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Hello. A friendly atheist here. A question occurred to me the answer to which I’d like a range of opinions from among Christians. This is not a “gotchya” question. I am not fishing for any right or wrong answer to prove some point. Promise.

First, let me just say there are certain aspects of Christianity which I find truly beautiful, benevolent and inspiring; the most profound (in my opinion) being the principle of forgiveness and redemption. To my thinking, this central Christian tenet stands out among all the rest of the major world religions.

That having been said, my worldview entails two very “un-Christian” perspectives. I expect that most Christians will see these characteristics as tightly linked, even inseparable. But, for me, they are distinctly unrelated. In fact, I did not come to adopt them at the same time in my life and, so far as I can recall, neither affected (or affects) my acceptance of the other.

These two heretical characteristics are:

1. I do not believe in the existence of any god. (BTW, I do not argue there isn’t, or cannot be, any such thing as a god. I have simply never been convinced in the existence of one.)

2. I do not find the edicts of God, as described in any Judeo-Christian scripture, to be moral, consistent, or just.

If you could convince me to reverse one, and only one, of these positions, which do you think would be more important for you to focus on?

Before you answer anything along the lines of, “Well, if you BELIEVED in God, you would also believe in the righteousness of his doctrine,” let me say: Perhaps. Though I don’t think so. I THINK (could be wrong) even if I believed in God, I would still find his proposition for pious living and salvation deeply flawed. Now, I know I CAN’T know precisely how I would feel if I actually believed. But I will argue it is possible to comprehend God as real and still renounce him. You can probably see where I’m going with this: Whether he is real or imaginary, there is no question Satan knows God a lot better than I do. Yet he still rebels. This is not to say I find anything at all appealing about Satan. But it does bear out that it is at least possible to know God and still reject him.

I accept (A) that I might be wrong about not believing in God and (B) if I AM wrong I’ll be spending most of eternity stewing in a lake of fire. I own that. It’s on me. (Why I’m OK with that is the subject of another conversation, in my opinion.)

So, knowing all that. And that I probably can’t be “saved” if I only incorporate one or the other principal into my worldview, which would you rather convince me of: Following God’s doctrine, believing it is good whether or not he exists? Or believing he is real?

Thanks for your attention and patience.
 
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Hello. A friendly atheist here. A question occurred to me the answer to which I’d like a range of opinions from among Christians. This is not a “gotchya” question. I am not fishing for any right or wrong answer to prove some point. Promise.

First, let me just say there are certain aspects of Christianity which I find truly beautiful, benevolent and inspiring; the most profound (in my opinion) being the principle of forgiveness and redemption. To my thinking, this central Christian tenet stands out among all the rest of the major world religions.

That having been said, my worldview entails two very “un-Christian” perspectives. I expect that most Christians will see these characteristics as tightly linked, even inseparable. But, for me, they are distinctly unrelated. In fact, I did not come to adopt them at the same time in my life and, so far as I can recall, neither affected (or affects) my acceptance of the other.

These two heretical characteristics are:

1. I do not believe in the existence of any god. (BTW, I do not argue there isn’t, or cannot be, any such thing as a god. I have simply never been convinced in the existence of one.)

2. I do not find the edicts of God, as described in any Judeo-Christian scripture, to be moral, consistent, or just.

If you could convince me to reverse one, and only one, of these positions, which do you think would be more important for you to focus on?

Before you answer anything along the lines of, “Well, if you BELIEVED in God, you would also believe in the righteousness of his doctrine,” let me say: Perhaps. Though I don’t think so. I THINK (could be wrong) even if I believed in God, I would still find his proposition for pious living and salvation deeply flawed. Now, I know I CAN’T know precisely how I would feel if I actually believed. But I will argue it is possible to comprehend God as real and still renounce him. You can probably see where I’m going with this: Whether he is real or imaginary, there is no question Satan knows God a lot better than I do. Yet he still rebels. This is not to say I find anything at all appealing about Satan. But it does bear out that it is at least possible to know God and still reject him.

I accept (A) that I might be wrong about not believing in God and (B) if I AM wrong I’ll be spending most of eternity stewing in a lake of fire. I own that. It’s on me. (Why I’m OK with that is the subject of another conversation, in my opinion.)

So, knowing all that. And that I probably can’t be “saved” if I only incorporate one or the other principal into my worldview, which would you rather convince me of: Following God’s doctrine, believing it is good whether or not he exists? Or believing he is real?

Thanks for your attention and patience.
As you don't believe there is a God, who do you blame for the "edicts" you find so reprehensible?
I do believe in God, and find those "edicts" have wiped much wickedness from the earth.
 
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As you don't believe there is a God, who do you blame for the "edicts?"... ...[which I find] have wiped much wickedness from the earth.
Hello, At Peace. And thank you for the response.

It should come as no surprise I credit the composition of scripture to the men who, in their own eras, would have developed first their particular cultural customs and norms as a natural part of daily life, then codified them as oral tradition, finally dedicating these to writing.

If you like I am happy to expand upon my notions on this, but I expect you’ll have heard the general gist of it from others before me.

Also, I neither doubt nor fault you in believing scripture has contributed to the diminishing of wickedness. But I would not be honest with you were I to say I do as well.

Again, if you’d like me to offer one or more examples of my view on this, I am happy to do so. But it may needlessly and unintentionally entail me being careless regardling some aspect of your belief, which is not my purpose.

So, granting that at least one of us will have to share the world with the other for the rest of his/her life, and that (in any event) we will almost certainly not be sharing any afterlife together, if you had your druthers, would you rather I believed but rebelled? Or behaved piously but was inwardly atheist?
 
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Hello. A friendly atheist here. A question occurred to me the answer to which I’d like a range of opinions from among Christians. This is not a “gotchya” question. I am not fishing for any right or wrong answer to prove some point. Promise.

First, let me just say there are certain aspects of Christianity which I find truly beautiful, benevolent and inspiring; the most profound (in my opinion) being the principle of forgiveness and redemption. To my thinking, this central Christian tenet stands out among all the rest of the major world religions.

