The New Testament’s one real opportunity to condemn slavery; Paul does the Christian thing (and returns a runaway slave to his master)

Everyone knows that the bible, especially the Old Testament, condones slavery at every twist and turn. Indeed, it makes zero mentions or suggestions that slavery might be a bad thing. At every opportunity to condemn slavery, god instead condemns gathering firewood on the sabbath. But along comes the New Testament–a new enlightenment–and greatly revered men, such as Jesus and Paul, suddenly have the opportunity to correct this manifest injustice. Take Paul for example. When given the opportunity to help a runaway slave, he does the only Christian thing he could.

He returned the runaway slave to his slave master.

Paul was in prison, writing a short letter and a book of the bible to his dear Christian friend Philemon. (On a side note, has anyone ever noticed that many books in the NT are letters, most of which are incredibly short? Here we can see how literally the bible is man made. Many NT books are not literary manifestations of god’s word. They are not lyrical praises of worship. They are merely personal correspondence that, for some reason, many people worship as divine scripture.)

Anyway, so Paul is writing his letter. He’s writing because Philemon is angry that his slave, Onesimus, ran away. It’s not certain exactly what happened after Onesimus ran away. Either he found Christianity on his own, or Paul indoctrinated him. Either way, Onesimus became a Christian. So Paul wrote this letter to Philemon asking him to forgive Onesimus and to take him back without hard feelings. He gave the letter to Onesimus and convinced him to go back into bondage. Onesimus does, and that’s where the story ends.

This was the perfect opportunity for “Saint” Paul to be saintly. This is the exact moment when Paul should have condemned slavery. Instead Paul convinced a former slave to return to the conditions of slavery. It’s almost as if he was saying that running away from slavery is a moral crime!

Many people argue that we need to read the bible as a document of its time. That is, although we feel that slavery is unconscionable, back then it was normal. So we should not condemn the bible for reflecting the social conditions of the time in which it was written. I say that’s exactly why it should be condemned.

We all know that in the 1950s cigarettes were sometimes prescribed by medical doctors. Today we condemn this practice, and we condemn the medical literature that made this possible. Executing petty thieves was widely practiced in centuries past, and we had legal documents to justify this. Today we condemn those documents because our standards of decency have evolved. Just as we can condemn those as being morally ignorant, so too can we condemn the bible as being morally ignorant.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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44 Responses to The New Testament’s one real opportunity to condemn slavery; Paul does the Christian thing (and returns a runaway slave to his master)

  1. That slavery was such an ingrained and seemingly natural institution up until only 150 years ago, speaks to the evil of men, not God or Christianity.

    Had Saint Paul or any other Christian spoke out against slavery the Roman authorities would have wiped out the Christians to the last man, woman and child.

    And look at the carnage wrought by America’s Civil War, the war that ended slavery in the United States.

    Our sense that slavery is an abomination is thoroughly modern.

    Atheists prove that they are provincials when they apply their modern worldview to ancient societies.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      If Christianity is the one true religion then it wouldn’t have mattered if the Romans wiped them all out. God would’ve interfered.

      • Rayan,

        You, the atheist don’t get to re-write history either.

        To make sense out of things we have to take things as they are.

        And the fact of the matter is that God revealed himself to mankind, complete with a set of ethics and values over 3500 years ago and then again, 2000 years ago.

        God leaves it up to man to figure things out for himself.

        Otherwise, instead of complaining about God not forcing his will on people, you’d be complaining about God being a brutal dictator who has to force people to do his will.

      • SoM, there you go again, cherry pick to make it look like you are reasonable. If the god has a plan, a perfect plan, for all of us and everything, then the god’s plan includes slavery – even for the faithful. If you want to say that the god did not plan slavery or does not condone it you’ll have to explain why the holy words do. According to the holy words the universe unfolds according to the god’s plan… and that includes slavery and every malfesance of mankind.

      • Mike says:

        Oh, so your blog is infected with SOM also? Ha ha ha, SOM is an ignorant troll

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Some people really need to defend the indefensible.

      • Mike says:

        I’d say SOMe are idiota. Period 🙂

    • Cerberus Black says:

      Silence, quote:
      “That slavery was such an ingrained and seemingly natural institution up until only 150 years ago, speaks to the evil of men, not god or Christianity.”

      Which always reveals the bible to be the false document that it obviously is. People throughout the ages, at least the ones that wish for you to submit to their control, always have a tendency to know what their deity wants, when in fact, they don’t. They are obviously playing a game with the populace to fill the coffers, as well as to conquer their neighbors – and by that policy they’ve ensure yet more minds to submit to their demands.
      All about money.

