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Thursday, April 12, 2007

LOBO on slavery and law

Lobo presented such a thoughtful reply to a posting that I knew he deserved an entire post. Below is his entire posting. Much of his material comes from the following site:

The Bible, Slavery, and America's Founders

And now, LOBOINOK!

While we are on the topic, adultery should be criminalized also, no?

How about death for sassing your parents, working on the sabbath, etc?



At the beginning of this country's history of common and civil law, those(as well as others) were crimes punishable by death.

If you are not capable of recognizing that the laws then, were few but effective because they imposed harsh, immediate and public penalties - as a result, they had a polite society and far more freedoms... then you will have far more difficulty comprehending laws that are millenniums past, rather than centuries past.

And while I appreciate your statement on racism, the Bible/God clearly had no problem with slavery.

"When God gave the law to Moses, slavery was a part of the world, and so the law of God recognized slavery. But this does not mean that slavery was God's original intention. The law of Moses was given to fallen man. Some of the ordinances deal with things not intended for the original creation order, such as slavery and divorce. These will be eliminated completely only when sin is eliminated from the earth. God's laws concerning slavery provided parameters for treatment of slaves, which were for the benefit of all involved. God desires all men and nations to be liberated. This begins internally and will be manifested externally to the extent internal change occurs. The Biblical slave laws reflect God's redemptive desire, for men and nations."

Types of Slavery Permitted by the Bible
The Mosaic law permitted some types of slavery. These include:

1. Voluntary servitude by the sons of Israel (indentured servants)
Those who needed assistance, could not pay their debts, or needed protection from another were allowed under Biblical law to become indentured servants (see Ex. 21:2-6; Deut. 15:12-18). They were dependent on their master instead of the state. This was a way to aid the poor and give them an opportunity to get back on their feet. It was not to be a permanent subsidy. Many early settlers to America came as indentured servants. These servants were well treated and when released, given generous pay.
2. Voluntary permanent slaves
If indentured servants so chose, they could remain a slave (Ex. 21:2-6; Deut.. 15:16-17). Their ear was pierced to indicate this permanent subjection. The law recognized that some people want the security of enslavement. Today, there are some people who would rather be dependent upon government to provide their needs (and with that provision accepting their commands) than do what is necessary to live free from its provision and direction. Some even act in a manner that puts them in jail, desiring the care and provision they get more than personal freedom.
3. Thief or criminal making restitution
A thief who could not, or did not, make restitution was sold as a slave: “If a man steals . . . he shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft” (Ex. 22:1,3). The servitude ceased when enough work was done to pay for the amount due in restitution.
4. Pagans could be permanent slaves
Leviticus 25:44-46 states: As for your male and female slaves whom you may have ‹ you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen [brother], the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.

In the Sabbath year all Hebrew debtors/slaves were released from their debts.. This was not so for foreigners (Deut. 15:3). Theologian R.J. Rushdoony writes, “since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves” 1 without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46). This passage in Leviticus says that pagans could be permanent slaves and could be bequeathed to the children of the Hebrews. However, there are Biblical laws concerning slaves that are given for their protection and eventual redemption. Slaves could become part of the covenant and part of the family, even receiving an inheritance. Under the new covenant, a way was made to set slaves free internally, which should then be following by external preparation enabling those who were slaves to live at liberty, being self-governed under God.

Involuntary Servitude is Not Biblical
Exodus 21:16 says: “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” Deuteronomy 24:7 states: “If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently, or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.”

Kidnapping and enforced slavery are forbidden and punishable by death. This was true for any man (Ex. 21:16), as well as for the Israelites (Deut. 24:7). This was stealing a man's freedom. While aspects of slavery are Biblical (for punishment and restitution for theft, or for those who prefer the security of becoming a permanent bondservant), the Bible strictly forbids involuntary servitude.

Any slave that ran away from his master (thus expressing his desire for freedom) was to be welcomed by the Israelites, not mistreated, and not returned. Deuteronomy 23:15-16 states:

You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

This implied slaves must be treated justly, plus they had a degree of liberty. Other slave laws confirm this. In addition, such action was a fulfillment of the law of love in both the Old and New Testaments. The law of God declares: “. . . you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:17-18). Leviticus 19:33-34 clearly reveals that this applies to strangers and aliens as well: “The stranger, . . . you shall not do him wrong.. . . . you shall love him as yourself.”

