Biblical Gender Roles vs Quranic Gender Roles

Both the Bible and the Quran teach the inequality of women to men, the subjection of women to men, the allowance for polygamy and the allowance for slavery. This is probably a shock to many American Christians because so few Christians in these modern times know the very Scriptures which form the basis for their faith.

It would be obvious to anyone who lives in America that American gender roles are in fact very different from those practiced by Quran believing Muslims.  But there is not so large a divide between the gender roles practiced by Bible believing Christians in America and Quran believing Muslims.

Since I started this site more than two years ago I have been regularly accused of being a Muslim pretending to be a Christian because I have highlighted the Biblical teachings that men and women are not equal in God’s creation and the fact that the Bible says women were made for men.

“7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man…

9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:7 & 9(KJV)

In both Christianity and Islam – there are liberal theologians and conservative theologians. Conservative Christians believe every word of the Bible is the Word of God, and conservative Muslims believe every word of the Quran is the Word of God.  Liberal theologians in both faiths believe that their holy texts may contain the Word of God – but it also contains a lot of cultural opinions that can and should be dismissed in the modern world.

So it should be no surprise that only conservative Christians and Muslims who believe the entirety of the texts which form the foundation for their faiths would still embrace the gender roles taught in these texts.

The origins of the false religion of Islam

Before I continue I want to make it abundantly clear that I believe Muhammad was a false prophet. Many years ago after the 9/11 attacks I studied the history of Islam and the Quran. However I do not claim to be an expert on Islam and there are many Christian sites that could do a far better job explaining in detail why Muhammad was a false prophet and I will link to some of those in this article.

With that being said,  this is my attempt for my readers to understand why I believe Islam is both a false and dangerous religion when practiced in accordance with the entirety of the Quran. I also want to show that while the Bible and the Quran may have some similar commands regarding gender roles – the basis and reasons for these commands are very different.

Roughly six centuries after Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and the birth of the Christian faith a man named Muhammad (570 AD to 632 AD) came on the seen in Arabia claiming to be the next prophet of God following in the same faith as Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus.

Muhammad claimed to receive miraculous revelation from the one true god over a 23 year period which he orally gave to his companions who acted as scribes and wrote down these sayings in what we now know as the Quran.

In the beginning of his ministry Muhammad tried to peacefully convince his fellow Arabs to convert from their paganism (worshiping over 200 different gods) to monotheism (the belief that there is one god).  He even tried to convince Jews and Christians that he was a true prophet of the same one true god that they worshipped.  But since his teachings were in complete contradiction to the teachings of the Old and New Testaments both Jews and Christians rejected him as a false prophet.

He would then later explain the contradictions of his teachings with the Bible as God correcting the mistakes of the Bible through him. The fact is both Jews and Christians correctly recognized Muhammad’s teachings as nothing more than a horribly bad knockoff of the Bible.

The rejection of Christ by the Jews was not the same as the rejection of Muhammad

Some Muslims will try and point to the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus as a prophet as well as the writings of his Apostles in the same way Jews and Christians rejected Muhammad. But there is a huge difference between the rejection of Christ by his fellow Jews and the rejection of Muhammad by Jews and Christians.

Jesus said this:

“17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:17-19 (KJV)

Jesus and his followers never claimed that there was even ONE mistake in the Old Testament Scriptures that the Jewish people still hold to today. Instead he and his followers claimed that Jesus was the one foretold of by Moses and Isaiah centuries before Christ came:

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;”

Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV)

“3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed…

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Isaiah 53:3-5 & 10-12(KJV)

Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be rejected by his own people but that God had determined this in accordance with his plan to save all mankind through the sacrifice of Christ of on the cross. By his death the righteous servant of God (Jesus Christ) would make intercession for the sins of all mankind.

So unlike Muhammad and the Quran – there is absolutely no conflict between the teachings of Christ or the New Testament with the Old Testament.  This is why Muhammad was correctly dismissed as a false prophet by both Jews and Christians alike.