That having been said, my worldview entails two very “un-Christian” perspectives. I expect that most Christians will see these characteristics as tightly linked, even inseparable. But, for me, they are distinctly unrelated. In fact, I did not come to adopt them at the same time in my life and, so far as I can recall, neither affected (or affects) my acceptance of the other.

These two heretical characteristics are:

1. I do not believe in the existence of any god. (BTW, I do not argue there isn’t, or cannot be, any such thing as a god. I have simply never been convinced in the existence of one.)

2. I do not find the edicts of God, as described in any Judeo-Christian scripture, to be moral, consistent, or just.

If you could convince me to reverse one, and only one, of these positions, which do you think would be more important for you to focus on?

Before you answer anything along the lines of, “Well, if you BELIEVED in God, you would also believe in the righteousness of his doctrine,” let me say: Perhaps. Though I don’t think so. I THINK (could be wrong) even if I believed in God, I would still find his proposition for pious living and salvation deeply flawed. Now, I know I CAN’T know precisely how I would feel if I actually believed. But I will argue it is possible to comprehend God as real and still renounce him. You can probably see where I’m going with this: Whether he is real or imaginary, there is no question Satan knows God a lot better than I do. Yet he still rebels. This is not to say I find anything at all appealing about Satan. But it does bear out that it is at least possible to know God and still reject him.

I accept (A) that I might be wrong about not believing in God and (B) if I AM wrong I’ll be spending most of eternity stewing in a lake of fire. I own that. It’s on me. (Why I’m OK with that is the subject of another conversation, in my opinion.)

So, knowing all that. And that I probably can’t be “saved” if I only incorporate one or the other principal into my worldview, which would you rather convince me of: Following God’s doctrine, believing it is good whether or not he exists? Or believing he is real?

Thanks for your attention and patience.
Kirby D. P, you speak very well, and with great discipline. I can see you have what is known as "the wisdom that is from this world, and is sensual" meaning you use a lot of logical analytical reasoning to come up with your conclusions about the existence of God. Unfortunately Christians do not base their findings on this kind of logic as it is of this world. The Wisdom that comes down from above is totally unlike worldly wisdom. One depends on logical analytical facts, and the other is based on the "evidence" that only faith can give. The Apostle Paul warned the Church about these kinds of people in scripture.

Col 2:8 See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). (AMP)

To try, and get you to see these things would be a waste of time because the "natural man can not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolish unto him, neither can he know them for they are "spiritual" understood." (1 Cor 2:14)

A unbeliever is someone who knows the truth, but has made conscience decision not to believe what they know to be true.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

No one needs to try and convince you of anything, as you already know the truth, you just need to believe it.
 
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Kirby D. P, you speak very well, and with great discipline... ...No one needs to try and convince you of anything, as you already know the truth, you just need to believe it.
Thank you for the kind and thoughtful response.

Yes. I freely admit, I do view things from a decidedly materialist perspective. But I strive not to be hidebound by it. I am open to and deeply cherish sublime experiences. So I think (I hope) I am accessible to the spiritual. But mine may be the case of a person who, born blind, tries to imagine what a rainbow looks like.

I am familiar with the many scriptural injunctions to willfully adopt faith. But the skeptic in me can find countervailing verse, such as “Doubting Thomas,” etc., etc., and the arguable incoherence of verses describing the wise as foolish and vise versa. Still, while I don’t sense any particular spiritual resonance with these (or any) passages, neither do I find them any insurmountable hurdle to evidence of Truth in the Bible. In fact, in light of the notorious “Problem of Evil,” I think it would be outlandish of the scriptures that reconcile such a conflicted world did not require understanding that runs deeper and more nuanced than any strict literal reading of the text.

But, getting back to my original question, can you discern whether you could wish me either belief or piety, assuming you could not wish me both? Or does the question strike you as meaninglessly illogical as the whole “can God create something so big not even he can move it” red herring?

(By the way, in my experience, atheist skeptics like me are guilty of hurling a number of specious red herrings at believers that don’t get the obvious rebuttals they deserve. Lemme’ know if you’d like me to lay out a few.)


:wink:
 
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can you discern whether you could wish me either belief or piety, assuming you could not wish me both?
In your quest for truth, do not use your head, (physical mind) because you will never find it that way. The heart is where God speaks to man, for it is only with the heart man understands, and finds spiritual truth.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean upon your own understanding.
 
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In your quest for truth, do not use your head, (physical mind...

Hi, Curtis. Keep in mind you’re speaking to a materialist atheist. So when I am urged to think or feel using my heart instead of my brain, to me it sounds like being asked to think with my kidney. I suspect it feels similar to when believers are asked to use hard cold logic to evaluate the case of the resurrection: does not compute.

I don’t know how to convince any believers of this, but I really, really, really try to be receptive to any sensation of the divine. It just hasn’t happened. I will not decide to first believe and then see what God offers me. Paul was not obliged to render such presuppositional faith yet he, (essentially), was shown God enough to (essentially, again) found the original organized Church.

I don’t hold any grudge against God that he has not converted me through direct personal revelation, but neither will I denigrate myself for not deciding to believe in a deity who has not first evidenced himself to me in some way that is not immediately clear and obvious.

You see my predicament, yes?
 
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Hello, At Peace. And thank you for the response.
It should come as no surprise I credit the composition of scripture to the men who, in their own eras, would have developed first their particular cultural customs and norms as a natural part of daily life, then codified them as oral tradition, finally dedicating these to writing.
Though this is how you perceive the "rules" were brought to their/our knowledge, it doesn't address why you feel they are unjust.

If you like I am happy to expand upon my notions on this, but I expect you’ll have heard the general gist of it from others before me.
How about supplying one example we can work on?

