Would Billy Graham Encourage You To Vote For Slavery?**

**Could you imagine the poster below? (Full disclaimer: I, Robert R. Cargill, marked-up the ad below to illustrate my point. I changed “marriage” to “slavery.” The ad is REAL, the red additions and the “Could you Imagine” text at the top are my own addition.)

VOTE FOR SLAVERY! (A marked-up Billy Graham marriage ad).

VOTE FOR SLAVERY! (A marked-up Billy Graham marriage ad).

The argument in Dr. Billy Graham’s newspaper ad above is based upon the biblical definition of a social practice articulated approximately 2000 years ago. I’ve switched ONE WORD to show the sheer absurdity of the argument toward another biblical definition of a social practice articulated approximately 2000 years ago.

No one would ever believe an elderly white preacher from the south would advocate for SLAVERY from the pulpit, would they?? Then why should we think any differently if that same preacher argues for a different 2000-year old biblical social definition, and an amendment to a modern state’s constitution banning gay marriage?

It’s the same argument, only with this generation’s civil rights issue.

Reject “Sharia Christianity.” Don’t let a 2000-year old religious book’s definition of social contracts like slavery, divorce, and marriage dictate modern law.

For more by Dr. Cargill on this subject, see:

It’s OK for Christians to Vote No on Prop 8

Full Text of Dr. Cargill’s Remarks at the Pepperdine GSEP Panel Discussion on Racism and Homophobia

A Note to Christians Opposing Gay Marriage: Get Over It

The Day After: Thoughts on the Response to the Overturn of Prop 8

i am very, very proud of the fact i am moving to iowa

Well Done: Iowa’s Zach Wahls Featured on the Daily Show about Being a Child Raised by Gay Parents

See also:

“michigan republican anti-bullying law provides exception for religious bullying

a study in masculinity: comparing michael irvin and mark driscoll

absolutely sickening homophobia from the pulpit

See also the classic West Wing segment on YouTube.

127 Responses

  1. Interesting that the Bible (any version, actually) does NOT have only *ONE* version of (ahem) Biblical marriage. Nothing says that “one man-one woman marriage” is the only approved version of marriage.

    Lots of famous “approved” Biblical persons (real and imagined) had more than one wife at the same time. Here’s a partial list … you could look it up:

    Lamech, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah, Jehoiada, Moses, Abijah of Judah, Ashur, Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, Eliphaz, Esau, Ezra, Gideon, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Nahor, Rehoboam, Shaharaim, Simeon, and Zedekiah.

    Happy to help.

  2. The new Testament allows for marriage only between male and female
    and this cannot be changed if you are a Christian. Jesus reinstituted
    marriage as a sacrament.

    Moses in the OT allowed more than wife due to the hardness of men’s hearts. Also it has nothing to do with slavery when men are commanded to love their wives and “give their lives for them”.

    Plus an unbelieving wife was allowed to leave the marriage.

  3. Your “editing” of the Billy Graham poster is silly… reflects a childish disrespect! Take your stand and defend it… fine! He should be able to do the same! Tolerance???

  4. Why should Robert be tolerant of Billy Graham’s point of view? He is supporting a bigoted law which will strip all rights from same sex couples for any kind of recognition of their connection with each other.

  5. Pastor Meshaw,

    I’m not the one making the intolerant claim. I’m simply repeating the same argument, except substituting a different biblically based social claim in place of marriage. If THAT sounds intolerant, then I’ve successfully demonstrated the intolerant absurdity of a preacher using his reputation to encourage citizens of North Carolina to discriminate against gay couples the same way that the south discriminated against African-Americans.

  6. What makes your subjective opinion greater than Billy Grahm’s position? What makes your subjective opinion greater than anyone who disagrees with you and why should your idea of marriage be the standard when there are billions of people who disagree with you?

    You seem to want to limit morality to cultural practice but then you open up a whole can of worms as the question needs to be asked–Which culture shall we use as the moral guideline? The atheistic one? The Muslim? Or how about the Assyrian or Roman? By knocking down God’s word, you have allowed for subjectivity to rule and remove all absolutes.

    Marriage andmorality would then be defined by whomever comes to power and has enough authority to change those two items to meet his sensibilities or desires. People would be confused as the definition of both would be constantly changing.

    Confusion is of evil and not the correct way to go. We cannot legitmize sin, we do not have that authority to do so and it tells children and teens that rules do not matter, that morality does not matter as they can be changed to fit an adult’s whim at the moment..

    Allow me to illustrate. Under your logic, you could not declare jacobovici, Tabor and Charlesworth as wrong or unscholarly in their presentation of their supposed discovery simply because they were using their set of rules which happen to be different than yours.

    And it snowballs from there. If there is no superior standard for marriage or morality, then the gloves are off and everyone can do what is right in their own eyes and no one else could say a thing about it.

    The line has to be drawn somewhere and it does not have to be popular. The homosexual community want to practice their sin, they are not entitled to the benefits of heterosexual unions. They rejected those benefits when they rejected the normal, heterosexual lifestyle. You advocate that the homosexual community can have their cake and eat it too.

  7. Preach it, brother Cargill.

  8. The Bible has 8 forms of marriage, including one in which a woman is forced to marry her rapist. Do we think this is an good thing to do? If not, then the Bible promotes evil. If it is wrong in this form of marriage, then how do we know it is right about any other form?

  9. I gave the old man some help: http://bit.ly/IT8OT3

  10. This comparison to slavery is an intellectually dishonest argument. You take several New Testament verses, isolate them, and completely ignore the surrounding verses and the context of the chapters from which they are pulled in order to promulgate the false idea that the Bible endorses slavery. Read in the full context, no reasonable person would in any way infer that they were endorsing what we in this current day think of when the word slavery is brought up, or any other type of slavery for that matter.

    It’s not “the same argument, only with this generation’s civil rights issue.” Which by the way, is an insult to any black American that endured real, institutionalized discrimination through Jim Crow laws, etc. Rebecca’s comment above about “recognition of their connection with each other” is what is really driving this entire movement. It is about an official government stamp of approval for a lifestyle that society already widely tolerates, if not outright accepts and promotes.

  11. Brandon,

    Then please explain it to me. When is it OK to own a slave? And when should slaves obey their masters in fear and trembling?

    If it’s “intellectually dishonest,” please explain what the Bible means when it says ‘slavery’ and when is it OK?

    Thanx, bc

  12. @Paul F. Are you sure the Bible is advocating them and that all forms apply to today’s world?

    @Bob C. A lot of people do not like this book but it has an excellent chapter about slavery. ‘The politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible spends chapter 10 addressing the issue. A good point i smade on page 167: ” The Gospels do not record jesus denouncing the Roman occupation…but that does not mean that He approved of Roman rule.”

    You need to remember that the Bible is also a book on how to act morally, even when one is in a position that others find demeaning or dehumanizing. It is not speaking in favor of slavey but telling people how to act if they are slaves.

    Page 171 says: ” Paul asks Pilemon to accept Onesimus ‘no longer as a slave butmore than a slave, a brother, beloved by me.’ And the apostle urges Philemon to welcome him as you would me.”

    It is easy to make accusations but it i sanother thing to be honest about what the opposition to your position says.

  13. The fact that these letters from Paul are dealing with slavery as a practice in the culture at that time doesn’t mean that the Bible endorses slavery, whether it is the typical slavery that we associate with the South prior to the Civil War, or more of an indentured servitude where an individual would be someone’s servant for a period of time to repay debts and then released when that obligation was fulfilled.

    Taking Ephesians 6:5 which you reference in the original post and in your comment, the rest of the passage offers more context.

    5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

    You can certainly disagree with Paul’s instructions, but I would hardly call this a ringing endorsement of slavery. Same goes for the other passages you cited. Providing advice, instruction and encouragement to slaves in the midst of what was the reality of their situations does not mean that slavery as a practice is OK. It seems that your beef is that the practice of slavery in the world wasn’t ended according to your timeline or addressed by the Bible in the manner in which you think it should have been. That’s why I said you were being intellectually dishonest because I didn’t think you were evaluating the passages in their entire written or historical context.

  14. Brandon – how can you say that the Bible does not endorse slavery? Take a look at Exod. 21, Lev. 25, and Deut. 15 – all of them regulate slavery as a totally accepted part of human society. True, the people of Israel are freed from slavery in Egypt – but then once they are living in their own land, they have slaves, even from among their own people. The New Testament never condemns slavery, and the household codes all accept it as a normal part of society, and tell slaves to obey their masters.

    The struggle for marriage equality is, yes, looking for official governmental acceptance of same-sex relationships. We are not speaking of a “lifestyle” here, but of committed relationships that in many cases involve raising children together and promising to live together and support each other “until death do us part.” The reason that gay and lesbian people want that governmental approval is in part because of the material benefits that married couples receive – the ability to file taxes as a couple, to receive social security benefits for survivors, as heterosexual married couples receive, to be able to securely inherit from each other, and many other benefits. Another reason for wishing for government approval is that it would signal that such relationships are normal and should be respected just as heterosexual relationships are respected. This would be of great assistance to gay youth who often have a very hard time in high school, being bullied and harassed.

    You may not be aware of this, but the US government has indeed officially discriminated against gay people. Only last year the law was passed allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces (something that Israel, where I’m now living for my sabbatical, permitted about 20 years ago). In the past, gay people were not able to get security clearances (I’m not sure when exactly this changed, probably sometime in the 1970s when it became possible to come out of the closet more safely). Most states in the US have no legal protections against discrimination in employment and housing for gay people, so that people are free to fire someone for being gay or refuse to rent or sell housing to them because they are gay. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has been stuck in committee in the Congress for many years.

    Aside from government action or inaction, in certain places it is actively dangerous for people to be open about their gayness – people are still being physically attacked and killed for being gay (take a look at the FBI statistics on hate crimes to discover some of this information).

    Dr. Tee – why do you think that homosexuality is sinful? What is wrong with it? And, in addition to that, if your opinion is based on what is written in the Bible – why should the United States, which has a secular government, be required to follow what the Bible says? I’m Jewish – should I be forced to accept that the US government will govern according to the ideas and rules of the New Testament? If I were an atheist, or a Buddhist, or a Muslim, why would it make sense for the US government to be based on the Bible? You live in a pluralistic society which contains people of many religions and none – learn to recognize reality, you are not in control of this society.