It is also worthwhile to note that one of the greatest sins listed in the Quran is to ascribe person-hood to God.  The fact that Christians believe God became a man in the form of Jesus Christ is heinous to any Muslim who knows the Quran. So how in the world could true Bible believing Christians have ever accepted Muhammad as anything other than a heretic?

Muhammad turns to violence after being rejected by Arabs, Jews and Christians

After this repudiation by his fellow Arabs as well as Jews and Christians Muhammad became violent both with his fellow Arabs as well as with Jews and Christians.  Later he would lead a military conquest which forced people to either convert to Islam, die or pay a tax ( “jizya”).

Those today who try and teach that Islam is a peaceful religion are ignorant of the history of Muhammad and also the true order of the teachings of the Quran.

Is Islam really “a religion of peace”?

Often Muslims and even non-Muslim defenders of Islam present the religion of Muhammad as “a religion of peace” and they will point to passages in the Quran that show Muhammad admonishing Muslims to peacefully live alongside Jews and Christians:

“Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.”

Quran 3:113-114

“And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those (earlier prophets), confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah; and We sent him the Gospel, wherein there was guidance and light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God-conscious.”

Quran 5:46

See more of these kinds of passages and arguments at these websites:

http://www.islamicity.org/4659/can-muslims-be-friends-with-jews-and-christians/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ro-waseem/6-convincing-reasons-debu_1_b_5604068.html

But the truth is that Muhammad was only peaceful toward Jews and Christians at the beginning of his ministry.  Later after their complete rejection of him he became hostile and violent toward all who opposed him including Jews and Christians.  Muslim historians try and say Muhammad was just defending himself against Jewish and Christian aggressors but there is no historical evidence to back that up. Muhammad decided that if the world would not accept him as the prophet of God in peace then he would bring war on those who rejected his teachings.  And war he brought.

See this article from TheReligionofPeace.com that debunks the idea that Muhammad only fought in self-defense – https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/muhammad/self-defense.aspx

The fact is there are few passages in the Quran that talk about living in peace with Jews and Christians while the vast majority of references to non-Muslims in the Quran advocate for their violent conversion and subjugation to Islam.

“The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter…

Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’)

Quran (9:29) – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” “People of the Book” refers to Christians and Jews. According to this verse, they are to be violently subjugated, with the sole justification being their religious status. Verse 9:33 tells Muslims that Allah has charted them to make Islam “superior over all religions.” This chapter was one of the final “revelations” from Allah and it set in motion the tenacious military expansion, in which Muhammad’s companions managed to conquer two-thirds of the Christian world in the next 100 years. Islam is intended to dominate all other people and faiths.

Quran (9:30) – “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!””

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx

Quranic Islam is violent while Biblical Christianity is peaceful

President Obama and many other apologists for the false notion of Islam as “a religion of peace” have tried to point to the crusades as proof that Christianity can be just a violent as Islam.  What they miss is that God never called on Christians to militarily or politically force the world to become Christian.  Those in Christian history who tried to forcefully convert people to Christianity (or even a particular brand of Christianity) did so in direct contradiction to the teachings of Christ and his Apostles.

Unlike Muhammad, Jesus never tried to establish any kind of political domination in this world:

“Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

John 18:36 (NIV)

And the Apostle Paul wrote:

“3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

II Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

These texts and many others from the New Testament prove that Christianity when practiced according to the Bible is NOT a violent religion.  The same cannot be said of Islam and the Quran with 109 verses advocating for violence as well as the example of Muhammad’s military exploits.

Now that we have established why Islam is both a false and dangerous religion and why Christianity does not conflict with the Old Testament but is the fulfillment of it we will discuss and compare Quranic gender roles with Biblical gender roles.

Similarities between the Bible and Quran on Gender Roles

It should come as no surprise that because the Quran is cheap knock off of the Bible that it would actually contain some Bible truths.

Here are some passages on gender roles from the Quran as well as Hadith (other sayings attributed to Muhammad and Sira (biographies of Muhammad) from TheReligionOfPeace.com which demonstrate how the Quran views women and marriage.

“Quran (4:34) – “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.”

Quran (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them”

Quran (33:59) – “Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them…” Men determine how women dress.

