On another forum, I encountered a fellow who said that the Church had erred in It’s doctrine concerning slavery. This is a summary of his points:
- The Old Testament condoned slavery.
- The New Testament does not condemn slavery.
- Early Church Fathers do not condemn slavery some even call it a right.
- Early Church documents condone enslavement of enemies of the Church.
- Now the Church calls slavery an inherently evil practice.
A summary of my rebuttals is as follows:
The word slavery has always had more than one meaning. Servitude of almost any kind has always been referred to as slavery.
People may choose to work for their food and keep, this is a voluntary form of slavery called indentured servitude. We slave to raise our children. We call ourselves slaves to God. These are forms of slavery that are not inherently evil because they are voluntary and we are not forced to perform immoral actions.
Employment is another form of slavery. In fact, I believe that the original indentured servitude and forced labor of the inhabitants of a land has evolved into what we call employment today.
Another form of slavery not inherently evil is the prison system. Those men incarcerated and sometimes forced to work as a penalty for their crime are in another form of slavery. Therefore slavery imposed as a punishment for sin is also not inherently evil.
The form of slavery which the Church condemns today and has always condemned is that in which innocent people are forcibly removed from their families, cities and countries, treated like animals and forced to work, perform immoral services or are tortured for the pleasure of another. This form of slavery is essentially kidnapping, assault and murder.
Does this make sense to anyone? Is there anything you could add to enhance the argument in defense of the Church’s position on slavery?