The Bible is OK with slavery
The topic of this debate is whether the Bible is OK with slavery. This debate is NOT impossible to accept, although there are restrictions. If you do not meet the requirements but feel like you would be a good opponent, then let me know in the comments.
In this debate, slavery will be defined as it usually is: Owning people as property.
I can tell you right now that the bulk of my argument will be quotes from the Bible.
If you're going to go with "you can't account for morality", then reread the title. This is not about whether or not slavery is moral.
People who make topics that are truisms should lose. The point of debate is to give both sides a fair chance at winning. The fact that contenders can choose whether or not to accept is only a reason not to automatically vote against the instigator. Rather, the judges of a debate have an obligation to interpret the topic in a way that gives both sides a fair chance at winning. In this debate, this requires that judges interpret "the Bible" to mean the contemporary Christian understanding of the Bible. If the words of the Old Testament are considered to be a binding part of "The Bible," there is no debate to be had here: the Old Testament clearly endorsed slavery. The only fair debate to be had here is whether The King James Bible, when read as a whole, actively approves of slavery.
== Definitions ==
The Bible = the King James Bible plus contemporary Christian understanding of how the Old and New Testament should be interpreted
OK = "sanction or give approval to" [Google Dictionary]
== Case ==
My opponent will undoubtedly quote extensively from the Old Testament (OT). However, Christians interpret Matthew 5:17-20 as saying that Jesus "fulfilled" the old Jewish laws, thereby rendering certain laws no longer applicable to Christians. Christians do not have to keep kosher because in Jesus' speech to his disciples in Matthew 5, Jesus was creating a new religion that abrogated the Old Testament. The OT is no longer considered to be part of "The Bible" to the extent that it is inconsistent with the New Testament (NT).
So what does the NT have to say about slavery?
In 1 Timothy 1:8-11, the NT condemns slave traders. The NT equates slave traders to murderers, liars, and cheats. [1 Timothy 1, https://www.biblegateway.com...]. The NT calls the slave trade immoral ("contrary to sound doctrine"). The NT clearly condemned slavery.
However, like the Founding Fathers (many of whom disapproved of slavery), the NT also realized as an expedient that slavery wasn't going anywhere. The Founding Fathers built a provision into the Constitution in Article I Section 9 that would have allowed the federal government to ban the importation of slaves after 30 years had passed. However, the Founding Fathers also realized that slavery could not be abolished overnight and therefore compromised. They allowed it to stay, but tried their best to ensure that slaves would be treated humanely in the future.
The NT is the same way. Ephesians 6:5-8 instructs slaves that they too can go to Heaven, and the good works they do for their masters will be recognized in Heaven. Ephesians 6:9 tells masters not to "threaten" their slaves and to treat them humanely. Colossians 4:1 says, "Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven." Knowing that slavery was not going to be abolished anytime soon, the NT included a set of rules that required masters to treat their slaves humanely. Given the time at which it was written, the NT could not have possibly advocated for the abolition of slavery. Even 1600 years later, the Founding Fathers couldn't even advocate for full abolition. It took the bloodiest war in US history to completely abolish slavery. Its not realistic to expect that 1700 years prior to the Civil War, the NT would advocate abolition, given people's violent reactions to the idea. However, it did advocate that the *slave trade* should be abolished and that current slaves should be treated humanely by their masters.
To say that the NT was "okay" with slavery, i.e. that it approved of slavery, is not possible. It is no more possible than saying that Jefferson actively endorsed slavery. Despite being a slave owner himself, Jefferson believed that slavery was morally wrong and should be abolished. Although he never took active steps to end slavery for practical reasons, he believed that slaves should be treated humanely. In a *rough draft* of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote that the slave trade was a "cruel war against human nature." [PBS, http://www.pbs.org...] Although these words never made it into the final draft of the Declaration because the Southerners would have objected, this rough draft shows Jefferson's true beliefs about slavery. Likewise, 1 Timothy 1, which puts slave traders in the same category as murderers, shows the Bible's true thoughts about slavery. The NT, which abrogates the OT, clearly did not approve of slavery.
Burncastle forfeited this round.
I apologize about the forfeiture of last round. While I accept that this will cost me conduct points, I hope the audience will still take my arguments for what they are and not focus on that slip. Now on to the debate. (I'll separate my rebuttal following my opponent's structure, for clarity).
== Debate theory ==
My opponent began her first round with a weird tactic; she said that the topic was a truism. There are two problems with this: first of all, if you search the Internet for five minutes you will come across a vast number of pages who try to defend the position that the Bible does not actually sanction slavery. Just go on YouTube and you will find countless apologists trying to argue this position. The second problem with this is that, if my opponent actually believed that this statement was a truism, then there would be no reason for her to accept this. If she believed that I was right, then why argue with me? Is she not aware that there are actually people who hold the opposing view point and would gladly argue it? Moreover, I fail to see how there can be anything CLOSE to a truism when we are talking about literary interpretation, especially when we can not ask the authors what they meant (and we do not even know who they are).
My opponent ends this section with a rewording of the topic in a way that she feels is more suiting. At first I thought this was slightly cheating, but then I realized that she did not actually change much. The new topic that she proposes goes as follow: "The King James Bible, when read as a whole, actively approves of slavery". Let's deconstruct it.
Her "The King James Bible" is identical to my "The Bible" with the addition of a specific version, which I accept.
Her "actively approves of slavery" is similar to my "is okay with slavery", although I'm not exactly sure what she means by "actively approves". If she means that the Bible ENCOURAGES people to have slave, then that is obviously not true and I have no intention to argue that position.
