Where's the birth certificate

Free and Strong America

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St Paul on Slavery



Photogr had an interesting comment yesterday on the Mining history for only certain sins thread. He stated... "Human slavery is wrong no matter if it was in biblical times or in present times such as sex slavery trade or whatever a human is used for gain by a select few at the expense of one's freedom. No man or woman should have domain over another for their own personal gain."



I think we can all agree that slavery as it exists in the world today is a horrible practice. Various organizations are working toward freeing as many individuals as they can. Likewise, slavery in the antebellum South, as exemplified in the famous mini-series Roots, was a horrific institution of despair and suffering. But what type of institution was the apostle Paul referring to in his epistles? Author Wayne Grudem (PhD), who is pictured above, weighs in with his thoughts on the matter...


"Paul says to slaves, "If you can gain your freedom, avail yourselves of the opportunity" (1 Corinthians 7:21). And he tells Philemon that that he should welcome his slave Onesimus back "no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a beloved brother" (Philemon 16) and that he should "receive him as you would receive me" (v.17). Paul tells Philemon that if Onesimus owes him anything, Paul would pay it himself (v.18-19). Finally he says, "Confident of your obedience, I write to you knowing that you will do even more than I say" (v.21) This is a strong and not so subtle hint that Philemon should grant freedom to Onesimus. Paul's condemnation of "enslavers" in 1 Timothy 1:10 also showed the moral wrong of forcibly putting anyone into slavery.

When we hear the word "slavery" today it is usually what we have read in books and seen on tv, concerning horrible abuses that occurred in the 19th century and earlier. But if that is what comes to mind when we read the word "slave" in Bible, then that is a distorted picture.

The person referred to as a "slave" or "bondsman" in the New Testament (Greek, doulos) was legally bound to a certain master, almost always for a limited period of time, until he could obtain his freedom. A detailed article in The International Bible Encyclopedia explains,

"Persons in slavery under Roman Law in the 1st century AD could generally count on being set free by the age of 30. Pertinent inscriptions, however, indicate that large numbers, approaching 50 percent, were set free before their 30th birthdays."

Slaves in this sense had a higher social status and better economic situation than free day laborers who had to search for employment each day (see Matthew 20:1-7, where the master of the house goes into the marketplace to hire day laborers at different times during the day). By contrast, those who were bondservants (or "slaves") had greater economic security with a continuing job and steady income.

Such slaves (in the first century sense of "bondservants") worked in a variety of occupations: In Greco-Roman households, slaves served not only as cooks, cleaners and personal attendants, but also as tutors to persons of all ages, physicians, nurses, close companions and managers of the household. In the business world, slaves were not only janitors and delivery boys; they were managers of estates, shops and ships as well as salesmen and contracting agents. In the civil service, slaves were not only used for street paving and sewer cleaning gangs but also as administrators of funds and personnel and as executives with decision making powers.

How then did people become slaves? While many were born into slavery and while in earlier years up until the time of Caesar Augustus (63 BC- 14 AD) Romans had obtained slaves through conquest in war by the time of the New Testamant.

Large numbers of people sold themselves into slavery for various reasons, above all to enter a life that was easier and more secure than an existance as a poor freeborn person, to obtain special jobs and to climb socially......

Many non-Romans sold themselves to Roman citizens with the justified expectation, carefully regulated by Roman law, of becoming Roman citizens themselves when manumitted.

Certainly, capable slaves had an advantage over their free counterparts in that their owners would often supply them with an excellent education at the owner's expense. Famous philosophers (Epictetus), teachers, grammarians, administrators (M.A. Felix, the procurator who was Paul's judge in Acts 23:24-24:27) artists, physicians and writers were all a part of this practice. These slaves and former slaves formed a broad band of intellectuals in the 1st century. Such slaves did not have to wait until manumission before they were capable of establishing friendships with their owners and other free persons as human beings.

For many, self-sale into slavery with anticipaton of manumission provided the most direct means to be integrated into Greek and Roman society. As such, in stark contrast to New World Slavery in the 17-19th centuries, Greo-Roman slavery functioned as a process rather than a permanent condition. "

So as we can see, this sytem was quite a bit different than that which helped spark the American Civil War. Was it a perfect system? No. But how else could someone from a more primitive culture expect to integrate themselves into Roman society?

The only parallel I can think of off-hand in today's age would be enlistment into the armed services. One enters (in most Western countries) voluntarily and for a specified period of time. While the branch of the armed services that you enlist in dictates what you do and do not do and you, in effect, are theirs, there are certain rules they have to abide by while in their service and they in turn are responsible for you. Nobody is going around calling servicemen and women "slaves" and if they were, they'd be laughed at, and with good reason.