Quran (33:33) – “And abide quietly in your homes…” Women are confined to their homes except when they have permission to go out.

Quran (2:223) – “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will.” Wives are to be sexually available to their husbands in all ways at all times. They serve their husbands at his command. This verse is believed to refer to anal sex (see Bukhari 60:51), and was “revealed” when women complained to Muhammad about the practice. The phrase “when and how you will” means that they lost their case.

Bukhari (88:219) – “Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler.”

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/men-in-charge-of-women.aspx

Islam allows polygamy

“Quran (4:3) – “Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess.” This verse plainly allows a man to have up to four wives (Allah conveniently granted Muhammad an exception… on the authority of Muhammad, of course). According to the Hadith, the “justice” spoken of merely refers to the dowry provided the bride, not the treatment accorded following the wedding.”

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/polygamy.aspx

So as we can see from the passages above (and there are more teachings like this in Islam) we see these principles:

God has made man and woman Unequal

God has placed men over women and women are to submit to their husbands (including in areas of how they dress and sexual submission)

Men are to be providers for women.

A woman’s place is in the home.

A man is allowed to have up to four wives and unlimited sexual partners through sex slaves

So the question then becomes does the Bible teach these same principles?

The answer is YES according to these Bible passages:

The Bible teaches that the male and female vessels are not equal

“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.”

I Corinthians 11:7 (KJV)

The Bible teaches the complete submission of wives to their husbands (which would include how they dress and sexual submission as well)

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)

The Bible teaches the headship of men over women in the Church

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

I Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV)

The Bible teaches men are the head of women in all areas of life (which includes society, the church and the family)

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)

The Bible teaches that men are to provide for their wives

“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”

Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)

The Bible teaches that a woman’s place is in the home

“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Titus 2:4-5 (KJV)

The Bible teaches it is a shame for women to rule over men

 “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”

Isaiah 3:12 (KJV)

The Bible allows polygamy

“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.  11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”

Exodus 21:10-11 (KJV)

“And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.”

II Samuel 5:13 (KJV)

The Bible while not placing an exact limit on how many wives a man could take – did condemn the hording of wives(which is what King Solomon did by taking 700 wives and 300 concubines).  Also we will discuss in more detail below that the Bible did NOT allow men to have sex slaves.

“Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”

Deuteronomy 17:17 (KJV)

Some differences between Islam and Christianity on the treatment of women and marriage

Islam requires women to completely cover themselves when in public

“Quran (24:31) – “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known.” The woman is not only supposed to cover herself, except with relatives, but to look down, so as to avoid making eye-contact with men.”

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/veils.aspx

As we can see from the Quran above Islam requires women to hide their beauty from all but their close relatives in private.

In stark contrast to the Quran, the Bible only requires women to cover their heads and be fully clothed when worshiping in the assembled church:

“4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

1 Corinthians 11:4-5 (KJV)

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array

I Timothy 2:9 (KJV)

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Timothy 3:15 (KJV)

The original Greek word that we translate as “modest” in the Bible literally means “appropriate” and the word we translate as apparel means “fully clothed”.  So what the Apostle Paul was literally saying in his letter to Timothy was that when women came to worship in the assembly they should be “fully clothed which is appropriate attire for worship”.

This in no way forbade women from being less than fully clothed when not in the assembly for worship. It also did not require women to wear head coverings outside of formal worship in the assembly.  In fact the work clothing for women during the week would have been less covering than the formal covering that the Apostle Paul mentions here.

For more on Biblical modesty see my article “What is Biblical Modesty?

