How Christian Slaveholders Used the Bible to Justify Slavery
How did slaveholders manage to maintain a healthy balance between their religious beliefs and the harsh realities of the ” peculiar institution ” during the period of American slavery? For some of them, as shown in the following passages — which are taken from Noel Rae’s new bookThe Great Stain, which uses firsthand accounts to tell the story of slavery in America — rationalization could be found right there in Scripture, according to Rae. Christian slaveholders — and, if asked, most slaveholders would identify themselves as Christian — had two favorite texts in the Bible, one from the beginning of the Old Testament and the other from the end of the New Testament, which together accounted for more than three quarters of a million words.
These are the three sons of Noah, and it was because of them that the entire world was overrun.
And when Ham, the father of Canaan, noticed his father’s nakedness, he immediately informed his two brothers who were outside.
And Noah awakened from his drunken stupor and realized what his younger son had done to his father.
- Canaan shall be the servant of the Lord God of Shem, he replied.
- As a result, God will increase Japheth’s size, and he will live in the tents of Shem, with Canaan serving as his slave.
- However, there are significant flaws in this story—for example, what was so horrifying about seeing Noah drunk?
- What was the expected duration of the servitude?
- Surely Ham would have been the same hue as his brothers?
The following passage from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, Chapter VI, verses 5-7, was another favorite: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4, when Paul virtually verbatim quotes himself from the first chapter of his Epistle to the Colossians) For example, pro-slavery polemicists frequently searched the remainder of the Old Testament for examples demonstrating that slavery was widespread among the Israelites.
Except in the negative sense of pointing out that nowhere in Jesus’ teachings did he condemn slavery, the New Testament was largely ignored, although the story of Philemon, a runaway who was returned to his master by St.
The Latin wordservus, which is commonly translated as servant but actually means slave, was also widely accepted at one point.
“Is it not possible that you may have done some other evil act that was never found and that Almighty God, who witnessed you doing it, would not allow you to avoid punishment at some point in the future?” says the author of the novel.
But even if this were not the case—a scenario that is difficult to imagine—and you have in no way, known or unknown, earned the correction you have received, there is great comfort in knowing that if you bear it patiently and leave your cause in the hands of God, He will reward you for it in heaven, and the punishment you suffer unjustly here will turn to your exceeding great glory in the hereafter.” Bishop Stephen Elliott of Georgia was similarly a person who could see the positive side of things.
“Consider if, by interfering with this system, they are not halting and obstructing a task that is plainly Providential,” say opponents of slavery.
Only a few natives have been converted to Christianity in the Sierra Leone region and the surrounding area of Cape Palmas, and some nations have been partially civilized; but this is a small number in comparison to the thousands, nay, millions, who have learned the way to Heaven and who have come to know their Savior as a result of African slavery!
These thoughts make me feel good about their current situation, and they reassure me that it is the best relationship they can be placed in for the time being.” Frederick Douglass had the following to say about the work of the white churches: “Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference—a difference so great that to accept the one as good, pure, and holy is to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked.” To be a friend of one means that one must be an enemy of the other as a matter of necessity.
I adore the pure, peaceful, and impartial Christianity of Christ; as a result, I despise the corrupt, slave-holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial, and hypocritical Christianity of this country, which I believe is a blatant violation of the Gospel.
Noel Rae has copyright protection for the year 2018. The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc. has granted permission for this reprinting. All intellectual property rights are retained. More TIME Magazine’s Must-Read Stories
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A Case History in the Hermeneutical Tension between Biblical Criticism and Christian Moral Debate on JSTOR
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Why Did So Many Christians Support Slavery?
Photograph courtesy of Grafissimo / Getty Images Sign up for Christianity Today and you’ll gain instant access to back issues of Christian History! The majority of southern Christians held the belief that slavery, in the words of one Baptist preacher, “stands as an institution of God.” Here are a few examples of typical Christian arguments from the historical period:
With the exception of Abraham, the “father of faith,” and all of the patriarchs, slaveholding was permitted by God (Genesis 21:9–10). A slave was forced to work for his brothers (Genesis 9:24–27). Canaan was Ham’s son. Slavery is mentioned twice in the Ten Commandments, demonstrating God’s implied endorsement of it (Ex. 20:10, 17). The practice of slavery was pervasive across the Roman world, and yet Jesus said nothing to oppose it. According to the apostle Paul (Eph. 6:5–8), slaves were particularly instructed to obey their owners.