It was forbidden to take the life or liberty of any other man. Rushdoony writes:

Thus, the only kind of slavery permitted is voluntary slavery, as Deuteronomy 23:15,16 makes very clear. Biblical law permits voluntary slavery because it recognizes that some people are not able to maintain a position of independence. To attach themselves voluntarily to a capable man and to serve him, protected by law, is thus a legitimate way of life, although a lesser one. The master then assumes the role of the benefactor, the bestower of welfare, rather that the state, and the slave is protected by the law of the state. A runaway slave thus cannot be restored to his master: he is free to go. The exception is the thief or criminal who is working out his restitution. The Code of Hammurabi decreed death for men who harbored a runaway slave; the Biblical law provided for the freedom of the slave. 2

Rushdoony also says that the selling of slaves was forbidden. Since Israelites were voluntary slaves, and since not even a foreign slave could be compelled to return to his master (Deut. 23:15, 16), slavery was on a different basis under the law than in non-Biblical cultures. The slave was a member of the household, with rights therein. A slave-market could not exist in Israel. The slave who was working out a restitution for theft had no incentive to escape, for to do so would make him an incorrigible criminal and liable to death. 3

When slaves (indentured servants) were acquired under the law, it was their labor that was purchased, not their person, and the price took into account the year of freedom (Lev. 25:44-55; Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:12-13).

Laws related to slaves
There are a number of laws in the Bible related to slavery. They include:

1. Hebrew slaves (indentured servants) were freed after 6 years.
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment (Ex. 21:2).
If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. And when you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed (Deut. 15:12-13). Hebrew slaves were to be set free after six years. If the man was married when he came, his wife was to go with him (Ex. 21:3).
This law did not apply to non-Hebrew slaves (see point 4 under “Types of slavery permitted by the Bible” above), though, as mentioned, any slave showing a desire for freedom was to be safely harbored if they ran away. In violation of this law, many Christian slaves in America were not given the option of freedom after six years (and many escaped slaves were forcefully returned). To comply with the spirit and law of the Old and New Testament, non-Christian slaves should have been introduced by their master to Christianity, equipped to live in liberty, and then given the opportunity to choose to live free. Christianity would have prepared them to live in freedom.
2. Freed slaves were released with liberal pay.
When these slaves were set free they were not to be sent away empty handed. They were to be furnished liberally from the flocks, threshing floor, and wine vat (Deut. 15:12-15).
3. Slaves were to be responsible.
We have mentioned that some people prefer the security of enslavement to the uncertainty of living free. People who live free have certain responsibilities they must maintain. They cannot have the fruit of freedom without the responsibilities of freedom. It is within this context that the following law can be understood:
“If he [a Hebrew slave] comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.” (Ex. 21:3-4)
Rushdoony comments:
“The bondservant, however, could not have the best of both worlds, the world of freedom and the world of servitude. A wife meant responsibility: to marry, a man had to have a dowry as evidence of his ability to head a household. A man could not gain the benefit of freedom, a wife, and at the same time gain the benefit of security under a master.” 4
Marrying as a slave required no responsibility of provision or need of a dowry. He gained the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities associated with it. Rushdoony continues:
“If he married while a bondservant, or a slave, he knew that in so doing he was abandoning either freedom or his family. He either remained permanently a slave with his family and had his ear pierced as a sign of subordination (like a woman), or he left his family. If he walked out and left his family, he could, if he earned enough, redeem his family from bondage. The law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognize his position and accept it with grace. Socialism, on the contrary, tries to give the slave all the advantages of his security together with the benefits of freedom, and, in the process, destroys both the free and the enslaved.” 5
4. Runaway slaves were to go free.
As mentioned earlier, Deuteronomy 23:15-16 says that a runaway slave was to go free. He was to be welcomed to live in any of the towns of Israel he chose. The Israelites were not to mistreat him. Rushdoony says that, “Since the slave was, except where debt and theft were concerned, a slave by nature and by choice, a fugitive slave went free, and the return of such fugitives was forbidden (Deut. 23:15,16).” This aspect of Biblical law was violated by American slavery and the United States Constitution (see Art. IV, Sec. 2, Par. 3). “Christians cannot become slaves voluntarily; they are not to become the slaves of men (1 Cor. 7:23), nor 'entangled again with the yoke of bondage' (Gal. 5:1).” 6 Those who became Christians while slaves were to become free if they could (1 Cor. 7:21). If they could not, they were to exemplify the character of Christ (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:1-2). Eventually, Christianity would overthrow slavery, not so much by denouncing it, but by promoting the equality of man under God, and teaching the principles of liberty and the brotherhood of mankind under Christ. It would be the responsibility of Christians, especially those who found themselves in a place of owning slaves (for example, many Christian Americans in the past inherited slaves) to teach such ideas, and then act accordingly. Many Christians in early America did just this. Phyllis Wheatley was introduced to Christianity by her masters, educated, and given her freedom. Many American Christians, in both North and South, at the time of the Civil War did much to educate slaves Biblically. Stonewall Jackson, who never owned slaves himself and was against slavery, conducted many classes in his church to educate slaves.
5. Excessive punishment of slaves was forbidden.
A slave could be punished by striking with a rod (Ex. 21:20-21), but if the punishment was excessive, the slave was to be given his freedom (Ex. 21:26-27; Lev. 24:17). This included knocking out the tooth or damaging the eye. This applied to indentured servants as well as other slaves. Since the owner would lose his investment in such a situation, there was a financial incentive for just treatment.
Just treatment of slaves was required of the masters. Paul writes: “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” (Col. 4:1)
6. Slaves could be brought into the covenant.
Slaves could be circumcised (brought into the covenant) and then eat of the Passover meal (Ex. 12:43-44; Gen. 17:12-13). Slaves could also eat of holy things (Lev. 22:10-11).
7. Slaves had some rights and position in the home and could share in the inheritance.
(See Gen. 24:2 and Prov. 17:2.)
8. Slaves were to rest on the Sabbath like everyone else.
The Fourth Commandment applied to all (Ex. 20:8-11).
9. Female slave laws were for their protection.
Exodus 21:4-11 gives some laws about female slaves, which served for their protection. These Hebrew female slaves were without family to assist them in their need or to help to provide security for them. These slaves laws were a way to protect them from abuse not faced by males and to keep them from being turned out into the street, where much harm could come to them.

