Wonderful fights between narcissism and worthlessness

Slavery in the Bible and What Defending It Says About Christianity

on September 10, 2012

[Content note: Below, I discuss the immorality of Christianity. While I try to be careful about discussing the institution and not members thereof, it is a discussion of immoral actions advocated by the bible]

I want to start this post out by saying, below, unless otherwise stated, I’m talking about the institution and churches of Christianity and specific Christians who hold beliefs I’m discussing, not all individual human beings who are Christians and members of those churches. Christianity is immoral; most Christians are not. It’s why we have more than one Christian church, it’s why this is an issue, and the morality of people professing to certain beliefs are why there’s so much tumult and controversy. As I personally believe, Christians are better than the god of their Bible.

So. Slavery.

I just recently watched Matt Dillahunty debate Jay Lucas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGMrRxRcCOI), and while the debate was to be on whether God exists, they instead focused entirely on morality, with Mr. Lucas, a Christian preacher, debating all morality flows from God, and Mr. Dillahunty, an athiest activist and public speaker, debating that this is not the case and there is no reason to believe it is. While it’s hard to have a good-faith (harrrr) debate when you share two seperate  views of reality, it was a great and informative debate that was good-natured and engaging. The debate format left it too easy for points to remain unrebutted, but I’m not educated on debate formats so I can’t bash too hard.

And then slavery came up.

Around 1h:18m (just before that mark), as they are debating how to decide who is morally right in situations and how to decide on morality, as Lucas is debating the superiority of a creator’s moral decisions over a creation’s, Matt asks, “So a creator would be morally right in torturing somebody?” Lucas doesn’t answer and dodges the question, they discuss the concept of hell (with a surprising confirmation of the line of thought of God sending people to hell that Christians usually dodge in regards to whether Lucas believes Dillahunty is going to hell), and then near 1:19 Matt brings up the bible’s advocation of slavery (more information here). And thus begins the wonderful dance of Christian apologetics with specific regards to slavery. Dillahunty asks (basically) we think slavery is immoral; are we wrong? Lucas asks, “Is slavery immoral?” Yes. “How do you know?” He then agrees slavery is immoral but tries to argue that God doesn’t advocate slavery. He clarifies that the scripture does not advocate slavery; it regulates it (and the crowd goes a little wild). He argues ideals versus reality. Our world is fallen and touched by sin, and the old testament may regulate slavery, but someday it will be eradicated. Matt: “Why wouldn’t God come out against slavery?” Jay: “God says love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” (He also commands thou to shalt not kill someone) Jay: “God is patient, not wanting any to suffer. Some day, ALL of the things that have gone wrong in humanity including slavery will be eradicated.” And so on, and so on. The remaining half hour of the debate revolves around slavery.

If a white supremacist defended slavery based on any of his beliefs in the inferiority of blacks, the conversation would be over there.  He’d be shouted out.  We’d stop listening to a fucking thing he had to say.  We wouldn’t make room for him in our conversation, we wouldn’t just let him talk, we wouldn’t say, “Well, let him explain his views.”  When a white supremacist starts to justify his language on slavery, or the idea that it isn’t immoral, or just the way it was, or ANYTHING reducing the immorality of slavery, most rational people are done with him. It’s a mark of our progress on racial issues (although racism’s in no way dead).

On the flip side, when a Christian starts trying to quantify slavery, or saying God has bigger plans, or that it was just rules for people who had a different culture, stop. Just please stop that line of thinking when you realize you’re in it and expounding on it.  You can’t say God is this awesome being who morality and goodness flow from and then say he wouldn’t take a firm stand against owning people and subjugating their will and mental health to your own.

Do proponents of Southern Pride get a free pass in defending slavery? And in thinking about that instance, I’m reminded that even they don’t touch the slavery portion of The Civil War. They don’t try to explain away slavery, or couch it in other terms, or change the viewpoint on slavery, or say, “Yeah, okay, that was bad, BUT…” They’re smart enough to not even touch it and start talking about freedoms and ideals and disagreements that have NOTHING to do with owning people as property. And there are Christians who can’t even say they’re that evolved on this argument. At the point that you’re softening, or even defending, slavery, you should both not be able to view all of the Bible as the infallible word of God (and you should probably throw the whole shitty book out and find a better basis for your faith) and you should question if these beliefs, stemming from such a flawed source, aren’t flawed themselves.

[Content Note: My discussion of my belief (my specific belief that I hold) that Christianity is false, and why the Christian God is immoral]

And that’s not saying anything to the elephant in the room.  I personally don’t believe in the Christian God. I believe it’s just another religion, and that we have evidence of the evolution of certain oral traditions and previous religious archetypes that led into its stories. I believe Christianity co-opted Pagan religions, and that’s a show of the humans behind it and also attacks the idea that it exposes truth about the universe or supports the truth of a creator being.  I believe human beings are story tellers, and there’s a lot of use (a ton of it bad, even in the modern era) in the stories religion tells for humans. But say I’m wrong, and Christianity is correct, and God is the one true god and the Bible gives an accurate if incomplete image of him.  I think there’s enough evidence to say that we aren’t misunderstanding some grander plan or imperative, or just need that one more piece to understand the support of genocide, slavery, misogyny, special mention for ethnic cleansing, human sacrifice, and everything else the bible ranges from not condemning to outright advocating that no moral being could condone, or explain, or show you another side of, or argue for.  If this is the true nature of God, this God is worth opposing, and trying to take down on the merits of his nature, even in the face of annihilation.  God can’t be viewed as a moral being we should all fall in line with, although the Mob Boss analogy is always apt, and this view of a creator certainly just paints him as the biggest bully we could ever imagine to keep people in line.  If he was real and not a character in a book, there’s still a ton of problems and he is still an immoral being/entity.  I just believe he doesn’t exist, and the moral failings in Christianity are the long and storied history of the moral failings of certain human beings for 2,000 years that gets defended by people today, some with moral failings who want to keep this way of holding power over people, some who have ideas about their beliefs they hadn’t challenged and that are wrong (Butbutbut God’s great!) And we support it by our inaction and social rules, and we shouldn’t be afraid, EVER, to challenge those.  It should be easiest here, in the case of the Bible’s slavery language, to say, “Woah, wait. You support slavery? In any case?” Explaining it as God’s plan still supports slavery occuring, and not in the way that we accept suffering as a reality of life (which forces a whole other can of worms through the fabric of “God’s plan”), because the Bible never gives rules to how to handle children starving to death.

Not to blame anyone but those individual humans responsible for the continued evils of Christianity. When a Catholic priest molests a child, in any discussion of Christianity and what cues in it could have been helped lead to the priest’s actions, it’s so ultimately important to blame the pedophile who took those actions, however he justified them, and however they may have been supported by his holy book. I’m more concerned about the social cues surrounding this, in the same way I’m concerned about the societal support of rape that leads to rape culture but wouldn’t accuse most people who support rape culture of directly supporting acts of rape. And in discussing slavery, we have a specific example of the ills that religion can lead to.

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