Charitable and Evangelistic Reasons
Abolishing slavery removes individuals from a society that “worshipped the devil, practiced witchcraft, and sorcery,” among other heinous practices. Embedded in slavery are heathens who are transported to a Christian area where they might hear the gospel preached. Master Christians offer religious education to the slaves under their care. Many northern tourists can witness to the fact that individuals are treated with affection while under slavery. It is in the best interests of slaveholders to provide good treatment to their slaves.
In the same way that women are commanded to serve in a subservient capacity (Eph. 5:22; 1 Tim. 2:11–15), slaves are placed in their place by God. A inferior race (such as those who have suffered the “curse of Ham” in Genesis 9:25 or the punishment of Cain in Gen.
4:12) is protected and provided for by God through the institution of slavery. Abolition would lead to slave uprisings, violence, and chaos. Consider the “rule of fear” enforced by the mob during the French Revolution.
Christians are required to submit to civil authorities, yet those powers authorize and preserve slavery in the United States. The church should devote its attention to spiritual problems rather than political ones. “Atheists, socialists, communists, and red republicans,” to use the words of James H. Thornwell, are among those who advocate abolition. Copyright was acquired in 1992 by the author or the journal Christianity Today/Christian History. You may get more information on Christian history by clicking here.
Slavery and the Making of America . The Slave Experience: Religion
|As late as 1800 most slaves in the U.S. had not been converted to Christianity. In the years that followed, however, widespread Protestant Evangelicalism, emphasizing individual freedom and direct communication with God, brought about the first large-scale conversion of enslaved men and women.At first, itinerant ministers, captivating large audiences at revivals and camp meetings across the North and South during the middle part of the century, reached only a small percentage of the slave population with their calls to Christianity. Larger numbers of black men and women were converted during the resurgence and intensification of revivalism during the Second Great Awakening of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At that time, Baptist and Methodist ministers appealed to the slave and free black populations, preaching a plain-styled message of hope and redemption while also catering to manners of worship that African men and women carried with them to America, including spirit possession, call-and-response singing, shouting, and dancing.Whereas an earlier generation of evangelical preachers had opposed slavery in the South during the early nineteenth century, Protestant clergymen began to defend the institution, invoking a Christian hierarchy in which slaves were bound to obey their masters. For many slaveholders, this outlook not only made evangelical Christianity more palatable, but also provided a strong argument for converting slaves and establishing biracial churches.Even so, with much of the religious life of the slave community existing as an “invisible institution,” beyond the purview of whites or formal churches, white control over African-American religious practices and spiritual beliefs was limited. Slave preachers might emphasize the need for obedience to the master while whites were present, but among other slaves they reformulated their teachings, emphasizing themes of suffering and redemption. Slaves sang spirituals filled with lyrics about salvation and references to biblical figures like Moses, who led his people to freedom. On occasion, these songs functioned even more explicitly as expressions of resistance, encoding messages about secret gatherings or carrying directions for escape.While some planters became convinced of Christianity as a type of social control, others welcomed ministers to the slave quarters and built plantation chapels out of genuine Christian impulses. Regardless of motives, however, slaveholders remained mindful of the potential subversiveness of religion among slaves. In the 1820s and 1830s, two of the most significant slave rebellions in American history were plotted by Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner, two men driven by religious fire. In 1829, David Walker’s inflammatory text, AN APPEAL TO THE COLOURED CITIZENS OF THE WORLD, not only condemned Christians who supported slavery, but also used Christianity as a way to validate slave revolt. In South Carolina, Virginia and throughout the South, these and other events resulted in regulations on black meetings and black preaching without white supervision. Biracial churches also limited the rights of black congregants.||While fear of slave insurrection led to prohibitions on black churches meeting openly in many parts in the South, the black church movement flourished in the North. As members of the Church, blacks were ostensibly the brothers and sisters of whites, equals in the eyes of God. This sentiment was instrumental in helping blacks to gain the right to be ordained as Baptist and Methodist ministers, but it did not prevent discriminatory practice within the church, including segregated seating.In Philadelphia, blacks established St. Thomas Episcopal Church in 1794 as the culminating response to this type of discrimination. Black churches in the North continued to grow into the nineteenth century, providing for much more than the spiritual needs of the black community. They, aided in the adjustment of new black residents, acted as mediators in the personal lives of blacks, and played a vital role in antislavery activities including the protection of fugitive slaves. Black ministers like Philadelphia’s Richard Allen and Absalom Jones and Boston’s Thomas Paul were among the strongest leaders in black communities.During the Antebellum period and after the Civil War, black churches, not just in the North, but throughout the nation, offered African Americans refuge from oppression and focused on the spiritual, secular, and political concerns of the black community. Following emancipation, the church continued to exist at the center of black community life. With freedom, African-Americans rejected the second-class status they had been offered by white co-religionists and withdrew in large numbers from biracial congregations. Aided by the Freedmen’s Bureau, freedmen and freedwomen pooled their resources to build greater numbers of independent black churches – symbols of African-American demands for self-determination.Kimberly Sambol-Tosco is a graduate student in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation will explore the centrality of gender in African-American political identities in the North during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.|
Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families
Using a Bible text to justify his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, Attorney General Jeff Sessions implied that God supports the government’s decision to separate undocumented parents from their children on Thursday. At a speech to law enforcement officials in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sessions cited the Apostle Paul and his plain and wise instruction in Romans 13, “follow the rules of the government because God has established the government to serve his purposes.” “Orderly and legal processes are beneficial in and of themselves.