  15. As a P.S. Since homosexuality has been around for 2,000 years as well, should we let that old tune dictate our modern culture? Just because people do not like homosexuality/same sex doesn’t mean they are wrong or out of touch.

  16. david,

    1. that’s interesting, because i recall jesus addressing the roman occupation stating ‘render unto caesar what is caesar’s’ and ‘walking a second mile’ if someone commands you to walk a mile.

    2. you make a good point on how to behave as slaves. the problem, of course, is that eph 6:9 and col. 4:1 also give instructions to masters. and the instructions to the masters are not ‘free your slaves, for you know that owning another human being is reprehensible,’ but rather, ‘be nice’ to your slaves. lol.

    3. and yet, paul send onesimus back. and asks him to use the ‘kingdom ethic’ on him, and yet, never bothers annul address the master-slave relationship.

    come now, don’t say the bible doesn’t endorse slavery. it says ‘slaves, obey your masters.’ if it said, ‘wives, submit to your husbands,’ you wouldn’t argue that the bible doesn’t endorse leadership roles for the male gender, would you?


  17. brandon, see what i wrote to david above.

    if the bible says, ‘wives, submit to your husbands,’ are you going to also argue that the bible does not endorse leadership roles for one of the genders? why is it that some read the bible one way on certain passages, and a completely different way on another??

    if the text says, ‘slaves obey your masters,’ and that is NOT an endorsement of slavery, then neither is ‘wives submit to your husbands’ an endorsement of gender-based spiritual leadership roles. however, if you read ‘wives submit to your husbands’ as an endorsement of gender-based leadership roles, then how is ‘slaves obey your masters’ not an endorsement of slavery?

    pick a hermeneutic and stick to it. to do otherwise is ‘intellectually dishonest.’


  18. david,

    racism has been around for a long time as well. in fact, it’s very biblical. (cf. the OT or the Matt 18:17 ‘treat them as a gentile’, etc.) does that make it ok?


  19. There is nothing intellectually dishonest about what RC did.

    “Taken out of context” is what every preacher does to Biblical verses when he/she puts a sermon together, so that retort fails. All theology based on any version of “the Bible” is a combination of cobbling of verses you do like and ignoring verses you don’t like.

    and “taken out of context” here = “I don’t like your use of Biblical verses to support an argument with which I disagree.” Well, fair is fair, dude.

    And Cargill is not endorsing slavery … per the Bible (ahem) … GOD endorses slavery, and so did Paul (who, BTW, was NEVER God). Cargill just did some quoting. … I think that slavery is always morally wrong, but those who think that “the Bible” (however that is defined … re: canon and re: codice patching, etc.) is the Word of God think it is just fine … sorry: that’s just the way it is: Bible-believers who think slavery is morally wrong are contradicting the Bible — that is a problem for them, but not for me.

  20. Bob, I simply have to point you back to what I’ve said before. You’re only paying attention to a few words in the verse without evaluating it in the overall context of the passage. None of those are endorsements of slavery. Only the narrowest, most hyper-critical reading of the passages would come to that conclusion. As I said before, it didn’t meet your standard for what Paul should have said, thereby it is some sort of de facto endorsement of slavery.

  21. Brandon, you’re repeated appeal to ‘context’ (only for what you want to be in a particular context) reminds me of a great YouTube video by nonstampcollector addressing your very argument.
    Enjoy, bc

  22. Brandon, how hard would it have been for “God” to mention at least once, in this massive tome we call the Bible, that owning slaves is morally reprehensible?

  23. Dr. Tee,
    Yes. All 8 forms of biblical marriage are not only viewed positively by the text but are commanded by God to be followed. I’m not sure why you ask whether they are accepted in modern times. If they are biblical, why would a Bible believer not accept them? Or do Bible believers get to pick and choose which biblical commandments they wish to follow?

  24. Well Bob, it isn’t a case of only what I want to be in a particular context. I referred to the verses that you used to state your case and called out your mistaken conclusions. Of all the arguments you could put forth for same-sex unions this one was a weak one and my issue was more with the argument than frankly a desire to get in an extended debate over whether or not the Bible condones slavery, but I guess that was pretty much unavoidable. It was a misguided appeal that I hadn’t seen before so I felt compelled to chime in.

    I do find it disingenuous that you want to complain about my appeal to context, when taking an entire passage into consideration, not just one verse, and taking into account what was taking place from a historical perspective is a perfectly reasonable, responsible and rational way to read the text. The Bible could have had absolutely no specific references to homosexuality and my opinion regarding the issue of same-sex unions would be the same. As I post I do see that NC has approved the constitutional amendment so I guess your particular appeal wasn’t persuasive to them.

  25. You continue to be evasive. Simply repeating your evasion doesn’t make it less evasive, and — no — it doesn’t matter that your pastor taught you this technique.

    NOWHERE in the Bible does “God” say that slavery is wrong. This is a point that obviously scares you.

    And, yes . . . God (and Paul, who isn’t God) is perfectly OK on slavery. If you read any version of the Bible, you’d know this.

    Slavery is morally WRONG. You disagree.

  26. brandon, again, had we put the issue of slavery to a vote in a southern state, i’m guessing it would have also passed a popular vote, many of whom woh would have voted based upon their understanding of the bible and tradition. it’s why we have a court system that overturns discriminatory, unconstitutional laws, and it’s precisely why this too will be overturned in north carolina. and that’s what this is all about: conservatives want to be able to say the ‘liberal’ ‘activist’ courts ‘overturned the will of the people.’ they said the same thing about slavery and civil rights a few decades ago. it’s the same thing. they know they can’t ban it, so they put it to a pop vote, it gets passed, the courts overturn it, and conservatives have a drum to beat while same-sex couples can get married.

    i watched it happen in california. now in nc. it’s the face-saver (at least for a while).

  27. Well cd.dedalus – my pastor taught me evasive techniques, that I disagree that slavery is morally wrong, that I’m scared. Seriously? You’ve latched on to the false idea that the Bible endorses slavery and that’s fine. I imagine it is safe to say that this isn’t the only issue you have with the Bible and a resolution to this particular issue isn’t going to suddenly change your mind about the rest of it.

  28. brandon,
    i’ll ask again: when is it ok to own another human being? if never, then why give instructions on how to behave for both slaves AND masters?
    if the bible can denounce the entire practice of idolatry (and not give instructions on how and when to behave within the abominable practice), and if the bible can call for a complete overturning of the present economic system (cf. ‘sell all that you own and give it to the poor’), then why not a simple, ‘and masters, free your slaves, as it is an abomination to own another human being.’

    that’s the point: you’re arguing for an out-of-context exemption/excuse for a practice that is deplorable in ANY context. again, in what context is it EVER OK to own another human being? answer that and i’ll accept your ‘out of context’ argument. give me a situation when you’d be willing to say, here and now publicly, for present and potential future employers to read, where you feel it is ok to own another human being as a slave. give me the ‘proper context’ where slavery is morally acceptable and i’ll concede the argument.

  29. Bob, it’s not okay to own another human being. You are assuming that all instances of the use of the term slavery in the Bible is what we associate with the antebellum slavery in the western world and it wasn’t. Paul Copan addresses many of these issues regarding slavery in the Old and New Testaments in some recent articles. I won’t rehash them all here as it is much easier to simply direct you or anyone else to them. It is an issue that takes more than a few blog comments to address.

    Does the Old Testament Endorse Slavery? Part 1

    Does the Old Testament Endorse Slavery? Part 2

    Why Is the New Testament Silent on Slavery — or Is It?

  30. Brandon,
    Having written a book on religious approaches to slavery and devoted a chapter to studying it in Scripture, it is quite clear that the Bible endorses slavery. Paul even tells slaves to remain slaves and not try to become free. The Bible endorses slavery, occasionally commands slavery and at NO POINT does the Bible, God or the author of one of the books ever CONDEMN slavery or treat it as an evil. That is why slavery lasted into the 19th century–because good, Bible believing Christians believed what the Bible told them, namely, that slavery was part of God’s plan for humanity.

  31. @BobC.

    #1. Jesus’ reference to taxes did not legitimize or support the Roman rule but instructed His followers to obey the law. A christian doesn’t have to approve of the rulers but they do have to pay their taxes. There is a broader issue here of not leading people to sin, not sining etc.

    As for the word ‘command’ the word I usually see is ‘asks’ or ‘requests.’ That is not slavery or kidnapping but instructions to be nice and be willing to do more than what is required or requested.

    #2. In america, slavery was legal in some states, how would you want those slaves to be treated? Biblically or the way they were by their southern slave masters? If you want a specific verse that speaks against slavery you won’t necessarily find the exact words in them. One that comes to mind is ‘Do unto others as ye would have them do unto you.’ If you do not want to be a slave then don’t own one. There are other verses which address treatment of others.

    But you also need to remember that not all people in the ancient world were believers when they bought their slaves. Becoming christian doesn’t impose perfection upon humans at the moment of conversion. There is a learning process, changing of habits, practice etc. and they needed t be taught the right way to go. It takes time to think every through and get the right message into application

    #3. Yet he did address the master slave situation. He implored the slave owner to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul. Paul would not be treated in a harsh or bad manner, be given a good room fine foods etc. Again, if you are looking fo rthe exact words you may not find them but the message is there in other forms.

    #4. Is for your racism comment. Using the words ‘as a gentile’ is not a racist comment as it applied to all people who were NOT Hebrews regardless of the color fo their skin. The terms ‘racist’, ‘racism’ have had their definitions so distorted in recent decades that their use is often applied to the wrong act.

    Also, you need to remember that according to the Bible there is only 1 race of people not the 3-4 Darwin concocted 1900 years later and without evidence. Genetics supports the Bible on this not Darwin.

    To answer the question, God is inclusive except for one thing–sin. To enter God’s kingdom one must repent of and get rid of their sin. That is not racism or exclusivity. It is a requirement for entrance. God has the right to set the rules for entry into His home does He not?

    All may have th eopportunity to enter BUT only those who have followed the rules will get in, the rest do not. In other words, if one wants to impose the accusation of racism they must first prove that race actually exists, that the act is truly racist and that the requirements do not apply to all. People have charged racism but that is based on external factors not genetical or fact.

