The Golden Rule and Slavery

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Tanker, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. Tanker

    Tanker
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    "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

    In various other threads, Mark and Dr. Griffith have been arguing that the Bible either supports slavery or is silent on it. While the bible does not give a lot of support to the abolitionists of the 1860s, at least not in explicit terms, the golden rule of christianity is contrary to slavery in my opinion. Certainly it is quite easy to start with the golden rule above and by a short series of steps, come to the logical conclusion that slavery, which by its very nature is involuntary, is contrary to christian principles as laid down in the golden rule. That ought to be obvious, but perhaps it is not obvious to some people. So Dr. Griffith and Mark, can you reasonably maintain that slavery is consistent with the Golden Rule?

    By the way, the scriptures go out of their way to emphasize how crucial the golden rule is, by saying that it sums up the law. But somehow, Mark and Dr. Griffith are willing to ignore it.
     
  2. Mark Osgatharp

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    Tanker,

    I have not ignored it. I have proven beyond controversy that the Law did not abolish slavery nor give the slightest hint that the practice was ungodly.

    The Law did give explicit instructions as to how to treat slaves in a just and equitable way, which further accentuates the fact that in the mind of God there was nothing evil about slavery per se, but only in the mistreatment of slaves. This is clearly evident in no less a passage that the Deuteronomic relation of the Ten Commandments where God Himself said:

    "Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
    But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

    And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day."

    God said the reason He established the Sabbath was so the slaves would be given a day of rest along with the masters. This is particularly significant to the "Golden Rule" argument against slavery since Jesus said that the Law was based on doing to others as you would have them do unto you.

    The fatality of these statements to the "Slavery is always and inherently immoral" dogma are obvious to any unbiased student of the Scriptures.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  3. Tanker

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    Mark,

    You have not shown how slavery is compatible with the Golden Rule. In order to answer my objection that it is not compatible, something other than what you posted is required.
     
  4. Mark Osgatharp

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    Yes I have and I will show it again:

    1. Jesus said that loving your neighbor as yourself was the principle on which the Law was based.

    2. The Law commanded Hebrew slave owners to show kindness to their slaves by giving them a day of rest each week.

    3. The Law did not command the Hebrew slave owners to grant freedom to their slaves. As a matter of fact, though the law commanded the liberation of Hebrew slaves on a regular basis, it did not command the liberation of non-Hebrew slaves.

    4. Therefore, according to Jesus and the Law, doing to others as you would have them do to you does not militate against the mere fact of owning a slave, but only enjoins the just and equitable treatment of slaves.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  5. Mark Osgatharp

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    Tanker,

    See how you like this commandment of God to the Jews:

    "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money."

    From which we understand:

    1. That the law acknowledged the ownership of a master over a slave.

    2. Masters had legal authority to punish their slaves.

    3. Masters did not have the legal authority to punish their slaves to the point of death and were to be punished as criminals if they did. A further reading of the text (Exodus 21) will show that if master's punished their slaves so as to maim them they were commanded to set them free. For example,

    "And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake."

    It should be remembered that the Law also allowed for the whipping of freemen by the judges; but not in excess of 40 lashes. Perhaps some of our modern day revulsion at the thought of whipping slaves stems from our false idea that whipping itself is "cruel and unusal punishment." According to God's word it is not:

    "A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back."

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  6. Tanker

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    Mark,

    When you can show that a sane person desires slavery for himself, then and only then will you have shown that slavery is consistent with the Golden Rule.

    Do you contend that a normal person desires the condition of slavery? If not, you must agree that a normal person would not desire to be a slave and if the golden rule is followed, ought not impose slavery on another person. The standard is quite simple and you should have no trouble understanding it.
     
  7. Mark Osgatharp

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    Tanker,

    I have already proven that the "Golden Rule" is consistent with slavery by noting:

    a. The Son of God said that the Law of Moses was based on "The Golden Rule" and....

    b. The Law of Moses was OK with slavery - though not with the abuse or mistreatment of slaves.