However, the passage that Sessions highlighted, Romans 13, is an unexpected choice for this context.
“The first is the Revolutionary War, and the second is the Civil War.” “The first is during the American Revolutionary War.” Those who were opposed to the American Revolution, known as loyalists, evoked the phrase.” ‘The other is in the 1840s and 1850s, when Romans 13 is used by supporters of the South or advocates of slavery to deter abolitionists who thought that slavery was immoral,’ Fea explained.
- It’s the same argument that Southern slaveholders and supporters of a traditional Southern way of life used to support their positions.
- (Reuters) In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy under which the Justice Department would begin prosecuting anybody who crossed the border into the United States from Mexico.
- immigration law, adults are charged with a felony, but children are not, which means they are imprisoned apart from the people in custody.
- A national outcry erupted in the same month that reports surfaced that the government had lost track of 1,475 children; however, those reports were later proven to be false.
- Later in his address in Fort Wayne, he made a plea to his “church friends,” emphasizing that non-citizens who enter the United States illegally are breaking the law and should be deported.
- In the words of Gabriel Salguero, head of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, “Scripture overwhelmingly encourages families to remain together.” “We are compelled to protect families by Scripture in large measure.
It is written in the Bible that we should be pro-family, and I personally find it deeply regrettable that we are separating children from their parents at the border or anywhere else.” A text from Deuteronomy was also shared on Twitter by the Vatican’s Section for Migrants and Refugees on Thursday afternoon: “The Bible teaches that God ‘loves the alien staying among you,’ providing them with food and clothes.
- And you ought to love people who are outsiders, since you were were aliens in Egypt, as Deuteronomy 10:18-19 teaches.” Pope Francis (photo courtesy of Twitter/Yt8i7b39VN) — MigrantsRefugees (@M RSection), a Twitter account.
- Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said at a briefing on Thursday that she had not read Sessions’ comments, but she agreed with his point of view on the matter.
- “It is a moral policy to uphold and execute the law,” says the president.
- (Photo courtesy of Joyce Koh/The Washington Post) Fea, the American history professor, claims that after the Civil War, historians don’t find many allusions to Romans 13 because the passage’s central message — submitting to authority — is considered as un-American by the general population.
“Whenever Romans 13 was utilized in the 18th and the 19th century — and Sessions appears to be doing the same thing, so in this sense there is some continuity — it’s a means of twisting the scriptures to justify your own political agenda.” The text of the chapter itself can be read in a number of different ways.
- “Romans 13 says that the purpose of government is to pursue what is good, and it says that the government should not be a terror for those who are doing good,” said Matthew Soerens, United States director of church mobilization for World Relief.
- “Laws are good, and order is important, but it doesn’t imply that isolating families from one other is a good law,” he remarked.
- Rather than being anti-law, we are anti-wrong-doing legislation and poor policy.” Furthermore, as Soerens reminds out, the individual in the Bible to whom Sessions made reference had previously been in trouble with the law.
- According to a study conducted by the evangelical polling organization Barna, evangelical Christians’ opinions against immigration are beginning to soften.
- The next year, just 23 percent of people overall and 31 percent of evangelicals agreed with the statement.
- More information may be found at: Submissions from Readers are being sought.
- Do you intend to discuss Sessions’s remarks with your community in the future?
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Hist 102 Final EXAM Flashcards
Thomas Jefferson thought that African-Americans lacked the ability to exercise self-control and were uninterested in their local communities. It was Alexander Hamilton’s financial scheme that included the establishment of a national bank of the United States. The Republican press, which was critical of the Adams Administration, was specifically targeted by the Sedition Act. Who was the author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, a booklet that was published in England and advocated for greater involvement by women in society?