    You are charging that those who advocate heterosexual unions only are following a 2,000 year old book but that argument ignores the fact of free choice.

    People have the freedom to deny same sex marriage, that is democracy in action. SInce homosexuality is not a race and not limited to one nationality, there is no racism involved. It is people’s preference. Homosexuals want the right to choose their sexual partner yet are hell bent on stopping other people from exercising their free choice in rejecting their practice. Prop. 8 is a good example of this

    That is wrong. It seems that the only time the homosexuals want democracy is when it is in their favor but when it works against them then they want to force their desires on those who have democraticlly rejected their wishes. They went to a gay judge to get their way–that isn’t democracy or objectivity.

    Clearly, the people you should have a problem with is the homosexual community who circumvent the system to get their own spoiled way and not be mad at Billy Graham who is exercising his freedoms to oppose such legislation.

  32. @Paul Please give me the Bible verses you are referring to so I can see the context and whom they apply to.

  33. @Miss Lessees. I willuse numbers to address your questions and I will go in order. #1. First, the Bible gives us what is or isn’t sin. If we di dnothave this superior moral code then we would be left subject to the whims of whomever achieved power in a country. Morality would always be changing and soon confusion as to what is right or wrong would arise frustrating people, and ending up with themasses throwing away all others’ ideas of morality and doing what is right in their own eyes. In short–anarchy would prevail.

    #2. Should the religious be forced to follow the secular way? if so, isn’t that favortism and denial of rights? You need to remember that democratic nations allow people to choose, America is doing that with this vote. Why should democracy be applied only when it favors one group and denied when it opposes them? Democracy is supposed to be for all people. The homosexual community are not being deprived of the right to marry, they just have to marry an opposite sex partner. Their rights have not been removed.

    #3. The Old Testament speaks against homosexuality as well thus you woul dnot be under the NT teaching but the Tanakh’s. Not much difference between the two in this case.

    #4. Yes because historically the religious foundation was ‘christian’ not muslim, not atheism, not hindu. Would you go to India and demand that Christian laws and ways be imposed uponthe Buddhist, the hindu the Sikh? Of course not, so why should a historically ‘christian’ country be subjected to the same treatment and be forced to implement foreign ideals into its laws?

    #5.A Pluralistic society is not justification for throwing away one’s rule of law or historical religious influence. Would you as a Jew accept Islamic Sharia law as part of the Israeli law code simply because Muslims live within Israel’s borders? WOuld you accept Confucian principles? Or Mayan laws? And have them intergrated with Israeli law merely because their people migrated to Israel? {I realize you may not live there but I needed an example for you to relate to}

    Why should nay western country change their laws to meet migrant demands? They left their home countries and their old ways and moved to a new one with new ways. Why should the the original inhabitants change their laws when the migrants can return to their own countries if they want their old laws and customs?

    Australia made this stand recently when they told muslim immigrants that Shaira law was not going to apply in their country and that is the way it should be. When you go to a new country the migrant adapts not the new homeland.

    It has nothing to do with control but what is right, what is common sense, what is fair to the original people and what is democratic.

  34. Cargill’s point was about slavery … YOU chose to run away from that point and instead tried to change the discussion to one you found more comfortable: “context”. … But your evasion is transparent, as is your attempt to blame Cargill for your own evasion.

    What is surprising about the vote in NC is that so many had the courage to defy what their pastors SAID “the Bible” (whichever inerrant version — in conflict with other inerrant versions — you “like”) teaches uniformly about what constitutes “marriage”. As you know but won’t admit, “God” approves of polygamy among many of characters in Bible folklore. In North Carolina, that did take some courage. The Bible teaches no such uniform lesson. Shhhh ! Don’t tell !

    . . . but please consider not running away from the slavery issue in the future .. okay ?

  35. BobCargill: Brandon won’t respond because he’s uncomfortable defending slavery and the fact that “the Bible” (whichever inerrant version is chosen) permits and approves it. … and that is why he is trying desperately to shift the discussion from the original subject to the “safe” one of “context”, which is a non-issue since … ALL religious people quote verses from “the Bible” without regard to “context” and it is, uh, “okay” if they do it ?

    Brandon engages in a double standard and simply refuses to acknowledge it. Having been somewhat of a religious fanatic (myself) and having dealt with religious fanatics over decades, his techniques are glaringly obvious.

    My advice to all is to keep these folks “on topic” … they’ll never forgive you for doing so and … they’ll never keep on topic. They are trained in specific deceptive, evasive cliches, and that is where they find their comfort zone: they try to guide any discussion back to those deceptive, evasive cliches and to further direct the discussion with other such cliches (one favorite: “I am very concerned for you and shall pray for you … in fact, is it OK if I pray for you RIGHT NOW [they then bow their heads, feigning prayer] ?” All the while they tell themselves that their doing God’s Will, that they’re getting instructions from God, etc. … Ahhhh: so many religious people, so little Thorazine.

  36. Brandon, Paul Copan is an apologist. His JOB is to try and take completely disassociated biblical commands and make them harmonious, not only with each other, but with modern culture. I can understand why you’d point others to him.

    Readers can see the obvious problem for religious conservatives: on the one hand, they MUST argue that the Bible is inerrant and infallible, and that anything God does, be it allow for and/or order slavery or genocide (Deut 2:34; Deut 3:6; Deut 7:2, 16; Deut 13:15; Deut 20:16-17; Josh 6:21; Josh 10:40; 1 Samuel 15; etc.), it MUST be OK, because the Bible says it. And that is rule #1: if the Bible says it’s OK, then it’s OK, because the Bible says it. It’s a completely circular argument, but let’s grant that and set it aside.

    The PROBLEM arises when our modern culture has deemed that a particular ancient, ‘biblical’ practice is now deplorable. THIS is why folks like Brandon and David are spilling SOOO much ink attempting to redefine ‘slavery’ or apologize on its behalf or argue that God doesn’t really ‘endorse’ slavery: they know they can’t simply say ‘It’s OK b/c the Bible says it’s OK,” because their colleagues at work will ask, “So, you REALLY think slavery is OK in certain contexts?” A hundred years ago, they could (and people did say), “Absolutely. The Bible says women submit to your husbands and slaves obey your masters,” and that was acceptable to many. But NOW that slavery is abolished, they’re stuck attempting to apologize for (see Copan above) or redefine or harmonize the very OPPOSITE of what the Bible says.

    Gen. 9:6: “Let Canaan be his slave”
    Gen 17:12-13 gives instructions for circumcising slaves born into ones household (not freeing them)
    Gen 21:10 obviously understands slaves as socially less than free people
    Ex 20:10 gives Sabbath observance regulations for slaves (and lists them with the livestock and other possessions)
    Ex 21:2 gives instructions for buying a male Hebrew slave
    Ex 21:7 gives instructions for fathers who sell their daughters as slaves
    Deut 15:3 at least talks about emancipating a slave, so the concept was not foreign…
    Deut 15:17 speaks of how to pierce the ear of a slave and claim them forever

    Thus, the OT gives explicit instructions about how to make a slave, who can be a slave, and how they must behave. Slavery was allowed by God. Period.

    But unlike, for example kosher regulations (e.g., don’t eat pork) which Christians claim is ‘trumped’ by NT verses such as Acts 10:13, where Peter is shown unclean animals and is told ‘kill and eat’ – an episode Christians interpret as an elimination of OT commands against eating unclean food, there is no verse in the NT that undoes slavery. Rather, you get a continuation of the policy: “Slaves, obey your master.”

    So to attempt to argue that the Bible ‘does not endorse slavery’ is dishonest and exposes a deliberate ignorance of the Bible. YET, religious conservatives in the modern era are FORCED to attempt to redefine ‘slavery’ or make absurd claims like ‘the Bible does not endorse slavery’ because they REFUSE to believe that God permitted, commanded, and regulated something as deplorable as slavery. For if they did, they they’d have to acknowledge that there may be OTHER social practices that God permitted or forbade that should or should not be continued in a modern world. And THAT leaves the door open for a debate about homosexuality, which they simply WILL NOT HAVE, and so they make a ‘slippery slope’ argument and attempt to redefine slavery in order to reconcile the precarious position that whatever the Bible says is God’s will and eternal truth, and yet that slavery is evil and abominable.

    That’s why David and Brandon won’t stop arguing what they’re arguing above. They can’t. Despite the obvious hypocrisy, circular reasoning, and avoidance of direct questions, if they stop, they’re forced to concede that something in their reasoning might be a little off, and if something is off, then… well then, they might have to concede that either God is wrong (μη γενοιτο!) or that discrimination against homosexuals may, like slavery, not necessarily be a good thing. So we get what we have above.

    It’s sad that some people will do mental back flips and twist the text to say the opposite of what it says JUST to maintain a policy of discrimination against others.


  37. Nice try. Copan’s arguments are as familiar as they are deceptive. That is: Passage A says X, but … X cannot “mean” X because of … what Irrelevant Passage B says which … once you compare it with what X says (and maybe some purported “neutral history” references, too) … takes the meaning of X and deletes it. Whew !

    How clever. If you “work” this or that verse enough, you can make it “say” whatever you want, which is a common technique for religious folks. LOL. I used to use that one, myself, dude.

    Sorry … you lose. Those passages mean what they say, not what Copan and others “make” them say by ignoring what they say and trying to “balance” those passages with other, more pleasant passages.

    … how odd that what Copan says … somehow “eluded” Bible scholars for nearly 20 centuries! Weird, huh ?

    . . . and how odd that his evasions of what those passages — cited by Cargill — actually SAY … fall flat.

    Looking on the bright side, Copan has a secure future as a preacher.

  38. cd.dedalus – Changing the discussion about slavery and running away from it? What posts are you reading? All this back and forth has been about slavery and whether the point that the Bible endorse slavery is legitimate. I’ve said it isn’t and that what was cited as proof of endorsement, frankly isn’t.

    Bob – You seem to be disregarding Copan’s arguments because his motivations don’t meet your standards. I could just as likely say the same things about you – your motivation seems driven by a desire to promote the idea that the Bible endorses slavery, therefore noting you say holds any water. What matters is whether the analysis is reasonable and rational, taking into account the full text and the historical context. You aren’t granted the banner of objectivity simply by virtue of the fact that you sit in a university and he is an apologist. What matters are the arguments being made.