Also, I neither doubt nor fault you in believing scripture has contributed to the diminishing of wickedness. But I would not be honest with you were I to say I do as well.
Again, without the "edict" you have in mind, I can't address this.
If we are discussing the ten commandments, surely you can't find fault with "don't kill, don't commit adultery. don't lie, etc.
As for the rest of the Mosaic Law's additions, most were annulled by the new testament. (Dietary restrictions, circumcision, feast days, etc.)

Again, if you’d like me to offer one or more examples of my view on this, I am happy to do so. But it may needlessly and unintentionally entail me being careless regarding some aspect of your belief, which is not my purpose.
Feel free to expound on your POV.

So, granting that at least one of us will have to share the world with the other for the rest of his/her life, and that (in any event) we will almost certainly not be sharing any afterlife together, if you had your druthers, would you rather I believed but rebelled? Or behaved piously but was inwardly atheist?
Do you believe there is an afterlife?
And if there is no God, who is running the show in the afterlife?
 
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...How about supplying one example we can work on?... ...Feel free to expound on your POV... ...Do you believe there is an afterlife?
And if there is no God, who is running the show in the afterlife?
Wow, that is quite the buffet, At Peace. Thanks.

I do not believe in any afterlife. I cannot claim there certainly isn’t one or can’t be one. And I have not always held this view. I came to it gradually and there was never any “Ahah!” moment I can point to. When I became aware that this was my perspective, I admit it did feel a little unnerving –– most people I knew at the time either believed in one or said they did. Today it gives me no discomfort. Nor do I wish or hope there is an afterlife. If there is an afterlife, so be it. You won’t hear me complain. The universe works the way the universe works. I will say I find all the different possible permutations of an afterlife quite dizzying, and, enjoyable though some may be, I have never felt, “THERE! That’s the heaven I want to go to.” One example of why: In principle, I would love to spend eternity with my children. But (assuming I merited admission to Heaven) that would probably mean also spending eternity with my parents. I suppose I could get used to that. But they’d also be spending eternity with their parents, and so on, and so on, all the way back to Adam. The vast majority of that lineage are manifestly strangers to me. Of course, maybe when I get to heaven, I would feel differently. But then I wouldn’t be precisely me. I’d be a slightly different version of me. And what I find attractive is the notion of always being with my children without having to hang out with the whole family tree at the picnic. You see why I’m lukewarm on the idea.

As far as who might be running the show in the afterlife, perhaps it is God. But I have good reason to suspect he might be just as obscure there as he is here, despite the various creeds to the contrary. Anyway, whatever the case, if it is his sandbox, I’ll play according to his rules there as I do, and as I encounter and comprehend them, here.

Sorry to ramble on. Down to brass tacks. To use one example of what I find disagreeable in all Abrahamic religions, one upon which the scriptural content is about as clear as it is on any other issue I might critique, I cannot abide (what I perceive is) the explicit sanctioning of slavery in the OT, the NT and the Quran.

I know lots of atheists love to bray on about how, “The Bible PROMOTES slavery.” It does not, so far as I can tell. But it does sanction it. It does not condemn it, while it does condemn my zeal for lobster (full disclosure: my background is Jewish) and a host of other things which pale in comparison to the vulgarity of human bondage. The OT gives Jews clear, explicit instructions on how to conduct slavery in a way that is acceptable to God. The NT explicitly counsels slaves to obey their masters as the faithful would obey him. I do not find this at all morally sufficient.

In my heathen opinion, the only morally adequate advice to give to any slave is, “Escape if you can, rebel if you must.”

I won’t run on or try to anticipate any apologia you may know of to offer me. I am interested in having it unvarnished and unprejudiced as you see it.

So that’s the test case I would discuss if you are offering me a choice. God’s apparent sanction of slavery.

Thanks!
 
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Wow, that is quite the buffet, At Peace. Thanks.
I do not believe in any afterlife. I cannot claim there certainly isn’t one or can’t be one. And I have not always held this view. I came to it gradually and there was never any “Ahah!” moment I can point to. When I became aware that this was my perspective, I admit it did feel a little unnerving –– most people I knew at the time either believed in one or said they did. Today it gives me no discomfort. Nor do I wish or hope there is an afterlife. If there is an afterlife, so be it. You won’t hear me complain. The universe works the way the universe works. I will say I find all the different possible permutations of an afterlife quite dizzying, and, enjoyable though some may be, I have never felt, “THERE! That’s the heaven I want to go to.” One example of why: In principle, I would love to spend eternity with my children. But (assuming I merited admission to Heaven) that would probably mean also spending eternity with my parents. I suppose I could get used to that. But they’d also be spending eternity with their parents, and so on, and so on, all the way back to Adam. The vast majority of that lineage are manifestly strangers to me. Of course, maybe when I get to heaven, I would feel differently. But then I wouldn’t be precisely me. I’d be a slightly different version of me. And what I find attractive is the notion of always being with my children without having to hang out with the whole family tree at the picnic. You see why I’m lukewarm on the idea.
OK, you don't believe in an afterlife.
We are but for a few decades and then, no more.
Without a belief in God, and in the things He promises to the faithful, (heaven, paradise, eternal joy, etc), the only alternative is nothingness...to hope for.
As I can't prove there is an afterlife, I must use the OT prophesies that have come true to corroborate or support my beliefs.
Thousands of years before Christ Jesus came, scripture pointed to many signs that were fulfilled at the time of Jesus' walk on earth.
Too many to be ignored.
If many men over many centuries foretold of the oldest president, from New York, who tweeted incessantly, broke all the old models of diplomacy, was married many times, and was very wealthy; don't you think that after seeing all that come about that I would have faith in anyother prophesies concerning him?
If the prophesies went on to say that solar power would overtake oil as the fuel of the world, and that Hawaii would be abandoned because of Navy accident with a nuclear weapon, wouldn't you invest in solar power and get away from Hawaii?
Or would you doubt the prophesy?
The historical facts concerning Jesus cannot be refuted. He promises a return with vengeance on this world.
Having seen the first prophesies come true, I can't doubt any other prophesies...including a day of judgement and a heaven for the faithful.
Besides all that, I have seen other things come true as well.
Jesus promised us we can be free of sin.
His words are true in my life: proof of His really having existed apart from the promise foretold of Him.

