Moabite Ban and Slaves

How do we go about explaining these two topics and others that seem so contradictory through the Bible.

I understand this much - the OT is a book of gradual revelation - the argument for/against purity is made throughout the OT, but is made manifest in Christ that ultimately this doesn’t matter.

The New is hidden in the Old and the Old is made Manifest in the new - as what Dei Verbum States.

Books like Ruth shine light on the truth of the Gospel, but much of what happens in the OT has a grand historical context, and is often transitory.

But - this doesn’t make much sense to those outside the Christian Faith. They just see contradictions.

First of all, I don’t think the Bible really comments on whether slavery is right or wrong, it just simply acknowledges it as a common practice at the time. Remember, in America the morality of slavery wasn’t even really debated until the 1800’s, and both people for and against slavery cherry-picked their arguments from different parts of the Bible (which is why a magesterium is needed, but that’s beside the point). Today, we find even the idea of slavery to be reprehensible. Regardless, it seems as if, at least as far as Israelite men are concerned, that the “slavery” mentioned was intended to be more of an indentured servitude, in which the person was freed from “slavery” on the sabbath year, unless the servant requested, when it was time to be freed, to be made a slave for life. Women and captives, of course, were made slaves for life.

As for the Moabite ban… well, for the most part, it seems to me that it had to do more with the Moabite religion than anything. The Moabite religion included child sacrifice to Molech and ritual prostitution (mentioned when the Israelites were involved with Baal of Peor), both things that were abhorent to both early Israelite religion and later Judaism. As Ruth showed, it was possible (however rare it might be) for an Israelite to marry a Moabite, but only if the Moabite completely renounced all attachments to the Moabite religion and wholeheartedly sought out the Lord. The Israelites were generally discouraged from marrying outside of the Israelite people, primarily due to religious differences (seriously, it’d be hard for a monotheist and a polytheist to understand each other, anyway) - but were practically banned from marrying people from lands that practiced extreme abhorrences in their religious practices.

Just so you know, Paul himself recommended that widows who wished to remarry should marry Christian men. The understanding was that, okay, often first marriages were arranged, and the spouses (especially the women) had little or no say in who they would marry. But widows could choose their spouses, and if they were to choose, it would be better if they married Christian men.

Important to keep in mind, slavery is not some ancient thing that only happened in days past, it is alive and well right now in 2015, all over the world, including the US, in fact, there is likely more slavery here than other places right now.

Speaking as a non-Christian, the problem is not so much the Bible itself, as the exaggerated claims made about the Bible. As you point out, it obviously contains some dubious morality and some contradictions. When ISIS apply strict Biblical morality to homosexuals (Leviticus 20:27) Christians criticise them rather than congratulate them for their adherence to Biblical morality.

The problem is not so much the Bible, which is of its times, but with impossible and exaggerated claims made about it.



I don’t agree at all that the OT is a book of gradual revelation. Please explain to me why Torah sacrifices are being offered in the Messianic kingdom (Ezek. 40-48).

As far as slavery is concerned, there is no question that God commanded what we moderns would refer to as slavery in the Old Testament:

“44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45 Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have [aa]produced in your land; they also may become your possession. 46 You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your [ab]countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.” Lev. 25:44-46 (NASB)

“10 “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall [f]offer it terms of peace. 11 If it [g]agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you.” Deut. 20:10-11 (NASB)

We could question why he commanded the slavery of certain peoples (all outside of the land of Israel). We could also question why he commanded the total extermination of certain societies outside of the Israelites. I think at least part of the answer is obvious: God thinks that these civilizations are reprehensibly evil. As such, he can exterminate them when he sees fit and he can also command their forced labor.

The commands to execute homosexuals were for the Israelite kingdom only, which was a kingdom ruled over by God himself. In that case, God himself was executing homosexuals through human agency. In the New Testament, God no longer uses human agency, and (except in the case of the two witnesses) executes individuals himself. As a matter of fact, you could actually argue that even the two witnesses aren’t even really “human agency,” but rather that God is just basically possessing them (which is essentially what obtaining the Holy Spirit is).

If what you’re saying is true then Jesus Christ is not who he said he was. And if there is anything evil in the Bible (this includes slavery, exterminations, etc.), then the integrity of Jesus Christ is irredeemably soiled.

I see this a lot, and I have a big problem with it. Some parts of the OT law are ignored while other parts are still considered valid. Different Christians have different lists of the valid and invalid OT laws. Nowhere is there a definitive list in the Bible. Different Christians have their own variant, human made, lists.

