Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The year is 1878 and I am still pro-slavery...

The year is 1878 and I am still pro-slavery. Scripture is pretty clear on the issue. I don't understand why slavery was ever ended. This whole "end of slavery" thing was created by people who just don't value God's word. We need to decide whether we will get our instruction from the world or from scripture. If we say scripture is our supreme authority, then we need to do what it says.

If Jesus was against slavery, why is he silent on the issue? He never speaks out against it. In fact, nowhere in scripture does it say anything against slavery. And what about the apostle Paul? Most of the New Testament is comprised of Paul's letters to his churches. Paul wasn't silent on the issue. He was pretty clear.

Ephesians 6:5-9
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."

And again in his letter to the church in Colossi, Paul let's us know his view on slavery.
Colossians 3:22-4:1
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven."

Now let me be clear. Paul taught us as Christians that we should treat our slaves well. As scripture says, we should provide our slaves with "what is right and fair." And it says that we shouldn't "threaten them." After all, we ourselves have a Master in heaven who we are to obey.

But as for slaves, freedom is not an option. Paul never says we should let our slaves go free. He never says slaves should revolt. His command is that "slaves obey their masters." And this is the word of God. Far be it from us to disobey what God instructs us to do.

And how could we destroy this God ordained institution of slavery? It is clear from these passages that the "Master/slave" relationship is a reflection of our relationship with our Lord. Jesus is our "Master in heaven" and we are called to be "slaves to righteousness" (Romans 6:18). Trying to destroy the institution of slavery is like trying to destroy the institution of marriage. Both marriage and slavery are used as images to describe our relationship with God. Both were God ordained hierarchies that are necessary for society to continue in God's blessing.

It makes me sick to hear all these pseudo-conservatives and fundamentalists who claim to hold God's word as inerrant and infallible and yet they stand against slavery in all of its forms. No, that is not the biblical view. The correct biblical view is that we should reinstate slavery according to God's word. Slaves should obey their masters and masters should treat their slaves well. If we take scripture seriously, it is the only view that we can hold.

Now that slavery has been ended and God's word disobeyed, we are sliding down the slippery slope. What will the new century hold? We have turned away from the word of God and no longer follow its commands. Soon we will see women trying to revolt from their husbands and children controlling their parents (Eph. 5-6). We will see women trying to vote and trying to "have authority over men"(1 Tim. 2:12) We will see the unraveling of America. And it all began with the abolitionist liberals who hate our nation and hate God's word.

The above post is and example of the way many people used scripture to defend slavery during the 1800's. Churches in the U.S. and in Europe split over the slavery debate. Some used scripture to defend slavery. Others used it to end slavery. We as Christians need to be careful how we use scripture. And we need to make sure we are consistent in our interpretational method.

I, obviously, do not hold the view that is expressed in the above post. I did want to express that side of the argument in order to open our eyes to the dangers of misinterpreting scripture. Many of the same ways that people used scripture to support slavery are still being used today to limit women's roles in the church. And while the issues are very different, the way scripture is being used is similar.

A good book that addresses these conflicts in interpretational method is: Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation by Willard Swartley.

Get it here


At 7:27 AM, Blogger ecclesia said...

I would like to add my thought on the matter. You know I completely agree about the inerrancy of Scriptures. I wonder if this is one of those interpretations we are meant to take "literally." Slavery was obviously big during that time, which is why Paul placed so much emphasis on it. But even though "slavery" itself does not exist today, isn't there still a principle we can grab from that Scripture? Let's take for example working for a boss. Obviously there is a difference between going to work every day and coming home and living on the same property as the people you work for. But in a sense, when you are working for any kind of boss, aren't you a slave to them in a sense? And can't the same Scripture apply in that sort of relationship.
The reason I say that is because no matter who I've worked for, there have been times I've felt like a "slave" to my employer. There have been times I have felt like I've been treated so unfairly that I start grumbling and complaining and I become bitter and hard-hearted. I swear one of these days I'm going to learn my lesson. In the process I've severed relationships that didn't need to be severed or I've come across as a poor witness for Christ. I left my last job feeling that way. I felt entitled to so much that it made my work experience that much more miserable. Here I was calling myself a Christian and I didn't want to give up any of "my" will. I will always look back and wonder how things could've been different if I had treated my work situation, just as you quoted from Paul in the Scriptures. But instead, I gave into the moaning and groaning that al my co-workers did on a regular basis.
I do agree that our society is moving away from a lot of what you mentioned toward the end of your post. I see it more and more from your example of wives no longer being subordinate to their husbands. I've been studying that Scripture since I got married and the other Scriptures that refer to that, but society is trying to make everyone individual, and by doing that, we don't even know how to have a relationship with God nor do we know how to accept him as our authority, because we are all "individual."
I could go on forever, so I'll spare everyone. I guess in a roundabout way I'm saying that even though society keeps changing and things aren't happening directly as they were in Scripture, we still need to obey, as Christians, and learn how to apply those principles from Scripture to how we live today. That is an individual responsibility. Everything in Scripture can be applied to today somehow even if our way of living is different. I say slavery isn't completely dead, it just doesn't look like it used to.

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Mark said...

This post was an exaggerated satire of sorts. It was supposed to reveal how "not" to interpret scripture. The argument used in this post was used by some in the church in the 1800's to support and uphold the practice of slavery.

Even though passages that seem to support slavery are in scripture, we need to understand the context in order to interpret them in the right way.

In the same way, people are misunderstanding passages of scripture that deal with women in the church. They are trying to apply them without understanding the culture and time in which they were written.

On the flip side, Christians were the ones leading the charge against slavery. And Christians should be the ones leading the way with the inclusion of women in leadership.

Many conservatives in the 1800's wanted to defend slavery with scripture. Many conservatives today try to use certain passages of scripture today to limit women's roles in the church.

Just like there had to be a shift in the way we interpret "slavery" passages, there has to be a shift in the way we understand "women's roles" passages. Otherwise we repeat the same interpretational mistakes that we have made in history.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger ecclesia said...

Sorry, I'm a little dense sometimes. I missed that. I do, however, stand on what I said earlier and we might be trying to say the same thing, I think. I do believe however think that women should only take certain positions within the church. It's not that they shouldn't lead. Scripture makes it absolutely clear that there were women leaders. But I do believe that in their roles, there should be a male head over them ultimately. But I won't get into my whole thing on that. That's another topic for another day. But you are right. We must be very careful to interpret Scripture correctly. I've been learning a lot about biblical hermeneutics and it's quite interesting.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Mark said...

I good book I read in college that deals with biblical interpretation is the one mentioned in this post: Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women: Case Issues in Biblical Interpretation by Willard Swartley.

The book uses those four topics mentioned in the title and lays out 2 to 3 different ways that those topics have been interpreted throughout church history. It shows the different ways that scripture was used for each view of each topic.

At 8:27 PM, Blogger ecclesia said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I may look into it!

At 1:16 PM, Blogger AK said...

Mark, someone posed this question to me a while back--what parts of scripture do we take literally and what parts do we take figuratively?

I always thought it funny if one took all scripture literally, then we would walk around with a lot of one-handed, one-eyed people! (Matthew 5:27-9)


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