Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Someone Else Noticed that Slavery is Problematic for the Bible

I wrote a very popular piece a few weeks ago titled, Christians Should Love and Accept Homosexuals.  In that article, I made a connection with how slavery has been completely rejected in the common era despite the fact that the Holy Bible encourages the act, never condemns it, and even sets up rules for how to do it correctly, including the notion that a slave's life is worth less than your cow's.

Well, someone else made the connection, as well. 

Of course, as Steve Wells points out in his critique of the Dan Savage speech, Dan Savage talks about a few other items in the Bible that the men who wrote it got flat wrong. We have more knowledge than the people who wrote the Bible.  We know that being jealous enough of our importance in the lives of those that should respect us is never a good reason to split their pregnant bellies open with a sword or feed them uranium laced chocolate chip cookies to give them tumors and heavy menstrual bleeding.  Why would we even consider loving or worshiping a god like these men wrote about?

We look at tribes in Africa and wonder at how backwards their thinking is.  We raise an eyebrow at how they attribute everything natural to "the gods".  And yet, we hold dear the writings of a hunter/gatherer clan that tried their best to write the same ideas on a page.  We just don't give that god credit for it anymore like they used to.  We know better.  We have science, knowledge, history...proof!

We watch as religion evolved in the Bible from polytheism to monotheism.  From monotheistic hateful god that must be worshiped regardless of the abuse rained down on the worshiper.  David's Psalms make me think of the housewife's "glow after the blow", where she falls madly and deeply in love with her abuser after he beats her and then wildly loves her.  It's a psychological phenomenon that has always fascinated me and we get to watch it in living color throughout the Bible, especially the Psalms.  We watch as the New Testament unfolds and reveals the newest evolution of religion - the movement out of hunter/gatherer god/s and into whatever it is the new religion was, borrowing from the pagan traditions of the area - much like the Catholic Church did to bring much of their conquered lands under the umbrella of the church.  Religion became more palatable with the masses.  It could now be argued on an intellectual level with the brilliant Greeks, rather than discarded as old fodder for humor.

Knowing what I know now about history, reality, logic, a bit of science, and how humanity works, I look at the evolution of religion in the Bible and walk away from it, gleaning what I deem profitable and discarding almost all of the rest.  I challenge the reader who attempts to prove that there is only one interpretation of religion, basing that view upon the Bible, to reconsider what that book really is.  Once you do, it is impossible to know what is truth and what is not.

Once you realize this, you will notice how it isn't possible for a god to condemn anyone to eternal hell because they didn't "get it right".  Unless of course, that god does require us to get it right.  Then again, since he hasn't made it clear, do you really want a part of that god?

I know I don't.  And I feel really good about it.


  1. Could you provide an outline of this so called "evolution" of religion in the Bible?

    Also, in regards to the Psalms, you know if it had nothing to do with God, you'd be hailing it as a beautiful demonstration of the human experience.

    Finally, I commented on one of your blogs a few weeks ago--a comment that never ended up on your page. If you sincerely write a blog to have open discussions, why are you censoring certain people's opinions? You are quick to classify Christians as close minded and narrow, but what are you doing by shutting down the start of a discussion?

    Just some thoughts.

    Congruous Christianity

  2. I only delete comments that have no value. Also, stick around. You'll see more of my thoughts as time goes on. Don't take my word for anything. Study it yourself. And I say that in all sincerity, not snark.

    If you read the bible without any presuppositions, you will find that the god of most of it is incompatible with the message of the later books.

    1. I'm disappointed that you didn't provide the outline requested, as well as the fact that you just stooped to an ad hominen to defend your censuring previous comments (a classic fundamentalist response)

      In my opinion when someone respectfully requests documentation to support your claims, you respectfully comply instead of attacking the requester.

    2. Where is this timeline you reference? and why do you respond to questions that request your research with ad hominem attacks?

      You just played the "study it yourself" card, which saves YOU from have to defend your positions. kak shal.

  3. So YOU read it without any presuppositions? I don't think you can think/read/evaluate anything without them. Sociology (particularly the sociology of knowledge) points to that. French Philosophers such as Lyotard, Foucault, or Derrida, make compelling arguments for this as well. Science itself has been grappling with this mightily since the 1950's and still doesn't know what to do with it. Check out Thomas Kuhn 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' for a good read on the subject.

    Regarding Scripture, Dan Savage is an example of people who don't know much about the Bible reacting against those who have treated them very poorly in the name of it. It makes me sick thinking of ignorant Christians bashing someone like Dan Savage.

    I'm guessing you're exposure to Christianity has mostly been despensational theology with theonomic ethics? If so, that is not representative of all Christians...not even the majority. A book that you may be interested in is 'Slaves Women and Homosexuals'. Also, could you show me your argument that the Bible argues FOR slavery? Further, could you then prove that the slavery in the Bible is the same as slavery that was in America? Then, could you then provide your own basis for slavery being wrong? I think that it is wrong, I just would like to know the basis for your ethics.

    I look forward to your kind, thoughtful, and generous response. Too often the tenor is 'My best against your worst...and by the way you're stupid!' Unfortunately that's the tenor of most discussions on T.V. and on the internet. Thankfully, neither of us wants to have that kind of tone. The goal is to truly understand one another and show one another respect.


  4. I am so muddling through some of these same problems. And my poor husband has spent the past nine years working towards life in ministry. I completely understand now why all the spiritual leaders in my life tried so hard to keep me from asking the tough questions. It's like pandora's box - once you start, you can't stop. Once you leave the planet of faith you really can never return. You will always retain the outside perspective. And no one inside understands. Ugh. Sorry about the rant.

  5. I for one am thankful for leaders who have encouraged me to ask the tough questions. They've thought it through and aren't afraid to say they don't know. Having an outside perspective is gift I think. It makes you more compassionate and understanding of people who don't agree with you. What is sad is when someone moves from an 'insiders only' view of theism to an 'insiders only' view of atheism. Both involve presuppositions but few are aware of that. Both sides have 'taken for granted' assumptions (or 'faith' if you want to call it that) and that doesn't necessarily have to lead to paralysis. Incongruous Circumspection, have you ever read about trajectory theories in reading the OT? The book 'Slaves, Women and Homosexuals' might be worth reading if you plan on engaging Christians who are well-read and serious about wrestling with some of the difficulties the OT poses. You could continue to pick off the arguments of less thoughtful Christians, but you seem more genuinely interested in serious discussion than that.

  6. "We look at tribes in Africa and wonder at how backwards their thinking is. We raise an eyebrow at how they attribute everything natural to "the gods""

    Who exactly are 'we'?