      Silence, quote:
      “Had Saint Paul or any other Christian spoke out against slavery the Roman authorities would have wiped out the Christians to the last man, woman and child.”

      Ahh, but the Christians learned well from the Romans to include that in their play book throughout the centuries. Instead of wiping the slate clean before the fall of Roam, when the Christians ruled the empire, they decided to not do the right thing by freeing slaves, or letting the people decree what gods to follow – if any – in their quest for answers which would give the populace a sense of real freedom, and would have made Christians even more atractive to the people of Rome. But no. They squandered that by the implementation of force. Force, to squash any and all other faiths so that only theirs would be left for the populace.

      And they’ve carried that torch through the dark age, and beyond.

    • Brian says:

      One could choose not to own slaves in Roman times. Most didn’t. It would have been perfectly fine for Jesus to say don’t own slaves. Also what is the excuse for the old testament where slavery is not only permitted but actively encouraged. Same god.

  2. Cerberus Black says:

    Silence, quote:
    “And the fact of the matter is that god revealed himself to mankind, complete with a set of ethics an values over 3500 years ago , then again 2000 years ago.”

    Which god nor Jesus had no problem with the injustice of slavery, nor that of the complete killing of millions for land grabs and more converts.

    Try again

  3. Cerberus Black says:

    Silence, quote:
    “God leaves it up to man to figure things out for himself.”

    Not so, according to the bible. But, since we know that man has always been in control of his particular faith, we then also know that no deity was ever in the equation whatsoever.

    Silence, quote:
    “Otherwise, instead of complaining about god not forcing his will upon people, ”

    See my above comment.

    The rest of Silence’ quote:
    “You’d be complaining about god being a brutal dictator who has to force people to do his will.”

    And yet again, the bible says just that. If I may, I’d like to direct your attention to (1st Samuel 2 through 3). But again, the only thing you see throughout history is few men wanting absolute control for themselves by playing a ruling and dictating deity.

    Religion is not the freedom of mind…, it is slavery.

    • Black,

      According to the Bible, God leaves man to figure things out.

      The is a story of God’s revelation to man and mankind’s rejection of that revelation.

      Atheists blame God for man’s rejection of Him.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        “Atheists blame God…”? That’s a new one. It’s kind of difficult to blame something we don’t believe in.

      • Zehn,

        Atheists blame God all the time for the evil that men do.

        And you’re no different than any other atheist.

        Instead of asking me to explain you, you should be asking yourself to explain you.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Yes… in the same way I blame my car when it breaks down.

      • Cerberus Black says:

        Silence, quote:
        “According to the bible, god leaves man to figure things out.”

        Oh.., so god doesn’t care for his children? Why else would he allow for a few men to kill billions in his name and glory.

        You are only further showing examples of your deities nonexistence, but that has never accrued to you, has it?

      • Black,

        God respects human free will.

        That means we the People, must develop societies that hunt down and exterminate mass murderers.

        That’s what George Bush did to Saddam Hussein and his sons, and Osama Bin Laden.

        That greatest mass murderers in human history were atheists, by the way.

      • Cerberus Black says:

        God respects our free will?

        Ha, ha! You’re a laughs riot!

        Why yes… We should hunt down mass muderers, but then you say, kill them?
        Now that’s a real Christian attitude for ya. You are no different than the crusaders who’s brand of philosophy you share. No different than the attitude of those that commanded (the Holy Roman Empire) who’s atrocities are well documented, and who has shown that all others are not to oppose their will. And yet, even today they are rapping children in the name of your god. Forgiveness? I will not forgive them for their deviant behavior, nor for their countless murderings in the name of your god. And George W Shub would be no different than the inquisition from the church.

        If you’ve were to study the past and human nature as I have, you would’ve figured this out for yourself … But, I suppose that when indoctrination has that kind of grip on one, than they will never really seek any true answers but that of the church only.

      • Black,

        The Christian attitude toward evil is the same as God’s attitude toward evil:

        It must be exterminated.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Unfortunately the god’s way, and its followers’ way, is to exterminate people. I think “evil” is something that can be dealt with without resorting to indiscriminate genocide…or even state sponsored executions.

      • Zehn,

        Only atheists engage in indiscriminate genocide.

        The Christian West bombed Saddam Hussein, Hideki Tojo and Adolf Hitler back to the Stone Age.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Um… Japan is doing great and has been for decades. Iraq was secular, and yes, they now have been significantly set back (goodbye Iraqi thrash metal) 😦 but they were doing quite well before Bush 43 said god told him to invade.

      • Zehn,

        Japan is doing great because American general Douglas McArthur (a Christian) reconstructed their civilization after World War II.

