Thank You, Dan Savage, Part 2

Agresti then quotes verses making it a crime to kidnap a man and sell him into slavery and mandating that runaway slaves be given sanctuary. These passages may be progressive, but they must be taken alongside “And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant. But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee. And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return. For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bond maids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.” Clearly, while runaways are to be given protection and enslaving free men is prohibited, buying slaves is permissible, so long as they are of a different race. These injunctions may be contradictory, but they cannot be used to argue that the Old Testament is antislavery. Agresti seems to try and explain this away by claiming that the slavery practiced in the Old Testament was really a form of indentured servitude. However, the passage I quoted above demonstrates that the indentured servitude interpretation only applies to Jews. A Jew in ancient Israel could not be enslaved, while a non-Jew obviously could. Finally Agresti tries to rely on the New Testament to contradict the Old. In addition to the fact that arguments that Paul condemned slavery are sketchy at best, the fact remains: if slavery is objectively wrong, how could it have been condoned in the Old Testament? To say that it was right in the Old Testament era but wrong in the New is moral relativism and a slap in the face to slaves who lived before the coming of Jesus. Please note that this is not to deny the existence of a benevolent deity. The cruelty of certain Bible passages reflects poorly on the authors, not God. To claim that the Bible is infallible because God is quoted in the Bible as saying so is a circular argument. I could type, “God said to make Charles King of the World” right now, but that would not mean that God had actually spoken these words. Instead of blaming Savage for speaking the truth, let us repeat what he said again and again: there is nothing unnatural or immoral about homosexuality, and there is everything unnatural and immoral about slavery. If the Bible fails to recognize this, so much the worse for the Bible.

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