    However, I will take up your challenge to prove that a "normal person" might desire to be a slave, and I prove it by the same Law which was based on the "Golden Rule."

    "And it shall be, if he [the slave who is to be freed] say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise."

    Oh, and by the way, here is another Scripture from the Law which shows that God acknowledges the right of one man to own another:

    "If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he [the owner of the ox] shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  8. timothy 1769

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    people without means of support could desire to be slaves, and those captured in war could prefer slavery to execution.

    i see nothing wrong with criminals being sold as slaves to recompense their victims, as that's exactly what i'd want "done unto me" in that case.
     
  9. timothy 1769

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    is any form of punishment against the golden rule? should we only punish criminals that desire it?
     
  10. Tanker

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    >>>>>>>>>>>However, I will take up your challenge to prove that a "normal person" might desire to be a slave, and I prove it by the same Law which was based on the "Golden Rule."

    "And it shall be, if he [the slave who is to be freed] say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise."<<<<<<<<<<

    The fact that it is hypothetically possible for a rare individual to prefer slavery does not disprove my point. In general, I think it is beyond dispute that most people would not select slavery for themselves and that therefore to impose slavery, which by definition is involuntary, is not at all consistent with the golden rule. To say that it is consistent with the golden rule is a perversion of religion.
     
  11. Mark Osgatharp

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    Tanker,

    I have already proven that the practice of slavery is pefectly consistent with the "Golden Rule" because:

    1. Jesus said all the Law was based on the "Golden Rule."

    2. The Law did not condemn slavery.

    3. The Law allowed masters to administer moderate corporal punishment to their slaves.

    4. The Law acknowledged the ownership of masters over the slaves - "he is his money" are the exact words.

    5. The Law, when commanding the Hebrews to treat their slaves as they would like to have been treated when they were slaves in Egypt, commanded them to give their slaves a day of rest each week (the Sabbath) but did not command them to grant freedom to their slaves.

    6. The Law - the very same Law which Jesus Christ says was based 100% on the "Golden Rule" - commanded the emancipation of Hebrew slaves after seven years - but allowed non-Hebrew slaves to be kept in perpetual bondage.

    All of which proves that God - the same God who gave the "Golden Rule", who gave the Law to the Jews by the disposition of angels, and who said, in His Son Jesus Christ, that the Law given to the Jews was based on the "Golden Rule" - saw nothing inconsistent with owning a slave and at the same time treating that slave according to the principle of "doing unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  12. Mark Osgatharp

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    Tanker,

    If we accept your sentimental and perverted application of "The Golden Rule" - all authority and godliness would be overthrown, because there will always be some rebel who will say, "I wouldn't want to be treated that way therefore to treat anyone that way is sinful." Or who will say, "I want to be treated that way therefore it is no sin to treat people that way."

    For example, a man who despised being spanked by his father when he was a child will say it is wrong to spank children.

    Or, a woman who despises obeying her husband will say no woman ought to have to do such a thing.

    Or, a man who says, I don't want to take taxes from anyone, therefore I ought not have to pay taxes.

    Or, a man who says, I want to have as much money and goods as all other men therefore we ought all to be communists.

    Or, a man who says, I desired carnal relations with that woman without the commitment of marriage, therefore it can be no sin for me to have her.

    No, Tanker, the "Golden Rule" was not a liscence for every man to exalt his own ungodly lusts and perverted sense of equity and justice as a standard for all. Rather, it was a call for us to treat other men according to the righteous dictates of God's word.

    Insofar as this touches on slavery it simply means that, if I am a master, I will treat my slaves as I would want to be treated if I were a slave. It means if I am a slave I will respect my master as I would want to be respected if I were in the master's shoes.

    It does not mean every slave must be made of equal position and authority with the master any more than it means every man has a right to the same position, authority, and possessions in society at large.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  13. ChurchBoy

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    How does this Scripture "prove" that God acknowleges the right of one man to to own another? You must be using some hermeneutics that I have never heard of.

