From time to time I take on the futile task of conversing, well debating, with atheists and those that otherwise don't believe in God's Word. One of the common retorts of the validity of the Bible is the fact that it condones slavery.
There's no refuting that. There are verses on slaves pleasing their masters. There are scriptures on masters being kind to slaves, and that's New Testament!
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
There are many other scriptures in both Old and New testaments concerning slavery, so to try to backpeddle or deny that the Bible permits slavery would be wrong.
My first rationalization for slavery was the fact that we, as consumers in developed nations, subject people in sweat shops around the world to harsh conditions at low pay just about every time we purchase from Wal-mart. We might have freed the African slaves in our country back in the 19th century, but people are still living like slaves around the world so that we can import cheap goods. But these facts do not justify slavery or mistreatment of anyone.
So what is the basis for slavery? Why would God allow slavery? Why is it permitted in scripture? I got to thinking about this last night during our thrill ride on the bus from Tegucigalpa. One thing our culture has removed from the Biblical sense of justice is restitution. If a man kills another man, the murderer goes to prison. But what of the dead man's wife and children? They no longer have a husband/father to care for or provide for them. What if a poor man steals your car and totals it? Sure, he goes to jail, but you still don't have a car.
“Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.
“If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.
“Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—they must pay back double."
What does it mean to sell a person? Sounds a bit like slavery to me. IMHO, this sounds a little more like justice than sending a man to prison where he cannot pay back what he has taken.
If we humble ourselves and confess our sins Jesus is faithful to forgive them, but that does not excuse us from our liabilities to others. If I take your credit card number, charge up a few K and then get caught, should I just be able to ask God for forgiveness and all is well? Or should I not also pay back what I owe? If I cannot pay back what I owe, then what? I suppose in some way going to prison is a bit like slavery.
This is just something to chew on before someone tells you God's word is obsolete and cites slavery as the reason.