Friday, April 8, 2011

Dueling David 2c: Offensive Content

David said  “...advocates of [the Bible/Koran] are the best authority of what its followers should be practicing...”

To some extent, I think this is a completely valid viewpoint, and that you are right to push in that direction. You should be held accountable for what you really believe, only what is really being taught.

However, you must realize that there is often a departure between what is taught and believed about the Bible versus what is actually in the Bible. For example, several hundred years ago, Christianity presented a fairly uniform front that hell was a place of eternal punishment, a lake of fire where those who rejected God were tortured forever. Today, you still have people who believe that, but you also have others who believe that hell is just the absence of God, or that the unsaved are simply terminated. All of these views are from advocates of the faith, but they can't all be correct.

Similarly, you would not have asked General Custer if the United States policy of slaughter and forced relocation of the Native Americans was justified. His view would be biased, for sure, presenting the best possible picture of the situation from the U.S. perspective.

Therefore, I submit to you that consulting Lewis or Wright about what to believe is one level removed from the truth. Our battle ground should not be the opinions of others, but rather the very words of God written in the Bible, and what the implications are regarding those words.

To advocate is to encourage support for something. That's different than mandating something. Having laws which regulate something instead of having laws which forbid something is a tacit approval of that something. What you have to recognize is that, at one point in time, God had rules regulating slavery, not prohibiting slavery.

You bring up an interesting point about Hebrew slavery, which was more like indentured servitude than true slavery, because it had a term limit defined by the seventh-year Jubilee. However, this is not the only kind of slavery which existed. You've got to read all of the text, and pay attention to the details.

Leviticus 25 is one of the chapters covering Jubilee. Leviticus 25:39-43 talks about how a poor Hebrew may sell himself, but must be released on Jubilee. It also says that he is not to be treated as a slave. In contrast is Leviticus 25:44-46, God instructs the Israelites to buy their slaves from other nations, and that these types of slaves are property which can be willed and inherited, precisely like the slaves of the United States were treated. In that last verse, Leviticus 25:46, you can see the double standard God has established in the treatment of slaves versus the Hebrew servants. The rest of that chapter explicitly explains that it is only, only, the Hebrew servants which are to be freed during Jubilee.

So whether or not Christianity today advocates slavery, God, Himself, at one time did.

Furthermore, God defined a double-standard of justice for slaves, such as Exodus 21:26-27. Where God would have prescribed eye-for-eye, tooth-for-tooth justice for free citizens, instead a slave just gets freed if his master knocks out a tooth or blinds him while his master receives no punishment. In Exodus 21:28-32, you see that if a wild bull kills a free man, the bull's owner will get put to death. But if the wild bull kills a slave, then the bull's owner just has to pay the slave's owner a fine.

So God not only advocated slavery, bu also advocated the treatment of slaves as second-class citizens, not worthy of the same justice which is afforded free men. That's not really what I would expect to see from a loving God. How about you?

I've spilled enough virtual ink for one argument. Let's cover oppression and genocide after we get slavery resolved.


  1. I have made an attempt at brevity, there is a measure of brusqueness as well. I apologize and beg your indulgence.

    The extent that the idea that "advocates of the bible/quran are the best authorities of what its followers should be practicing" is, I presume, the extent to which you agree the ideas you ascribe to these works are fallacious.

    But let me continue, if as you say, the bible advocates these things then it follows that there should be doctrines that endorse this behavior in main stream churches. In fact there are none.

    What is more, it was Christian morality that spurred the abolitionist movement which contributed to the end of (legal) slavery in the U.S. The idea that the bible advocates slavery is absurd and ignorant of history. The arguments that slavery is condoned by the bible were argued and lost well over 100 years ago by people who had a real financial interest in it being so.

    So I trust we can agree that bible does not advocate slavery (or genocide or oppression for that matter).

    Your issue is solely with Mosaic Law and the implication of Mosaic Law as it relates to God's
    character. Is Mosaic Law a valid representation of God's character? I think you have demonstrated
    it is not. I maintain it was not intended for that purpose (please re-read my comments).

