Slavery summary argument

Skeptics commonly bring up slavery to attack the morality of God and the Old Testament.

The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.
Christopher Hitchens

TRANSPONDER wrote: Mon Apr 24, 2023 6:17 am Slavery in the Bible is a killer for Bible validity which is why it comes up as often as Cosmic origins comes up as a supposed killer for atheism.
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Apr 22, 2023 5:32 pm It’s a valid topic and none the worse for having been raised before. It is indeed one of the Biggies
POI wrote: Tue May 16, 2023 6:37 pmRegardless of who wrote these chattel slavery instructions, whether it was his dad, some random dude, or even Jesus himself, here are the “instructions” for humans, in which he apparently loved?

– May be enslaved for life as property
– May be beaten with virtual impunity
– May be breed and the offspring kept by the master

So as I stated, in my last response, you have 4 crappy choices:

1) Jesus agrees with his dad’s instructions
2) Jesus does not agree with his dad’s instructions
3) Jesus agrees with the random scribe’s instructions
4) Jesus does not agree with this random scribe’s instructions, and says nothing; not even a one-liner.

As I stated prior, they all suck, for YOU.

When skeptics talk about slavery, in actuality they are specifically referring to chattel slavery. So, we have the equivocation fallacy off the bat. Even dictionaries commit this fallacy.

1. the condition of being enslaved, held, or owned as human chattel or property; bondage.
2. a practice or institution that treats or recognizes some human beings as the legal property of others.

the activity of legally owning other people who are forced to work for or obey you … sh/slavery

Slavery is the ownership of a person as property, especially in regards to their labor.
The word “slavery” has also been used to refer to a legal state of dependency to somebody else.

There is no consensus on the definition of slavery, but in general, it’s “practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking.”

Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term covering practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.

Chattel slavery would be a subset of slavery. It is slavery where slaves are owned as property.

“the enslaving and owning of human beings and their offspring as property, able to be bought, sold, and forced to work without wages, as distinguished from other systems of forced, unpaid, or low-wage labor also considered to be slavery.”

“A form of slavery where slaves are the legal property of an individual.”

“slavery, condition in which one human being was owned by another. A slave was considered by law as property, or chattel, and was deprived of most of the rights ordinarily held by free persons.”

“The condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner’s control, especially in involuntary servitude.”

“slavery in which a person is owned as a chattel.” … %20slavery

Why the equivocation between slavery and chattel slavery?

Because it cannot be stated slavery is morally wrong in the objective sense.

Objective morality is morality that would apply universally at all places at all times. Subjective morality would be morality that does not apply universally, but can differ according to places, times, and situations.

Why is slavery not objective, but subjective? Because there are instances of slavery where it is acceptable. Debt slavery is acceptable because the person has to pay off a debt that he got into. Since debt slavery is not morally wrong, then slavery is not objectively wrong and is subjective.

Is chattel slavery wrong in the objective sense? No. Even chattel slavery is subjective.

There is voluntary chattel slavery and involuntary chattel slavery. Christians are commanded to be slaves for Christ.

[Eph 6:6 NIV] 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

[1Pe 2:16 NIV] 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

[Col 3:23-24 NIV] 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Voluntary chattel slavery therefore is not morally wrong. Therefore chattel slavery is not objectively wrong, but subjective.

Under chattel slavery, there is also a difference between abusive chattel slavery and non-abusive chattel slavery. If there’s no abuse and the master is a loving person, then how can it be considered morally wrong?

Therefore, chattel slavery is subjective. Since chattel slavery is subjective, it is impossible to make any normative moral statements about it. Making a statement to either condone it or condemn it is not possible.

The skeptic’s argument then moves from slavery to chattel slavery to abusive chattel slavery. But does the Bible make any explicit statement allowing for abusive chattel slavery?

The passages that are commonly brought up:

[Exo 21:26-27 KJV] 26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.

[Exo 21:20-21 KJV] 20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he [is] his money.

Skeptics interpret these passages as God is allowing for masters to beat up their slaves up to the point of not dislodging a tooth, gouging an eye, or killing the slave. The point of these passages is not making a statement for slave owners on what’s the allowable extent of beatings, but making a statement what should happen with a loss of tooth, eye, or life. These are case laws if one of these things happen, not case laws on how much beatings can be dealt.

Does God allow for abuse? No. And this is not limited to just chattel slavery, but to all kinds of slavery. God repeatedly told the Israelites to remember they were once slaves.

[Deu 15:15 KJV] 15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.

[Deu 16:12 KJV] 12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

[Deu 24:18 KJV] 18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

[Deu 24:22 KJV] 22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Rather than the Bible listing all the things people should not do (beat people with impunity, torture people, brutalize people, trick people into being sex slaves, etc), there is a single commandment given of what people should do.

[Lev 19:18 KJV] 18b thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.

[Jas 2:8 KJV] 8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

In effect, God commands people to treat others as they would want to be treated.

Since a master is not punished for beating a slave right before possibly dying, does that mean it’s morally acceptable? No. It is in violation to the passages I referred to above. But since he’s not punished, doesn’t that mean it’s OK to do it? No, because there are things that are also not morally acceptable and there’s no legal punishment for it (being unfaithful to a spouse is one example). So morality does not necessarily entail punishment.

What about the “breeding” of slaves, would that be morally wrong?

Here’s the passage:

[Exo 21:2-4 KJV] 2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.

The “breeding” of slaves would occur if a debt slave decides to marry a chattel slave and they have children. The child would belong to the master.

However, there’s no indication anybody is forced to do anything, but people freely chose to marry and have children. If they choose to do these things, how can it be considered immoral?

In addition, it is accepted by scholars the laws in the Bible regarding slavery is on par with other slavery laws in the ANE. So, if the laws in the Bible are objectively immoral, then so are all the other laws in the ANE. But that doesn’t make any sense. Rather, it means we are making our subjective moral judgments on all the laws in the ANE and the Bible regarding slavery.

So, there is nothing objectively immoral about slavery, or even chattel slavery, in the Bible. As for abuse, the Bible points to it as being immoral, whether it exists within slavery or outside of slavery.