I am speaking to non-believers and these scriptures are blocking them

(Jason Walker) #1

I am speaking to non-believers and these scriptures are blocking them from believing in JESUS or the Bible, they say this is proof to them that the Bible advocates slavery and as such the belief is about oppression and against ppl of colour, do you guys have any advice?

“ Galatians 4 22 thru 26
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 23 His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

24 These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.”
& ““Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result,”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭21:20‬ ‭NIV This is the image they actually sent me

(SeanO) #2

@JasonWalker May God’s Spirit give you wisdom and grace as you address your friend and may your friend’s eyes be opened to the love and grace of Jesus! Here are a few articles from Paul Copan that address this very question. Below is a list of laws the Israelites had that are markedly different from the surrounding cultures of the Ancient Near East (ANE) and very, very, very different from slavery in the antebellum south. Regarding the specific passage you listed from Exodus 20, Copan points out that it actually requires ‘life for life’ even in the case of slaves, which was unheard of in the ANE.

Do you find Copan’s arguments convincing? What questions do these arguments still leave unanswered in your opinion? I am looking forward to learning from your perspective.

1. Anti-Harm Laws: One marked improvement of Israel’s laws over other ANE law codes is the release of injured servants (Exodus 21:26,27). When an employer (“master”) accidentally gouged out the eye or knocked out the tooth of his male or female servant/employee, he/she was to go free. God did not allow physical abuse of servants. If an employer’s disciplining his servant resulted in immediate death, that employer (“master”) was to be put to death for murder (Exodus 21:20) — unlike other ANE codes.10 In fact, Babylon’s Hammurabi’s Code permitted the master to cut off his disobedient slave’s ear (¶282). Typically in ANE law codes, masters — not slaves — were merely financially compensated. The Mosaic Law, however, held masters to legal account for their treatment of their own servants — not simply another person’s servants.

2. Anti-Kidnapping Laws: Another unique feature of the Mosaic Law is its condemnation of kidnapping a person to sell as a slave — an act punishable by death (Exodus 21:16; cp. Deuteronomy 24:7). Kidnapping, of course, is how slavery in the antebellum South could get off the ground.

3. Anti-Return Laws: Unlike the antebellum South, Israel was to offer safe harbor to foreign runaway slaves (Deuteronomy 23:15,16) — a marked contrast to the Southern states’ Fugitive Slave Law. Hammurabi’s Code demanded the death penalty for those helping runaway slaves (¶16). In other less-severe cases — in the Lipit-Ishtar (¶12), Eshunna (¶49-50), and Hittite laws (¶24) — fines were exacted for sheltering fugitive slaves. Some claim that this is an improvement. Well, sort of. In these “improved” scenarios, the slave was still just property ; the ANE extradition arrangements still required that the slave be returned his master. And not only this, the slave was going back to the harsh conditions that prompted him to run away in the first place.11 Even upgraded laws in first millennium BC Babylon included compensation to the owner (or perhaps something more severe) for harboring a runaway slave. Yet the returned slaves themselves were disfigured, including slitting ears and branding.12 This isn’t the kind of improvement to publicize too widely.



A question about slavery in the OT Ex 21: 3-6
Slavery in the bible and slavery in history
(Jason Walker) #3

This is very useful, unfortunately this is not just one person but several ppl. There are whole communities that have these topics as stumbling blocks. Thank you for this information and the time taken.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #4

Praise God for you in speaking about God’s truth, @JasonWalker!

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Galatians 4:21-31 is about Paul showing through example the difference between a free child of God, or those who are children of the free woman, or the children of the promise (v 28, 31), and someone who is a slave to the law. Paul merely citing Hagar, a slave woman, and talking about the son of a slave does not necessarily mean that Paul advocates slavery. This is a misreading of the text. Paul gave us a clue that his example could be interpreted allegorically (v24). The women are talking about two covenants.
  1. Regarding Exodus 21:20, here is a quote from some comment I had written on a private discussion group:

Exodus 21:20-21. “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

~In the ESV, in v. 21, it is translated as “the slave is his money.” According to Dr. Kenneth Laing Harris, this only refers to the financial situation of the one which the slave serves. It should not be understood as something which refers to the personhood of the slave.

Again, slavery in Israel is something which we cannot compare to the slavery of the antebellum south, or with other nations in the Ancient Near East. Indentured servitude is like the employer-employee relationship. If we read the passage again, it said that anyone who beats their slave which lead to the death of the slave will be punished. The master here will be tried for capital punishment (naqam). This affirms the personhood of the debt-servants as is written in Scripture (Gen. 1:26-27; Job 31:13-15; Deut. 15:1-18).

This is not comparable with slavery in the ancient world where they are treated as property, treated as someone without rights, since the slave owner’s rights is total and absolute, and also where they are stripped of their identity. An example in the Ancient Near East is the code of Hammurabi. The code allows that the master cuts a disobedient slave’s ear. The master is financially compensated as well for injuries done to their slaves. If you help runaway slaves, you will receive the death penalty. Scholars considers the Bible’s view of the personhood of the servant and also how Israel considers the death of a servant as murder as unparalleled in other ancient Near Eastern codes. I don’t see how a good reading of the alleged slavery passages in the Old Testament translates as an endorsement of slavery itself.