- Paved roads, steamboats, railroads, and the telegraph were all examples of technological advancements that contributed to the market revolution, which included: What was it about the development of the steamboat that made it so unique?
- What did nativists hold immigrants responsible for in the 1840s?
- Maintenance of the power balance between slaves and free nations was the first industry to be altered by the massive factory system.
- acquiring a job based on partially loyalty and half merit, rather than on both Cherokee Nation vs.
- Cherokees are being forced to march to Oklahoma.
- slave population by 1860 was approximately: Which of the following was the world’s most important crop produced by slave labor throughout the nineteenth century?
- The majority of people in the North favored reopening the slave trade.
What did this entail for slaveholders in the southern United States?
was a fugitive slave who, as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, risked her life several times in order to free others from the bonds of slavery.
refused to allow the House of Representatives to hear petitions from abolitionists existed in every northern state at the time of the Civil War, although they were lagging behind in the southern states What was the impact of the Second Great Awakening on the society of the United States?
The colonization of former slaves, like Indian removal, was based on the notion that America:was basically a white civilization in its origins.
creating a big subject of discourse about slavery, which was something that the Southern slaveholders were attempting to avoid Who wrote the book that was based in part on the memoirs of a fleeing slave and was inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s own experiences?
Wars with Mexico and other countries helped the United States obtain the greatest land in the first half of the nineteenth century (TX, NM, NV, AZ, CA, UT) What was one of the most important provisions of the Compromise of 1850?
The California gold rush resulted in the creation of what is perhaps the world’s most diverse city.
Over the course of the Civil War, approximately how many Union and Confederate soldiers died?
Abolition did not apply to the border slave states that had not seceded, nor to other union held territories in the southern United States after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863.
These triumphs happened during the battles of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, among other places.
According to the Spanish, Catholicism was a crucial weapon in the colonization of indigenous peoples in the New World: Ceremonies held by Native Americans in their religion Linked to the Native American notion that holy spirits might be discovered in both living and inanimate things, which was popularized in the 19th century.
- Indian women were freely involved in premarital sex, and they had the option of divorcing their spouses if they so desired.
- a physical and cultural boundary that is not clearly delineated Was it gold that insured Virginia’s survival and prosperity?
- For example, while comparing English and Spanish colonies, it should be noted that England transported more people to the Americas than Spain did throughout the seventeenth century in order to populate their new colonies.
- In Virginia, it may be claimed that conflict between English settlers and local Indians became unavoidable when: The Native Americans recognized that England desired to build a permanent and continually increasing colony rather than merely a trading station.
- It was the second leg of the trans-Atlantic commerce slave trade.
- Despite the fact that the colony was first created without alcohol or slaves, colonists subsequently sought self-government in order to have the authority to introduce slavery.
- What was the primary means through which the Spanish established their presence in California?
In what way did the Seven Year’s War have an impact on the lives of the people who lived through it?
This event happened when British soldiers opened fire on a crowd, killing a number of people in the city of Boston.
The Stamp Act caused such a commotion in the colonies because it was the first direct tax levied on the colonies by the British Parliament.
Preceding the Seven Year’s War, Britain had mainly delegated authority to the colonies, which included: What kind of reforms to voting rights did radical leaders in Pennsylvania wish to see implemented?
Males above the age of 21 who are free of debt and have paid their taxes should be entitled to vote in elections.
A powerful governor and courts keep the government in check.
Free public education is being proposed.
They split their loyalty between Britain and America, much as white white Americans did, and finally lost everything (property, possessions, and so on) to the new American government as a result of their decision.
Because they had supported the British throughout the war, despite the fact that several tribes sided with the colonies, they were given this honor.
What did critics of slavery seek to achieve by enacting the Constitution in 1808, which prohibited the immigration of slaves into the country?
However, slavery in the United States would endure for many years after the importation restriction was lifted, contrary to their hopes that cutting off the supply would finally put an end to slavery in the country.
Seven reasons why you shouldn’t read 1 Timothy 6:1-2 as an endorsement of slavery
Have you ever had to deal with a skeptic — perhaps a family member or a coworker — who used slavery as proof that the Bible couldn’t be relied on to be accurate? They contend that if you rely on the Bible as your source of guidance on what is good and wrong, you are basing your strongly held ideas on a revelation that is ethically flawed. If the Bible is wrong on something as fundamental as slavery, how can we put our faith in it when it comes to its most fundamental statements about Jesus? As a result, when individuals want to discredit the Bible, the problem of slavery is frequently brought up in order to demonstrate that it is not worthy of your respect and confidence.