  39. Brandon,

    And you STILL haven’t answered my question: please give me an example of where an “instance of the use of the term slavery in the Bible” is even by your definition permissible and beneficial in today’s society. (And please don’t say ‘work for hire,’ as the Bible has a completely different set of rules and words for that.)

    My argument is that despite what the Bible said 2000 years ago about homosexuality, today, regardless of whether one views it as a sin, it should not be the basis of special legal discrimination by a secular state. In the same way that the Bible accepts and regulates slavery, a practice that was later banished by secular states, so too should modern states not rely on the Bible for the regulation of certain social practices and designations where there is no victim.

    Murder? Sure. Ban it. There is a victim.
    False witness? Sure. Ban it. Erodes the foundation of our legal system.
    Stealing? Sure. Ban it. There is a victim.

    But other ‘biblical’ regulations like keeping the Sabbath? No. There is no victim. So no, don’t regulate it.
    Worshiping foreign gods? No. Even though it is an ‘abomination’ the OT, and reasserted as ‘evil’ in the NT, there is no victim, so no, don’t regulate it.
    Mixing fabrics in one’s clothes? No. Despite the fact that it was never ‘trumped’ in the NT like Christians claim regarding Sabbath and kosher regulations, there is no victim, so no, don’t regulate it.
    Planting separate crops side-by-side? No. Despite the fact that it was never ‘trumped’ in the NT like Christians claim regarding Sabbath and kosher regulations, there is no victim, so no, don’t regulate it.
    Homosexuality? No. Don’t ban it. There is no victim. Two consenting of-age adults can choose to love whomever they want. There is no victim. None. So why is this singled out when the other biblical abominations above are not?

  40. Brandon: My suggestion is that you read your own posts and stop being evasive, and … stop denying what you’re doing. But that’s your choice. You run away from Cargill’s point and try to change the subject of the discussion to a general one of “context”. Nice try, but it won’t work, at least not here.

    Cargill has proven the point about the Bible endorsing slavery. If you want to deny the obvious, well … that is what religious folks do as a matter of course. Cargill has boxed you in … using your own holy book. My suggestion is that you just acknowledge this: you have nowhere to go, dude.

  41. Well Bob, I haven’t been arguing for an instance where slavery (by whatever definition) is permissible and beneficial in today’s society, so I imagine that is why I haven’t answered your question. You seem to be of the opinion that because slavery existed in the ancient world as a historical fact and was recorded in the Old Testament and at the time of Paul’s letters in the Roman Empire with the New Testament that the Bible endorses slavery since there was no direct call to end the practice. The fact that a practice of a fallen humanity has been tolerated by God in the past does not mean that it is an endorsement. This is why I referenced the Copan arguments as he addresses the reasons why Paul did not call for an end to the practice as well as the regulations around it for the Jews in the time of the Old Testament. You obviously don’t accept these arguments and that is fine.

    Regarding your argument about homosexuality, no one is trying to ban it. You are correct, two consenting of-age adults can choose to love whomever they want. They can pursue their lives together and remain in committed relationships. No one is preventing that. But that is a completely separate issue from whether or not the state is obligated to change to definition of marriage to recognize these relationships. Not changing the definition is not banning homosexuality, nor is it some kind of unconstitutional discrimination.

  42. cd.dedalus – Feel free to think that I continue to be evasive. These continued claims about my evasiveness and duplicity are becoming quite humorous. Keep it up!

  43. You just keep deleting comments and scripture which prove you are
    wrong – that is the WORD OF GOD which states that
    gay sex is wrong and that the husband owns his wife’s body and the wife owns the husbands body.
    You control your debates by deleting any blog which shows up your
    unscriptural position.

  44. Brandon,

    1) Why is the state defining ‘marriage’ if it is a religious institution?
    2) If ‘marriage’ is also a state institution, cannot the state alter its definition if it so chooses?
    3) If said change of the definition of ‘marriage’ is approved by the state’s voters, or its banishment is deemed unconstitutional by the state’s courts, does not the state have the right to do this also?

    You appear to be conflating religious ‘marriage’ with civil ‘marriage,’ and keeping church and state separate is something this country has been attempting to do for a long, long time.

    Religious institutions should be able to define and prohibit marriage as they see fit. Catholics can only acknowledge Catholic marriages between a man and a woman. Mormons should have the right to acknowledge only Mormon unions. How a religious institution defines marriage is up to them, and no one should be telling them otherwise.

    HOWEVER, how the state views ‘marriage’ (and all the rights, privileges, and honors thereto appertaining), that is up to the state – working through the executive, legislative, and judicial. And THAT process SHOULD be free from theological and religious apologetics, however circular.



  45. now THAT i’ll approve ;-)

  46. charles, i actually like to approve comments that disagree with me. i just like to insist they they make some reasonable attempt at a cogent argument, proper spelling, punctuation (capitalization exempt), and show some semblance of civil debate, kindness, and refrain from profanity and ‘department of doubly redundant duplication department’ of established claims.

  47. Nice try.

    You are being evasive again.

    The OT does not merely “mention” slavery “in the ancient world,” dude.

    In the OT (as Bob C mentions) “God” purports to endorse it, even giving advice on how Hebrew dads are to sell their own daughters into slavery (Exodus, ch. 21).

    And the endorsements of slavery in the NT are already mentioned in this discussion. (and see Luke, ch. 7). Slaves, obey your masters saith Paul (who isn’t God, but who Christians think speaks for him).

    You are running away from the obvious points that the Bible endorses slavery AND doesn’t denounce it. SAD,

  48. I see, you will approve comments where you get to stay up on your soap box but delete those that present a more truthful scenario.

  49. Nope, I just approve those that are relevant and on-topic and don’t repeat what someone else just said. You should not view my blog as the place to promote your books, your website, or your blog post. I approve those that disagree with me b/c it encourages a healthy debate.


  50. Don’t worry, I missed one of my posts when I first looked at the site and thought it was not posted. I just saw it now. I don’t recall promoting anything of mine in those posts.
    i didn’t think my responses to the two other people were out of bounds but they may have been. Sorry.

  51. The question I have is: How can you Dr. Cargill, equate slavery with same sex marriage? The homosexual community still has the right to marry but it has to be to an opposite sex partner; or they still have the freedom to travel to another country that llows such acts. So I fail to see your point in the comparison. Are you just going for the emotional factor and trying to get a rise out of people?

  52. I disagree with your summary of my arguments and feel that you are placing a modern western defintion to the word slave each and every time the Bible mentions the word. Context and God’s perspective provide the real meanings to each usage but I sense you do not care about that.

    I did not avoid one direct question. As you can see by my response I went through your points and made sure each was addressed with no hypocrisy, no circular reasoning. I do not care if you disagree with me but I certainly do mind when you put words nto my mouth I have not said.

    Just because we do not approve of same sex marriage does not mean that discrimination has taken place. The homosexual community is not a race of people and their rights to marry have not been denied. Their choice of partner has been restricted to the normal way of life.

    Why should the homosexual community be allowed the benefits of the lifestyle they have rejected? I have noticed that you failed to address my points directly and I am waiting for that.

    Another question I have, you state that slavery has been abolished–where? Sexual slavery still takes place around the globe as does other forms of the act. You appeal to culture to determine what takes place in modern times yet which culture do you want to use? The one that allows sexual and other slavery or the Biblical one that fights against all forms of that word?

    Your argument is too narrow and only looks to approve what you want and not what others would like to see. Again, Prop. 8 and the aftermath shows that people only want democracy when it gets them what they want and they reject it when the majority decides against them.

    What about those people who voted against legalizing same sex marriage? Are they not allowed to have democracy when it is in their favor?

  53. david, already addressed this above.

  54. You are off topic. You equate the folk tale of Jesus arguably favoring paying taxes with approving of Roman rule and somehow with … Bible support for slavery ? Yikes.

    The “gay judge” in California was assigned by the presiding judge of the Northern District of California, as a matter of rotation among the various judges on that particular bench. You don’t just “go to a judge of your choice” in US District Court; it doesn’t work like that. And in any event both sides (and every other lawyer in the area!) knew Vaughan Walker was gay well before that lawsuit was filed. Any lawyer in the SF Bay Area who says he/she was unaware of that just wasn’t paying attention.

    You object to gay folks getting equal rights because … you are opposed to equal rights for gays, so why not just say so ?

    And since YOU bring up irrelevant topics … the Bible supports the absurd idea that the Universe came about in 6 literal days (that’s the first folktale in Genesis … there are two, as you know). … Genetics doesn’t support the Bible, BTW.

    And, for that matter: Pi is NOT = “3” ! (1 Kings, 7:23). Yikes, the list goes on and on.

    But back to the topic at hand: the Bible supports slavery. My suggestion is that you just acknowledge that, instead of trying to squirm.

  55. Brandon:

    Religious folks ignoring being called on their evasiveness is par for the course. LOL

    Just admit that the Bible supports slavery … you’ll feel better and you’ll no longer be bearing false witness.

    Here’s something else you’ll evade: 2+2 = 4 … and “Pi” is NOT “3” (1 Kings, ch. 7, verse 23).

  56. He was equating slavery and SSM on the basis that (1) Bible verses support slavery (they do, despite evasions here that they don’t) and (2) opponents of SSM are using Bible verses to oppose SSM.

    . . did you not get that ?

  57. Had the judge been straight and ruled against gay marriage, it would have been the opposite scenario.

  58. @CDD–Dr. Cargill opened the door with his ‘render unto Caesar’ comment. The Homosexual community (HC) already have the right to marry–they just reject the option available for their mate. I do not think that homosexuals should be allowed to marry a same sex partner. Their union does nothing to benefit society as a whole and their concerns could be solved without undermining democracy. Where does the Bible say go out and buy another human being and make him subserviant?

    @Dr. Cargill– This is the problem with this issue, there is no objective position. But th question remains–are not the majority allowed democracy and get their will accepted or is democracy undermined to please a few?

    The real issue that I see in this blog of yours is not slavery but the rights and wishes of the homosexual as opposed to democracy, and one man one vote ideology.