Examination of the Biblical view of slavery enables us to more effectively address the assertion that slavery was America's original sin. In light of the Scriptures we cannot say that slavery, in a broad and general sense, is sin. But this brief look at the Biblical slave laws does reveal how fallen man's example of slavery has violated God's laws, and America's form of slavery in particular violated various aspects of the law, as well as the general spirit of liberty instituted by Christ.

The Christian foundation and environment of America caused most people to seek to view life from a Biblical perspective. Concerning slavery, they would ask “Is it Biblical?” While most of the Founders saw it was God's desire to eliminate the institution, others attempted to justify it. At the time of the Civil War some people justified Southern slavery by appealing to the Bible. However, through this brief review of the Old Testament slave laws we have seen that American slavery violated some of these laws, not to mention the spirit of liberty instituted by the coming of Christ.

Slavery and the New Testament
When Paul wrote how slaves and masters were to act (Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 4:1; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Col. 3:22-25; Titus 2:9-10), he was not endorsing involuntary slavery or the Roman slave system. He was addressing the attitudes, actions, and matters of the heart of those Christians who found themselves in slavery or as slave owners. This encompassed many people, for half the population of Rome and a large proportion of the Roman Empire were slaves. Many people were converted to Christianity while slaves or slave owners, and many Christians were enslaved.

It is in this context that we can better understand the example of Paul, Onesimus, and Philemon. Onesimus, a slave of Philemon who apparently stole some money from his master and ran away, encountered Paul in Rome and became a Christian. Paul sent him back to his master carrying the letter to Philemon. Author of the famous Bible Handbook, Henry Halley writes:

The Bible gives no hint as to how the master received his returning slave. But there is a tradition that says his master did receive him, and took Paul's veiled hint and gave the slave his liberty. That is the way the Gospel works. Christ in the heart of the slave made the slave recognize the social usages of his day, and go back to his master determined to be a good slave and live out his natural life as a slave. Christ in the heart of the master made the master recognize the slave as a Christian brother and give him his liberty. There is a tradition that Onesimus afterward became a bishop of Berea. 7

The Mosaic slave laws and the writings of Paul benefited and protected the slaves as best as possible in their situation. God's desire for any who are enslaved is freedom (Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:1). Those who are set free in Christ then need to be prepared to walk in liberty. Pagan nations had a much different outlook toward slaves, believing slaves had no rights or privileges. Because of the restrictions and humane aspect of the Mosaic laws on slavery, it never existed on a large scale in Israel, and did not exhibit the cruelties seen in Egypt, Greece, Rome, Assyria and other nations.