This does not suggest that Israel’s laws were ideal. But they showed greater moral sensitivity compared with other Ancient Near Eastern laws. This points though to God’s ideal – we are all made in the image of God.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #5

I really love Paul Copan. I learned a lot from him. What you shared @SeanO is really a gem. If you want to read more @JasonWalker, you can read this book:

(Jason Walker) #6

Thank you @omnarchy this is amazing. I will look into the book too

(SeanO) #7

@JasonWalker Yes - I can understand the confusion people experience reading these passages given our historical context. May God open the eyes of the communities who struggle to understand these Old Testament passages and give you wisdom as you reach out to them.

It has always helped me to remember that, in a way, God is a missionary to a broken world. In my opinion, God is the ultimate missionary. So when God came to ancient Israel He moved their culture in the direction of truth - He spoke truth into their culture. God did not try to replace their culture, but rather spoke into it - He redeemed it.

We see the apostle Paul do something similar in his own day - “And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” (Ephesians 6:9)

God was speaking into the existing culture to redeem and move it towards the ideal. We sometimes wish God would jump straight to the ideal. But God, in His wisdom, as the ultimate missionary, spoke redemption into the cultures of those times using concepts familiar to them as He still speaks today into our culture. Just as God, in His wisdom, sent Christ at the right time.

Galatians 4:4-5 - “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Acts 17:26-27 - " From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us."

Do you find that concept helpful?

(David Cieszynski) #8

Evening Jason,

After reading this thread Matthew chapter 22 v 37-44 came to mind, from the point Jesus said these words all other commandments either became null and void as they would conflict with these commandments or they became secondary.

Hope this is helpful.

(Jeff Leigh) #9

Hi there all! First-time post for me. Yahoo!

While I think all the above resources are important, it seems to me that the person who wrote about moral disqualification (referencing Exodus) is probably looking for an “out” so they don’t have do actually deal with the moral truths of scripture. Further, they probably don’t want to deal with their own moral failings. I would be more likely to probe why a moral argument is even important in the first place. You may find out that their own moral foundation is actually quite weak (or at least different) and then you can actually talk about why moral reasoning is so important. Without a foundation, throwing accusations of “this is morally superior” or “this is morally inferior” sidesteps many important issues.

Not to belabor the point, but this person (not the question, the questioner) is probably dealing with some moral issue in their own life that is driving this response. It may be seeking justice, peace, or even recovering from an emotional injury. Prayer, prayer, prayer, and asking the Lord to give wisdom so the real root reason may come to light is so important.

Hope that helps. Just a thought from my end.


(Jason Walker) #10

Thank you @David_Cieszynski, yes I believe this is helpful thank you.

(Jason Walker) #11

I do believe you are on point with this @jeffleigh. I however not sure the questioner is in the place to receive this perspective. I will go this direction if I can make some progress

(Jeff Leigh) #12

Good point Jason. They do need to be ready to engage on this level. I pray the Lord leads them to do so. If not, it shows a bit of a smoke screen. While we should be able to answer such challenges, we need to be careful not to sow seeds if the soil itself is covered and doesn’t even want water. Pray for the next step.

(Jason Walker) #13

@jeffleigh @David_Cieszynski @omnarchy @SeanO @andrew_hochhalter @Cameron_McAllister @CarsonWeitnauer Thank you guys. Unfortunately they responded almost violently. They are now focused on the perspective that there is no evidence to the existence of JESUS. I will pray for them and leave it be for now.

(SeanO) #14

@JasonWalker Praying with you brother! May the Holy Spirit bring growth to the seeds you have planted and give you wisdom to know when to plant more seeds of truth and may any who are truly thirsty for Christ among them keep coming back with more questions and a willingness to learn.

(Jeff Leigh) #15

Amen, prayer is the only thing now.

(Ethan Thomas) #16

This is unfortunately a common objection nowadays, despite the numerous evidence to the contrary. I’ll definitely be praying for you and your ministry, brother!

(David Cieszynski) #17

Praying for you Jason, please don’t lose faith or hope you don’t know what seeds have been down in their lives.

(Jason Walker) #18

@jeffleigh @eot1990 @David_Cieszynski thank you, for the prayers and the encouragement

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #19

@JasonWalker Will be praying with you again brother.

Just a comment though, it seems to me that instead of engaging with what you shared, they moved the goal post to another objection. Normally if I believe I could have a rational discussion with someone and they move the goal post, I call them out and make sure that they engage with the argument I provided, like what they think about it so that we won’t lose track, so that they won’t have any escape or refuge on another objection. I make sure we talk on one topic first before we move. So that if they say that for example, they are not convinced and I ask them why, then they don’t have a rational response, I could make a comment about that which they are holding on, and tell them that the rational thing for them to do is to accept what I said. I believe this could force them to think about the evidence on their own, even if they reject it at first in my presence.

But yes, our arguments and methods can only do so much. A person can willfully reject God and think of many ways to not face the truth. We need the Holy Spirit’s work primarily in what we are doing to be successful. It’s indeed wise to let it cool off for now and pray for them, and see what the Lord would do.

(Jason Walker) #20

That ha exactly what they were doing and I did point that out. However their response to me pointing that out has been them to demand evidence other than the Bible that JESUS existed.