Islam not only allows but encourages the rape of non-Muslim women captured during war

“It is against Islam to rape Muslim women, but Muhammad actually encouraged the rape of others captured in battle. This hadith provides the context for the Qur’anic verse (4:24):

“The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain.  They met their enemy and fought with them.  They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers.  So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Sura 4:24) “And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” (Abu Dawud 2150, also Muslim 3433)

There are several other episodes in which Muhammad is offered the clear opportunity to disavow raping women – yet he instead offers advice on how to proceed.  In one case, his men were reluctant to devalue their new slaves for later resale by getting them pregnant.  Muhammad was asked about coitus interruptus in particular:

“O Allah’s Apostle! We get female captives as our share of booty, and we are interested in their prices, what is your opinion about coitus interruptus?”  The Prophet said, “Do you really do that? It is better for you not to do it. No soul that which Allah has destined to exist, but will surely come into existence.” (Bukhari 34:432)”

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/muhammad/rape.aspx

“Muslims are encouraged to live in the way of Muhammad, who was a slave owner and trader. He captured slaves in battle; he had sex with his slaves; and he instructed his men to do the same. The Quran actually devotes more verses to making sure that Muslim men know they can keep women as sex slaves (4) than it does to telling them to pray five times a day (zero).”

https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/slavery.aspx

So as we can clearly see – Muhammad not only allowed men to capture non-Muslim women as slaves during war but he also allowed the men to rape them and then trade them later.  He was only concerned that they did not withdraw (coitus interruptus).

It may surprise some Christian readers to know that Moses allowed Israelite men to take women as captives of war too:

“10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;

13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.”

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 (KJV)

The major difference though between Moses’s commands and Muhammad’s is that Israelite men were NEVER allowed to rape women. If they captured a woman during war they had to give her a month to mourn for her father and mother (or other relatives) killed in the war.  Then the man had to take her as his WIFE – he couldn’t just rape her and then trade her to someone else.  In fact if an Israelite man found problems with a woman he captured and took as a WIFE (not a sex slave) he had to free her and could not trade her to anyone.

This is a MAJOR difference with Islam and the Bible. The Bible never ever allows men to rape women and it certainly does not allow men to rape women and then trade them to other people. This evil Muslim practice has recently been resurrected by ISIS.

Islam teaches that marriage and sex still exist in paradise

Men will still have their wives in paradise

“Verily, the dwellers of the Paradise, that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds) and all that they ask for. (It will be said to them): Salamun (peace be on you), a Word from the Lord (Allah), Most Merciful. Quran 36: 55-58”

http://www.muslimtents.com/aminahsworld/Verses_on_paradise.html

Men may also be rewarded with “houri” – beautiful virgins who will be totally dedicated to their pleasure

“In Islam, the concept of 72 virgins (houri) refers to an aspect of Jannah (Paradise). This concept is grounded in Qur’anic text which describe a sensual Paradise where believing men are rewarded by being wed[1] to virgins with “full grown”, “swelling” or “pears-shaped” breasts.[2][3] Conversly, women will be provided with only one man, and they “will be satisfied with him”.[4]

Contemporary mainstream Islamic scholars, for example; Gibril Haddad, have commented on the erotic nature of the Qur’anic Paradise, by saying some men may need ghusl (ablution required after sexual discharge) just for hearing certain verses.[5]

Orthodox Muslim theologians such as al-Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and al-Ash’ari (died 935 CE) have all discussed the sensual pleasures found in Paradise, relating hadith that describe Paradise as a slave market where there will be “no buy and sale, but… If any man will wish to have sexual intercourse with a woman, he will do at once.”[6][7]

It is quoted by Ibn Kathir, in his Qur’anic Commentary, the Tafsir ibn Kathir,[8] and they are graphically described by Qur’anic commentator and polymath, al-Suyuti (died 1505), who, echoing a hasan hadith[9] from Ibn Majah,[10] wrote that the perpetual virgins will all “have appetizing vaginas”, and that the “penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal”.[11]

The sensual pleasures between believers and houri in Paradise are also confirmed by the two Sahih collections of hadith, namely Sahih Bukhari[12] and Sahih Muslim, where we read that they will be virgins who are so beautiful, pure and transparent that “the marrow of the bones of their legs will be seen through the bones and the flesh”,[13] and that “the believers will visit and enjoy them”.[14]

https://wikiislam.net/wiki/72_Virgins

So as we can see in Islam marriage and sexuality do not end in Paradise (or what Christians would call Heaven) but they continue on for eternity. Christianity instead sees marriage as only for this world and it does not continue in the next world:

“34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

Luke 20:34-36 (KJV)

The Reason for Biblical Gender Roles is Different than Quranic Gender Roles

The reason that Islam sees gender roles, marriage and sex continuing in the afterlife is because Islam does not recognize that God created gender roles, marriage and sex in this world to be symbols of the spiritual relationship between God and his people.