Sinful man will always live in some form of bondage and slavery, as a slave to the state, to a lord or noble, or to other men. As a step in man's freedom, God's laws of slavery provided the best situation for those who find themselves in bondage. God's ultimate desire is that all walk in the liberty of the gospel both internally and externally.

As the gospel principles of liberty have spread throughout history in all the nations, man has put aside the institution of overt slavery. However, since sinful man tends to live in bondage, different forms of slavery have replaced the more obvious system of past centuries. The state has assumed the role of master for many, providing aid and assistance, and with it more and more control, to those unable to provide for themselves. The only solution to slavery is the liberty of the gospel.

8 comments:

Lava said...

Lobo presented such a thoughtful reply to a posting that I knew he deserved an entire post. Below is his entire posting. Much of his material comes from the following site:

I hate to be so completely negative on something, but here it goes. Lobo did not present a thoughtful reply. He posted 7 lines of original, but mistaken thought. Then he thoughtfully cut and pasted another 50ish lines.

At the beginning of this country's history of common and civil law, those(as well as others) were crimes punishable by death.

If you are not capable of recognizing that the laws then, were few but effective because they imposed harsh, immediate and public penalties - as a result, they had a polite society and far more freedoms... then you will have far more difficulty comprehending laws that are millenniums past, rather than centuries past.


Ok. He is right. Many crimes were punishable by death. Most crimes that were punishable by death were not punished by death.

I think many scholars would argue that the law and the criminal justice system was not entirely efficient back then. That is why it evolved. That is why we have gradations of penalties(note, I am not arguing our criminal justice system is great today, either).

You say they imposed harsh penalties and that this lead to a more polite society. Man. I don't even know what to say.

loboinok said...

Lava,

radar was being gracious. In Christian lingo it is called "encouraging one another and building up one another".

I've never claimed to be a writer and have stated so on this site as well as numerous other sites.
Why should I butcher the English language, when there are many articulate writers who have already covered most of what we discuss here, and elsewhere?

I simply state my beliefs, feelings and opinions and offer evidence when I can.

I trust Barton and Wallbuilders because 1. it supports my bias.
2. He used solid evidence that was practically unimpeachable.
3. When he was mistaken, he was quick to admit it and withdraw whatever was in question.
4. He began using "Best evidence", and if your father(if I remember correctly) is an attorney, you know about best evidence.

My intention was to refute the statement...the Bible/God clearly had no problem with slavery.

This article does that. I did however fail to post the endnotes...

Endnotes
1. R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, vol.1, p. 137.
2. Rushdoony, p. 286.
3. Rushdoony, pp. 485-486.
4. Rushdoony, p. 251.
5. Rushdoony, p. 251.
6. Rushdoony, p. 137.
7. Henry H. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1965), p. 645.

When I post to you, creeper, cranky and the others, I don't realistically believe I will change what you believe or what you hold to be the truth.

I do know that others visit this site and may really be looking for the truth, so I give them a good place to look.

So don't be afraid to be "so completely negative" and realize that radar may have meant that I didn't beat cranky over the head or that I didn't present the info with attitude and am "evolving".

cranky old fart said...

Lobo,

I'm sorry I've been tied up and unable to get back to your apologia regarding "God's word" on slavery.

Where to begin? So much effort dancing around the obvious is both sad and amusing.

I naturally agree that historical context is very important in reading any of these texts. After all, these words are written by a man whose knowledge and understanding of the world is limited to his experience. So, quite naturally, the man who wrote the words took slavery as a given.

Unfortunately for you, you've got to explain the omnipresent problem of why an omniscient God speaks with a similarly limited world view. So what's the excuse this time?

"When God gave the law to Moses, slavery was a part of the world, and so the law of God recognized slavery."

