crispybits wrote:Can you clarify what the differences between "modern" race slavery as seen a hundred or two years ago and "ancient" slavery were player? Because it seems to me in both cases (and at the very heart of the matter) is that one human being purchased or otherwise obtained ownership of another human being.
First, as tzor is indicating, many argue that slavery was not racial. Rather, it would be similar groups with slightly different cultures. (I am not arguing either point per se, just saying that I have heard many arguments on all sides of this).
Second, biblical slavery mostly came about in specific situations, someone owed someone money or encrued an obligation of some sort and used their body as a kind of payment. There were other cases, but to think of US slave markets with slaves auctioned on the block is not, perhaps, correct. In fact, it likely was more like someone contracted for someone else's services, in a manner we might call "employment", though employment more at the lower end of the spectrum, or perhaps bond servitude.. remember, that was something into which some people entered essentially willingly.
Some of our views are also tinged by the European ideas. Ironically, serfs were perhaps treated far worse than slaves in the ancient world. Even supposedly "free" peasants and servants were not necessarily really free in the sense we think of today. They might well have envied the treatment of slaves in ancient times.
Earlier slavery was not so much based on an idea of absolute inferiority as a matter of fulfilling some kind of obligation from one person to another -- that might be because the other group lost a war or because of something more immediate like one person somehow owing some other person money. The term of enslavement was a akin to contracted employment (though remember times were very different, so I am saying it was "equivalent" only in very relative manner)
US slavery, and the enslavement of Southern/Northern Native populations, those in some other parts of the world, to contrast, were based on the idea that these other groups really had no basic rights, they were animals who needed to be enlightened or "brought to God", or just plain not worthy of any real consideration. Given how the upper classes thought of lower classes of their own race, it is no wonder that this other, fully foreign and different group was treated so very poorly. But, even the more charitable (some priests, missionaries and the like, some adventurers of various types did come to appreciate natives, but that was looked down upon heavily... "going Native" was a very, very derisive term back then)
crispybits wrote:This is the fundamental moral point that eventually provided the force for slavery to be abolished around the world (as far as possible, I suspect there are still some modern slaves but on nothing like the scale of earlier eras).
Either "owning" a human being is wrong, or it is subject to cultural interpretation based on the societal values of the time. And the point is that it is a good litmus test for absolute morality itself. If any religion had access to the absolute moral truth, then they should have been outspoken against slavery since day 1. Not as in "Treat your slaves nicely" but "Do not have slaves. Period." So either there is no absolute moral standard, or religions (and by this I mean mostly the monotheistic abrahamic religions that did endorse slavery at times in history, I havent researched buddhist or hindu views on the matter) did not have access to that absolute moral truth that owning another person is wrong. Either way it looks pretty damning for these particular man-made cults.[/quote]
Part of this is why I said its important to distinguish between the Bible and what Roman Catholics do or have said about the Bible. The Bible does not endorse slavery in the sense of saying "slavery is a good thing... go ahead and do it". Rather, slavery was a part of humanity at the time. Slavery evolved, came about, not really as an alternative to freedom, rather as an alternative to death. This is why its important to see both parts of the Old Testament and the New Testament as progressions, and to understand more than just a few bits and pieces. At the time you are saying humans are being sold, it was very common, for example for women to be "given" or "sold" into marriage. Certainly, there is no doubt there was a lot of nastiness happening, but there was also marriage, there was family and children and people living happily.
Saying that because money is exchanged these people were sold like goods, like blacks put on the auction block beside cattle (sometimes given less value than cattle or horses!) is like saying that today's sports figures, who get traded, etc.. are being sold on an auction block in slavery. (seriously, in many cases, that is a far better comparison than auctioning off a goat or some such).
As for how the New Testament and Christ dealt with slavery and women's rights, note that he often used similar language and instruction. The giist is that when he was talking to the weak, the enslaved or women, the powerless in that society, he told them to endure, to hold their head up high and show they are basically "the better person", shaming the abuser. In that society, there was little other choice. The only people who really had freedom as we think of it were the wealthy and powerful, most everyone else lived very dictated lives, though men had more freedom than women.
On the other hand, when he talked to the powerful, it was a different message.. it was treat those under you with kindness, be fair, etc, etc, etc.
Overriding all of this were some other concepts, like foregiveness and "judge not".
The fault of Christianity is probably best put by by what may be truth or a fable regarding Ghandi-- someone asked him why he was not a Christian, he replied "I have never met one". he was not saying he had never met anyone who claimed to be a Christian, but that being a"true Christian" is such a high standard he had never met anyone who lived up to the standard. Except.. Christians say that only one man met that model. The rest of us only try, but are forgiven, none-the-less.
Virtually all of your criticisms are about people and people's ideas, not the Bible itself. People are inherently faulty. That is why Christians believe we need Christ.