Thursday, 30 March 2017

Whip it good, SJT takes on slavery

On to objection number 5.  By now I'm expecting to see a lot of text avoiding my points, plus a healthy dose of bible verses...

Objection Number 5 is the peculiar tolerance of slavery in the Christian world. 

The Objection

My original: Right, Christianity has always been against slavery. Even in the first 1800 years when it wasn’t. And as the American Civil War showed, for many, not until the Federal Army reached Richmond. The problem is that Jesus never said to abolish slavery. Neither did anyone else in the bible. Indeed, Exodus 21:20-21 said it was permissible to beat a slave so badly that they would die 2-3 days later. The slave-owner wasn’t punished in this case as the slave was his property. A chattel. Not a human being, but property.

This is a very simple test. Moral beings don’t sanction this horrific behaviour. Christianity perpetuated slavery. It’s failed to reach a credible standard of morality that would corroborate a loving, moral supreme deity.

But We're Good Now!

S.J. Thomason responds:

SJT: The first point to address the issue of slavery is to note that no true Christians of sound mind today are endorsing the type of slavery that was present in the United States in its early history. Slavery is something of the past in developed countries and involuntary servitude is not something any Christian of sound mind cares to resurrect.
The problem isn't today. The problem is for about 90% of your religion's history, slavery was completely cool. If you can coexist with slavery for roughly 1800 years, then Christianity was never against slavery. It was for it.

SJT: The next point is that the type of slavery reported in Biblical times was often voluntary with civil owner slave relationships. 
Rubbish, slavery is a coercive arrangement that takes advantage of a person's desperate desire to survive.  In the classical slaves were heavily sourced from wars, and slavery was as pervasive in Jewish society as it was in Graeco-Roman (see Hezser, 2006, Jewish Slavery in Antiquity, OUP). 

The myth that ancient Judaea practiced a kinder, gentler form of slavery is an agenda-driven form of apologetics.  

Nevermind the Unfloatable Boat- We Need Whips!

SJT: Exceptions exist, which Kaimatai notes, and it is fortunate we are given such glimpses into the lives of people who lived during Biblical times so we can better understand the context of the Bible. Had reports of slavery been excluded from the Bible, one would question its historical authenticity.
Oh garbage. If they alone had stood out and said slavery was wrong, that would be at least some evidence they had a sense of morality.  And as for historical authenticity! The bible has impossible floods, talking animals and mass migrations of people that never happened.  It is so parochial it manages to show no interest in the campaigns of the ancient Hellenes and Romans.  How hard is it to not notice the conquest of the Achaemenid Empire by Alexander the Great! But you think it needs to promote slavery to be perceived as authentic!

Owning People as Property Is Moral If It Serves the Greater Good

SJT: Noting that Jesus did not instruct followers to abolish slavery ignores the fact that slavery was often voluntary and civil and a component of societal functioning in Biblical times.

Oh wow, so some people had to become property for the good of society!  Slavery may be an evil crime against humanity, but hey, you can live with it (roll eyes).

Have Doubts- Try the Kool-Aid instead

SJT: Instead of identifying areas in which Jesus did not instruct, we should consider His instructions to love our neighbors as ourselves, alongside the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-12:
I refuse to ignore history because it conflicts with your fictions. Millions of Africans were enslaved. One-to-two million died horribly in the Middle Passage.  Mostly because Christians of the time though Jesus was ok with slavery. Was it really impossible for him to say that slavery should be abolished?

And as predicted, the bible verses...

SJT: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You know the bit in bible class where they tell you to quote the bible because the "Word of God" has power?  They lied. It's usually platitudinous rubbish that sound asinine to non-believers. 


So we agree that slavery was a thing for most of Christianity's history.  And an invitation to drink a lot of Kool-Aid so I can forget about the problem.  We may have a new low for rebuttals.

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