I accept the addition of "when read as a whole" to the topic, as long as it's not understood in a way that would require to point to an approval of slavery in every book of the Bible. If this only means that we should take in consideration every passage, then I accept that.
== Definitions ==
I accept the definitions proposed by my opponent.
== Case ==
As my opponent rightly guessed, I will quote the Old Testament, but since both my opponent and myself agree that the OT does endorse slavery, I will simply list the passages for good measure:
Now, my opponent tries to argue against the validity of the OT by quoting Matthew 5:17-20 where Jesus says that he came to fulfill the law. This is an interesting passage to quote:
"17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
This passage downright says "slaves, obey your masters". How can my opponent read a statement like this and claim that "The NT clearly condemned slavery."?
Pro says all the judges should award me conduct. I'll take it.
== Debate Theory ==
Pro basically gives me everything I ask for here. He also drops (by non-response) my argument that the Bible should include the contemporary Christian understanding of the text, which is that portions of the OT are not considered gospel. Even if there weren't a textualist reason for doing so (in Matthew 5:17-20), Christian theology only follows the teachings of Jesus and his disciples, not the OT. There are portions of the OT that are considered historical events by some Christians (such as Creation), but as to the "legal" rules in the Bible, Christians don't follow OT legal rules (i.e. Christians don't follow the rules about keeping kosher, Christians don't follow the rules that allow a rapist to escape punishment by paying money to the girl's father, and Christians don't follow the OT legal rule that instructed parents to stone disobedient children). Thus, the legal rules in Leviticus saying that a master can beat a slave near-to-death as long has he doesn't kill the slaves is *not* followed by Christians and is not considered a binding part of "the Bible," even if there were no textualist justification for not following these legal rules.
== Definitions ==
Pro concedes my definition of "okay," which may be problematic for him. OK = sanction or give approval to. So the question for the debate is does the Bible approve of slavery. We know that many of the Founders did not approve of slavery, despite never proposing to ban it entirely. Therefore, proposing a ban on slavery is *not* a necessary condition for non-approval. Tacit acceptance is not approval. I can disapprove of the practice of abortion and think the government should discourage it, but I don't think it should be banned. I'm not "okay" with abortion. But I think it's not practical to ban it (since women will get back-alley abortions), so I tacitly accept it. Therefore, to be "not okay" with something does not require you to advocate for its ban. The Bible can be "not okay" with slavery without ever arguing for its ban.
== Rebuttal ==
I refuted this above under debate theory. If I win that OT legal rules are not binding parts of the Bible either because of a textualist approach or a non-textual approach, I win. You could also say that Christians only follow the "spirit" of the Bible, much as some U.S. Constitutional scholars argue that we should follow the spirit of the Constitution rather than its exact letter. So winning the textualist approach of Matthew 5:17-20 is not even necessary to my argument.
Pro notes the parts of Matthew 5 that say that no jot or tittle shall pass from the law until it is "fulfilled." When Jesus was speaking in Matthew 5, he was still alive. Christians believe that the law was not "fulfilled" until Jesus' death on the cross, where he wiped clean Original Sin and also got rid of other parts of the OT. The fact that Jesus had not yet died on the cross explains why the law was not yet "fulfilled" when Jesus was speaking to his disciples in Matthew 5.
Pro also points out in big bold letter Matthew 5:19, which says, "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Christians still follow the 10 Commandments because of this passage. Matthew 5:19 also shows that the "laws" that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:17 that he did "not come to destroy" were the 10 Commandments. Jesus did not mean that *every* Jewish law would remain in place, only the Commandments. Again, I refer my opponent to the fact that Christians do not keep kosher. He has no response for this argument. If you accept my opponent's interpretation of Matthew 5:17-20, you would have to conclude that all Christians go to Hell for not keeping kosher. Such a belief does not square with Christian theology. Therefore, you have to accept my interpretation of Matthew 5:17-20, which is that it kept the 10 Commandments in place, but abrogated all the other parts of the OT. We cannot consider the OT to be binding law upon Christians.
My opponent begins this section by saying that Jesus was not the one speaking. However, most of the NT is not direct quotes from Jesus. Obviously, Jesus could not tell the story of his own birth, for example. A lot of the quotes in the NT are from other people. 1 Timothy 1:1 explains that the book of Timothy is the words of Paul, who was an apostle, and as an apostle, knew and understood the teachings of Jesus. My opponent accepts that "The Bible" is the King James Bible and 1 Timothy is considered gospel.
My opponent next much ado about how the King James Bible says "menstealers" not "femalestealers" or "peoplestealers." He claims that 1 Timothy 1 would only care if a *man* were forced into slavery, not if a woman were forced into slavery. However, until relatively modern times, "man" was used synonymously with the word "person." When women first started joining police and fire departments, the terms "policemen" and "firemen" were used to refer to women who held these jobs as well. When the Declaration of Independence says, "All men are created equal," the term "men" was understood to include women.
You can see that I am right because of the way the King James Bible has subsequently been translated. The New International Version replaces the word "menstealers" with "slave traders."  The New Living Translation also uses the word "slave traders."  The English Standard Version says "enslavers."  The King James 2000 Bible says "slave traders."  The American King James Version says "enslavers."  You get the point. 1 Timothy 1:10 was most definitely condemning the slave trade, not merely taking men as slaves.
