Why is slavery not considered immoral according to Christianity?


#1

For clarity, to me, clearly the mistreatment of another human being is immoral and contrary to the will of God.

With that said, slavery in and of itself is not condemned in the Bible from what I can tell. In other words, it appears that it is not immoral to own another human being.

Any help with this concept would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!


#2

From the catechism:

2414 The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason - selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian - lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, ... both in the flesh and in the Lord."194

newadvent.org/cathen/14036a.htm

newadvent.org/cathen/14039a.htm


#3

This has been discussed on other threads on CAF. Slavery has never been supported by Christian teaching. Even in the OT, where slavery is mentioned, the OT laws did put parameters around it and it was more of an indentured arrangement with a time limit to pay off debt which was much different than someone owning and abusing someone else. Even in the NT with St. Paul’s letter to Philemon, he suggested that the runaway slave be welcomed back as a brother of faith and forgiven. Other references in the NT was more about how slaves were to behave towards their masters in order to witness to them. There are numerous quotes in 2000 years by Popes condemning slavery that all you need to do is google search them yourself. Likewise a good book to read is “Pope Fiction” by Patrick Madrid where he has a whole chapter with quotes from Popes condemning slavery. You need to do your homework and not listen to anti-Catholic, anti-Christian lies concerning slavery and supposed Christian support for it.


#4

Things were different back then, slavery was kind of another matter, different from early America, assuming that
imagery comes to you mind. There was a thing, for example, called debt-slavery, where if you’re unable to pay
back for something, you fulfill the dept through services. I believe, I can’t recall though, that the Bible did have
some codes for “masters” to follow in the treatment of their slaves. very contrary to when, for example, black
people were sold into slavery. I’m sure the prophets and apostles would be really shaking their fingers toward
that kind of stuff, really they would. :tsktsk:

Sorry I can’t be more specific.


#5

Please read this older thread on the how slavery is noted in biblical times versus chattel slavery of modern times, which God has never permitted.

What was called “slavery” then for many (but not all) was a form of indentured servitude. There were no welfare options, no social security, no food stamps. If you were without a trade, a widower, or homeless, you were as good as dead with no help unless you pledged yourself to aid another family in exchange for room and board. This wasn’t a good situation but it beat starvation and death.

My past answer on this question from the old thread can be found here.


#6

Not only that, but compelled servitude is still not prohibited. Look at how courts sentence individuals to community service.

That met the Biblical definition of slavery, and is still considered to be just and moral today


#7

I am not sure why you are on the muscle but I didn’t say anything but was a common understand of OT. Please stop being so defensive because I was not defending slavery.


#8

I only added the link to one thread of the question to clarify your general but accurate answer. It wasn’t intended to slight your contribution in anyway, so my apologies if you felt that way.


#9

Because the attachment of the stigma of immorality to slavery was a 17th/18th/19th-century sociological development, not a 1st-century development.


#10

Slavery under Roman law was totally different. Slaves could rise to managerial positions and they could even become wealthy. Some were teachers, accountants, and were otherwise well-educated.

Other slaves, however, were treated just the opposite and had brutal short lives. It is this type of slavery that Paul speaks against when he urges masters to treat their slaves well.

Here’s a link that explains it well.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_slavery


#11

thanks, no problem and apology accepted!
peace


#12

Are you a protestant convert? Your thinking is distinctly protestant. You can’t find a teaching explicitly in the bible, thus you conclude that it can’t be an inviolable moral teaching of Christianity. That’s not how Catholicism works and not how we view the bible. The bible is the story of God revealing himself to man and restoring us from our broken condition to Him in Christ. It’s not a catechism, nor did man come to comprehend everything at once. That’s your first problem.

The second problem is that slavery doesn’t mean the same thing in all places at all times. We define slavery the way it was lived in 19th century America. But it was a much broader term in the ancient world. If you kidnapped a man from biblical times and brought him to 2014 America and explained the terms of an NFL quarterback contract, he’d describe that player as a SLAVE! Weird huh? The bible doesn’t explicitly denounce slavery because the word covered so many meanings and many of them were NOT immoral.

