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LETTERS, week of July 23

Published on

Bible urges “liberal” slave treatment

Sir: I wish to respond to Dave Mitchell’s letter concerning God and slavery.

Mitchell was replying to an earlier letter, which argued, “reading the Bible correctly will not reveal God condoned slavery then or now.” Mitchell called that statement ludicrous.

Part of reading the Bible correctly requires applying an ancient text to a modern context. Cultures change. For example, in the New Testament people were instructed to greet each other with a holy kiss.

Today, the majority of people would feel uncomfortable greeting everyone with a holy kiss. Modern knowledge of the spreading of disease would keep some from greeting everyone with a kiss.

Culture has changed from Exodus to the New Testament and to the present regarding slavery. When the codes for treatment listed in the New Testament, which describe treatment of slaves, are compared with treatment of slaves in other countries, we discover that treatment of slaves in the Bible was more redemptive or liberal. Masters were admonished to treat their servants well.

God was not and is not a fan of slavery. In the example of Philemon, Paul asked Philemon to take back a slave, not as a slave but as a brother. In 1 Timothy 1:8-10, slave traders are condemned.

Barbara Peterson



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