My opponent next falsely assumes I believe in God. In response to my argument that the NT could not advocate abolition because it would have been too "ahead of its time," Pro says, "my opponent is basically saying that Jesus could not simply say 'Thou shalt not own slaves.' Really? What kind of puny God (or Son of God) is unable to do that?" Whether God exists is irrelevant to the question of whether the Bible and its authors were "okay" with slavery. I don't accept the premise that God wrote the Bible and no one contends that Jesus wrote the Bible. I also refer you to my argument above that a failure to advocate a ban on something does not mean you are "okay" with that thing. There's also something called status quo bias, which means that people often are not "okay" with status quo and may even *hate* the status quo, but they don't advocate for change because it is too difficult.
After all, the Bible is a historical text written by people in around 100-300 AD. You can't possibly expect for people to advocate abolishing slavery at this time. The abolitionist movement didn't start until the 1800's. Britain was the first country to ban slavery in 1834. The Founders prove that disapproval of slavery prior to the late 1800's took the form of advocating against the *slave trade.* The Founders included a provision in the Constitution banning the slave trade after 30 years and Jefferson condemned the slave trade in a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. Likewise, 1 Timothy 1 advocated against the slave trade, equating slave traders as being just as morally reprehensible as murderers. We cannot expect more from such an ancient text.
Even the United States didn't know what to do with freed slaves. During Reconstruction, many farm slaves entered economic arrangements that were akin to feudalism, where they continued to live on the farms and paid a portion of the harvest to the landowner. They were treated like serfs. It took decades if not centuries to fully integrate former slaves into the economy and society, and some would argue that even today, they are not fully integrated. Because there was a widespread belief at the time that slaves would not necessarily do well as free men, it's not surprising that the Bible didn't advocate full abolition.
Let's use a more recent translation than my opponent's. "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free." 
Basically, Ephesians is just saying: slaves, you should be good Christians too. You too can go to Heaven.
Merely telling slaves to obey their masters is not "approval" of slavery. The only "good works" a slave could do at the time were by obeying their master.
My opponent concedes that this passage requires masters to treat their slaves humanely. The only other thing Pro does here is rehash the argument that a "failure to advocate abolition" is equivalent to "approval," which I already answered above.
My opponent claims that Jefferson and the Founders were hypocrites for owning slaves. Maybe they were. Being a bit of a hypocrite doesn't mean they were "okay" with slavery. Jefferson believed in gradual emancipation with job training; he thought that total, instant abolition would leave former slaves homeless and destitute.  If the Reconstruction Era was any indication, he was right.
Ultimately, the word "okay" expresses an overall sentiment towards slavery; it does not mandate a specific policy outcome.
I thank my opponent for her response.
== Debate Theory ==
Con claims that I dropped the argument regarding the contemporary understanding of the Bible by Christians. While it is true that I did not directly address it, the mere fact that this is entirely irrelevant to this topic should be rebuttal enough. There is a reason why there are so many different denominations of Christianity; they all have their own understanding of the Bible. What my opponent is most likely referring to when she says "the common understanding" is actually her own understanding because, obviously, each and every Christian believes that they have the correct understanding. There are a lot of people who still believe the Earth is 6000 years old, there are still people who believe there was a Great Flood 4000 years and there are people and there are still people who reject evolution on the basis of what the Bible says. The notion that there is a "common understanding of the Bible" is ridiculous at best.
"Even if there weren't a textualist reason for doing so (in Matthew 5:17-20), Christian theology only follows the teachings of Jesus and his disciples, not the OT." Maybe a little reminder of the topic proposed by my opponent will help clarify why this is a moot point:
The King James Bible, when read as a whole, actively approves of slavery
This is about the Bible, not about how some Christians understand it. We are here to discuss whether or not what my opponent refers to as "the common understanding" of the Bible actually matches what is in the book.
The rest of this section is simply a reassertion that Christians do not follow the rules in the OT, not telling me anything about whether or not they should, according to scriptures.
== Definitions ==
Here my opponent once again tries to argue in favor of this rather pathetic argument that opposing slavery was simply to avant-garde for the Bible, which is really something strange to say when we're talking about the supposed inspired of God. The analogy that my opponent uses is abortion; she claims that abortion is immoral but that it would be too complicated to ban, so she allows it. This analogy obviously fail when you consider the negative outcomes of banning slavery which are.... nonexistent. While it is true that banning abortions will lead to dangerous back-alley abortions, I fail to see what could come out of banning slavery.
My opponent also brings up the point that "okay" means to sanction or give approval, which I accept. She mentions that this will be a problem for me, but I fail to see how.
== Rebuttals ==
R1) Leviticus and Exodus
Regarding the passages in the old testament, my opponent claims that she refuted their validity by two different ways: the textual and non-textual approach. Let's start with the latter. The non-textual approach that my opponent proposes is basically the statement that "Christians follow the spirit of the Bible" rather than the Bible itself, which is kind of an admition of defeat when we consider the actual topic of this debate. Moreover, shouldn't the spirit of the Bible be based on the book as a WHOLE?
R2) Matthew 5:17-20
The textual approach that my opponent proposes is Matthew 5:17-20. Once again, my opponent is appealing to what Christians believe, which is not only irrelevant to the topic but also does not tell us anything about what is actually in the Bible. As I said earlier, many Christians believe that the Earth is 6000 years old, and yet I guess my opponent would argue against that. While I would grant that Jesus's sacrifice was most likely done in order to absolve us of original sin (a notion that is both immoral and defeated if you reject the literal account of Genesis, but that's for another debate), but I do not grant for a second that his sacrifice was meant to get rid of the law of the OT since the passage she quoted herself precisely says the opposite. This is why I said at the beggining that there are no such things as truism when we are talking about literary interpretations; if the passage says that Jesus did NOT come to destroy the law and my opponent's understanding of that passage is that Jesus DID in fact come to destroy the law, then what is out question?
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Christians still follow the 10 Commandments because of this passage. Matthew 5:19 also shows that the "laws" that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:17 that he did "not come to destroy" were the 10 Commandments" Really? Because what I'm reading is Jesus telling us to follow EVERY commandments, even the least important ones. Christians would obviously like to understand this as "only the ten commandments" because those are obvious and easy to follow whereas the other ones are not as easy to follow and don't always make a lot of sense. But what the passage is referring to is "one of these least commandments", which would actually be an indication that Jesus is specifically referring to the other commandments (I doubt that he would refer to the ten commandments as "least").
"Again, I refer my opponent to the fact that Christians do not keep kosher. He has no response for this argument" Actually I have the most obvious of responses: Christians are acting hypocritically, they follow the laws that they want, disregard the rest and then claim divine support for these laws.
"If you accept my opponent's interpretation of Matthew 5:17-20, you would have to conclude that all Christians go to Hell for not keeping kosher." I'm starting to think that my opponent has not read her Bible, but then again the passage that refutes this is one of those that she quoted. And not any passage, but the one she is currently talking about. Verse 19 is pretty clear: breaking one of the commandments leads to being called least.... IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Moreover, this is a blatant appeal to consequences.
"Therefore, you have to accept my interpretation of Matthew 5:17-20, which is that it kept the 10 Commandments in place, but abrogated all the other parts of the OT. We cannot consider the OT to be binding law upon Christians." This is simply a follow-up to the appeal to the consequences which I hope the audience will reject.
R3) 1 Timothy 1
The fact that Jesus was not the one speaking was simply an observation, not an actual argument
My opponent then completely misinterprets my argument regarding menstealers as if my focus was on the MEN aspect, when in fact it was on the STEALERS aspect. I'll wait for her response to my actual argument in her next round.
So it would seem that my opponent wants to play the translation game. Fine, let's play:
I think that's enough for now. It would seem that translation would actually favor my interpretation.
"My opponent next falsely assumes I believe in God" I am admittedly surprised that she doesn't.
"Whether God exists is irrelevant to the question of whether the Bible and its authors were "okay" with slavery. I don't accept the premise that God wrote the Bible and no one contends that Jesus wrote the Bible. I also refer you to my argument above that a failure to advocate a ban on something does not mean you are "okay" with that thing. There's also something called status quo bias, which means that people often are not "okay" with status quo and may even *hate* the status quo, but they don't advocate for change because it is too difficult." I'm sorry, but this is utterly ridiculous. While I agree that Jesus did not write the Bible, I think we would both agree that a lot of passages in there are his words (supposedly). Moreover, the Bible is supposed to be the inspired word of God, so why were these people afraid to directly oppose it in their book? Even if the excuse is that "slavery was not going anywhere", how is that a good reason to avoid including even a CRITICISM of it? I also agree that a failure to ban something does not necessarily mean that you are okay with, but when you include a line like "slaves, obey your masters", then it becomes more then a simple failure to ban it. It would also have been a good excuse if slavery was simply never mentioned, but the fact that the authors are clearly aware that it exists and mention it several times and yet decided not to oppose it seems to favor my understanding.
"After all, the Bible is a historical text written by people in around 100-300 AD. You can't possibly expect for people to advocate abolishing slavery at this time." My opponent is exactly right; I would not expect them to be against slavery, because I think that they were okay with it. My opponent's position is that they did not want to abolish slavery because that would have been too ahead of their time... The inspired word of God chose not to include a profound moral statement because it feared being called avant-garde... I don't buy that.
"Because there was a widespread belief at the time that slaves would not necessarily do well as free men, it's not surprising that the Bible didn't advocate full abolition." Oh, come on. The Bible would not abolish slavery because it feared for the well-being of the slaves? Before I offer my rebuttal, I must ask my opponent if she is really convinced by that.
R4) Ephesians 6:5-8
I'm almost out of characters so I'll just say this: Telling the slaves to obey their masters ("with fear and trembling") is absolutely an endorsement of slavery.
"Jefferson believed in gradual emancipation with job training; he thought that total, instant abolition would leave former slaves homeless and destitute." Once again, Jefferson did not have God's authority to back up his laws. Being a politician, he was also worried about the public's opinion.
I await my opponent's response.
My opponent says that using contemporary Christian understandings of the relevance of the OT is meaningless because different sects of Christianity disagree about the relevance of certain passages. However, there is not a single sect of Christianity that keeps kosher, permits a rapist to escape punishment if he pays the girl"s father 20 shekels, or stones disobedient children. There is a reason that I made my argument here specific to *legal rules* from the OT. Christians may disagree whether the OT literally means that Genesis happened, but they don"t disagree on whether they have to keep kosher. The passages from Leviticus and Exodus that my opponent cites govern whom may become a slave and when they have to be set free (i.e. Israelites were only allowed to enslave people from other countries, had to free male slaves after 6 years, could not enslave their wives so they could marry someone new). You should prefer my interpretive model for the Bible -- that the OT laws are not binding parts of the Bible -- because otherwise you"d have to believe that all Christians go to Hell for not keeping kosher, so my opponent"s interpretive model leads to an absurdity. In addition, the OT says that menstealing is okay whereas the NT says it"s not. The only way to explain inconsistencies in the laws in the OT and NT is to decide that NT laws are not a binding part of the Bible.
== Definitions ==
Pro says, "Here my opponent once again tries to argue in favor of this rather pathetic argument that opposing slavery was simply to [sic] avant-garde for the Bible, which is really something strange to say when we're talking about the supposed inspired of God." Let me make this very clear: I"m arguing that the Bible is a historical document. It is a collection of allegories, stories, and histories from the oral traditions at the time. I don"t believe God exists. I don"t think Jesus was divine. And I don"t believe the Bible is inerrant. The result is that what matters is whether the people who wrote the OT believed that slavery was okay and whether -- for practical reasons -- such people would have argued for a ban on slavery if they disagreed with it. Since the Bible is not divinely inspired, meaning God is not secretly pulling the strings, my opponent can"t claim that only a timid God would be afraid to advocate abolition. We"re not talking about God here, we"re talking about men. Matthew and Luke were men, not gods.
My opponent answers my abortion analogy by saying the analogy does not apply since banning abortion has negative outcomes but banning slavery does not. First of all, I did give a negative outcome for banning slavery: immediate emancipation wreaks havoc on economies dependent on slaves and leads slaves that are unskilled labor to be homeless and broke, with no appreciable skills upon which they can depend for survival. Second, it doesn"t matter whether there are no negative outcomes to banning slavery. Some people in society were violently against banning slavery (as evidenced by the violence the issue of slavery caused in the U.S.). The hostility to abolition explains why the authors of the NT were afraid to advocate full abolition of ownership. The abortion analogy still stands for the proposition that failing to advocate for a ban on something does not mean you are "okay" with it. I am not "okay" with people picking their noses right in front of me, but I don"t want to make it illegal by banning it. As I said before, "okay" expresses an overall sentiment; it doesn"t mandate a particular policy outcome (i.e. a ban).
== Rebuttal ==
My opponent claims that arguing for a non-textualist interpretive model is conceding defeat because Christians follow the spirit and not the letter of the Bible. First, it"s not a concession because I"m still going to win my argument under Matthew 5:17-20, but I argued the non-textualist approach in the alternative. Second, my opponent ignores the fact that non-textualist approaches are a valid interpretive model. He drops my argument that there are competing philosophies about how to interpret the U.S. Constitution: whether we should interpret it in a textualism or non-textualist manner, that attempts to interpret the "spirit" of the Constitution. Using a non-textualist approach, there"s really no reason to give any import to the specific legal rules that are written into the OT because these were clearly for a society that no longer exists. Again, the Leviticus and Exodus passages are outdated legal rules, which my opponent doesn"t even think important enough of arguments to actually quote. So don"t vote on his OT arguments.
My opponent ignores the fact that Jesus was talking about "Commandments," not all Jewish laws, when he says that Christians should not break even the "least" of the Commandments. My opponent claims that none of the Commandments are less important than others, so none can be considered "least." However, "Thou shalt not take the Lord"s name in vain" is obviously not a very respected Commandment. People break it all the time. There are obviously some Commandments that are less important than others. Thou shalt not kill is more important than doing acts to Honour thy father and mother, for example.
Let"s look at another passage for further support for my viewpoint that Christ "fulfilled" the Jewish legal rules, so they no longer were binding. Let"s look to Colossians 2:14, which says that Jesus "canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross."  In this passage, Paul explains that Jesus canceled the old laws when he died on the cross.
My opponent answers my argument about keeping kosher by saying that yes, we should interpret the Bible as saying that all Christians go to Hell because they don"t follow the words of Matthew 5:17-20. My opponent also says that you can"t look to this argument because its an appeal to consequences, which is a supposed "informal fallacy" that says something is not true because it leads to consequences we don"t like. However, when you"re interpreting a document, you absolutely should look to whether your interpretation leads to an absurd result. Doing so is an *accepted* method of textual interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court. My opponent"s interpretation leads to an absurd result: the Bible mandates that all Christians go to Hell.
My opponent claims that Jesus was saying that people who break the Commandments still go to Heaven, they are just considered "least" among those in Heaven. However, my opponent misunderstands what the "Kingdom of Heaven" means in Matthew 5:17-20. When the Bible uses that term, it is referring to the Kingdom that Jesus will establish here on Earth when he returns (the so-called "Second Coming").  Kingdom of Heaven does not mean "Heaven." In fact, it makes no sense to have people considered to be "lesser" in Heaven, since Heaven is a supposed utopia. A true paradise cannot contain social hierarchies.
My opponent essentially drops my argument about what "menstealers" means. He chooses to say literally nothing in response and just refers me back to his previous argument. Let"s look at what he actually said: "1 Timothy 1:8-11, where someone (NOT Jesus) condemns MENSTEALERS, not slave traders. This is condemning the action of kidnapping a men and then selling him as a slave. If you sell your own daughter, that is in no way menstealing. If you buy a slave, that is not menstealing either."
I disagree with the part where my opponent said if you sell your daughter, that"s not meanstealing. By menstealing, the Bible meant enslaving a free person. However, I don"t think my opponent and I actually disagree all that much. When I said that the Bible condemned the slave trade, I meant the supply side of the slave trade, not the demand side. The Bible condemned enslavers.
Next, my opponent just rehashes his arguments based on the faulty premise that the Bible is divinely inspired. He makes much ado about the Bible saying "obey your masters." However, this ignores a lot of the other context of Ephesians 6:5-8, which is saying that slaves can do "good works" by being good slaves and can thus get into Heaven. It"s supposed to be inspiring to a group of people that might have lost hope. My opponent claims the words "fear and trembling" are really bad words, but trembling is a mistranslation. The modern understanding of the passage is: "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ." The Ephesians passage isn"t bad. It is saying to treat your master as you would treat Christ.
Note my opponent drops the Colossians 4:1 passage, which is probably one of the most problematic for him since it says to treat slaves humanely, in stark contrast to the OT, which allowed masters to beat their slaves. This express abrogation of the OT rule on slave-beating should show that the NT authors did not really endorse slavery or the most common method at the time for controlling slaves, which were savage beatings.
Nothing new here. My opponent says Jefferson was not backed by God. Basically, this debate comes down to two very basic false premises from my opponent: (1) the Bible is the word of God, and (2) you must advocate a ban on something in order to show you"re not "okay" with it. I apologize to the reader for rehashing an argument at such length that essentially comes down to those two simple premises.
As requested by my opponent in the comments, I will now refer to Con as "he".
I want to start by addressing my opponent's conclusion, precisely the paragraph where he accuses me of starting with two false premises.
(1) The first one is the belief that the Bible is the word of God. This is pretty easy to refute: I'm an atheist, so obviously I do NOT believe that the Bible is actually the word of God. What my opponent might have been trying to say is that I started with the assumption that HE believed the Bible to be the word of God, which, while that is true, is not something I based my argument on. What I based part of my argument on was the fact that the people who WROTE the Bible thought they were writing God's words. This is obviously heavily supported by, well, the entire Bible.
(2) The second premise that my opponent attacks is the idea that banning something is required in order to show disapproval. This is not entirely accurate. I do not believe that a ban is a NECESSARY component of disapproval (although it obviously would help), I'm arguing that the owning of other human beings is never depicted as a bad thing, which IS necessary to support the idea that these people were against it. Matters of law and morality are not necessarily intertwined; the Bible could very well have criticized slavery without outright banning it, which would have been a form of disapproval. Of course, once you grant that these people THOUGHT that they had God behind them, then the notion that they would not use this authority to impose their moral views is... strange.
== Debate theory ==
I find it really peculiar that my opponent feels so comfortable speaking about the "common understanding" of the Bible when he disbelieves in the thing that is arguably one of the most CENTRAL tenets of his religion, namely the existence of God. Four days ago, I would have confidently said that all Christians believe in God, I would have been wrong. The point I was making when I said that people disagree on so many issues is that agreement is NOT a relevant issue regarding what the Bible actually says. This issue becomes obvious when we look at how much Christians actually know about what is in the Bible, which is to say not a lot. Most of them simply take as true what they are being told by their pastors. The argument that "all Christians agree on this or that" is both extremely weak and mostly false.
"You should prefer my interpretive model for the Bible -- that the OT laws are not binding parts of the Bible -- because otherwise you"d have to believe that all Christians go to Hell for not keeping kosher, so my opponent"s interpretive model leads to an absurdity." Once again, the appeal to consequences. This time though, my opponent claims that this is an absurdity and THEREFORE should not be believed. The huge problem with this is, while absurdity might be a good indication of falseness in REALITY, it is by no means a good indication in LITERATURE. There are plenty of books that contain absurdities, and the Bible is among their number (especially if you do not believe that it is the word of God). Moreover, since his interpretation of the Bible does not a include a God, it surely does not include a Hell either, since it's a separation from God.
"The only way to explain inconsistencies in the laws in the OT and NT is to decide that NT laws are not a binding part of the Bible." I will assume that the second NT was meant to be an OT. This argument is completely ridiculous; the most obvious explanation for the inconsistencies in the Bible is that the Bible is an inconsistent book. Plain and simple. This argument is entirely based on the unsupported premise that the Bible is in fact consistent.
By the way, only the Hebrew slaves had to be freed after 6 years; the other slaves were your property for ever and you could pass them down to your children (Leviticus 25:44-46).
== Definitions ==
In the first paragraph of this section, my opponent is objecting to my argument based on his assumption of what my assumptions were. Now that I have clarified what they really are, I will wait for an actual answer to my point (which I will unfortunately not be able to answer).
My opponent lists some negative aspects of banning slavery, which do not really fit with history.
Regarding the analogy of abortion, my opponent is repeating his point that failing to advocate a ban does not necessarily mean that you approve of it, which I already granted. The difference between my opponent's view on abortion and the Bible's view on slavery is the straightforwardness. My opponent is clear: "I'm not "okay" with abortion.", there is no way anyone could interpret this as "this person is ok with abortion". The Bible, on the other hand, does not even approach this level of clarity. The Bible's "Slaves, obey your masters" would be the equivalent of my opponent saying "mothers, abort your child if you want", which is contrary to his actual position.
== Rebuttal ==
R1) Leviticus and Exodus
My opponent says that non-textualist approaches are valid interpretive models, and I agree. Saying that my opponent's particular approach is absolutely irrelevant is not in any way a commentary on every non-textualist approaches, it is simply a rejection of the one my opponent is actually using. My opponent's whole non-textualist argument is based on a fallacious argument from analogy; he basically claims that since we read the Constitution according to it's spirit, we should do the same with the Bible. Even if I were to grant this, my opponent is misunderstanding what "the spirit of the Constitution" is. When we follow the spirit of the Constitution, we are simply including the Founding Father's initial intentions inside our own interpretation of the law in order to assess situations that are either not clear or downright never addressed within the Constitution itself. This could be done given the huge amount of things they wrote OUTSIDE of the Constitution regarding their personal beliefs. This can NOT be done with the Bible since the only thing we have regarding the authors' beliefs are found within the Bible.
R2) Matthew 5:17-20
My opponent is once again trying to separate the ten commandments from the rest of the commandments, despite quoting a passage that specifically talks about "the least" of the commandments. My opponent then tries to interpret the word least as "not very respected", which is an interpretation I completely reject, in favor of my own (which I gave in my previous round).