I mean he's just a God. What else could he do?
Some things will never change

The Big Guy couldn't even muster a brief note that maybe He'd rather folks wouldn't do this to one another?

But then again, what do you expect from the God of Deuteronomy 20:11-17?

radar said...

Cranky, one thing you don't understand is the nature of slavery in the world of the Jews back then. Slaves then were much like working-class citizens today in the way they were treated and compensated. It would be better to classify them as servants. I worked as a "wage slave" for many years in the steel and the automotive industries and, in the time of the writing of the Bible, I would have been a slave.

The incredibly ungodly and heartless servitude that other nations developed and that passed over to even the United States for a few generations is another matter entirely. People were treated as objects, not people, in fact often treated with less regard than animals.

God never regarded the mistreatment man by man with a blind eye. You probably are not very familiar with the Bible, so you are kind of doing a "drive-by" of Bible teaching.

cranky old fart said...

"Slaves then were much like working-class citizens today in the way they were treated and compensated...in the time of the writing of the Bible, I would have been a slave."

OK, if that makes you feel better, we'll go with that.

But even if you did feel like a permanent possession (Leviticus 25:46) of Toyota, I'm pretty sure they would have let you walk out the door any time you wanted.

And I'm pretty sure union rules would have prevented you from being beaten to death without penalty. (Provided you lingered for a day or so, of course) Exodus 21:20-21.

There are many, many passages that contradict the rosy picture you paint of ancient slavery. Do we really need to go chapter and verse?

Your sugar coating of biblical slavery reminds me of a quote from an historian, whose name I can't recall at the moment, to the effect that "people who lived in the past didn't realize they were living in the past". In other words, the people who were living under the conditions described in the bible were real people who felt the feelings any human would feel when their wives and children were held hostage Exodus 21:4-6, or handed from owner to owner as mere chattel.

More to the point I raised in my original comment, why is it that god makes no comment on slavery beyond setting out some "rules" that favor Hebrew slaves over pagan slaves? Why not one comment that, "gee, I think maybe it's generally a bad thing for people to treat other people as possessions"? Didn't he know that his "inspired" texts would be used beyond the era in which it was being written?

Or maybe he didn't care. Dude was one cruel bastard.

How many humans have been slaughtered at God's command?

To highlight just one example, Deuteronomy 20:13-17. God commands that every elderly woman, babe in arms, teething toddler, woman, cat and dog be killed for no other reason than that they live in the wrong city.

I know, I know, humans are sinful and God can do with them as he pleases.

"You probably are not very familiar with the Bible..."

OK, if it makes you feel better.

Or maybe it's just obvious to any impartial reader that these are just stories written by men, reflecting the thoughts, experiences, aspirations, history and prejudices of a people.

I'll go with that.

cranky old fart said...

Lobo,

"It was forbidden to take the life or liberty of any other man. Rushdoony writes: Thus, the only kind of slavery permitted is voluntary slavery"

Rushooey can write whatever he likes, but your very post, his words, contradict him.

"Theologian R.J. Rushdoony writes, “since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves” 1 without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46)."

Does this sound voluntary to you?

Rushloony goes on to proclaim: Involuntary Servitude is Not Biblical!

Say what? Didn't the guy read what he just wrote?

"4. Pagans could be permanent slaves
Leviticus 25:44-46 states: As for your male and female slaves whom you may have ‹ you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves."

Again, sure doesn't look voluntary.

More from Rushboy: "Kidnapping and enforced slavery are forbidden and punishable by death. This was true for any man (Ex. 21:16)...This was stealing a man's freedom."

Read the Leviticus 25:44-46 above and then read the preceding paragraph. Kinda makes your head spin.

And, of course, there are any number of instances of God ordering his people to slaughter every man in a city, and taking the women and children as slaves. (Numbers 31 is particularly tasty, as they only keep the virgins) All very voluntary, I'm sure.

Look, this Rushphooey can waltz around it all he wants (talk about your "drive-by bible teaching"!)the Bible (God?) has no problem whatsoever with people treating people like furniture.

cranky old fart said...

Oops. My apologies to Rushgoofy.

The cut 'n paste was a Stephen McDowell article, and Rushie was just a dance partner.

My bad.

cranky old fart said...

If anyone is still reading this thread, you really owe it to yourself to look into this Rushdoony fellow.

One serious Reconstructionist wack job.