Does the Bible Promote Slavery?

by Ryan Leasure

“Consult the Bible, and you will discover that the creator of the universe clearly expects us to keep slaves.” 1 This provocative statement by atheist Sam Harris is meant to cast shade on the God of the Bible. After all, if civilized humanity overwhelmingly condemns slavery, why should we worship a God who thinks it’s acceptable?

The question of slavery and the Bible is a bit more complicated than Sam Harris makes it out to be. Unfortunately, Harris and others aren’t interested in providing context or nuance in their books. Instead, they “quote mine” verses and then spin them in such a way to make the slavery laws look as ridiculous and backwoodsy as possible. Furthermore, they assume that biblical slavery and pre-Civil War slavery are essentially the same institution.

In the remaining space, I’ll attempt to provide some context and nuance for slavery in the Bible. I can’t address everything — which would require much more than a blog post — but I hope to provide some clarity on the issue by looking at eight key points….
 

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Does the Bible Promote Slavery?