  59. @Dr.Cargill–I went back and re-read your blog and feel that you are using slvery, divorce etc. more of a strawman since Billy Graham’s ad is restricted to same sex marriage. S;avery is not on the same level as that sexul preference and I have never found verse where God had the authors of each book write–Go and buy slaves and support the slave industry.

    Nor do any of the books teach about which form of government peopel should use, does rendering unto Caesar support Roman rule? of course not, nor does it endorse totaliarianism, or communism. For that matter it does not endorse democracy either. So how cn you insert the word slavery and say the Bible supports it when there is no clear instruction to do so?

    Too many people look for specific wording for each nd every topic but if God had done that, the Bible would be so thick, no one would read it and that would defeat the purpose of the revelation. Otherpeople use the lack of specificity to make accusations against the Bible trying to getit to say what it does not.

    Is that fair or right?

  60. Got quite busy around here since I last commented. Bob, let me address your questions to me from earlier.

    1) Why is the state defining ‘marriage’ if it is a religious institution? – As far as the state is concerned, it isn’t a religious institution. While many people do get married in a religious ceremony, it is not a requirement by the state to be performed in this fashion. Clergy are authorized to perform the marriage and for it to be recognized by the state since it meets the legal requirements, but any couple can just as well go to the courthouse and be married by a judge or even a justice of the peace.

    2) If ‘marriage’ is also a state institution, cannot the state alter its definition if it so chooses? – The state certainly can alter the definition and that is what this entire debate is about. My side is arguing for the current one man, one woman definition, your side is arguing for any two people, regardless of sex.

    3) If said change of the definition of ‘marriage’ is approved by the state’s voters, or its banishment is deemed unconstitutional by the state’s courts, does not the state have the right to do this also? – A change in definition could be approved by the state’s voters, I suppose either directly by popular referendum, or through the traditional legislative process. I might disagree with a change in definition, but if it was passed in this fashion, it is not illegitimate.

    I’m not conflating religious marriage with civil marriage. As far as the state is concerned there is just civil marriage. I may have been married in a church and there is obviously a religious component to my marriage, but in the state’s eyes, it is just a civil component. The state doesn’t care if I am Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever, just that I have met the requirements for my marriage to be recognized by the state according to the law. Nor do they care what my reasons were for getting married. This doesn’t have anything to do with separation of church and state.

  61. If you don’t want to advance the cause of SSM … don’t marry a member of your own gender.

    If you don’t want to advance the cause of religious mumbo-jumbo . . . don’t pretend that this or that version (there are many conflicting versions) of this or that holy book is “the Word of God”.

    some stuff just isn’t that complicated.

  62. It’s complicated if you make it complicated to avoid having to face the fact that folks are using the Bible to deny others rights they enjoy. This used to happen in south when slavery was still practiced. Every time someone said, ‘you should free the slaves,’ southerners pulled out their Bibles and said, “God clearly says ‘slaves obey your masters,’ so he was obviously OK with it.’

    Then we fought some battles about this issue. Over time, we learned to read around the verses that seem to endorse slavery. Nowadays, we say things like, ‘OK, that was in that cultural context, but we don’t have slavery anymore, so it’s moot.’

    Of course, some forget that the Bible NEVER STOPPED SAYING ‘SLAVES OBEY YOUR MASTERS’. It was always there. We just fought the battle, the good guys won, and now we read around the slavery verses and chastise those who would dare practice slavery.

    Now, of course, no one wants to talk about how God was cool with slavery, because it’s highly unfashionable. (Folks at work look at you funny if you say, “well, the Bible is OK with it, so it’s not wrong.”) Instead, we make up silly arguments like, “The Bible doesn’t endorse slavery” and hope that if we say it enough people will believe it.

    This is how the issues are the same. Once upon a time, some folks used the Bible to defend slavery. They were bigots. They lost. And today, they try to say that the Bible really doesn’t say what it says. So they choose a different issue: gay marriage. And history will repeat itself. Gay marriage will be legalized over the objections of many religious folks using the Bible to object to gay marriage. It will become common, and then an afterthought. Then, 40 years from now, we’ll look back in disgust at those who attempted to use the Bible to discriminate against same-sex unions, just like we now look back in disgust at what we did to African-Americans in this country 50 years ago. And we’ll shake our heads and ask how anyone would be so literalist as to attempt to suppress the civil rights of others.

    And someone else will come along and argue that the Bible really never did object to same-sex marriage. And the rationale given will probably be something to the effect of, ‘well, that was prohibited in that culture and that time, but things are different today. We know better now.’

    Things are different because we make the different. THAT never changes.

  63. I am not ignoring that fact. Such people are misguided and use the Bible for their own ends. But such people do not nullify what the Bible teaches nor changes it. Your exaple in the first paragraph may have been used by southerners to justify their owning slaves but the verse does not support slavery.

    Well, I do not believe in cultural contexts. That undermines the teaching of the Bible and allows others to say the book is not relevent for today. Just because some people are lazy an do not want to do the proper work in finding out what is really being said, doesn’t alter what the Bible says. It just means that some people didn’t learn what it said.

    Yes, the Bible does say that but is the modern western definition of the word slavery being inserted into the text and the God given definition being ignored? You just can’t approach the Bible from a modern western mentality, because the Bible was not written in a modern western context.

    Gay marriage is a bit different for God is quite clear about His feelings for that preference. He is quie clear about what He does t those who opt to practice it–they can’t escpe it. We do not legitimize and honor what God has labeled wrong. We do not legitimize murder, why would we do that for homosexuality?

    A person molests a child and we read the verses ‘pray for those who do evil’, ‘return good for evil’, etc. does that mean that the Bible is supporting child molesting? Especially if we do not find a verse that states–do not molest children?

    Because the Bible addresses behavior in slavery it doesn’t mean it supports the act of owning another human being.

    I will disagree with your futuristic look at the same sex marriage debate as you are granting the HC minority status whenthey are not a supposed race of people but a group who practice an alternative sexual preference. You are giving to much credence to sex. it is not that important and there are real issues that need people’s attention.

    Since God made it very clear in the Bible His feelings about same sex and Jesus reiterated that in the NT, we do not have to worry about osmeone coming long and sying he Bible never spoke against same sex marriage or homosexuality. The passages are very clear on this issue.

    People have been misusing the Bible since the beginning, a fine example is the RCC in the middle ages and Galileo but that doesn’t mean the teaching of the Bible are wrong but that people are wrong, misguided, mis-informed, and so on. That is why God provided the HS to help, so people would get the truth.

    Sadly few people listen to the HS and look to interpret on their own thus we end up with weird teachings, and false teachers. In this issue, yes people deny the HC an act based upon emotion but NOT all people. The Bible is quite clear on this and we should not be supporing people in their practice of sin. We do not support rapists, murderers, liars, thieves etc., except when they want to change their ways, why should homosexuality be any different?

  64. P.s. I live on another continent thus if i do not respond right away it is because I have not seen what was posted not because I am avoiding anything.

  65. wha? i’m…hang on…ok, um… sigh. yep. i’m done now…
    david, all i can say at this point is that you make my tweet from earlier today look prophetic.

    just remember folks: these people vote. they don’t have to show their work or explain their rationale. to them, this makes sense.

    peace out! bc

  66. any tenuous argument used to support slavery was much weaker than the Bible’s obvious, unequivocal, and very pointed probibition of homosexuality–repeated over a course of hundreds of years. you are certainly free to reject the 2000 year old book. please be honest and upfront about that, because many stumbling across sites like this misinterpret them as being Christian, where the Bible is held in esteem. as on earlier posts about marriage, the argument that there was more than one example of marriage in the Bible (but really only one approved in the New Testament–a point never acknowledged here), is that none of the Old Testament marriage variations included gay marriage. Not one.

  67. rich, lest we forget, monogamous marriage between a male and a female was a secondary, fallback choice for christians. check 1 cor 7:7-9. for paul, single life was superior. if you couldn’t handle single, celibate life, then marriage was the fallback option.

    and at least you acknowledge that slavery was, in fact, acceptable in the ot and nt. whereas god did NOT say ‘don’t worship idols’ and then ‘but if you do, here’s how you should do it…’, there is no prohibition against slavery, AND we get explicit instructions in both OT and NT on how this relationship ought to work. i wouldn’t define that as tenuous, i’d define it as pretty clear.

    if we can eliminate one barbaric social practice against the bible’s teaching to the contrary, then we can eliminate another.

  68. Jesus denounced homosexuality … WHERE ?


    . . . but don’t bother quoting from Paul, since he has no godlike authority (well … maybe you will show that I am wrong ?). Paul isn’t “God” or Jesus and never was, and nowhere that I can find does “God” or Jesus say that Paul speaks for them. But likely you will now set me straight and tell me where those references are. THANKS, again.

  69. The Bible endorses slavery.

    E.g., God Himself (supposedly) gives Hebrew dads advice on how to sell their own daughters into slavery (Exodus, ch. 21).

    You continue to run away from what is right in front of you.

  70. cd, remember, facts are optional and reasoning need not be rational in this debate. ;-)

  71. Understood.

    BTW … I have put together a handy guide to dealing with “difficult” Bible verses. It’s a bit long, sorry about that. But it’s a pretty good (if I do say so myself) compilation of techniques used by believers re: these types of verses. This is my own draft and I am sure there are better articles on this subject, but here it is:

    Dealing with “Difficult” Bible Verses

    These techniques to “witness to” others (i.e., try to convert them) deal with citing Bible verses. These techniques can be used by members of any denomination, even members of different denominations which detest each other. These techniques have a certain universality among Christians that will come in handy.

    But first: Claim that the version of the Bible that you like “is based on the original autographs” and if someone asks you any follow-up questions (like: “How do we know that ?”), you should quickly change the subject or say firmly (almost angrily) “this is already settled” and then change the subject. Under no circumstances should you discuss this subject, since this will lead you off-script.

    No one has any idea if what would qualify as “the original autographs” even actually existed or how such a term would be defined, but never admit this.

    Here goes:

    (1) “The verse says what it says and means what it says. It is the Word of God.”

    Okay, so this one isn’t really relevant to “difficult” verses and probably doesn’t belong in this list, but I include it as a bonus. … This is the easiest approach by far. Use this one when the verse you are quoting is one you like. Remember: If you like the verse, it’s true.

    (2) “The verse says what it says but it doesn’t mean what it says. What it means is [insert the meaning you like HERE].”

    Use this one when the meaning of the verse is something you DON’T like (e.g., the endorsement of slavery in the Bible, including by “God Himself” in Exodus, ch. 21). Try to get away with just changing the meaning of the verse, and see if your would-be convert is willing to go along with it. But sometimes this “explanation” leads to needing to use the following advanced techniques:

    (3) “The verse says what is says but the words need to be understood as translated to [something you like … insert the meaning you like HERE].”

    “Yes, the NIV [or KJV or whatever version] is the “best” version [do NOT try to define this term, just say that it is “the best” or “the most accurate” and repeat yourself incessantly and do NOT explain anything], but … we still need to retranslate this or that word. [Don’t explain WHY, because there isn’t any … that is, IF your version of the Bible is “the inerrant Word of God” then why is further “translation” necessary … right ? Shhhh ! Don’t tell!] The correct translation is: [insert the “correct translation” here which … just “happens” to be in line with what your particular denomination teaches. Do NOT give the person you are trying to convert the opportunity to challenge you on the accuracy of your claim on this. Remember: when people start asking questions, just change the subject, show some anger, etc. Questions are, after all, Satan’s Little Fingers].

    (4) “The verse says what it says but it doesn’t mean what it says and … must be understood ‘in context with other Bible verses nearby that verse’ ”

    Insert “context” that takes away from the obvious meaning of the verse HERE; this is a technique that may be used whether you intend either to modify the obvious meaning of the verse or to completely obliterate what the verse says.

    (5) “The verse says what it says but it doesn’t mean what it says and … must be understood ‘in context with other Bible verses that are located nowhere near that verse but are located way over HERE … in a different book of the Bible’ ”

    Insert “context” that takes away from the obvious meaning of the verse HERE; this is a technique that may be used whether you intend either to modify the obvious meaning of the verse or to completely obliterate what the verse says.

    Say that the reason why you have to go to another book of the Bible for the “correct meaning” of the verse is . . . uh . . . uh . . . the result of … uh … diligent study and prayer by devout scholars, etc. Or just say that it’s “obvious”; whatever . . . just come up with something.

    (6) “The verse says what it says but it doesn’t mean what it says and … must be understood ‘in historical context’ [insert fabricated history reference HERE].”

    [Do NOT give the person you are trying to convert the opportunity to challenge you on the accuracy of your claim re: history on this … just quickly move on and if necessary accuse the person of questioning your honesty, etc., just bully the person until he/she gives up. (It’s unlikely you will have any details re: history except the pseudo-history you got in church or in the religious “university” or “college” you attended, so don’t worry about it.) If the person persists, just angrily tell him/her that “the matter has been settled”.]

    Remember that two of the most powerful weapons that you have are (1) fear-inducement (re: Hell) and (2) evasion. And best wishes.

  72. @dr. Cargill– Well i see you are not open minded nor want a serious discussion the issue. it looks like you just want to mock those who disagree with you. I do a lot of discussion with atheists and one of their main complaints is that christians can’t think for themselves. Yet what I see is that atheists are not happy unless everyone supports their point of view.

    They claim they want free thinkers but in reality, they only want those who think like them. Judging from your responses, I see you are exactly the same. If someone disagrees with you, there is something wrong with them and they are not thinking critically, or are brainwashed and that is just not so.

    I do not think you are open-minded enough to discuss these topics with believers. Homosexuals are not the only people with a preference, and the voters of California and North Carolina expressed their preference. Sadly, the losers could not accept the results of the democratic process and now are trying to find ways around the system to achieve their goal.

    Same sex marriage is not about slavery, it is not about civil rights, it is about the practice of an alternative sexual preference and that is not even important on the grand scale of life. I have noticed that you have not produced one ancient mss. from one ancient civilization that supports same sex unions thus historically the homosexual has no foundation to stand upon.

    The opponents have Sodom and Gomorrah to point to and can say ‘see what happens when you practice God has said not to do.’ Just becaus eyou do not want to believe S & G were real doesn’t mean they weren’t or that the destruction didn’t happen.

    The opponents of same sex marriage have legitimate reasons why they oppose it and it has nothing to do with civil rights.

  73. Dr. Tee:

    If you want to believe that the Bible (any version) is historically accurate, feel free to do so. The rest of us choose to rely on facts.

    Dr. Cargill has been open minded and wants a serious discussion of this issue. Sadly, it looks like you just want to mock those who disagree with you. I do a lot of discussion with religious folks and one of their main complaints is the existence of people who think for themselves. These religious folks are not happy unless everyone supports their point of view, and that is, of course, their prerogative: they choose to stop using their frontal lobes.

  74. thanx cd.

  75. First of all, Dr. Tee, my name is spelled Lesses, not Lessees. I also have a Ph.D., which you didn’t know about because I didn’t write it – in my case in the Study of Religion from Harvard.

    I’ll also respond to you by numbers.

    1. Do you really think that only societies based on the Bible are moral? Do you see any evidence in the world for this assertion? When I look at possible examples – e.g., the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the rule of the Puritans – I see a society that hanged Quakers on the Boston Common for their “heresy.” When I look for examples of societies that strive for equality and liberty, I find the Scandinavian countries, which are largely secular today although certainly were historically Christian. In those societies, even though most people are not now Christians, they seem to be able to adhere to the basic principles of morality, for example not murdering each other en masse.

    2. Dr. Tee, you’re asking for secular people to live according to your, particular, religion. Also, your idea of democracy is majoritarian – in other words, for you, anything the majority wants is correct, regardless of whether it harms a minority. To take a less inflamed issue – when the Supreme Court, in Loving v Virgina, in 1967, struck down state anti-miscegenation statutes, it was going against the majorities in those states that had voted in legislatures that made interracial marriage illegal. Was it ever moral for there to be anti-miscegenation statutes?

    For another example – for decades in the earlier part of the 20th century, the NAACP tried to get Congress to pass a nationwide anti-lynching law, which was always prevented by the influence of southern Senators. Thousands of African-Americans, definitely a minority, died in lynchings. Was it moral for the Congress to refuse to pass this law?

    3. Yes, the Hebrew Bible, in Leviticus, prohibits sexual intercourse between men. This is not a blanket prohibition of “homosexuality” as a separate identity. Rabbinic discussion of the verses in Leviticus never took this prohibition as pertaining to the individuals, but only to the acts. And the Tanakh says nothing about lesbianism.

    4. So if the religious foundation is Christian – what rights does that give me as a Jew in the United States? In European Christian countries, Jews for centuries were persecuted for not being Christians, were forced into ghettos, forced to wear special identifying marks on their clothing, forbidden to buy land, etc. – I’m sure you know the whole sorry history. If the US were purely a Christian country, there would be no basis for the rights of religious minorities. But since the US Constitution grants the free exercise of religion by people of any religion (in prohibiting Congress from restricting that free exercise), and also forbids Congress from establishing a state religion (Christian or otherwise), and also prohibits religious tests for office, I do have equal rights with Christians or people of other religions or no religions. I am certainly not interested in going back to the bad old days in Europe of legalized discrimination against Jews. The Bill of Rights protects the rights of minorities, which is an important check on majority rule which could lead to severe injustice to minorities.

    5. On your point on Sharia law – in Israel today, there is no civil marriage or divorce. People get married according to the laws of their own religion. This means that there are Sharia courts in Israel that define the laws of marriage and divorce for Muslims. In today’s Haaretz, there is an article about the Sharia courts. So you can’t use Israel as an example. Another reason you can’t is that Israeli law is based on several older legal systems, including Jewish halakhah, English common law and the laws of the British Mandate, and Ottoman state law, as well as laws enacted by the Israeli Knesset since 1948. This mixed basis for laws has not led to a notably higher level of injustice than we find in the American legal system (which also often closes its eyes to oppression and injustice, despite its supposed basis in Christian values).

    Why are you bringing in the case of Sharia? We were talking about homosexuality!

  76. So why is this singled out when the other biblical abominations above are not?

    Social Conservatives: ‘Old Testament for thee but not for me.’

    There was a very respected conservative Christian state senator from Maine about 10 years ago who came around on same sex marriage by realizing that he was applying the above moral logic.

    Wish I could find his statement, it was very eloquent.

  77. @cdd–If you deny the Bible you have no facts. I see none of you addressed the points I made so the evidence is clear–you donot want a serious discussion on this issue.

    I find it weird that democracy, free choice, free speech are only for those who agree with the homosexual community. NC has spoken, they did it the democratic way no one should be whining, threatening, boycotting etc. It was a fair vote.

    I disprove of the Calig\fornia debacle where a few try to over-turn the will of the people by going to a like-minded judge and have him usurp the democratic process. It is a shame that the pro-gay camp can’t take their loss like men.

    I also find it weird that the ideology of ‘the will of the people’ is only supported when one gets favorable results.

  78. Dr. Tee, I think we’re done here. You may discuss the issues, but bigotry and shots at others are not allowed.

    Thanx for your participation.


  79. “If you deny the Bible you have no facts.”

    “If you deny the Koran you have no facts.”

    “If you deny the Book of Mormon you have no facts.”

    NC has spoken, they did it the democratic way no one should be whining, threatening, boycotting etc. It was a fair vote.

    That’s how democracy would operate, yes. But this is a Republic, not a democracy, for the very reason that democracy has a singular flaw: the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

    Minorities (like Gays, and heterodox fundamentalist Christians in the early 19th century for that matter) always need institutional protection from the ‘tyranny of the majority’.


    Jefferson’s letter to Danbury Baptist — ironically enough — laid this all out better than me or our host could.

  80. Agreed. If you put slavery to a vote in the south 150 years ago (or maybe even 50 years ago), I’m sure several states would have approved it.
    Having a majority of people believe something does not make it TRUE or JUST or FAIR.

  81. BobC: Your comments re: slavery being put to a vote are correct, as a vote 50 years ago would have been taken in 1962, before the Voting RIghts Bill of 1965 was passed: blacks were largely barred from voting via such vehicles as misnamed “literacy tests” (whose “accuracy” was judged by all-white boards appointed by local officials and whose actual tests could never be found!).

    People who proclaim that “the Bible” (however that term is defined, using whichever version is chosen for whatever reason) is factual (i.e., not folkloric, which IS the fact) are simply living in a different world, and it is difficult to have a discussion with folks like that, whose definition of “fact” defies the value of empiricism.

  82. Dr. Cargill

    On what basis do you personally justify calling slavery wrong/unjust/evil. In other words, do you have warrant for making such a value judgement?


  83. Also … Don’t you think Christians have a moral imperative to restrain evil when it is in their power to do so? The practice of Homosexuality appears to be a judgement/punishment … at least as it is described in the book of Romans. If homosexuality is understood to be evil by the Christian, then why shouldn’t they be free to attempt to restrain it as a form of marriage?

    …or looking at it another way, if Homosexuality is a judgement/punishment from God as described below in Romans 1, if the Christian attempts to restrain homosexuality are they interfering with a divine judgement?

    Romans Chapter 1 … http://www.biblegateway

    18 The wrath of God(AO) is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.(AP) 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,(AQ) so that people are without excuse.(AR)

    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.(AS) 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools(AT) 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images(AU) made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over(AV) in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.(AW) 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,(AX) and worshiped and served created things(AY) rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.(AZ) Amen.(BA)

    26 Because of this, God gave them over(BB) to shameful lusts.(BC) Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.(BD) 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.(BE)

    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over(BF) to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,(BG) 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;(BH) 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love,(BI) no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,(BJ) they not only continue to do these very things but also approve(BK) of those who practice them.

  84. Centuries of human development have led to the fundamental ethical conclusion that owning another human being is no longer acceptable. The ideal of individual human rights is not upheld when one human being is able to own another. Thus, as societies have progressed, and as human understanding and social values have evolved, individuals have gradually come to the conclusion that the practice of owning other humans ought to be abolished. We therefore say it is a crime today to enslave another human.

    As you will certainly notice, this is in direct contradiction to the values laid out in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian New Testament, and the Qur’an, where slavery is endorsed and permitted (especially of foreigners). And yet, as a modern society, we have progressed to the point that we now realize that despite the fact that many ancient holy books call for, allow, or tolerate practices such as slavery, we no longer find those views to be consistent with the ideal that all humans have individual human rights. Most, therefore, reject the portions of Holy Scripture that establishes and authorizes slavery.

    This is the basis upon which I conclude that slavery is an abhorrent practice.

  85. Jeff, I’m not sure you’re logic can be followed here. You seem to be saying that “Homosexuality is a judgement/punishment from God”. That means God makes people gay? That is their punishment from God?

  86. Bob: Asking Jeff or any other believer to be consistent is asking WAY too much.

    They contend that OT and NT denunciations of homosexuality are still valid, but contend that OT and NT endorsements of slavery are NO LONGER valid. Is there a way to reconcile these two irreconcilable positions ? NO … no matter how much they use their pretzel-logic to “prove” their supposed reconciliation of these positions; it can’t be done but it’s fun to watch.

    And I love how they quote from Paul (“in Romans . . . “) and pretend that he speaks for “God” … when nowhere in the NT does God give Paul the go-ahead to speak for him.

  87. […] to the end, and you’ll see acted out what I’ve been arguing here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here for years […]

  88. Bob, it seems as though your answer to Jeff’s question regarding slavery is merely a subjective judgement that human values have now evolved enough to realize that slavery is wrong, If that’s the case, then there isn’t anything objectively wrong with slavery and humans in centuries past could hardly be deemed culpable for wrong doing since their ethical conclusions were not as developed.

  89. brandon, first, all ethics are subjective to a present situation.

    now, i certainly believe that slavery – the ownership of another human being – is objectively wrong. but that certainly hasn’t been the majority opinion for the majority of history, and it certainly isn’t the claim made about slavery in the hebrew bible, christianity, and the qur’an. that means that our present situation is a bible that has no problem with slavery, and yet most of us consider it objectively immoral (unless you want to argue that slavery is ok in some situations…)

    things evolve, and a society’s ethics have generally improved over time (even in religious societies , even though a case can be made that some religious ‘ethical’ commands have held society back). for the most part, peoples learn to treat others better, not worse, over time. at one point in history, people killed foreign peoples, committed genocide, owned slaves – all of which are authorized by god in the bible!! but over time, humans have grown and evolved in their ethics, and we’ve progressed to a point in which we know that while many holy books endorse genocide against non-believers, we live in a nation that celebrates the very freedom of religious diversity that was condemned to death in the bible. we’ve evolved morally to a point where we abhor slavery, even though god specifically tells people how to make slaves in the bible.

    slavery has always been objectively immoral, but for millennia, the majority of people (and they believed the god their worshiped) allowed it.

    thus, all ethics are situational, and therefore subjective, even though we generally speak of certain issues (slavery, murder, theft) as objectively wrong.


  90. Help me out here Bob. You say that slavery has always been objectively immoral, followed by the statement that all ethics are situational and therefore subjective even though we generally speak of certain issues as objectively wrong. So slavery isn’t really objectively wrong then? It’s subjective and situational? Seems that if I said that slavery was okay in the ancient world, that my claim would be just as valid as yours.

  91. Seems to me if morality does not have an absolute basis, there is no real right or wrong … just expressions of societal taste.
    Didn’t we all learn that relativism is self defeating in our introductory philosophy courses? Either slavery is really wrong or else it just a societal suggestion right now to say it it wrong. It would be hard to make a case that ethics have really improved over time unless you had an absolute standard by which to make such a judgement. It might be better to say that there are objective moral values and that our understanding of/ or adherence to the values has improved over time.

    If you profess that all ethics are subjective … how can any be judged as truely right or wrong.

    “All ethics are subjective” … is that a subjective truth claim?

  92. @cd.daedalus

    You seem to assume that i am a “Believer” … maybe because i have discussed some new teastamant passages. You don’t know anything about my belief system. Let’s refrain from insulting any group (smacks of bigotry) and have some good discussion.

    It seems that the Hebrew scriptures record many types of historical slavery. I’m not sure you can make a case that their God condones it. Are there any cases where slavery were a beneficial situation for the slave?

  93. Dr Cargill

    Your quote:

    “christianity, and the qur’an. that means that our present situation is a bible that has no problem with slavery”

    I believe christianity and the bible have a big problem with slavery.

    1 Timothy …. http://www.biblegateway.com

    8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

    Seems to me the writer of this passage condemns slavery and practicing homosexuality in the same sentence.

  94. bobcargill, on October 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm said:

    Jeff, I’m not sure you’re logic can be followed here. You seem to be saying that “Homosexuality is a judgement/punishment from God”. That means God makes people gay? That is their punishment from God?

    Re: Romans

    What does “God gave them over …” mean?

    it seems according to the Romans passage … because of their continual rejection of God … he gave them over to Homosexuality. In other words, he granted them their requests. ????

  95. geez, jeff, you aren’t the same commenter who was on here a month ago attempting to argue that the Bible DOESN’T condone slavery, are you?

  96. ah, well, if that wasn’t you last time around, then you are of the same interpretative mindset.

    btw, I believe you’re relying on the English translation provided in the NRSV for your 1 Tim 1:10 passage “slave-traders”
    the word there is ἀνδραποδισταῖς and it means to kidnap, or to forcibly enslave. KIDNAPPING is always forbidden in OT and NT, but slavery, owning slaves, and making slaves is permitted. In fact, God give commands to circumcise slaves (as they are living property of one’s house) and Bible commands slaves to obey their master repeatedly in the NT.

    “Slaves, obey your masters” is a little different than, “Slavery is forbidden. Emancipate your slaves, as it is an abomination before the lord.”

  97. Brandon, you’ve almost got it.

    All ethics are situational, subjective. And yet, we can speak of practices that are objectively wrong. Slavery (the ownership of another person) is objectively wrong. I don’t know of anyone who would disagree with that. But, for the majority of human history, slavery was a part of culture. If you asked someone at that time, they would have said it was simply a part of life: God gives commands about how to make slaves and about slave regulations. Most cultures participated in or practiced slavery. That doesn’t make it right.

    However, few things are as objective as slavery. Most of us would agree that we shouldn’t lie, but there are cases that we should. Objectively, one might argue (and many have) that you should NEVER lie, because lying is objectively wrong. So if you’re living in the 1940s in Europe, and you’re hiding your Jewish neighbors in your home, and the Nazis show up and ask, “Are you hiding Jews in your home,” many of us would argue that it’s OK to lie in that situation – to preserve a life. And yet there are others who insist that morality is objective and cannot be subject to the situation. I disagree.

    I think it is completely possible for there to be commands concerning ethics and morality – even commands from God, like genodice and slavery and the suppression of women – that are wrong. If you insist that whatever is contained in the Bible MUST be OBJECTIVELY good and true and moral and ethical, then you’re going to have a problem defending any situation where GENOCIDE against a people is justified. Or slavery.

    I prefer to view ethics not as what some Canaanite deity (or Arab, or Indian, or Mediterranean) said 2 millennia years ago, or what the majority of registered voters believe to be OK, but what a society deems to be the ideological goals for the betterment of humanity. This is, by definition, subjective. No argument there. But that does not mean we can’t hold certain positions on ethical issues as objectively ideal. I’ll admit that my use of the word ‘objective’ there is problematic, and I’m open to a better word if readers would like to suggest one.

    But yes, I don’t see morality as stemming from an objective moral source, from a deity top-down for all time, but as a reflection of overarching human ideals practiced in particular situations with the goal of the fair and equitable treatment of all people within a group or society.

  98. jeff, it depends who taught your philosophy course ;-)

    all claims are subjective. this is why science possesses the power that it does. the scientific process is a methodological attempt to arrive at claims that all people can accept as factual or ‘true’ (if i can use a philosophical word). if a claim is based in evidence, and is repeatable, etc. they we can begin to approach something we can call ‘objective truth’. (of course, when that conclusion disagrees with some claim made in a holy book, many followers of that holy book often simply reject the scientific conclusion, because it doesn’t match their predisposed framework of religious objectivity.)

  99. Jeff:

    You are back to being your old, evasive self. Your choice. Please continue to think yourself “clever” when you are being evasive. We are all impressed.

