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Does the bible support slavery?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 783 times Debate No: 40758
Debate Rounds (5)
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Leviticus 25:44-46 ESV / 224 helpful votes

Leviticus 25:44-46: As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly. With Bible verses like this and many other that give orders from God his support and regulations on slavery. Does Christianity support slavery, with slavery defined as slave (slv)
1. One bound in servitude as the property of a person or household.
Why would a God who is described as all loving and righteous support a system of human bondage as property?


Challenge accepted. I will also accept your definition of slavery, and I hope for this to be a good respectful debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Okay these are a few more verses from the bible about slavery they tell who you can purchase as slaves, how you can treat your slaves including the severity of beating them, and buying sex slaves, from the old and new testament:

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. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. 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)
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)
Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

These verses are clearly in the bible, how can an all loving god support an institution of slavery in any time period in any case and not only that give orders on allowing physical punishment. Based on these verses alone, the United States was well within biblical rights to keep slaves as anyone else who is Christian and wants slaves. Do you believe slavery is immoral? If you do and after reading these verses you must also conclude that God is immoral if you truly believe he inspires the bible or you must conclude that the bible was written by slave owning men and not by any Gods especially any of love and mercy that the Christian god is often credited for being the universal authority of.


Thank you for your post. I would like to address a few things you said. I suppose since their isn't a set format I'll make my case then address your own.

1) Support and allow are two different things.

Now, the verses you quote either give regulation or allowance, but it does not necessarily constitute support. In fact, we can see that the law of the Israelites was not necessarily given support by God as Moses (an imperfect man) was the ambassador between man and God.

Here's a good quote:

"In Matthew 19:3-10, the Pharisees came to Jesus, attempting to trap Him with questions about the Old Law. They asked: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" Jesus informed them that divorce was not in God"s plan from the beginning. Thinking they had trapped Him, they inquired: "Why, then, did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce and to put her away?" If it was in the Old Law, they suggested, then it must be God"s ideal will. But Jesus" answer quickly stopped that line of thinking. He responded:

"Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.

"Jesus" point was crystal clear"some things permitted in the Old Testament did not necessarily represent the ideal. Due to the hardness of ancient Israel"s heart, God tolerated (and regulated) some things under the Old Law that He did not endorse. As He did so, however, He progressively revealed His divine will to mankind, clarifying that will more fully through Christ."

The law of Leviticus and Exodus was temporary. It was never intended to be divine law that all should abide by. In fact, it only applied to the Israelites prior to the coming of Jesus as a system of government that was corrupted by man. For something to be considered supported by the Bible it must be given common witness to, and the support of slavery is not.

2) Applying our modern day concept of slavery is misrepresentation.

Slaves were more like employees in the context of this civilization. You can see even in the Bible verses you quoted that slaves are given certain rights and that it is possible for the slave owner to fail the slave. Why is this? Slaves had a few contexts, but in general slaves were more like employees.

Another quote for you from the same source as earlier:

"But suppose a master did abuse his slaves in Old Testament times, and those slaves decided to run away. In Deuteronomy 23:15-16, God made it unlawful for runaway slaves to be returned to their masters. The text states: You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him."

Moving to the New Testament, according to: Copan, Paul (2001), That"s Your Interpretation: Responding to Skeptics Who Challenge Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker):

"During Paul"s time, the master-slave relationship provided sufficient benefits and opportunities, such that it dampened any thoughts of revolutionary behavior. One freed slave had inscribed on his tombstone: "Slavery was never unkind to me...." More often than not, it was the free workers rather than slaves who were abused by foremen and bosses. (After all, an owner stood to have an ongoing loss if he abused his slave.) [2001, p. 172, parenthetical item and emp. in orig.]."

This certainly does out a damper on viewing slaves as property in the modern sense. While property is our English term used for translation, in the times back then it could easily mean something much looser in a sense of control, but not necessarily in the way of any possession like a couch. In fact, it was closer to control such as an employer. Being an employee is not slavery. Also, in your definition you include the word "bound." God, as stated above, actually mandated that they be unbound meaning that the slaves could live with whoever they wanted.

To move on to some of your points I will address the New Testament verse you used. I ought to point out that it dies not mandate slavery or endorse it. It merely has a common teaching in the Bible, which is that hate ought to be returned with love. It's also a teaching of respect for one's superior.

Now I'll respond to some of your questions:

Q: " can an all loving god support slavery in any case and not only that give orders on allowing physical punishment?"
A: Well like I said, God didn't necessarily support it. He regulated it. Also, concerning physical punishment, it's merely intended to be just punishment for proportionally bad actions. This is a system of government not a system of ethics.

Q: "Do you believe slavery is immoral?"
A: First of all, I have no grounds for imposing an objective moral standard on the universal moral law giver. Second of all, it is okay. For example, when someone is sentenced to life in prison they become slaves of the state. They are being punished. Very common examples of slavery involve Israel beating someone who attacked them and instead of slaughtering the rest of them take them in for servitude. In some cases God knew there would be corruption and commanded they be killed (when the Israelites didn't obey bad things happened to the nation), and this is essentially the same concept.

Obviously your last statement is irrelevant as I have stated that in some cases slavery is justifiable.

So to wrap things up, slavery was unbound and not necessarily using the modern sense of property, and the Bible doesn't support it.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2


jlatwardoh forfeited this round.


Well, for whatever reason my opponent has forfeited the round. For now my arguments go untouched.
Debate Round No. 3


jlatwardoh forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments for this round as well.
Debate Round No. 4


jlatwardoh forfeited this round.


ThunderClap forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by LAQUAINE 3 years ago
I can see how he could pull that off.
Posted by TrueScotsman 3 years ago
"And they may be your property..." Debate over, there is no possible way around it.
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