
  19. God threatens forced cannibalism.
    In Leviticus 26:27–29 and Jeremiah 19:9, God threatens to punish the Israelites by making them eat their own children.
  20. The coming slaughter.
    According to Revelation 9:7–19, God’s got more evil coming. God will make horse-like locusts with human heads and scorpion tails, who torture people for 5 months. Then some angels will kill a third of the earth’s population. If he came today, that would be 2 billion people.

Hey there Matt! Could you please point out these verses which seem to state that slavery is good? Also, please also point out the passages you are speaking of where God says to kill other people. Thanks!

Also, these links might help you:

Was God unfair to the Midianites?

Was God unfair to the Canaanites?

Was God unfair to the Amalekites?

Did Jephthah really kill his daughter?

The Church and Slavery Through the Ages

Ethical Aspect of Slavery

Slavery and Christianity

Slavery - Catholic Education Resource Center

Slavery and the Catholic Church

Let My People Go: The Catholic Church and Slavery

The Popes and Slavery: Setting the Record Straight

Hope this helps!

Right honestq, godless secularism is the answer… oh wait a minute…

Matt, these issues have been covered. Search google, the forums, doesn’t even need to be a catholic website, you’ll get the answer. Here are two good starting points, which people like honestq will be well rebuked from, Slavery / Killing.


Breaking News: atheism = communism ?!?

In response to the link you gave him about god killing children, this is one of the rebuttals listed on the website you endorsed:
"So, in having babies killed, God is actually doing them a favor, since, if they had grown up opposed to God, they would have gone to hell. "


Atheism may not equal communism but communism definitely is an Atheistic political ideology that has killed millions, if not billions, of people. That said, here is the Catechism on Atheism:

The Catechism also covers Agnosticism:

[quote=Catechism of the Catholic Church]**Agnosticism
2127 Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God’s existence, declaring it impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.

2128 Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical atheism.


As shown on this page it says…

Contrary to what many non-believers think, the Bible does not teach blind faith. In fact, the Bible actually tells believers to test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Typical cherry-picking verse. Here is what was left out:

Deuteronomy 6:16
“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Matthew 4:7
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’

There is no dogma to atheism. There is no relation to not believing in god and political ideologies. I will certainly denounce anyone no matter who they are if they commit acts like that, but you are implying causation.

If it is truly the case that there is no relation to not believing in God (Please use capitalization when spelling the word “God”. Not only is it proper grammar but it is not respectful to spell it with a lower case g.) then why is Communism always Atheistic???

First, understand that atheism itself isn’t a principle, cause, philosophy, or belief system which people fight, die, or kill for; it is just one position on one subject. That subject being the existence of god. Atheists can be pro-life, pro-choice, pro gay rights, anti-gay rights, liberal, conservative, etc. Atheism is NOT an ideology. There is no one set of rules that all atheists believe is correct.

Many things that were done by dictators in the name of communism were and are thoroughly reprehensible. To call them evil is acceptable usage as long as the word evil is used as an adjective, there is no such thing as evil as a noun. The noun form of evil belongs only in myth and other fiction.

Being killed by an atheist is no more being killed in the name of atheism than being killed by a tall person is being killed in the name of tallness. So I’m not really sure how to exactly answer your question. It’s not as if we’re a group and I can answer on behalf of others. I speak for myself. :wink:

Okay, I agree with you that being killed by an Atheist is not the same as being killed in the name of Atheism. However, Communists frequently killed Christians merely because they were Christians. That I would say would be killing in the name of Atheism.

I think these two answers from Fr. Vincent Serpa will clean the bad thoughts out of your mind.

Hq, you’re using two different definitions of the word test, not explaining them, pulling verses out of context, and calling that a contradiction… It’s very disingenuous and it’s the number one way that those with weak catechesis are pulled from their faith. You should be ashamed of your poorly executed rhetoric.

1 Thessalonians 5:21 is embedded in a “final exhortations” section of a letter. In this section, Saint Paul is giving the local church some admonitions, which include constant praying and thanksgiving. The passage about “testing everything” is in regard to prophecy. He says that they shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, but should test it, keeping what is good and getting rid of what is evil. What does testing mean in this sense? Seeing how any given prophecy matches up with the rest of the deposit of faith.

Deuteronomy 6:16 is speaking about a specific incident in chapter 17 of Exodus, giving that as an example of “testing God”. The Israelites were complaining that there was no water to drink and were getting ready to kill Moses for it. They were claiming (yet again) that it would have been better to be slaves in Egypt than to follow God into the desert “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?.

I would hope you’d know the difference between a father saying to his son “don’t test me” and a chemist saying to her assistant “test this sample for quality”.

firstly:God in the old is quite different in his attitudes toward his people than the God in the new .God in the old wanted man to come to salvation through His chosen people.He wanted to make His chosen people understand there is a God and you must trust in Him.Mankind is corrupt due to his own sins.If God destroyed another people it was of little concern because all mankind has turned against God and are worthy of death.God has not changed.He loved His chosen people just like God loves us today.God is angry today just as He was angry then.God showed His anger when He drove the money changers from the temple.One point is that God"s plan for salvation wasnt working like it should.No matter what He did the Jews couldnt and wouldnt keep His laws.Knowing this in His providence sent a redeemer.Now you could be saved even if you broke His lawsThrough Christ’s sacrifice on the cross Christ merited for us eternal life .Now man must accept Christ"s sacrifice and become anew people.We take on Christ’s nature to be saved.

