You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)
Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)
In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.
The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)
Jehovah is unjust (outrageous article on slavery in last WT for public)
Among many things, this has always bothered me about what churches teach, and certainly what JWs teach.
Jehovah is bothered by many things, he looooooves you all, he haaaaates wickedness.
But - God seems (to me) to like to watch it, test people, let all sorts of horrible things happen. How does this demonstrate that he loves humanity? I have just never seen it. Yes, there was a "ransom" (what is that, really, and why is that really needed?) but nothing comes of any of his efforts to put down wickedness. It's always later, tomorrow, next generation, then God will do something. "Wait, let's test more people and see if they will be "loyal" to me." God seems to be saying. How is this okay?
That is why I am now an athiest.
As for the JWs, they read this stuff and think, Jehovah hates slavery! He hates injustice! He hates abuse! Look how he loves us!
How on earth could anyone come to that conclusion?
It is a common mistake made by some Christians and those who live in the Western world to read references to slaves in ancient Israel by projecting images of the suffering caused by the Atlantic slave trade onto Bible passages. This won't provide an accurate view of what the Torah is talking about.
The Atlantic slave trade kidnapped people from their homes and treated the people like property. Slavery in ancient Israel was regulated by the Torah, and kidnapping was forbidden. In Israel, slaves were indentured servants, bound by a contract that had limits and in some cases would expire. Thus unlike slave owners during the Atlantic slave trade, people did not always own the slaves they paid for. The Jubilee cycle made it impossible to keep a Hebrew servant permanently, and those that weren’t Hebrew were protected by Torah that imposes strict penalties on the mishandling of slaves. Slaves in ancient Israel could not be abused physically or sexually. And whereas slave owners of the West during the Atlantic slave trade greatly abused their slaves, Torah demanded that slaves were given rest on every Sabbath and Jewish holy day.
The record of how the British and the Americans treated slaves was far worse than how Jews did it. British and American slave owners were ferocious, brutal, consumed slaves like merchandise, often treated them worse than animals, and did so for generations whether they were religious or not. Their societies flourished and were often built upon the backs of these suffering people, and British involvement in slavery lasted for well over 1500 years (some say practically 2000)!
Slavery was a part of the world that crossed all barriers, infected all societies, was a sin all humankind is guilty of. Remember that Torah merely regulated slavery, it did not invent it. Slavery is not an inspired facet of God’s plan for humanity. If it were then the Exodus would have never happened.
Keep in mind that it is the Jehovah’s Witness view and interpretation of Torah that is causing the problem here. Jews gradually began doing away with slavery among themselves before the abolition movement, and we did so without abandoning Torah or interpreting it as if it is saying God approves of slavery. The underlying lesson the Jews learned from Torah was that slavery was wrong and against the will of God long before the Gentile world did, so one cannot blame the Torah.
Besides, the Law was not given to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Neither they nor their ancestors stood at the foot of Mount Sinai after being liberated from slavery from Egypt. Why come to your conclusions on Torah due to people who can’t even read the Scriptures in their original Hebrew tongue? The Witnesses have only been around since the late 1800s. We Jews have had the Torah for millennia, and should we judge Torah by the views of this group that has predicted the end of world how many times in the past century to fail miserably each time? You think it wise to get your view of the God of Torah from them? Again by means of Torah we Jews eventually learned that slavery was wrong, so obviously there is something wrong with the JWs if we found that lesson written within its verses when they did not.
Don’t blame the God of Torah for the way Torah is interpreted by a ship of fools centered in upstate New York.
The link is broken so I can't read the article. In any case, I'm surprised to hear the WT flatly condemning slavery. Biblical references to slavery, old and new testament, are unilaterally positive. Not even Jesus seems to have condemned the practice (at least not directly).
I wonder if this is just due to ignorance (unlikely) or the beginning of a less fundamentalist position. At this point it's only tacit, but if the GB could just concede that the Bible contains errors - both ethical and historical - it could begin a liberalizing trend for Jehovah's Witnesses. Who knows, 50 years hence there might be openly gay elders and teenaged couples holding hands in the Kingdom Hall.
Wouldn't it be grand?
Rainbow_Troll - "...if the GB could just concede that the Bible contains errors..."
Never gonna happen.
They'll tie themselves in semantic knots interpreting, reinterpreting, or simply ignoring problematic Biblical passages, but they will never concede that parts of the the Bible could simply be wrong.
From their perspective, they don't dare... their authority over the membership would be completely undermined.
All slavery and indentured servitude is injustice. You want slaves? Get a robot or machine, or find some way to rig something up to help you do it yourself or use a machine to do it for you. And, this is especially valid when the slavery stems from some imaginary problem you made up, such as the original sin, that needs to be repaid and cannot have been avoided.
I agree with most of the comments. The thing that annoys me is not the screwed ethics of OT, that is well known. I'm just surprised with WT's guts to not only mention the subject, but manipulating the facts so much that Jehovah would appear compassionate and loving god. Well he's not!
David_Jay your efforts to defend Torah's morals is pathetic. The fact that the Americans or Gentiles treated slaves worse than Jews did (some of their slaves) doesn't make the institution more just or tolerable for a perfect god who regulated even the way people dressed or shitted. Jews didn't change their interpretation of Torah because of Torah, but because the society had changed, exactly as Christians did with the Bible.
Again by means of Torah we Jews eventually learned that slavery was wrong
No, they learned that slavery was wrong because they started using their brain. despite of Torah.
David has acknowledged on more than one occasion that Jewish scriptures (presumably including the Torah) were always subject to reexamination and revision based on new information, common sense, and - as you said - "using their brain" (and that said reexamination and revision was not only allowed, but encouraged).
I could be wrong, but I think that's what he meant.
That being said, I'm not a huge fan of the Old Testament God, for much the same reasons as you.