  4. Cerberus Black says:

    And yet, your god has never intervened.. Not once.

  5. Cerberus Black says:

    Umm… Adolf Hitler had the backing of the Catholic Church. So it’s quite apparent that you know nothing of history.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      He was also a Catholic himself.

    • Black,

      Catholic priests and prominent Protestant Christians were part of the Resistance.

      The atheist effort to connect the Church with Nazi Germany is simple bigotry.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Black, it’s ok to let SOM have the last word. Otherwise he/she/it/both will keep at it until their/its last breath. You can’t fight stupid.

      • Zehn,

        The facts aren’t stupid.

        Atheism is stupid.

        For who but the stupid would believe that everything happened all by itself?

      • Cerberus Black says:

        And apart of the problem. Did we not just have a pope that was in the Hitler youth? And has been shown to have a history of protecting pedofiles?

        It has also been documented that Hitler was a catholic as well.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        To be fair, the pope was forced into the Hitler Youth. He was actually quite opposed to Hitler’s policies. Usually I agree with you, Black, but I can’t all the time. But yes, Hitler was a Catholic.

      • Black,

        If you want to learn what is actually going on, you will have to through the atheist talking points in the trash.

  6. Cerberus Black says:

    I love your trash talk! You just show even more of your stupidity and ignorance.

    You’re only showing how much of an underachiever you and your god really are.

  7. Cerberus Black says:

    Yes , he was forced into the Hitler youth, but does that offer any excuse for having a history of protecting pedofiles?

    This is why many people had left the church… To include but not limited to, my own mother. Who has been a devout catholic.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      Fair enough. I hope I didn’t strike too sensitive a nerve. I think, when it comes to the Nazis, we should be more concerned with why the Vatican did nothing, absolutely nothing, to even voice a tiny bit of concern against Hitler, even going so far as to celebrate his birthday, even years after his death, and only “apologized” (if that’s what you wanna call it) for supporting Hitler a decade or two ago. That’s pretty messed up. So he was not a Hitler Youth, but he still de facto supported Hitler.

    • Cerberus Black says:

      Agreed, Mr Zehn. But not to worry. You see, I too have very thick skin so I’ll just roll with the punches, and continue on.

      Thanks for the understanding

  8. Cerberus Black says:

    And some really should read things that Benidict has said. It would very much convince you that the pope had no problem with the Hitler youth.

  9. Cerberus Black says:

    Silence of mind;

    Here’s a quote from, Hitler:
    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator : by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of The Lord.”
    (Hitler, Mine Kampf)

    Here’s one that you may find particularly interesting because those of the faithful are trying to implement those tricks here at home in the US.

    “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instructions, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air, consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.”
    (Hitler, speech April 26, 1933)

    And one more, if I may?

    “For their interests [the church’s] cannot fail to coincide with ours [the National Socialists] alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against the atheistic movement, and criminality, and our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life.”
    (Hitler, speech from The Speeches of Adolf Hitler)

    So now we come to the The Benidick.

    “We can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society… As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God , religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and society…”
    (Pope Ratzinger, during his visit to the UK, in September 2010)

    And that was the same tactical ploy in which, Hitler, used towards groups that refuse to except the Christian god.

    And, Silence. If you were ever to study the Bush family, you would have realized that one (Prescott Bush), and father of one (George Herbert Walker Bush) were funding the Nazi’s when we were at war with them. And this was a direct reason as to why (Mr Prescott had lost all his money.,. Because of that very traitorous act. And that family has been exploiting the system ever since by literally wiping their ass with the constitution.

    • Black,

      You forgot to quote the part of Mein Kampf where Hitler states that the bigger the lie the better.

      So a liar lies about being Christian and the atheist believes it.

      • Cerberus a Black says:

        Yeah, as is the way of his holy ness the poop.

      • Cerberus Black says:

        No response. Hmmmm … Must’ve struck a nerve.

      • Cerberus Black says:

        Silence, it’s interesting how you keep missing the point…
        And it is very apparent through indoctrination how a few men have complete control over your mind.

        His hogly ness the Poop is clearly trying to cover the church’s ass, and the reason why you refuse to see this, is because you suffer from your conditioning, and are the very definition of what it means to have (blind faith.)

        And his hogly ness the Poop -as well as others within the hypocrisy of that kingdom – is trying to put the blame on other cultures, when in fact, the real blame belongs to the priests within the church itself.

        And they’ve been promoting those deviant sexual acts since the inception of the church.

  10. Cerberus a Black says:

    Moderation? Hmmmm…

  11. Pingback: Quran Contradictions #5: Is slavery ok? | The Atheist Papers

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