Friday, December 19, 2008

hypocrites, loudly

With all the supposed faith in the Bible as inerrant, especially these days in regards homosexuality and abortion, it is hard to see people who profess such as anything but hypocrites for their selective readings. Most ridiculously there’s the resort to the Old Testament laws that forbade as abomination men lying with men as with women, while willful silence is maintained over the old book’s equally adamant dietary prohibitions. Shellfish, anyone?

Somehow over time slavery has become unacceptable – contravening traditional Biblical morality! In reference to early America Garry Wills illustrates how obviously:

“Much had been staked on following the Bible literally where morality was concerned. The Bible, after all, was the Puritans’ warrant for executing witches (Exodus 22.18) and for many other details of their penal system. One reason that so many godly people owned slaves, even in New England, was that slavery was permitted in both the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. … How could you attack slavery when God allowed it, even commanded it in the case of conquered women (Deuteronomy 20.14; Numbers 31.18)? Fellow Jews should be enslaved for only six years (Exodus 21.2). Jewish law let a man sell himself into slavery (Leviticus 25.39) or sell his daughter as a slave, but only to a fellow Jew (Exodus 21.7). Jews are forbidden to covet another man’s slaves or envy him because of them (Exodus 20.17; Deuteronomy 5.21). One might well be tempted to envy Abaraham, who had at one point 318 slaves (Genesis 14.14).

“The New Testament is no better on slavery. Jesus nowhere criticizes the holding of slaves. In fact, slavery is accepted as a normal part of life in Jesus’ parables (Matthew 13.27; Luke 17.7-10; and many other places). Paul tells slaves to be content with their lot (I Corinthians 7.21-21). I Peter 2.18 tells slaves, ‘Obey your masters.’ The pseudo-Pauline letters say the same thing (Colossians 3.22; Ephesians 6.5-8; I Timothy 6.1-2; Titus 2.9-10). Paul requests (not commands) special treatment for one slave who helped him in prison (Philemon 16), but this is clearly a special case, not a general judgment on slavery.”

source: Head and Heart: American Christianities by Garry Wills

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