Condoning Slavery?

Q. I was watching a fairly well known Bible teacher on television and at one point he said, ” Why do you think the Lord condoned slavery?” His answer was that the slaves who had benevolent masters were actually much better off then if they had been on their own as they were illiterate. I can only assume he was referring to slaves of the South before the Civil War, who were often grossly mistreated. I was totally stunned to hear a Christian say such a thing much less a teacher of God’s Word! I would very much like to know what your opinion is about this.

A. He was more likely referring to Hebrew slaves of Biblical times. Slavery was condoned in Israel as a means of working off debt. There were a number of humanitarian restrictions on how they were treated, and no one could be enslaved for more than 7 years. After that the slave holder had to consider the debt paid in full, set them free and provide a generous stake to help them get started again. Families who fell into slavery together had to be kept together.

Some slaves were so well treated by their masters that at the end of their time they requested to remain life long servants in their master’s household. These slaves were called bond-servants and were trusted and highly regarded members of the household. Exodus 21:2-11 and Leviticus 25:39-55 are good references.

The slavery practiced in the US and other countries during the 16-1800’s in no way approximated Biblical slavery and was a blemish on human history.

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