    I agree the Bible does NOT specifically condemn slavery but it does not condone it either as this passage does not.
     
  14. Mark Osgatharp

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    How does this Scripture "prove" that God acknowleges the right of one man to to own another? You must be using some hermeneutics that I have never heard of.

    I agree the Bible does NOT specifically condemn slavery but it does not condone it either as this passage does not.
    </font>[/QUOTE]ChurchBoy,

    The penalty amerced from the owner of the offending ox is paid to the owner of the injured slave, not to the slave himself. The ramifications of this law are obvious to any impartial reader.

    Mark Osgatharp
     
  15. ChurchBoy

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    How does this Scripture "prove" that God acknowleges the right of one man to to own another? You must be using some hermeneutics that I have never heard of.

    I agree the Bible does NOT specifically condemn slavery but it does not condone it either as this passage does not.
    </font>[/QUOTE]ChurchBoy,

    The penalty amerced from the owner of the offending ox is paid to the owner of the injured slave, not to the slave himself. The ramifications of this law are obvious to any impartial reader.

    Mark Osgatharp
    </font>[/QUOTE]No one is an "impartial reader" but I digress. The Bible deals with the fact of slavery. I think both of us agree on this issue. This passage speaks of compensation and punishment in the event a manservant is injured. I just don't see how this pasage can be used to state that God condones slavery. It is men that makes slaves of other men. Again I will say I don't believe that The Bible specifically condemns slavery. I believe it is silent on this issue. It does address the relationship between masters and slaves.

    My main interest in this discussion is the slavery of the Pre-Civil War south. Many "so-called" Christians owned slaves. This in itself doesn't make them "bad" Christians or "false" christians. However, their treatment of their slaves does bear witness to what is in their heart. If you read slave accounts you see a common thread through out. The majority of the slaveholders didn't treat their slaves well. Beating and killing slaves, sell off women as breeders, detroying families, etc, is this the behavior of a loving, humble, spirit-filled Christian? Were there kind Christian slaveholders? Of course. They were kind in comparison to their cruel conterparts.

    It was illegal to teach a slave to read and write. They wouldn't even teach them to read the Bible. As Christians wasn't the slaveholder's responsiblity to teach the slaves about Jesus Christ and his gift of salvation? But they wanted to keep them in ignorance. They knew that if a slave could read and write then they would become unhappy and unmanageable. They knew that knowledge is power. The ability to read would open up a new understanding of the slave's condition.
     
  16. Tanker

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    Mark,

    There were many people during the Civil War era who thought that slavery was inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity. There were others who thought that the bible approved of slavery. Of course it is no coincidence that of the latter group, many of them owned slaves. They were seeing the issue through the distorted lens of self interest. It is hard to be objective when self interest is involved. You don't own slaves, so perhaps you are able to see the thing more objectively. But there is a possibility that the lens of self-interest has influenced your thinking also, to the extent that you may have been influenced by the white slave owners. Perhaps you have read something about the history of Baptists, for instance, which if studied carefully, would have to include some influence from the Baptist slave owners. But in any case, the idea that slavery has the blessing of Christianity is an idea that is far from certain, my judgment, and the proof texts that you have presented are not at all convincing.
     
  17. Eladar

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    How about Leviticus 25:45-46?

    You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    As far as the New Testament goes, how about Ephesians 6:5-9

    Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

    Surely if God thought that owning a slave was inherently evil He wouldn't allow His people to own slaves. If God thought that owning a slave was inherently evil, wouldn't God have Paul write that masters need to free their slaves?
     
  18. ChurchBoy

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    Tuor,

    How about these:

    Lev 20:9 If anyone curses their father and mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own hands.
    Lev 20:27 A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.

    Are parents to kill their children today? Are we to kill people who practice witchcraft today? When reading the OT (and all Scripture) we must pay careful attention to the context of the passages.
     
  19. Eladar

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    I didn't say that we should have slavery today. I just said that it isn't inherently sinful, neither is anything else you've brought up.
     

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