As far as who might be running the show in the afterlife, perhaps it is God. But I have good reason to suspect he might be just as obscure there as he is here, despite the various creeds to the contrary. Anyway, whatever the case, if it is his sandbox, I’ll play according to his rules there as I do, and as I encounter and comprehend them, here.
As you believe in neither, the point is moot.
To imagine things concerning realms you don't believe in is...unhealthy.

Sorry to ramble on. Down to brass tacks. To use one example of what I find disagreeable in all Abrahamic religions, one upon which the scriptural content is about as clear as it is on any other issue I might critique, I cannot abide (what I perceive is) the explicit sanctioning of slavery in the OT, the NT and the Quran.
If you really examined the outcome of the "slaves" in the OT, you would have noticed that they were treated as righteously as their own families.
Lev 25 speaks of a year of jubilee when servants (slaves) are redeemed. (Certainly a prophesy realized today in those freed from sin)
Slaves is a word only used once in the OT, and only once in the NT.
Servants and bondsmen were usually hired (in today's nomenclature), or were working off debts.
The MISUSE of scripture to allow slavery, especially based on race, was just another devilish trick to sully the name of Christ and His church.
What did Jesus teach?
Two laws...love God above all else and your neighbor as yourself.
Hardly room for slavery there, eh?

I know lots of atheists love to bray on about how, “The Bible PROMOTES slavery.” It does not, so far as I can tell. But it does sanction it. It does not condemn it, while it does condemn my zeal for lobster (full disclosure: my background is Jewish) and a host of other things which pale in comparison to the vulgarity of human bondage. The OT gives Jews clear, explicit instructions on how to conduct slavery in a way that is acceptable to God. The NT explicitly counsels slaves to obey their masters as the faithful would obey him. I do not find this at all morally sufficient.
Most of this I touched on above.
In the NT, "masters" always (?) refers to the boss, at work.
Do you obey your boss at work?
What would happen if you didn't?
As the word "employee" doesn't appear in the OT or NT, master-servant fills the void.
"Bondsmen" worked to fulfill a debt.

In my heathen opinion, the only morally adequate advice to give to any slave is, “Escape if you can, rebel if you must.”
To the unjustly enslaved I would say the same thing.
But what do you say to the man working off a debt?
Or to the man under the tutelage of a master carpenter or electrician? We call that a student-tradesman relationship nowadays. At GM, they had "interns" for summer jobs.
I myself was a "contract" employee for twenty two years.

I won’t run on or try to anticipate any apologia you may know of to offer me. I am interested in having it unvarnished and unprejudiced as you see it.
So that’s the test case I would discuss if you are offering me a choice. God’s apparent sanction of slavery.
Thanks!
As the Egyptians enslaved the Jews, unjustly and violently, do you really think the Jews would do the same thing to others?
I repeat, the word "slave" is only used once in the OT and only once in the NT.

I have no idea concerning the Koran.
 
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Hi, At Peace. I have composed an absolutely jaw droppimg (hardly) response to your comments... on my computer. And I now find the WiFi is out, restricting me to the Dark Age technology of my iPhone to reach the outside world. Please bear with.
 
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If you really examined the outcome of the "slaves" in the OT, you would have noticed that they were treated as righteously as their own families...
I don’t doubt you see good reason for thinking Biblical prophesy bears out. I won’t get into any close examination of the evidence here for fear of runaway conversational tangents, except to say I have not come across anything that convinced me in the reality of exactly those same prophecies.

As to the subject of slavery as depicted in the Bible, since you take pains to point out the book only uses the word once, it is then no quibble for me to point out the original sources never use the word at all. “Slave” is English. The original sources for the Pentateuch and the Septuagint are some combination of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

If you agree that each time some sort of master-servant relationship is discussed, it is purely to serve as a parable of how we are to orient ourselves in our personal relationship with God, I will agree and consider it may well be a very instructive reading of it. But, even restricting ourselves to the internal logic of the Bible, it lays out unambiguous regulation of a slave trade, separate and apart from what we would call indentured servitude. Actual sales prices for people are enumerated, different rules apply to Jewish slaves versus gentile slaves. Certain classes of slaves are specified as permissible to hand down as property from father to son, etc. (With your indulgence, I’ll ask that we only demand ch. and verse citations of each other for specific points. I know my stuff, broadly speaking, but marginalia always breaks my train of thought. Sorry.)

For clarity’s sake, since we are not dealing with these texts in any of their original languages, I’ll suggest that, if a person wakes up in the morning, goes to the person he or she works for and says, “I’m leaving,” and their ‘employer’ can rightfully forbid it, that person is a “slave.” I find this definition answers to the condition in every era and language.

Semantically, am I a “servant” to my employer? Or to the bank if my mortgage devours the lion’s share of my income? Sure. Why not. But I can quit my job. And it would be bizarre in the extreme to live in abject servitude to the bank. Even if I stiffed them on the rent, I would go to jail. I would not be forced into slavery.

It is possible to get down in the weeds about even more different “flavors” of slaves in the Bible, from war booty to sex slaves. And, yes, one CAN find material (“Love they neighbor as thyself.”) that would appear to be in conflict with the owning of slaves. But (strictly according to the Bible) the Hebrews did take slaves from among the conquered Canaanite communities. AFTER (obviously) their redemption from Egypt. Hand-wavy declarations that the Canaanites were sinners in God’s eye to me take nothing away from the fact we are told, when they were not subjected to genocide, they were forced into slavery. My grandfather and my great uncle fought in WWII. No one would ever have suggested that my family was entitled to a German or a Japanese servant after VE or VJ days.

But the simple fact is, if one is to take the Word at its word, it endorses arrangements between people wherein one human owns another as property. Under no circumstances do I find this at all palatable. Today, even if a murderer kills an entire family but one, that killer is not handed over to the survivor as chattel. On arrest, he or she is tried and serves a term of imprisonment as punishment, or even submits to a sentence of death (which is yet a different problem I have with the justice promulgated in scripture). And a captured jewel thief is never obliged as a bonded servant to the victims of his crimes.

So, completing the great circle trod since my original question, if only because of the Bible’s lack of an absolutely, unmistakeably, crystal clear injunction that, “Thou shalt not hold dominion over your fellow human;” if I believed in God, I think I would sense a moral duty to rebel.

Which is part of why I asked the question in the first place. Speaking strictly for yourself, would you rather I believe? Or obey?
 
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I don’t doubt you see good reason for thinking Biblical prophesy bears out. I won’t get into any close examination of the evidence here for fear of runaway conversational tangents, except to say I have not come across anything that convinced me in the reality of exactly those same prophecies.
As to the subject of slavery as depicted in the Bible, since you take pains to point out the book only uses the word once, it is then no quibble for me to point out the original sources never use the word at all. “Slave” is English. The original sources for the Pentateuch and the Septuagint are some combination of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
If the translations of old languages uses the word "slave" even once, I would surely think they would have used it frequently if your POV was accurate.
They must have known what slaves were, and also the intangibles surrounding slavery.
But they didn't refer to slavery at all.

If you agree that each time some sort of master-servant relationship is discussed, it is purely to serve as a parable of how we are to orient ourselves in our personal relationship with God, I will agree and consider it may well be a very instructive reading of it.
"Each time" is a bit broad, as my knowledge of the situation, (slavery/master-servant), is a tad light.
I'll agree to "most times", especially in the NT.
I have an idea...
As you surmise that slavery was happening in the OT, let's look at the captivity of the Jews by Assyria and Persia.
The Jews were certainly war prizes. They served their new masters. They couldn't leave.
There punishment was because of their rebellion against God, and fitting.
But do we read of any outright cruelty or torture?
The OT was well documented by the Jews, and certainly would have included such barbarity committed against them if it had happened.
They were captives and on other occasions had taken captives, but we don't see the physical cruelty committed by the early American and Spanish and English slave traders.
Comparatively speaking, it was almost civil in the OT...(unless you can provide some countering information).
With the modern mind-set I can't ever agree with any kind of slavery, but in the old days, war resulted in slaves for the winners.
What they did with them is the main issue.

But, even restricting ourselves to the internal logic of the Bible, it lays out unambiguous regulation of a slave trade, separate and apart from what we would call indentured servitude. Actual sales prices for people are enumerated, different rules apply to Jewish slaves versus gentile slaves. Certain classes of slaves are specified as permissible to hand down as property from father to son, etc. (With your indulgence, I’ll ask that we only demand ch. and verse citations of each other for specific points. I know my stuff, broadly speaking, but marginalia always breaks my train of thought. Sorry.)
You sure could have supplied the ch. and verse for this.
If this is the basis of your argument, let's see it.

For clarity’s sake, since we are not dealing with these texts in any of their original languages, I’ll suggest that, if a person wakes up in the morning, goes to the person he or she works for and says, “I’m leaving,” and their ‘employer’ can rightfully forbid it, that person is a “slave.” I find this definition answers to the condition in every era and language.
Did this ever happen in the bible?
Were there any uprisings by the oppressed?

Semantically, am I a “servant” to my employer? Or to the bank if my mortgage devours the lion’s share of my income? Sure. Why not. But I can quit my job. And it would be bizarre in the extreme to live in abject servitude to the bank. Even if I stiffed them on the rent, I would go to jail. I would not be forced into slavery.
Can't you see the similitude of the two positions?
Slavery, as we know it from early American history, is no different than prison.
BTW, the early Christians in America fought against slavery many years before the Civil War.

It is possible to get down in the weeds about even more different “flavors” of slaves in the Bible, from war booty to sex slaves. And, yes, one CAN find material (“Love they neighbor as thyself.”) that would appear to be in conflict with the owning of slaves. But (strictly according to the Bible) the Hebrews did take slaves from among the conquered Canaanite communities. AFTER (obviously) their redemption from Egypt. Hand-wavy declarations that the Canaanites were sinners in God’s eye to me take nothing away from the fact we are told, when they were not subjected to genocide, they were forced into slavery. My grandfather and my great uncle fought in WWII. No one would ever have suggested that my family was entitled to a German or a Japanese servant after VE or VJ days.
The "conflicts" you site are the result of a new covenant with God.
We are not obliged to live in a society that owns people for labor.
You castigate the Jews (OT) for their slave taking when the NT Christians agree with you.

But the simple fact is, if one is to take the Word at its word, it endorses arrangements between people wherein one human owns another as property. Under no circumstances do I find this at all palatable. Today, even if a murderer kills an entire family but one, that killer is not handed over to the survivor as chattel. On arrest, he or she is tried and serves a term of imprisonment as punishment, or even submits to a sentence of death (which is yet a different problem I have with the justice promulgated in scripture). And a captured jewel thief is never obliged as a bonded servant to the victims of his crimes.
Your POV was addressed, and corrected, two thousand years ago.

So, completing the great circle trod since my original question, if only because of the Bible’s lack of an absolutely, unmistakeably, crystal clear injunction that, “Thou shalt not hold dominion over your fellow human;” if I believed in God, I think I would sense a moral duty to rebel.
If "Love God above all else and your neighbor as you love yourself" doesn't qualify, your "circle" is missing part of the arc.
You've raised a false position to argue about.

Which is part of why I asked the question in the first place. Speaking strictly for yourself, would you rather I believe? Or obey?
You don't believe in God, (or an afterlife) because slavery was once "par for the course". (Not at all the same as early American slavery)
Even though slavery has been abolished by the God you don't believe in, you maintain it as your reasoning.
You can't use a deed done by a God you don't believe in, to refuse to believe in God.
That sounds counter intuitive to me.
I'ld rather believe in the God who has freed the slaves.
 
Active Member
...You can't use a deed done by a God you don't believe in, to refuse to believe in God.
That sounds counter intuitive to me.
I'ld rather believe in the God who has freed the slaves.
I rather strongly disagree with any equivocation of slavery with voluntary work-for-hire or criminal imprisonment. Here is yet another way to consider the topic at hand: If you were subjected to the conditions we’re discussing, would you consider yourself to be “free”? Or “not free?”

Also, comparing living conditions under biblical slavery versus those of the Colonial era erroneously deflects on two fronts:

(1) I know it is common apologetics to cite the egregious horrors of colonial slavery and claim biblical slavery can’t possibly have been as awful as that. But this does not endow biblical slaves with any relative freedom. They are deprived of autonomy and self determination. That’s slavery. Plain and simple.

(2) There is no evidence that biblical slavery was at all preferable to colonial slavery beyond sheer conjecture. There are individual examples of slaves reaching relatively high levels of status in antiquity. But before anyone gets the idea this was “slavery ‘light,’” one need look no further than Ex 21:21-22…

“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.”

Also, keeping in mind the whole concept of universal human rights is only a few hundred years old, I don’t find the assertion that biblical slave holders felt obliged to be on their best behavior, within the laws as enumerated in codices like the Bible, to be a credible line of argument.

Instead the OT stipulates terms of Hebrew ownership of other Hebrews, specifying lifelong slavery for daughters sold into bondage… ( EX 21: 2-11 ) …and establishes the legal basis for and code of regulations in international slave trade…

Lev 25:44-46 –– “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may BUY* slaves. You may also BUY* some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your PROPERTY*. You can bequeath them to your children as INHERITED PROPERTY* and can make them SLAVES FOR LIFE*, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
(* - Emphasis added.)

1,000 years hence, the NT in no wise forbids slavery. Though its endorsement of slavery does not leave much room for interpretation. The (to me) insidious verse is Ephesians: 6-5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Among English translations, a few use the word “servants,” but a wide majority specify “slaves.” (Eph 6:5)

( Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. )

Any claim that these phenomena being customary in “olden times” mitigates the evil of slavery back then strongly militates for an imperfect God, to say the least. Even viewing all the foregoing in the most charitable light possible it is still a far cry from, “Hey! Do not own other people.” If God is all just, all knowing and everlasting, either slavery is still permissible under the strictures of Exodus and Leviticus, or these passages do not mean what they appear to say.

Finally, I think you may have misread me. Slavery as described in the Bible is absolutely in no way a reason WHY I don’t believe in God. Just as I said “the universe works the way the universe works,” if God exists, not all the unbelieving in the world on my part is going to make him NOT exist.

I don’t say this combatively or in any way to insinuate you should not believe as you do. I simply have not experienced sufficient evidence to convince me God exists.

Separate and apart from that, I find biblical policy on slavery immoral and amoral.

For me these are two entirely distinct theses. It would not surprise me if you think such a statement seems nonsensical. But does it seem so nonsensical as to make me appear either dishonest or suffering some form of denial?

I keep asking, if you had to choose one for me, would it be belief or obedience?

Thanks, as ever, for any thoughts.
 
Loyal Member
I rather strongly disagree with any equivocation of slavery with voluntary work-for-hire or criminal imprisonment. Here is yet another way to consider the topic at hand: If you were subjected to the conditions we’re discussing, would you consider yourself to be “free”? Or “not free?”
It isn't an "equivocation", it is an alternate understanding of "servant" and "master".
Please show me the verses you use to describe the captor-slave dynamic that so concerns you.

Also, comparing living conditions under biblical slavery versus those of the Colonial era erroneously deflects on two fronts:
(1) I know it is common apologetics to cite the egregious horrors of colonial slavery and claim biblical slavery can’t possibly have been as awful as that. But this does not endow biblical slaves with any relative freedom. They are deprived of autonomy and self determination. That’s slavery. Plain and simple.
(2) There is no evidence that biblical slavery was at all preferable to colonial slavery beyond sheer conjecture. There are individual examples of slaves reaching relatively high levels of status in antiquity. But before anyone gets the idea this was “slavery ‘light,’” one need look no further than Ex 21:21-22…
There we go...thanks for a verse to look at.
Had you included verse 20, you would have been able to distinguish "servant" from "slave".
Men (women) were commodities in those days.They counted as wealth.
But they were not taken in war, they were working to live. Like we do now.
Those servants had duties and jobs to fulfill, but during the year of release,(Deut 15:12-15), they were free to leave.
Men were trafficked in those days, but not out of spite or conquest.

“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.”
My version of the bible calls your "slaves", servants.
It is your version of scripture that has hardened your heart.

Also, keeping in mind the whole concept of universal human rights is only a few hundred years old, I don’t find the assertion that biblical slave holders felt obliged to be on their best behavior, within the laws as enumerated in codices like the Bible, to be a credible line of argument.
Instead the OT stipulates terms of Hebrew ownership of other Hebrews, specifying lifelong slavery for daughters sold into bondage… ( EX 21: 2-11 ) …and establishes the legal basis for and code of regulations in international slave trade…

Lev 25:44-46 –– “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may BUY* slaves. You may also BUY* some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your PROPERTY*. You can bequeath them to your children as INHERITED PROPERTY* and can make them SLAVES FOR LIFE*, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
(* - Emphasis added.)
You can't "buy" something that isn't for sale.
The poor would sell themselves in order to survive.
They were servants, not slaves.

1,000 years hence, the NT in no wise forbids slavery. Though its endorsement of slavery does not leave much room for interpretation. The (to me) insidious verse is Ephesians: 6-5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Among English translations, a few use the word “servants,” but a wide majority specify “slaves.” (Eph 6:5) ( Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. )
You should be using the original bibles, the King James Version...which calls them servants.
Newer versions are published with the intent of diluting God's word.
I can see how your version has twisted the servant-boss dynamic into something evil.

In these times, today, is a maid a slave?
How about a butler?
How about somebody who picks crops?
How about contract labor?
They can't leave...if they expect to get paid.

Any claim that these phenomena being customary in “olden times” mitigates the evil of slavery back then strongly militates for an imperfect God, to say the least. Even viewing all the foregoing in the most charitable light possible it is still a far cry from, “Hey! Do not own other people.” If God is all just, all knowing and everlasting, either slavery is still permissible under the strictures of Exodus and Leviticus, or these passages do not mean what they appear to say.
They don't mean what YOU make them appear to say.
Were there ever any "slave" revolts by these allegedly oppressed folks?
Lynchings?

Finally, I think you may have misread me. Slavery as described in the Bible is absolutely in no way a reason WHY I don’t believe in God. Just as I said “the universe works the way the universe works,” if God exists, not all the unbelieving in the world on my part is going to make him NOT exist.
I don’t say this combatively or in any way to insinuate you should not believe as you do. I simply have not experienced sufficient evidence to convince me God exists.
If that is truly the case, (not combatively), you must realize you are objecting to the labor relations department of antiquity, and not against God.

Separate and apart from that, I find biblical policy on slavery immoral and amoral.
For me these are two entirely distinct theses. It would not surprise me if you think such a statement seems nonsensical. But does it seem so nonsensical as to make me appear either dishonest or suffering some form of denial?
If you don't believe in God, why do you use a bible to form anti God opinions?
Shouldn't you be using history books written by non-religious sources?

I keep asking, if you had to choose one for me, would it be belief or obedience?
They are inseparable.
I have been on this site for months trying to get through to folks that disobedience to God is the utmost manifestation of unbelief.

Thanks, as ever, for any thoughts.
It sure makes me glad that in the NT slavery is a non-issue, as we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Those oppressing others are not Christians.
Those working for me are not slaves, and can ask for a raise any time they think they have earned it.
But they must supply their own homes, clothes, and food...something the "masters" of yore supplied their servants.
 
Loyal Member
Hi Kirby, I just want to say I enjoy your threads and the discussions you start. I like this 'acid test' of Christianity you push.

These two heretical characteristics are:

1. I do not believe in the existence of any god. (BTW, I do not argue there isn’t, or cannot be, any such thing as a god. I have simply never been convinced in the existence of one.)

If you don't see all the evidence around you and what you using to see it as evidence of evidence of a great Creator, I can't help you with that. It is simply insanity to me.

As Isaac Newton says 'In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence'. or 'He who thinks half-heartedly will not believe in God; but he who really thinks has to believe in God'.

2. I do not find the edicts of God, as described in any Judeo-Christian scripture, to be moral, consistent, or just.

If you could convince me to reverse one, and only one, of these positions, which do you think would be more important for you to focus on?
This is the only question worthwhile discussing. As it determines whether or not we should care to serve Him.

God is moral, consistent and just in scripture. It is us who fail at 1. thinking properly and 2. language skills. Having said that, please feel free to raise any argument you have that you believe proves otherwise. This is one of the chief reasons for a Christian discussion forum.

We can be so tainted by our environment that our understanding of what is just can easily be warped. Many fail to read passages to the end or start from the beginning.

Prove God evil and Christianity is debunked. The message we have heard from the beginning is that God is light with no darkness in Him at all 1 John 1:5.

Before you answer anything along the lines of, “Well, if you BELIEVED in God, you would also believe in the righteousness of his doctrine,” let me say: Perhaps. Though I don’t think so. I THINK (could be wrong) even if I believed in God, I would still find his proposition for pious living and salvation deeply flawed.
Don't beat around the bush. Just 'say' what is on your mind. Why would you find it flawed?

Now, I know I CAN’T know precisely how I would feel if I actually believed. But I will argue it is possible to comprehend God as real and still renounce him. You can probably see where I’m going with this: Whether he is real or imaginary, there is no question Satan knows God a lot better than I do. Yet he still rebels. This is not to say I find anything at all appealing about Satan. But it does bear out that it is at least possible to know God and still reject him.
The devil did not reject God. He chose pride and rejected hating it and other wickedness. All this at a considerable level of intent. Because of this, God had him removed. We can see it as 'he rejected God'. But when people fail to grasp God is 100% committed to righteousness, it is so easy for a terrible miss interpretation. "Serve me or leave'', for example.

I accept (A) that I might be wrong about not believing in God and (B) if I AM wrong I’ll be spending most of eternity stewing in a lake of fire. I own that. It’s on me. (Why I’m OK with that is the subject of another conversation, in my opinion.)
You don't go to hell because the charge against you is A. ''Wrong religion' or B. 'Never believed God existed'. You go to hell / The verdict is:

John 3:19 This is the verdict: Light (Jesus) has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
 
Loyal Member
I don’t hold any grudge against God that he has not converted me through direct personal revelation, but neither will I denigrate myself for not deciding to believe in a deity who has not first evidenced himself to me in some way that is not immediately clear and obvious.

You see my predicament, yes?
God has evidenced Himself to you through His creation. But that is, as I have said and you have acknowledged with regards to the devil, rather meaningless.

The revelation that links God to Jesus is a revelation given to us. Peter, the most devout disciple. Walked with Jesus. Walked on water. Yet needed this revlation. Matt 16:16-17 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Calling Jesus, Messiah and Son of living God, is per Isa 9:6 / mainstream Judaism in that day, calling Him God.

1 Cor 12:3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.

So the Christian advice to you is for you to come to God on His terms. His terms: Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Matt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me''. IE Lay our lives down for Him as He has done for us. A marriage is what God wants and that requires both parties to 'come to the party'.
 
Loyal Member
So that’s the test case I would discuss if you are offering me a choice. God’s apparent sanction of slavery
OT slavery was more employment contracts. You cannot compare it to slavery of Africans to Africans, Europe and North America.

I rather strongly disagree with any equivocation of slavery with voluntary work-for-hire or criminal imprisonment.
As we all should.