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”

Ephesians 5:22-29 (KJV)

The Bible shows that women are not made to submit to men to suppress women or to be unfair to women. The reason women are called to be in subjection to men is because our male and female vessels represent spiritual symbols. God created woman to serve man in the same way he created all mankind to serve himself.

No person is worth more or less to God because they are born in a male or female body.  The Bible shows that we simply have a different role to play and a different race to run depending on the vessel we are born in.  The Quran does not offer any of these spiritual reasons for roles of men and women and in fact keeps the roles of men and women in their after life.

Conclusion

Christianity is based on the revelations from God to over 40 different men over a 1500 year time span and all of these revelations are progressively built upon the revelation that came before them.  While Islam is based on the supposed revelations of one man over a 23 year period which while claiming to be based on the Bible consistently contradicts and undermines the teaching of the Bible.

While Islam and Christianity do share some similar views such as the submission of wives to their husbands and the inequality of men and women they do so for different reasons.

There is ample historical evidence some of which is cited here but much of which is cited elsewhere that Muhammad was a false prophet who invented a new religion to profit himself and eventually unite the Arab peoples.  His teachings were a cheap knockoff of the Jewish and Christian faiths which proceeded his new religion.

Islam is not just a religion – but if it is interpreted literally according the Quran as well as Hadith (other sayings attributed to Muhammad and Sira (biographies of Muhammad) it is also a political movement which seeks to convert the world by force to Islam.

ISIS and other Islamist groups like Al-Qaida have not “hijacked a peaceful religion” but the real truth is that they have restored Islam to its roots and its founder’s intentions.

True Quranic Islam also does not see the clear distinction between things that belong to this world and what happens in the next. Islam in many ways has a very fleshly and worldly paradise with marriage and sex still existing in the afterlife.

This is not say that there are not peaceful Muslims that reject the ideology of groups like ISIS and Al-Qaida but to do so they must abandon many things in the texts that form the foundation for their faith.

It is interesting today that we hear many moderate Muslims on various new programs saying that Islam needs its own version of the Protestant Reformation. But what they do not realize is that in the Protestant Reformation the Reformers sought to return to the Bible to rediscover historic Christianity.

On the other hand with Islam, the only “reformation” that would bring peace and stability would be for them to do the very opposite of the Christian reformers – they would have to abandon large chunks of their own holy texts and renounce a great deal of their roots.

See these other articles for more on the subjects of gender roles, polygamy and slavery in the Bible:

Why Polygamy is not unbiblical

Why Christians shouldn’t be ashamed of slavery in the Bible

Did the Bible allow men to have sex slaves?

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The American Idol of Equality

The Bible does not support the modern American concept of equality. In fact in some ways American ideas about equality are completely at odds with the Bible. But the unfortunate truth is that over the past century most American Christians have willing laid down their Biblical faith on the altar of their new god – the god of equality.

It is a sad fact that in 2016 more Americans believe in gender equality than believe in God. According to a 2015 Pew survey, 86 percent of Americans believe in God while another Pew survey reveals that 91 percent of Americans believe in advancing the social equality of women.

“Pew Research Center surveys are not the only ones that have found a long-term decline in the overall share of Americans who say they believe in God. For example, 86% of Americans said in a 2014 Gallup poll they believed in God or a universal spirit, down from 96% in 1994 and the lowest figure since Gallup first asked the question in 1976.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/04/americans-faith-in-god-may-be-eroding/

“…the highest levels of support for gender equality are found in Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Roughly nine-in-ten or more in these countries say gender equality is very important.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/03/08/strong-global-support-for-gender-equality-especially-among-women/

And it is not just gender equality.  Whether it be income equality, education equality, racial equality, sexual orientation equality, healthcare equality and host of other “equalities” it is undeniable that the American culture as well as the rest of western countries have bowed their knees to the god of equality.