And sometimes Christians are at a loss for what to say in response—especially when the book in question is one like 1 Timothy 6:1-2:1Let everyone who are bound by the yoke of slavery consider their own masters as deserving of every reverence, so that the name of God and our message will not be disparaged.
- These ideas should be taught and preached.
- Is it true, however, that telling these Christian slaves to submit to their masters is the same as approving their masters’ slavery?
- Wives, including those who are “disobedient to the word,” are instructed to submit to their husband’s authority, according to Peter (1 Pet.
- Peter instructs Christians to submit to governing authorities, despite the fact that those authorities were persecuting them at the time of writing (1 Pet.
- God, on the other hand, rejects any use of power that is in conflict with His divine will.
- Treating a person as though they are a piece of property without acknowledging their dignity as image-bearers of Almighty God is wrong and is denounced throughout the Bible.
So advising someone to surrender to an authority is not an endorsement of the one exercising that authority.
The Bible expresses strong condemnation for the methods through which slaves were captured and sold as slaves.
People were captured and sold as slaves through a variety of methods, including battle, piracy, highway robbery, newborn exposure, and criminal punishment.
What does the Bible say about kidnapping and enslaving people?
The majority of interpreters agree that this man-stealing was done for the goal of enslaving people.
“Anybody who snatches a man and sells him, as well as anyone who is discovered in possession of him, must be put to death” (ESV).
There are two people involved: the one who takes the man and the one who holds him.
If this viewpoint were right, there would not necessarily have been a moral problem with Christians holding slaves in the American South during and before the Civil War if this viewpoint had been correct.
And it is against this backdrop that Paul’s personal thoughts on the subject are expressed in 1 Timothy.
They were crammed into ship holds, where they suffered and perished in their tens of thousands by the hands of slave dealers.
Furthermore, it is erroneous to assert that slave-owners are not ethically liable for their participation in the slave trade.
As a result, the Bible categorically condemns the methods by which captives were captured and sold as slaves—particularly abduction, which was punished by death.
Christians are prohibited from using coercive violence towards slaves, according to the New Testament.
The answer was negative, they were not permitted to use violence against their slaves.
The mistreatment or even murder of a slave may have been permissible under Roman law, according to certain scholars.
On the one hand, that may be considered slavery in a way, but what type of slavery is it that forbids the master from coercing his slave by physical force?
It’s absolutely not like slavery was practiced in the southern United States.
The letter Paul addressed to the slave-owner Philemon regarding his runaway slave Onesimus stated that Onesimus should be received “not as a slave, but as more than a slave, a cherished brother.
What type of slavery is it that teaches a master to give up threatening and to treat his slaves like his brother?
It is in no way comparable to slavery in the American South.
This is a completely different animal.
The Bible fully defies all of the characteristics of slavery, including kidnapping, forced violence, and treating people as property rather than as brothers formed in the image of God, among other things.
The Bible advises slaves to free themselves if they are able to do so.
Don’t be concerned about it; yet, if you are able to become free as well, you should take advantage of the opportunity.” If the Bible supported slavery, it would not be encouraging slaves to take advantage of opportunities to become free, would it?
1 Corinthians 7:23 (New International Version) “You were purchased at a cost; do not allow yourselves to become slaves to men.” The command couldn’t be more clearer: “Do not allow yourselves to be made slaves to men.” If the Bible supported slavery, it would not prohibit Christians from becoming slaves, as it does now.
Racism is condemned by the Bible.
Slavery in the American South, on the other hand, was.
God created man in his own image, and he made all men in his image, not just white men, black men, red men, or yellow men.
As a result, the diversity of races should not be viewed as a problem to be eliminated, but rather as a source of pride to be appreciated.
And we know that in Christ, “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and in all” (Philippians 2:13).
To summarize: the Bible does not condone slavery or the ills that are inherent in slavery.
Nowhere in the gospel of Jesus Christ does it say that we must wage a violent revolution in order to end slavery.
And we, as members of the church, are called to serve as outposts of the coming kingdom.
When opponents attack scripture, they frequently make bold claims about subjects about which they have no knowledge or experience (1 Tim.
This particular group is distorting the Bible’s supposed acceptance of slavery by railing against it, rather than defending it as it truly teaches.
“Your message is exceedingly pure, and as a result, Your servant appreciates it.” The text is taken from Psalm 119:140.
At my church, we’re in the midst of a series on the pastoral epistles, and the following piece is an excerpt from the talk on 1 Timothy 6:1-2. You can either download the audio file here or listen to it below.