For example, there is a man in California trying to reinstitute the death penalty for sodomy. He obviously differs from you on which laws apply now and which do not.

The Bible itself repeals very few of the old laws, shellfish and pork for instance are explicitly repealed. The one about men not shaving is not repealed, nor the one about not wearing cotton-polyester mix clothes. Are Christian men who shave disobeying God’s law? If not, then where is this rule repealed in the Bible?


I understand quite well what was repealed and why. This isn’t that great of a mystery.

When you look at texts such as Matthew 19:7-8
7 They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss [her]?”
8 He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Or Galations 3:19 -
“Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”

If you flip to Matthew Chapter 5 and read from beginning to end - the Sermon on the mount is the law of the NT and it is the Gospel in a nutshell.

Christ came to fulfill the law.

My OP was an inquisition of how to explain this to Non Christians who haven’t read the Bible. But, it would be apparent that even many Christians don’t quite understand the transitory law of the OT or that Christ came to bring the fullness of the Law to us - or moreso, manifest in the NT what was hidden in the old.

As Augustine put it - “This very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed before. It was not absent from the beginning of the human race, until Christ Himself came in the flesh, and then the true religion, that already existed, began to be called Christian.”

[quote=Achilles] In the New Testament, God no longer uses human agency.

I beg to differ. What exactly are the Apostles and what was the great commission? How has the Gospel spread and how did the Bible come into existance exactly?

God no longer uses Human agency? What do you call miraculous healings by Priests/Monks? Exorcisms? Blessings? Prayers? Baptism?

Some of these things you may have issues with in today’s context with being protestant - but you can’t deny that in the NT, after Christ’s death, the things I listed were done by the Apostles.

Great post.

Do you mean Matthew 5:17-18?

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
According to that not one letter will disappear from the Law, it is all still operative until the end of the world. ISIS are right to kill homosexuals.

As is so often the case with the Bible, it can be interpreted in more than one way.


I meant human agency in the execution of his law. I don’t believe the Apostles went around executing people for gossip, even though it’s expressly condemned as worthy of death at the end of Romans 1.

Why? Are you saying the Creator of the universe would never command homosexuals to be executed?

It doesn’t matter what different people think, it matters what God says. God’s laws executed through human agency were only for the OT Jews, and that’s it. Nowhere else are God’s laws executed through human agency, and I challenge you to show me one place in Scripture where it says otherwise. The only place you may be able to find would be Rev. 11 with the two witnesses, so we’ll make one exception there and that’s it. Therefore, other than the two witnesses and the OT Jews there is no room for human agency in the execution of God’s law.

You haven’t read the New Testament very carefully then.

I have. See my post #12 above, about Matthew 5:17-18. Not one letter of the Old Law is to be changed. Not one letter.


Correct, not one letter will be changed, but that doesn’t mean that it’s currently in full force and effect and should be executed by human beings.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 The eleven* disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Christ fulfilled the law - and not one iota will pass until all things have taken place.

By fulfilling the law, Christ perfected the law, bringing forth the light and truth shrouded within the texts of the OT.

Yes, the law is in full force and effect. If this is not the case as it has been since the beginning, what be the purpose of Christ’s ministry? The natural law, which is the Law of Christ has existed since the beginning.

Men have, since Apostolic times, continued Christ’s mission as outlined in Matthew and have perpetuated the fullness of the Law which is Christ.

Please supply the complete list of the OT laws which are now “inoperative”. Naturally, only Bible verses will be acceptable, not the words of mere men.


First and foremost, the food laws. This is shown in Acts, Chapter 10 (the baptism of Cornelius - the first Gentile Christian). Peter sees a vision in which all the animals of the world are presented to him, and is told, “Slaughter and eat”. Peter protests, saying “I have never eaten anything unclean.” The voice responds, each time, replying, “What I have deemed clean, you shall not deem unclean.” This comes up again at the “Council of Jerusalem”, mentioned later in Acts.

Secondly, required circumcision (mentioned many times in Paul’s letters, but also in the aforementioned “Council of Jerusalem”).

Thirdly, daily sacrificial offerings by the OT priesthood (and the entire OT priesthood, for that matter) - not only is it currently impossible due to the destruction of the Temple, but it’s mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews as being replaced by Jesus’s One Holy Sacrifice of the cross.

There are, of course, others, but these are the three that come first to my mind.

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