Bible and Slavery: the watchtower view

by melmac 11 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • melmac

    There's an article at the official Wastetower, entitled "did God condone the slave trade?". The article tries to justify slavery in the bible by saying that it was different from slavery among other people (non-jews and non-christians). It brings the following "pearl" (as a footnote):

    Similarly, some Christians today are employers; others are employees. Just as a Christian employer would not abuse those working under him, disciples of Jesus in the first century would have treated servants according to Christian principles.?Matthew 7:12.

    Yeah... right!

    The last paragraph goes:

    Clearly, the Bible does not condone the ill-treatment of others in any form. On the contrary, it encourages respect and equality among men. (Acts 10:34, 35) It exhorts humans to treat others the way that they would like to be treated. (Luke 6:31) Moreover, the Bible encourages Christians humbly to view others as superior, regardless of their social standing. (Philippians 2:3) These principles are totally incongruous with abusive forms of slavery practiced by many nations, especially in recent centuries.

    I'd like to know:

    - Why equality and respect only among MEN?

    - Would anyone "like to be treated" as a slave?

    - "View others as superiors"? On which basis? On the basis that they're wicked, for they have not "accepted the Lord"?

    - Is there any sort of slavery that is not "abusive"?

    Awww, come on!

  • RunningMan

    The JWs (among others) are willing to bend over backwards to explain away the Bible's view of slavery. In reality, though, slavery was common in Bible times, and Jehovah reflected the prevailing attitude of the people who created him. For those who think that Biblical slavery was just a form of employment, here is some reading for them:

    Ex 21:20:21 - a slave is your property, you can beat him almost to death

    Ex 21:7-11 - a man can sell his daughter into slavery to pay a debt

    Ex 21:28-32 - if an ox gores a man it is to be put to death, if it does it twice, the owner is to be put to death. If it kills a slave, 30 sheckels are to be paid.

    Lev 19:20, 21 - if a man has sex with a betrothed slave, it was no big deal. The death penalty does not apply, because she ?was not free?. A sacrifice would suffice.

    Lev 25:44-46 - foreign slaves can be kept forever and willed to descendents

    Also, remember the Israelites who petitioned Solomon's son for mercy, because the forced labor "yoke" of Solomon was so oppressive?

  • blondie

    There are other issues that can be considered in conjuction with slavery:

    Why was polygamy allowed among those who said they worshipped the God of the Bible when monogamy was the original pattern?

    *** g76 1/22 p. 27 Why Was Polygamy Allowed? ***

    So God, although regulating polygamy, did not see fit to abolish the custom among his people at that time, just as he did not abolish, yet regulated, slavery. It was not yet time for him to restore all things to his perfect standard. The writer of the Bible book of Hebrews quotes Jesus as saying, in effect, about the many animal sacrifices offered by the Jews: "Sacrifice and offering you [God] did not want, but you prepared a body for me." (Heb. 10:5) The Law?s arrangement for animal sacrifices was a mere shadow, not the reality. Jesus Christ gave the truly satisfactory sacrifice to remove sins. The writer speaks about sacrifices and other features of the Law and says: "They were legal requirements pertaining to the flesh and were imposed until the appointed time to set things straight."?Heb. 9:10.

    Therefore, with Jesus Christ?s appearance on earth the time came to begin to set things straight.

    Why was Judah not punished for committing fornication with what he thought was a temple prostitute?


    w73 6/15 p. 384 Questions from Readers ***

    As far as Judah was concerned, he thought he was having relations with a prostitute. In this he was not acting right, for it was God?s original purpose for a man to have relations with his wife and not for the earth to be filled with prostitutes. Still, Judah did not sin in the sense of transgressing a specific command of God?s law, for the Mosaic law was not given until much later.?Gen. 2:24; compare Leviticus 19:29.

    Why were did those in the WTS support and follow the laws of race segregation in ths US?


    w52 2/1 p. 94 Questions from Readers

    ? If the Watchtower Society is free from racial prejudice, why does it tolerate segregation at its assemblies in certain sections of country? Is this not a course of compromise??F. C., Wisconsin.

    Why do we tolerate the segregation laws and policies of certain governments and organizations of this world? Because Jehovah has not commissioned us to convert the world, which is wicked beyond recovery and hence will be destroyed. Jehovah has commissioned us to preach the gospel. Now what should we do? Drop preaching to fight racial issues? We never have separate meetings and baptisms when we can have them together. But when impossible, shall we have separate meetings and baptisms, or none at all? Shall we serve spiritual food to all, even if separately, or serve it to none? Shall we provide baptism for all, even if separately, or provide it for none? Should we buck Caesar?s segregation laws, when they do not force us to violate God?s laws? God does not forbid separate assembly and baptism, and he commands assembly and baptism. (Matt. 28:19; Heb. 10:25) So should we disobey God to fight a racial issue? To buck the segregation laws would bring on disruption of the witness work, halting of it, mob violence, and possible loss of life. Only laws prohibiting gospel-preaching will we buck at that price.

  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog


    I hate the org as much as anyone, but there may be some truth to what was being said

    - Is there any sort of slavery that is not "abusive"?

    How about the serfs?

    Adam and Eve had it pretty good.

    D Dog

  • JustTickledPink

    I thought we were all supposed to be slaves for God?

    Or how about the novel concept of FREEDOM? Wasn't that what GOd gave Adam & Eve originally in the Garden of Eden? Freedom ?

  • Deputy Dog
    Deputy Dog


    Wasn't that what GOd gave Adam & Eve originally in the Garden of Eden? Freedom ?

    Where does it say that, in the bible? God gave the Law "don't eat of the tree".

    D Dog

  • M.J.

    Wow. So they're saying that slavery is fine, as long as the slaves are well treated. I'm sure that was a popular argument in Georgia circa 1860.

  • Rydar

    Question, if you had to choose between being a slave or a bum, would one would you choose! Look at the starving people in Ethopia. I bet one of Abraham's slaves had a much easier life.

  • jwbot

    Rydar: If you are a slave, you do not have that option, as you are OWNED.

  • Rydar

    No, ancient Jews had the choice of being a slave if they had a debt and could not pay it off by any other means. Even today some persons living in middle east work 10+ hours a day for less than 50 cents which is only enough to pay for a nights worth of dinner. This type person is free in name only. By all other means that person is a slave. You may find this hard to believe, but there are people living in poor countries who would jump at chance to be your slave provided he/she gets to live in America, go to school, and free warm meals. I remember reading story about a woman who ate her baby during time of one the Jewish Kings because the country was empty of all food stuff. I bet she would have sold herself into slavery if she could. The point I am trying to make is that biblical times were very rough and we should try to see slavery from a relative perspective based on the alternative during those times. Not to meantion slavery takes on diffrent meanings during the passing of times.

  • Kenneson


    Yes, I have nothing against (pick your color choice:blacks, whites, reds, yellows). I think everyone should own a slave.

    Oh, welcome to the board.

  • czarofmischief

    Ooh, ooh! Enslave me! I'm first in line... NOT!!!

    My family fought and died to end this scourge in America.

    This is the end of it: The Bible of course encourages, in principle, the kind treatment of all who come across you - whatever the social conventions of the day are. But slavery is just plain evil - and if it exists in a country that doesn't even dignify its slaves with the name, then it is still evil. That's what's going on in those countries you mentioned, Rydar. Slavery without a name, rules, or tradition to dignify it even a little bit.


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