  2. Let me ask you, do you know where in the Bible it condemns slavery, so that Christians are justified in claiming it as part of their inherent morality? I'd love to see the verse.

    What history shows is that the mainstream faith of Christianity evolves. The funny thing is that the text hasn't changed all that much, at least after 400 AD or so.

    The stand on slavery is one of those changing viewpoints. Modern sensitivity has overcome religious doctrine. Just like we thing stoning is an awful punishment and the earth is not flat or the center of the universe, human perspective has won out over the "divine" words.

    The problem with the "purpose" of the law, as in Romans, is that it's like a job title. You may be a "server" at a diner, but you also get stuck with tasks unrelated to serving food, like cleaning the bathrooms or taking out the trash. Likewise, there are tons of details in the Law of God which have nothing at all to do with Paul's proposed purpose, and sometimes are quite the contrary.

  3. Hmmm, How about

    Hmmm, Are we catching up then?

    Hmmm, you might have that backwards based on your previous observation.

    Hmmm, not sure what your point is.

    The problem is you are trying to convict God based on the Law. If God exists, was He righteous before the law? Did the ideas of good and evil exist before the law? How did we understand the difference before the Law? What is its purpose?

  4. So, let me get this straight: You're suggesting that the golden rule is the verse which speaks against slavery, and that it only took Christians 1800+ years to figure that out? I'm afraid you are not making a very strong case here. ;-)

    After your Mark 12:31 reference sentence, your next three are a bit cryptic. Would you like to elaborate on them?

    I can very easily convict your hypocritical God based on His own rules of morality. It's actually pretty easy! :-) That's the best way to show that the whole religion is a work of fiction, because a truly righteous God would not be a hypocrite. Of course, I doubt you'll buy off on that.

    The problem is that you hold a view of the Law which is not consistent with God's own purported view of the Law according to the Old Testament. Do some research on that aspect. I can help you if you like.

    Or maybe you have researched that subject already. Tell me, what does God say about the Law in the OT? You can't ignore the foundation and call your faith whole.

  5. It is hard to justify enslaving someone you are supposed to be loving as yourself, wouldn't you agree?

    It only took Christians 1800 years to get the rest of the world caught up.

    Cryptic #1 - The written word has not changed but as you point out we have finally gotten rid of slavery. Who knows what we'll accomplish in another 1800 years (if He gives us enough time). We are catching up ;-)

    Cryptic #2 - I submit it is not "modern sensitivity" that has overcome religious doctrine (since the foundation has not changed) rather the moral imperatives of Christ have overcome modern sensitivity. I think it is the reverse of what you said. :-)

    Cryptic #3 - I was confused by the bathrooms and the trash. What exactly were you trying to say there?

    I maintain that God is not a hypocrite because I do not see a conflict between what He says and what He does. He never claimed to be under the Law and He is not. I believe I made that point when you first asked me about the subject.
    You asked:
    " you think God follows moral rules? Or do you think God simply defines the rules? And do you think God is bound to those rules of morality?"
    I answered:
    "Do I think God follows moral rules? I guess I believe He is self consistent, and our rules are the best representation we have of His nature. So from that perspective I suppose the idea that He defines the rules is closest.
    Do I think He is bound by those rules? Again we have rules He has His nature, which He does not need to adjust or violate. So I guess the idea that He is bound by Himself is the most accurate."

    What does it say in the OT? That the Law is for man Deuteronomy 29:1 - "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law."

    It also says that the when He had completed His plan He would change our hearts because He knew we would not keep His law.
    Deuteronomy 30:1 - "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live."

  6. Thanks for clarifying your comments. I'll come back to them soon.

    You made a good start with what God says about the Law (Torah) in the OT, but you've really just scratched the surface. He says so much more. Just for kicks, see what else you can dig up, and please post it back. You just might be surprised... :-)

  7. Slavery was only like indentured servitude for certain men. Women slaves were treated differently. Prostitutes had more freedom.

  8. That is true, prairienymph. I have tried to examine that exact point my "The Plight of a Slave Girl" post.