The Bible and Slavery

Many atheists go and say things such as “Your God condones slavery” or “Slavery is found in the Bible”. How can argue against the arguments presented by atheists to take people away from the faith in regards to slavery?

The first step is to ensure that both parties (you and said atheists) are using the same definition of the term “slavery” and that it applies. The definition of slavery under Mosaic law and the practices associated with it would not be viewed as slavery under the definition used to define slavery as practiced in the US prior to the Civil War. To start with, the slavery as practiced according to Mosaic law does not deny the fact that the slave is a human person with all the associated due respect and dignity due to him/her which the practice in the US did (slaves under Mosaic law are still considered people; slaves under the US practice were property, not people).

It appears that the Catholic Church has changed its teaching on slavery. At one time slaves were told to obey their masters, and clergy owned slaves. I guess it was thought that the slave master is better than the slave and had certain rights that the slave did not have. IMHO, the approval of slavery was a mistake.

Slavery in Apostolic times was rarely what we think of today (which is known as chattel slavery).

In Apostolic times, most “slaves” were indentured servants. They owed a legitimate debt to the master which they paid with their labors. Once the debt was paid the slaves were free.

There is nothing inherently immoral about indentured servitude.

Many people confuse slavery of the antiquity with slavery once prevalent in Western Hemisphere economies.

American slavery was referred to as “the peculiar institution” because unlike slavery in ancient times, slaves were treated like livestock…traded and sold, splitting mates, siblings, parents by selling them separately, even breeding them like farm animals. This is not how slaves were treated in biblical times.

Like the church teaches us, we have to consider the cultural context when written…those making the claims you speak of are not adhering to that principle.

Do you have any articles which I could possibly read up on this subject? (any member can chime in on good links to flipping fantastic articles:) )

It’s worth noting that slavery ended in Europe in large part due to the insistence of the Catholic Church.

According to the 1997 book, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, by David Kertzer, Pope Pius IX kidnapped and enslaved a 6 year old Jewish boy. He was not allowed to return to his parents.

There’s this thing called Wikipedia, which has a lot of articles, including this one.

Enslaved? That’s an oversimplification of a somewhat comicated affair.

Regardless, that has no bearing on anything that I said in my post. The Church’s opposition to slavery in the early Middle Ages resulted in the end of slavery in Europe, and it’s opposition has continued since - most notably its opposition to the use of slaves by the Crown of Spain in the 16th century onward.

It looks like you have forgotten about the papal bulls Romanus Pontifex and Dum Diversas written in 1455 and 1452 by Pope Nicholas V to King Afonso V of Portugal, which authorized Afonso V of Portugal to conquer Saracens and pagans and consign them to perpetual enslavement.



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