Source cited: Grudem, Wayne: Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, Chapter 9, www.efbt100.com

14 comments:

Froggie said...

JD,
Your logic here is quite fractured.
First of all, Armies run in regimentation. They cannot be otherwise effective. Also, the services are 100% voluntary and if a person cannot adjust to the regimentation there is a remedy through the process of persuing a General Discharge.

Next, you can interpret the ible till the cows come home but you cannot deny that oters have interpreted different than you, in the past and in the present, for bigoted causes.

Your low key, yet pervasive criticism of gays is one example. Jesus never spoke against gays. Paul, who, never met Jesus, basically hijacked Christianity from Jesus and injected his Jewish, old testament ideas into the New Testament.

It took the Southern Baptists until 1995 to finally renounce slavery, and their racist views. Those views are still alive and well in pockets of the U.S. even today.

On June 20, 1995 the SBC issued a resolution that declared [we] "unwaveringly denounce racism, in all its forms, as deplorable sin" and "lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest." It offered an apology to all African-Americans for "condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime" and repentance for "racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously or unconsciously." Although Southern Baptists have condemned racism in the past, this was the first time the predominantly white convention had dealt specifically with the issue of slavery.

tinkbell13 said...

DNFTT

JD Curtis said...

Also, the services are 100% voluntary and if a person cannot adjust to the regimentation there is a remedy through the process of persuing a General Discharge

I was comparing bondservice, (or slavery) with how one enters the armed services, which is voluntarily.What is referred to as slavery in many cases in the Bible was also a voluntary agreement.

you can interpret the ible till the cows come home but you cannot deny that oters have interpreted different than you, in the past and in the present, for bigoted causes

Might you like to take a moment and tell me where Dr Grudem is incorrect in his above commentary?

Your low key, yet pervasive criticism of gays is one example. Jesus never spoke against gays. Paul, who, never met Jesus, basically hijacked Christianity from Jesus and injected his Jewish, old testament ideas into the New Testament

There are no accounts of Jesus ever directly addressing the topic of homosexuality. Then again, there are no accounts of Jesus ever addressing pedophilia or beastiality either and all were clearly understood to be verboten amongst the Jews.

Paul was teaching nothing contradictory to the Old Testament and only reaffirming it.

Insofar as my "low key, yet pervasive criticism of gays", I would only note that on a thread dealing with the topic of slavery, you changed the subject to homosexuality. I couldnt care less what consenting adults do behind closed doors. Just don't try to shove it in my face and tell me it's anything other than a sin.

Your above quotation dealing with the Southern Baptist Convention ignores...

A. "Abolitionists exercised a particularly strong influence on religious life, contributing heavily to schisms that separated the Methodists (1844) and Baptists (1845), while founding numerous independent antislavery "free churches." In higher education abolitionists founded Oberlin College, the nation's first experiment in racially integrated coeducation, the Oneida Institute, which graduated an impressive group of African-American leaders, and Illinois's Knox College, a western center of abolitionism" Link, and..

B. "Northern merchants, however, soon sought the profit involved in importing slaves from Africa. Southern planters, the only ones able to use large numbers of unskilled laborers on large plantations in a relatively warm climate, helped to prolong this evil. At the height of this system, however, two-thirds of the white families of the South owned no slaves at all, and Baptists (who were generally of the lower economic status) were probably less involved than this" Link

The Catholic Apologist said...

JC,

Thanks for the post! I will use it in my religious education programs! I never knew this.

God Bless!

photogr said...

This may not have much meaning to what is being discussed.

I wasn't born when slavery was the norm on southern plantations (1800's) but I was living in the time of segregation in the late 15050's and early 1960's down south as a Southern Babtist where segregation was also practiced in the churches too.Old traditions in the south takes a long time to die.

For some reason, my family did not subscribe to the segregationist ideals of the day. We had both black and white friends. One was my closest fiend and my age. We used to go up to the malt shop to get a sundae when our families visited. We had to take it out behind the shop as they didn't allow blacks to sit in the shop as the neighborhood was predominantly white. Figures doesn't it?

We sort of drifted apart when his family moved back to Selma Ala. but we crossed paths again when he was doing a sit in at a local Kress store soda shop. He was a part of a sit in from the M.L King movement. Traditionally I bougt a sundae for the both of us and the hecklers got really rowdy over that. I guess this was when I became involved in the civil rights movement.

