One of the things that atheists frequently have stocked in their arsenals is a variety of different statements that amount to “Your God is an amoral jerk”. An example of this is judgement on Biblical slavery.
Just to clarify, I do not condone slavery or racism or any violation of human rights. And neither does the Bible. How can I support this?
First I will show how God completely promotes the rights and equality of mankind. Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Therefore, Genesis 9:6: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” The extremity of the punishment conveys the severity of the crime.
Secondly, slavery in Biblical times was much different from the terrible connotation it now holds. It wasn’t based on race but rather on economy, and was much more similar to indentured servanthood than 17th century slavery. When someone couldn’t pay their debts they were given the opportunity to commit themselves to a master to serve in their household instead of living on the streets to beg and probably starve to death. This could only lawfully be done by the servant’s full consent. They were to be paid, justly treated, and released after six or seven years, unless they decide to stay in their master’s care.
The Bible has many more passages about how masters were to treat their slaves than it has about the slaves themselves. It was an element of society that would provide relief for those who could not provide for themselves or their families, and any corruption from that original construct was man’s doing, not God’s.
Ultimately, the Bible’s purpose is not to create an earthly utopian society free from all corruption. It’s purpose is to show the way to salvation through Christ. The way the Bible most often approaches issues of immorality and injustice is to first change the heart of the people, not the result of their actions. Once a person is saved by God, choosing to live for the Lord instead of against Him, he will then truly change the way he thinks and acts, and that is the only way that people will find freedom.
from Kaylin Hutson @kaylin_hutson