Here is yet another way to consider the topic at hand: If you were subjected to the conditions we’re discussing, would you consider yourself to be “free”? Or “not free?”
I find that quote ironic. Because when we become Christians, God puts us as sheep among wolves. He places us in uncomfortable situations. Those in horrible positions are told to serve God where they are. In bondage or what not. God will deliver as He sees fit. Christian teaching is.... if we cannot reach the wicked, we may as well leave the earth 1 Cor 5:10.

We can add to uncomfortable situations, understanding we have on all those who have deformities. We are all given talents. Some five, some one. Those in slavery of sort will be like those given one. They still have no excuse for not serving God with the 'one' they have Matt 25:14-30.

“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.”
It is key to understand the meaning of punishment here. The punishment that the owner must not endure is death. The context of this passage was the death penalty. It is merely saying, 'Do not kill the owner if the slave does not die'. Exo 21:10 Anyone (owner included) who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. Regarding punishment for not killing, where the punishment is not to be death, we read in Exo 21:26-27 An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

Now you must understand that slaves were slaves because they had a debt to pay or were very poor and wanted employment. Deut 15:11-14, Exodus 22:3 but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed. “Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft.

Anyone who kidnaps someone for slavery like the slave traders of Africans. Exodus 21:16 “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession''.

When there were grey areas on punishment, not mentioned specifically in scripture, there was a panel of elders to oversee the decision of punishment. They would use this scripture as a guideline: Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God and Leviticus 25:43 You are not to rule over them with harshness. You are to fear your God.

Instead the OT stipulates terms of Hebrew ownership of other Hebrews, specifying lifelong slavery for daughters sold into bondage… ( EX 21: 2-11 ) …and establishes the legal basis for and code of regulations in international slave trade…
You will need to quote the actual verse and we can discuss it further. This verse should provide some context Deut 23:15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master.

1,000 years hence, the NT in no wise forbids slavery. Though its endorsement of slavery does not leave much room for interpretation. The (to me) insidious verse is Ephesians: 6-5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Among English translations, a few use the word “servants,” but a wide majority specify “slaves.” (Eph 6:5)

( Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. )
As I mentioned above, God wants to use us in these predicaments. This is an instruction to the slave that converts to Christianity. It applies to an employee to employer relationship too. It is not an endorsement of ...African type... slavery.

Any claim that these phenomena being customary in “olden times” mitigates the evil of slavery back then strongly militates for an imperfect God, to say the least. Even viewing all the foregoing in the most charitable light possible it is still a far cry from, “Hey! Do not own other people.” If God is all just, all knowing and everlasting, either slavery is still permissible under the strictures of Exodus and Leviticus, or these passages do not mean what they appear to say.
What I find unbelievable is the serious lack of high level discernment of Judaism. These people....STONED TO DEATH....anyone caught in a grievous sin. Yet we now assume they were ok with extreme slavery? Rape? We should not even need to go into the nitty gritty of scripture to grasp there be explanations and context to the cherry picked accusations.

Separate and apart from that, I find biblical policy on slavery immoral and amoral.
We have to evaluate all the evidence properly before we pass judgment.
 
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...You can't "buy" something that isn't for sale... ...They were servants, not slaves.

I think we’re talking past each other a bit through neither of our own faults. I think, instead, it has something to do with the top-down, bird’s eye view our conversation has had so far on this bit of biblical doctrine. With your indulgence, I’ll try to trim back some of the giant squid’s arms and lay out a specific case study that might get us on more tractable footing.

First, I’ll stay away from any mention of slaves/servants. And I won’t set it in any specific historical era.

Imagine you are a nine-year-old girl in a Jewish family. Your father comes to you and tells you he has sold you to a millionaire, and that your new owner has come to collect you. Naturally, you are horrified and traumatized by the event, but eventually you get over all that. The millionaire provides you with comfortable lodging and furnishes all your basic needs: food, water, clothing, medical attention, etc., etc. The only work that is required of you is to do the laundry of the household and fetch the groceries at market. You are never abused nor even treated unpleasantly by your master and his family.

One day, a few years later, you meet a very nice young man at market and the two of you strike up a friendship. Your market schedules allow you to see each other on a regular basis and your friendship eventually blossoms into romantic love.

He himself is poor, but he has a steady job and earns enough to provide for a family. He asks you to marry him. You go back to the millionaire’s household and you explain to your master you would like to leave and go marry the young man. As nicely as he can, the millionaire simply forbids it. Maybe he lays out his reasons why or maybe he says you asking his reasons why is obstreperous and he is not obliged to tell you. Either way, he forbids you to leave.

In your opinion, does or does not the millionaire have clear authority for his actions based in scripture?
 
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In your opinion, does or does not the millionaire have clear authority for his actions based in scripture?
No. We need to read the scripture on female slaves properly. Them staying 'slaves' was more for their protection. Like permanent employment. They would only be with a good master. If they ever had issues with their master, they would / could raise them and leave. Slaves that wanted to leave could leave at anytime Deut 23:15. The new 'master' was not allowed to report them. He would be punished. Now we must read Deut 23:15 until we fully grasp it. It literally provides the high level view of all scripture on slavery.

Other concerns:

- Were they raped by the owner. No. But if yes, the owner would be put to death. Only the rapist. Never the victim. Deut 22:25-27.
- Were they forced into marriage? No. Mutual consent has been required from day one.
- Could a master have sex with his slave outside of marriage. Yes, but he would be punished. As would anyone else who did it. Not death, as we are not talking about rape. Lev 19:20-22.
- Could a master have more then one wife? Yes. However scripture as a whole promotes monogamy. In the OT it did accept a guy looking after his late brother's wife. Or a similar scenario. The rules on sex would still apply. No sexual immorality like orgies.

We must not assume the worst. Just because scripture says the girl cannot go free. She can. She is just not forced to go free. Some owners, didn't want to extend the contract. The law forced them to continue to look after the woman.
 

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