Being a hot headed 200 lb. 16 year old with a trigger temper, naturally I started swinging at some of the good ole boys that physically attacked my friend. We both ended up in jail and my dad came downtown to bail us out. From what I heard, he really ripped up the cops for arresting only us. None of the hecklers were arrested at that peacefull demonstration.

On the way home, my dad never said a word to us. Then as we drove up to our driveway, Dad turned to me and said " I am proud of you for standing up for your friend." Nothing else was said.

There is no room for racism, slavery, biases, or bigotry in America today. Our constitution and declaration of independence guarantees that for all people of American citizenry. It is ok to have differences of opinion and we have a right to express those opinions with out fear of retribution or being denounced for said views.

I am stepping down from my soap box. I hope some can see the parody in this post.

JD Curtis said...

Thank you for sharing that Photogr.

Frogster, I only think it fair to mention that one of the sites that I have bookmarked and that I check out about 4-5 times a week is Baptist Press, the news organization of America's largest, Protestant organization, the Southern Baptists.

If you visit their site, (www.bpnews.net) simply type the word [slavery] into the "search" field and simply read that which pops up.

Among the numerous article that will come up, specially check out this article entitled Slavery Still Exists and post your thoughts here.

"The bottom line in understanding the driving international force of human slavery is financial profit. Human trafficking is the world's third largest criminal industry. The United Nations reports that human trafficking supports more than $30 billion of industry worldwide. The U.S. State Department says that "the global economic crisis is also boosting the demand side of human trafficking." Therefore, the issue is complex and complicated in causes, practices and in ways to end it. Ending it is not impossible, but definitely challenging.

In theological terms, sin and human depravity is at its darkest in creating and perpetuating the need and the supply of the human slave trade. So, what does this mean for Christians today? The prophet Micah reminds us, "What is good, and what does the Lord require of me? But to live justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8). Link.

Let's do a comparison with the Christopher Hitchens/Richard Dawkins organization(s) that are fighting this oppression and first see who is more active.

Gandolf said...

JD said ..."What is referred to as slavery in many cases in the Bible was also a voluntary agreement"

"Slaves in this sense had a higher social status and better economic situation than free day laborers who had to search for employment each day (see Matthew 20:1-7, where the master of the house goes into the marketplace to hire day laborers at different times during the day). By contrast, those who were bondservants (or "slaves") had greater economic security with a continuing job and steady income."

Sell your soul for an agreed number of years,and you`d be considdered by those havesting your labour as having a "higher social status" and selling your soul this way would gauretee you a way to " a continuing job and steady income"

Still smells a lot like a type of plain slavery to me JD.Yeah sure there was some type of choice,but the choice only being that you agreed to agree to sell your soul to the master for a time that he stated ....or else most likely you`d risk starving and die

tinkbell13 said...

The most common breed of troll seeks attention by enthusiastically posting up a stream of off-topic drivel or by being clumsily provocative (like posting up, "PCs ROOL!" on an Apple Mac discussion board.)

Ignore them. The worst thing you can do is to try and engage them in rational debate as this only encourages them to hang around.

And once they find themselves the centre of attention, they inevitably become more and more 'controversial' before building up to a crescendo of abuse, followed by a theatrical flounce.

Froggie said...

JD,
Been very busy.

Will check out the Baptist Press when I get off the road in a few days.

Frog-O-matic

Photog,

Good on you.

JD Curtis said...

Let me get this straight Gandolf. If I lived back then you would be opposed to me deciding to enter into a voluntary agreement that would provide I would be fed and sheltered in exchange for my work/services for a limited time, with the possibility of furthering my education?

People today can be as free as they want to and reject the drudgery of the time clock and a boss. That doesnt put food on the table though.

Adam Nardoli said...

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again.
...
And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment
. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

Selling your daughters for sex puts food on the table.

JD Curtis said...

Adam,

i don't mind at all critically examining my faith. If you would like to discuss these passages, then so be it.

First off, where does the word "sex" appear in the above quotation? I'm just making sure that this isnt some sort of Fruedian slip on your part.

Adam Nardoli said...

"or fail to sleep with her"

JD Curtis said...

"Concerning maid-servants, whom their parents, through extreme poverty, had sold, when they were very young, to such as they hoped would marry them when they grew up; if they did not, yet they must not sell them to strangers, but rather study how to make them amends for the disappointment; if they did, they must maintain them handsomely, v. 7-11. Thus did God provide for the comfort and reputation of the daughters of Israel, and has taught husbands to give honour to their wives (be their extraction ever so mean) as to the weaker vessels"

Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary