Bryan Fischer
If the Bible had been followed, there would have been no slavery in the United States
By Bryan Fischer
August 29, 2013

Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at "Focal Point"

There is an enormous amount of dust and chaff in the air over what the Bible teaches about slavery. And certainly, some of the blame must rest with Christians who have misinterpreted and misapplied the Bible to claim biblical sanction for a practice that the Scriptures explicitly prohibit.

It must be stated as unambiguously as possible: slavery as practiced in the United States is flatly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments.

While the Old Testament is often cited as giving approval to slavery, the truth is actually quite the opposite. Moses flatly prohibited the slave trade under penalty of death. "Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death" (Exodus 21:16).

It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out that if the Bible had been followed from the beginning of our history as a nation, slavery never would have existed in the United States. The reason is simple: everyone who participated in any part of it would have been apprehended and hung by the neck until dead.

The slave trade is flatly prohibited in the New Testament as well. Paul speaks in 1 Timothy of the proper role of the law. He first points out that the law "is not laid down for the just," who will not need the external coercion of the law to make responsible social choices. Their internal value system will guide their conduct in culture-affirming directions. As James Madison put it, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

But, alas, law is in fact necessary because not all men are angels. Criminal law is needed "for the lawless and disobedient...for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, (and) perjurers..." (1 Timothy 1:9-10, ESV).

The word translated "enslavers" (andropodistes) literally means a "man who brings others to his feet." The lexicons define the word this way: "a slave dealer, kidnapper, man-stealer, one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, or steals slaves of others and sells them."

So in point of fact, the entire Judeo-Christian tradition from day one has been adamantly opposed to the slave trade which made slavery possible here.

The first slaves were brought to our shores in 1619. If a strictly biblical code had been followed the day that ship pulled into port, the slave trader who captained that vessel would have been arrested the moment he landed, prosecuted and strung up. The slaves on board would have been returned to their families and their homelands, and slavery would never have gained a foothold in the United States.

But instead, because the Scriptures and its plain teaching were ignored, slavery became our first national sin, as abortion is today.

Now it must be noted that the civil code of ancient Israel did provide, as America has, for two kinds of morally permissible servitude. The first is indentured servitude, which was voluntary and had statutory limits after which emancipation was required. As many as two-thirds of the English settlers who came to America in the 17th century came as indentured servants.

Ancient Israel also allowed prisoners of war to be reduced to involuntary servitude, just as the United States has done in its history. The alternative to custody, of course, is death, since military threats must be neutralized one way or another. Since life beats death in the value system of most people, permitting the involuntary servitude of enemy soldiers captured on the field of battle is a life-affirming alternative to getting lined up against a wall and shot.

Planeloads of German POWs were brought to the South during World War II and worked in the fields until the end of the war. We couldn't release them back into Germany before the end of the war, where they would take up arms again and kill us, and we didn't want to execute them. Servitude was the only compassionate alternative. It was the same in ancient Israel.

So if the early colonists had followed either the Old or New Testaments, the slave trade would have been treated as a criminal enterprise from the very beginning, and America never would have been plagued with all the myriad evils that slavery and racism have brought to our land.

Muslims have been the biggest slave traders in human history, by cosmic proportions. Slavery was enthusiastically endorsed by Muhammad in the "holy" Koran and is still widely practiced in Muslim lands to this day. Estimates are that over 17 million slaves were transported out of Africa by Islamic slave traders, and a staggering 85 million are believed to have died en route. About 645,000 of those wound up in what became the United States.

In other words, we committed our first national sin by following the Koran instead of the Bible.

Bottom line: If the Scriptures had been followed, there would have been no slavery in America, no Civil War with its loss of 600,000 American lives to secure the emancipation of slaves, and no lasting, enduring racial unrest. Biblical Christianity, as always, is not the problem. It is the solution.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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