So noone looked at my astonishingly helpful links?


No, that would be “killing in the name of the belief that religious people should be killed.”

Atheism isn’t “the belief that religious people should be killed/persecuted.” It’s the lack of belief in gods.

Now, a person could be an atheist and also hold the belief that religious people should be killed/persecuted, but if he went around killing/persecuting religious folks, it would be the latter belief that was motivating his action. That he is also an atheist (i.e. that he doesn’t believe in god) is incidental.

To make what I’m saying clearer, it’s possible that someone could be a theist and also hold the belief that certain religious groups should be killed persecuted. If he went around acting on this belief, it would be that particular belief that was motivating his action, not the mere fact that he believes in a god (his theism).

It bothers most people. There are, as you note, numerous passages where the laws supposedly given by the Lord support slavery (there are, as you know, rules for owning other human beings as property, rules for beating your slaves, rules for passing along your slaves to your descendents as property) and other passages where the Lord supposedly commands atrocious things, including the murder of every man and the abduction of every unmarried women. It doesn’t explicitly say what should be done with those unmarried women, but…well, you don’t need much imagination.

There are a lot of lame apologies that are made for these passages. In some cases, people try to argue that slavery in Biblical times was a “different kind of slavery” that was a nicer, gentler form of slavery; they also try to argue that the people whom god ordered exterminated were “askin’ for it,” as they say.

What a load of baloney slices (which, as I abbreviate it, means B.S.). In the first place, Biblical slavery was emphatically not a nicer kind of slavery – there are rules for beating slaves, for crying out loud! Sure, some slavery was just a kind of indentured servitude (though there are even rules for tricking indentured servants into becoming slaves for life), but they also practiced the kind of slavery we all know and detest, apparently sanctioned by their god.

But all of that aside, even if Biblical slavery was the nicest form of slavery ever – even if the slaves were treated like prized property and kept very happy – it’s still the practice of owning another human being like property, which rightly outrages our modern sensibilities. If there really were a god – if there really were a supreme, eternal moral code of what’s good and bad – wouldn’t one of his commandments be “Thou shalt not own another human being as property”?

Why is it that the Old Testament advocates the owning of slaves, while the New Testament has nothing to say about slavery, aside from the infamous, “Servants, obey your masters” passage? What, did god think that slavery was not important to mention? In the nineteenth century, when Southern plantation owners were using the Bible as justification to own slaves, wouldn’t it have been helpful to have passages that explicitly denounced slavery, instead of doing just the opposite?

Then, of course, there are those apologists who will tell you that the Old Testament is just a bunch of symbolism, not to be taken literally, that was meant to demonstrate the changing nature of god’s relationship to humanity. There are those baloney slices again…obviously, the ancient tribal people who produced and revered this text used these stories as their tribal mythology. They weren’t trying to “symbolize” anything. They lived in a brutal world, and they imagined that their god was one who was fickle, that they fell in and out of his favor, and that he could be cruel. It makes sense that ancients peoples like this would attribute to their god the “commands” for some of the brutal things they did as part of ancient life. So no, it wasn’t “symbolism,” at least not to them.

But more to the point, as soon as you admit that some parts of the Bible are symbolic, the whole thing starts to become a farse. How do you go about deciding symbolic from literal, then? If you’re justified in claiming that an entire portion of the Bible is a symbol, then why can’t you just say the whole thing is a symbol? Maybe the Jesus story is nothing more than a symbolic legend that teaches you how to live a life of self-sacrifice and acceptance. Further, if the Old Testament is symbolic, then why do some people insist on following its laws, such as the prohibitions against homosexuality (which is found nowhere in the New Testament)?

The whole thing really makes no sense whatsoever. There are really two options: either there is an all-powerful god who used to think slavery and genocide were ok and then changed his mind, or there’s no god and the whole story was made up by fallible humans whose socially-constructed systems of morality develop over time.

Guess which option my money’s on.

Have you ever considered taking a class in Christian apologetics? It would be a real shame to see you lose your money.

No. All of the “apologetics” addressing this question I’ve ever read consist of basically the same thing: the assumption that the Bible is True (capital T, of course) and the assumption that the purpose of interpretation is to somehow work to make the problematic passages “fit” into a satisfying interpretation that makes them somewhat less troubling.

This is not a sensible way to interpret a text. One must at least entertain the possibility that the text is saying something you don’t like or contains objectionable material or contradicts itself in several places or is flat-out false.

And at any rate, if the text is so convoluted that one requires a course to make sense out of it, then the text is clearly not succeeding in the goal of simply and easily transmitting a message for mankind. Why on earth would it not do this, if this is its supposed purpose?

Here is an accessible book on the tough passages in the OT, that explains them and puts them in context. If you want you can PM me.

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