    It is interesting that it is God who is being ethically situational. Per Christians today, God is against slavery, while per the Bible (OT and NT (if you believe that Paul speaks for God)) God is OK on slavery, even pro-slavery. Odd, I think, even odder than the fact-free claim that “ancient slavery was different from modern slavery, and was very easy on the slaves”

    BTW, the claim that homosexuality is some sort of “punishment from God” or some such thing is … nonsense. The fact that some Christians believe this nonsense is of no intrinsic importance.

  100. @ daedalus

    “BTW, the claim that homosexuality is some sort of “punishment from God” or some such thing is … nonsense.”

    i didn’t make the claim … i’m just paraphrasing Romans 1.

    The writer states several times that God “gave them over” … what does that mean to you?

  101. Dr. Cargill

    thayers greek lexicon says:

    ἀνδραποδιστής, ἀνδραποδιστου, ὁ (from ἀνδραποδίζω, and this from τό ἀνδράποδον — from ἀνήρ and πούς — a slave, a man taken in war and sold into slavery), a slave-dealer, kidnapper, man-stealer, i. e. as well one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, as one who steals the slaves of others and sells them: 1 Timothy 1:10. (Aristophanes, Xenophon, Plato, Demosthenes, Isocrates, Lysias, Polybius)

  102. and found this in theologyweb …

    ἀνδραποδιστής, οῦ, ὁ (ἀνδράποδον ‘one taken in war and sold as a slave’; Aristoph., Pla., X.+; Demosth. 4, 47; Polyb. 13, 6, 4; Dio Chrys. 52 [69], 9; Chariton 5, 7, 4; Philo, Spec. Leg. 4, 13) one who acquires persons for use by others, slave-dealer, kidnapper 1 Ti 1:10 (here perhaps with the meaning. ‘procurer.’ Vulg. plagiarius; s. New Docs 1, 50).—DELG s.v. ἀνήρ A end. M-M.

  103. Jeff, so you agree that what is being prohibited here as unethical is the kidnapping of a person to sell as a slave, not the institution of slavery itself.
    I agree that in the OT and NT, it is prohibited to kidnap and sell into slavery. BUT, slavery is NOT prohibited, only the illegal practice of slave trading (as defined as kidnapping people and selling them into slavery). Hence, the repeated calls for slaves to obey their masters.

  104. Again, you’re making my point. it is not SLAVERY that is prohibited, but the taking of a free-man and selling him into slavery. Owning slaves is just hunky dory in the NT, hence ‘slaves, obey your masters.’

  105. Bob

    I have not formed a concrete opinion about this whole slavery issue yet. It is interesting to do some hard thinking and thought experiments.

    I’m not sure that it follows from “slaves obey your masters” that slavery is being condoned per se.

    If Jesus summed up the OT law and the prophets in his statement “Love God…, and Love your neighbor as yourself …” … it might be safe to conclude that practicing slavery is not equal to loving your neighbor as yourself. Therefore, one could deduce that slavery is clearly contrary to the will of God. Maybe my logic is flawed here.

    On the surface their appears to be contradicting biblical views regarding slavery. This has motivated me to dig deeper and try to learn about this issue and to suspend judgement for the time being untill i can have a consistent and coherent view of the issue. I’d like to continue this discussion if you have the patience for it?

    I see that you have spent some time at Pepperdine … you mind if i ask some Biola folks for their opinion on the issue?

  106. Jeff,

    Sure, ask the kind folks at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles if the Bible endorses slavery.
    Ask them if “slaves obey your masters” is the Bible condoning slavery.
    Then ask them what “wives, submit to your husbands” means. Make sure they use the same interpretive method.

    Cheers, bc

  107. You know. There is a huge scholarly literature on this subject, from every religious background. Nearly all of it agrees that that text of the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) accepts slavery as a legitimate social institution. The modern writers then of course interpret the meaning of that in different ways. But the basic meaning of the Bible’s passages about slavery is clear.

  108. It is dangerous to have absolute power over another person whether slave, illegal immigrant or child. Slaveholders in the south could do whatever they wanted with their “property”. Some were good and some were not. Most parents use their power to benefit their children because of love – but some do not. Illegal immigrants have no such protection. I was very struck by one sentence in the presidential debate. President Obama said he did not want to give absolute power to police to stop a car because, “do you want to give someone that kind of power over our daughters?” There will always be one bad apple that takes advantage of their power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Haven’t we learned that yet?

  109. Jeff: Telling slaves to obey their masters IS endorsing, not just condoning, slavery.

    Happy to help.

    And the Bible (God, not just Paul) endorses and condones slavery at various places. So far no one (AFAIK) has cited a passage that is ANTI-slavery … if anyone knows of such a passage, now is a good time to tell us.

  110. Bob

    I can’t help but think that saying the bible condones slavery is akin to saying the bible condones divorce. Both seem to be allowed … seems that the allowance is being made for the defect in the man (hardness of heart/sinfulness/adultery etc). If something is being allowed by way of concession, it can’t be said that the concession is representative of what is best. Slavery existed before the bible and after … i find it interesting that the bible has much to say about how a slave should be treated.

  111. Jeff, this is another bad analogy, because as we all know, the Bible clearly says DO NOT GET DIVORCED. While it allows an exception in Matthew for infidelity, it’s pretty clear about divorce.
    However, we have NO SUCH PROHIBITION against slavery. In fact, we get the opposite: SLAVES, OBEY YOUR MASTERS!!!

    This is nowhere close to being the same thing.

    “The bible has much to say about how a slave should be treated” because it is REGULATING an accepted practice. THE MERE FACT that there are rules about how to treat slaves means that the BIBLE ACCEPTED AND ENDORSED the practice of slavery, and rather than PROHIBIT it or BANISH the practice, the Bible offers rules on HOW TO DO IT PROPERLY!

    God told them how to regulate slavery. Who could be a slave. How to make slaves. He commanded them to make sure the slaves were circumcised, and gave very explicit rules regarding the ownership of children of slaves.

    Face it: THE BIBLE ENDORSED AND REGULATED THE PRACTICE OF SLAVERY. This means that at one time, GOD ALLOWED AND GAVE INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING SLAVERY. And rather than emancipate them, all we get in the NT is a continuation of the practice: “SLAVES, OBEY YOUR MASTERS.”

    This isn’t that hard. BUT, the reason sooooooo many people have a problem with it is that they cannot reconcile an all-loving, perfect, unchanging God in an inerrant, infallible, Bible, with the practice of slavery. AND YOU’RE RIGHT: YOU CAN’T!

    The Bible records God as endorsing and regulating slavery. Slavery is an unethical, abhorrent practice. Therefore….

    I’ll let you make the logical conclusion. If you’re going to ‘redefine’ ‘slavery’, and offer a theological work-around, then why won’t you allow others to do the same for same-sex marriage???

  112. Bob –

    The Bible doesn’t forbid divorce either, it regulates it, in Deuteronomy 24, forbidding a man to remarry a woman whom he had been married to but divorced, if in the meantime she has married another man (and divorced him). The New Testament might forbid divorce, but not the Hebrew Bible.


    On Oct 22, 2012, at 3:23 PM, “XKV8R: The Official Blog of Dr. Robert R. Cargill” <comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote:

  113. agreed. i’m speaking about the nt here, which incorporates some hebrew bible laws. some it alters (like divorce, cf. jesus’ sermon on the mount) and some it does not (e.g., slavery).
    the issue is not whether it is regulated, but whether the nt abolishes it. in the case of slavery, it clearly does not; rather, it offers recommendations to slaves and slave owners regarding how to relate to one another.


  114. Jeff:

    NO, bad analogy. The Bible says, “Slaves, obey your masters”. The Bible does NOT say, “Married people, get divorced”.

    And the Bible does not merely “condone” slavery, it endorses it.

    And I keep looking for (and asking for) a quote from the BIble that is in any way ANTI-slavery.

  115. As long as we are at it, let me point out one other thing. There are no “servants” in the Hebrew or the Greek texts of Scripture. Everywhere the English gives the word “servant” the underlying word means literally “slave.” God in the OT and the NT has no “servants,” only “slaves.” To be a good Christian or a good Jew in God’s eyes is to be a “slave of God.”

  116. Paul:

    Excellent point. The tendency in some “translations” is to deliberately mistranslate the word as “servant” instead of “slave”. Modern Christians (some, anyway) have a problem with slavery, but up until the 19th century very few did.

    I tried to convince one Christian that the word did NOT refer to the gardener or the cleaning lady, but without success … BUT he contended that the Jews WERE the literal slaves of the Pharaoh. Go figure. (The Exodus fable re: the departure approximately 3 millions slaves is indeed a fable, but I guess that’s another discussion.)

  117. Bob

    I posted a quote from John Piper’s blog … or i thought i did. Did you delete/refuse the post?

  118. i was hoping to get your take on it.

  119. I questioned it when you lifted an entire article from Piper’s blog.
    I stopped when, regarding the entire annihilation of the Canaanites (genocide) by Joshua and his army, I read, “In the context of a theocracy that was legitimate and right for God to do.”

    So it was not only, OK, but it was “legitimate” and “right for God to” commit genocide.

    When people start making excuses for genocide (especially) when it is done for religious reasons, I usually stop.

    Like there is EVER a context for committing mass genocide for religious reasons.

    So, yes, I trashed it.


  120. Would you allow the post just for objective purpose of picking it apart? And BTW … i’ve recently seen a few youtube videos of courses you taught at UCLA (i believe). I do appreciate your approach to teaching in that your students were not able to discover your worldview based upon how you taught the material. That is admirable, and i respect that.

    I had hopes that your objective approach would have continued here. But after all, it is your blog. You have absolute power over what is allowed. So, i’m taking your advice … to question everything … even your authority to censor the responses.



  121. Yes, but you essentially posted another blogger’s entire article into mine. add that to the fact that he’s condoning genocide and it’s just not worth it. people can peek at piper’s page if they want to read piper’s pieces. – bc

  122. God also was OK on abortion in Hosea, ch. 13 and

    … in the so-called “Noah’s Flood” that wiped out everyone who wasn’t on the ark. This flood (per the fable) no doubt would include pregnant women, right ? So their embryos and fetuses would be part of their mothers, and their mothers would not have survived.

  123. I do not agree with Piper’s take on many thngs in the article … i just wanted to discuss the logic of his truth claims.

  124. well now we have. -bc

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