My opponent then brings up Colossians 2:14, saying that the sacrifice of Jesus got rid of the laws of the OT. There are two problems with this passage. First, this passage is referring to original sin, not the law (look up other translations for clarification). Second, Colossians 2:12 clearly says that God is the one doing this, so how can the law no longer apply if my opponent does not believe that God exists?
Here my opponent is arguing that whether an interpretation leads to absurdity is a relevant issue, but as I have already said earlier, this is only true if you start with the assumption that the Bible is a consistent book, which I would argue it isn't. It is entirely possible (and is often the case) for a work of fiction to lead to absurdities when analyzed in such details. The reason why the Supreme Court uses this method is because their analysis of the law has an actual impact on society.
To my opponent's credit, it does seem that the Bible draws a distinction between the Kingdom of Heaven and actual Heaven, so I will grant this point to my opponent. However, I do not grant that, according to my interpretation of the Bible, all Christians go to Hell. John 3:16, John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly claim that entrance is Heaven is solely based on faith in Christ.
R3) 1 Timothy 1
My opponent claims that I dropped his argument regarding the meaning of menstealers. Here my opponent may be referring to two different things, either the MEN vs. WOMEN aspect or the SLAVERS vs. KIDNAPPERS.
If the case is the former, then here's what I said in round 3:
"My opponent then quotes 1 Timothy 1:8-11, where someone (NOT Jesus) condemns MENSTEALERS, not slave traders. This is condemning the action of kidnapping a men and then selling him as a slave."
Now, I understand that it is possible to interpret this the way my opponent did, seeing as I failed to put a visual emphasis on KIDNAPPING. But if I proceed to explain how my opponent misunderstood my argument and gave a clear explanation of how it SHOULD be interpreted...
"My opponent then completely misinterprets my argument regarding menstealers as if my focus was on the MEN aspect, when in fact it was on the STEALERS aspect."
...then I fail to see why he would decide NOT to answer my ACTUAL argument.
If the case was actually the latter, then I would direct my opponent to the many translations that I gave which supported MY interpretation of the word "menstealer". My opponent argues that menstealing means enslaving a free person. How he supports this, I do not know (apart from the translations, which I trumped). My interpretation comes from Exodus 21:16 and the obvious etymology of the word.
My opponent tries to defend the passage "slaves, obey your masters". I think a direct quote from my opponent is going to be rebuttal enough: "slaves can do "good works" by being good slaves and can thus get into Heaven". If this is not a clear endorsement of slavery, then I don't know what it is.
Regarding Colossians 4:1, I will direct the audience to Round 3 where I clearly answer this point.
In conclusion, it seems rather obvious that the authors of the Bible were okay with the idea that human being could own another human being as property, which is the definition of slavery. They were, apparently, against the idea that these possessions should be physically abused, but the mere fact of owning them was clearly okay in their mind.
I thank my opponent for this very enjoyable debate!
1) Colossians 4:1
My opponent never contests that this passage requires masters to treat their slaves humanely, which includes not beating them. This point flows to Con.
2) 1 Timothy 1
My opponent claims that I never answered his argument that "menstealers" means "kidnappers" and has nothing to do with the slave trade. However, I have provided more modern translations that read the original Greek as meaning "enslavers," not merely kidnappers. My opponent never explains why my translations are wrong, he merely cites to a bunch of older translations.
Regardless, enslavement is a form of "kidnapping" and would be banned equally if the NT banned "kidnapping."
== Overview ==
I"m just going to go over the major points in the debate.
My opponent concedes this point in his last round. For example, as far as the Constitution is concerned, the right to privacy exists nowhere textually, but has been said to come from the spirit of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Without the right to privacy, there would not be the rights to bodily autonomy that led to the Roe v. Wade decision (invalidating a law that made it a crime to get an abortion) and the Lawrence v. Texas decision (invalidating a Texas law that made it a crime for gay men to have sex with each other). My opponent concedes that one can read the unexpressed intentions of the drafters of a document, rather than the mere words. However, this concession is fatal to his argument because the overall intentions of the drafters of the NT were to express clear reservations about the institution of slavery. If you read the spirit of Colossians 4:1 (banning the beating of slaves) and 1 Timothy 1:8-11(banning enslavement) together, you get a clear picture of a group of drafters who had deep reservations about slavery. My opponent claims the drafters were okay with owning other humans beings, but the "spirit" of the Colossians and 1 Timothy passages says otherwise. The Founding Fathers who owned slaves obviously wanted their *own* slaves to obey them, yet they expressed serious reservations about the institution of slavery. No legitimate historical scholar would claim that Jefferson or Washington were "okay" with or pro-slavery. As I've said before (and my opponent has never disagreed with), "okay" expresses a state of mind, not actions. People can be hypocrites, i.e. fail to follow through on their beliefs with action, and yet still hold a state of mind that is "not okay" with slavery. The Founders prove this.
However, my opponent utterly fails the BOP here. He never cites a Biblical passage saying that every word in the Bible was written under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Matthew and Luke did not believe that every word they were writing were God's words. When they directly quoted Jesus, they may have believed they were quoting God. But many of the words are their own.
And regardless, the implication of this argument is quite weak. My opponent tries to argue that God wouldn't have cared about what was feasible to advocate at the time. However, Matthew and Luke clearly did. The drafters were humans who cared about contemporary thought, which was against abolition of slavery. The fact that so many pagan traditions were preserved in Christianity (such as Easter eggs and Christmas falling on the Winter Solstice) proves that the drafters of the NT were worried that if they tried to change people's lives too much, people wouldn't accept Christianity. It is *unreasonable* to think that they would tell slaves to *disobey* their masters at a time when there was open hostility to the abolition of slavery.