We know that chattel slavery as practiced in the 19th century is innately immoral because it violates the dignity bestowed on each person created in the image and likeness of God. There have certainly been eras of history where people and even the official church didn’t live up to that understanding well, but it’s always been true.


#13

Can we own slaves today (maybe even against their will), so long as we treat them well?


#14

Not and be in conformity with the laws of any country that I’ve ever been in. (Not sure about places like Somalia and Saudi Arabia.)


#15

Could you please reconcile the Christian teaching with this teaching from the Bible (which sparked my question in the first place)?:

44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you, to inherit as a possession for ever; you may make slaves of them, but over your brethren the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness. ~ Leviticus 25 44-46


#16

So slavery really isn’t wrong in the strictest sense of the word? Would it be more accurate to say that it is our current cultural stigma against it that makes it immoral in today’s world and that some day…perhaps in the latter 21st or 22nd century we could see slavery as being an acceptable form and thus possibly not considered immoral? Keeping in mind of course that mistreatment of said slaves would clearly be immoral?


#17

No former Protestant here. Born and raised Catholic and I practice my faith.

I quoted Leviticus on page one after my initial post and that passage is what spurred my question. This is what God communicated. This isn’t just something Moses decided was okay. The beginning of chapter 25 reads “The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai,” So slavery wasn’t just what was going on at the time, it was something that was acceptable to participate in at that time in history.

[quote=manualman]…The second problem is that slavery doesn’t mean the same thing in all places at all times. We define slavery the way it was lived in 19th century America…
[/quote]

Here you may be right. I’m trying to grasp how slavery was viewed prior to our current view of it. With that said, I was under the impression like an earlier poster mentioned that slavery in Biblical times was moreso a temporary thing (like indentured servitude). However the Leviticus passage makes it pretty clear that slavery can be a permanent thing.

[quote=manualman]…The bible doesn’t explicitly denounce slavery because the word covered so many meanings and many of them were NOT immoral…
[/quote]

The Bible explicitly permits it however. As a matter of fact, God says where to obtain and buy slaves.

[quote=manualman]…We know that chattel slavery as practiced in the 19th century is innately immoral because it violates the dignity bestowed on each person created in the image and likeness of God. There have certainly been eras of history where people and even the official church didn’t live up to that understanding well, but it’s always been true.
[/quote]

I agree that we are not to mistreat any human being, which by definition would include persons that are slaves.

Yet it seems that being a slave in and of itself is not immoral per Leviticus.

I’m just trying to get my arms around that concept.


#18

It is a simplistic reading of the Bible that would come to the conclusion that slavery is acceptable in the Bible.
The Bible is probably the most complicated and intricate set of books that are in existence. Laws have been put in place to deal with the evil within our hearts, and to regulate our evil tendencies so that anarchy does not prevail.

The Bible itself is not skin deep. Nothing is as it appears on the surface. This is doubly true when it comes to slavery, because the ultimate goal of the Bible is not slavery, but redemption from slavery. That is THE main theme of the Bible, and of Christianity.

If we miss that we miss the whole point of everything.


#19

Leviticus is located VERY early in the timeline of God revealing himself to humanity. God comes to meet us where we are at. He speaks to us in our place, time and culture. Slavery was a reality of ancient peoples, including the most horrific sorts of slavery.

But God’s purpose for man is not to make us His puppets or slaves. He desires us to love Him and to willingly surrender to Grace. To do that, He chose carefully the ways and places He made revelation. He didn’t explain to the ancient Israelites about stars, supernovas, atomic structures, evolutionary biology, etc. He described how He created the universe in simplified terms. Why? Because you have to learn to walk before you learn to run (much less dance). Same issue with slavery.

Slavery in the OT is much like polygamy in the OT. Both appear in the text and if you look closely, the negative consequences of them both are apparent. But God (being wiser than us) choses when, where and how He progressively revealed Himself to man. This is why we have a church with authority to teach and interpret.


#20

Sharia law allow for slavery and in countries that are ruled by it, there is slavery allowed ( a hidden secret). In countries that have a judeo-Christian basis for their laws, slavery is now illegal.


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