As I have explained, "okay" expresses an overall sentiment and does not mandate a particular policy outcome, such as a ban. I have given examples like abortion and nose-picking to show that you don't have to advocate a ban on something in order to be "not okay" with that thing. In addition, under my opponent's position, regulations that *limit* something but do not ban it outright would still mean that the drafters of the regulations are "okay" with the thing they are regulating. For example, if a legislator drafted legislation to limit carbon emissions, his failure to advocate a *full ban* on carbon emissions would constitute him being "okay" with carbon emissions and global warming. It should be self-evident that my opponent's advocacy is absurd.
I have proven how the Bible attempted to *regulate* slavery. The NT made it immoral to engage in enslavement, which invalidated most of the slave trade at the time. And the NT said it was immoral for masters to beat their slaves. In fact, the NT went farther than the Founding Fathers in regulating slavery. The Founding Fathers only ever tried to regulate enslavement by putting a provision in the Constitution ending the importation of slaves after 30 years. The NT went a step further by not only outright banning enslavement, but also regulating the type of punishments that could be imposed on slaves, by requiring that slaves be treated humanely. No serious historical scholar contends that Jefferson or Washington were pro-slavery; they all agree that most Founders were anti-slavery. Yet, the NT went farther in regulating slavery than the Founders did. Clearly, the NT was not "okay" with slavery.
My opponent tries to hedge and say that a full ban is not required but that the drafters of the NT would have had to construe slavery as a bad thing in order to be "not okay" with it. Again, he is mandating that to prove you"re "not okay" with something, you must take a *particular action.* The Founders never outright said "slavery is evil, period." But they proved their overall sentiments about slavery through their statements about the slave trade. If "okay" expresses an overall state of mind, it doesn't mandate that someone take a particular *action* or say *particular words* in order to be "no okay" with something.
== Underview ==
First, I"ll note that most of my opponent's case is defense. While a lot of my arguments are aimed at showing that the OT is not binding law, these arguments are somewhat irrelevant given that my opponent does not mount much of a case that the OT is "okay" with slavery. My opponent never even quoted from the Biblical passages he cites, he merely listed them. Thus, he fails the BOP on these points regardless. Given my opponent's failings and the doubt I have cast on whether the OT laws are a binding part of "The Bible," my only job is to show that the NT is not "okay" with slavery.
Second, I have proven that the NT is not "okay" with slavery. My opponent's entire case hinges on one quote: "Slaves obey your masters." However, my opponent has conceded that this debate is about reading the Bible as a whole, and (1) when you read Ephesians 6:5-8 as a whole, the passage is telling slaves how they can be good Christians. The overall impression from the passage is not that the authors were trying to put down slave rebellions by telling rebellious slaves that they would go to Hell, but rather was trying to explain to slaves how they could still get into Heaven, even though their ability to do the "good works" that would normally get someone into Heaven was constrained by the chains on their freedom. The NT is saying, essentially, to slaves: given that you are struck in the institution of slavery, if you act as good slaves, you will get into Heaven. Ephesians evinced only a tacit acknowledgement by the drafters of the NT that slavery existed and was not going anywhere, and within that framework, the drafters of the NT wanted to offer slaves a path into Heaven. The passage shows only a humanitarian desire on the part of the NT authors to also allow slaves to be "saved."
(2) Reading the Bible as a whole also shows why my opponent's out-of-context quote from Ephesians is not sufficient to conclude that the NT is "okay" with slavery. Colossians 4:1 requires that masters treat their slaves in a humane manner. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says that enslavement, which constituted most of the supply side for the slave trade, was impermissible. The 1 Timothy 1 passage went so far as to equate enslavement of a free person as being just as bad as murder. When reading these passages together, a clear picture emerges of a group of NT drafters that had serious reservations about slavery, not a group of people who were "okay" with slavery. The fact that they accepted the reality of their time that slavery was not going to be going anywhere anytime soon does not prove that they were "okay" with slavery. Like the Founders, the drafters of the NT were realists. They did the best they could for the times. Like the Founders, they were not "okay" with slavery, but operated within the parameters of the times to try to improve the treatment of slaves and end the practice of enslavement of free peoples.
== Rebuttal ==
I've already refuted this argument above and shown how my opponent undercovers his own argument. However, here I'll continue my attack on this argument from the perspective of Matthew 5:17-20 and Colossians 2:14, both of which say that Jesus made OT legal rules non-binding.
First, my opponent has no good response to the argument that under his view of these passages, the Bible must be interpreted to mean that all Christians are in violation of the Bible's strictures by failing to keep kosher. A basic precept of interpretation is that judges should avoid an interpretation of a document that "produces an absurd result."  The result that all Christians go to Hell or are in violation of the Bible is clearly absurd. Therefore, my opponent's interpretation should be rejected. The "appeal to consequences" fallacy does not apply to textual interpretation.
Second, my opponent claims the Colossians 2:14 passage was referring to absolving Christians of original sin, but the passage refers to "legal indebtedness," not original sin. Pro gives us no basis for his conclusion. Thus, there is no reason to vote on his argument that the OT has legal rules that facilitate slavery.
Essentially, this argument comes down to a *single* quote from my opponent ("Slaves, obey your masters") versus the narrative richness of my approach to interpretation. At the point where Pro concedes that we look at the Bible as a whole, his strategy of honing in on one quote is not going to be sufficient to meet the BOP. Furthermore, by now, he has conceded that the Founders were "not okay" with slavery. By proving that the NT went at least as far and further than Founders did, I prove that it was ahead of its time in terms of its amount of "not okayness" with slavery. For these reasons, Vote Con.
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