How should Bible believing Christians react to our culture’s emphasis on these various equality ideologies?

When it comes to this issue of equality we have two choices as Christians.

We can let our beliefs about equality dictate our beliefs about the Bible

Sadly many professing Christians in America and around the western world have chosen this first approach to the subject of equality. While their beliefs in equality are absolute – their beliefs in the Bible as God’s perfect and inspired word are not. Any part of the Bible that contradicts with what their god of equality stands for are dismissed as “cultural” or “temporary” for Biblical times only. Others teach a false Gospel that Christ came not just to die on the cross but to bring about social equality.

We can let our beliefs about the Bible dictate our beliefs about equality

Fewer Christians today than at any point in the history of Christendom believe that the Bible stands as the inerrant Word of God. Yes as Bible believing Christians we understand that we are not under the civil laws, sacrificial laws, cleanliness laws, dietary laws and priestly laws that God gave to Israel as theocracy.  But God’s lasting moral law was enforced and strengthened under the new law of Christ in the form of the New Testament.

We believe what the Apostle Paul wrote when he said this about his writings as well as those of the other Apostles:

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

I Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV)

We know that the New Testament stands as the final revelation of God built upon the moral law of the Old Testament.  When accept this fact, then we will accept that the New Testament not only left certain inequalities intact (like slavery) but it also enshrined and reinforced other inequalities such as the social inequality of men and women.  Any honest reading of the New Testament reveals this to be true.

Now that we have established that Bible believing Christians must view the subject of equality through the lenses of the Scriptures we will now look at some hot button areas of equality in American culture today.

What does the Bible say about racial and gender equality?

The Bible teaches that all human beings, men and women and people of all races are equally human.

“24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”

Acts 17:24-26 (KJV)

All human beings regardless of their gender or race are equally as human as the first man Adam was and we ought never to regard a person as being less than human because they are a certain gender or race.

The Bible teaches not only the equality of our common humanity but also our spiritual equality as believers in Christ regardless of race, creed or gender:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28 (KJV)

Does the Bible support the concept of equal justice before the law?

Yes it does. The Bible teaches that all people are to be treated fairly in the eyes of the law:

“You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”

Deuteronomy 16:19(NASB)

So if a rich man commits a crime and poor man commits a crime they both should face the same justice. If a man commits a crime or a woman commits a crime they should face they justice.  If a black man commits a crime or white man commits a crime they should face the same justice.

What does the Bible say about income equality?

The Bible talks about workers being paid the wages they agreed to be paid but it does not say workers or people in general must be paid equally.  An employer and an employee agree to a wage.  But that employer does not have pay more than the agreed wage because he pays other employees more.

In one of Christ’s parables he talks about a land owner who needs his fields harvested quickly in Matthew 20:1-15. The land owner goes out into the town looking for workers to agree to work in his field that day.  He starts off early in the morning finding some workers and they agree to work for a denarius which was the typical wage for a 10 hour work for field workers.

But he needed more workers for his fields so throughout the day and even towards the end of the day the land owner kept going out and getting workers.

At the end of the day he paid all his workers the same wage for that day even though some had only worked the last few hours of the day while others had worked all day long.  This was the response of the first workers he hired who agree to their wage of a denarius:

“10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’”

Matthew 20:10-15(NASB)

Some have tried to misinterpret this story as teaching that workers must all be paid the same when clearly that is not the case. This story from Christ is actually a powerful example of the natural private property rights that God has given to mankind. Notice what the landowner says to the workers – “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?”

The landowner by paying the men who worked only an hour the same as those who worked 10 hours was paying his workers unequally.  The men who worked at the end of the day got an entire day’s wages while those who worked all day got the same wage.

As Bible believing Christians we should NOT support “equal pay for equal work” laws as these laws violate the natural private property rights that God has given to man.

A business owner has the right to do what they will with their own property including determining the hourly wages of their employees. If a manager chooses to pay blonde people more money per hour than brown haired people or men more than women that is his right as Christ said “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?” We may not agree as workers with how our employers decide our wages but at the end of the day if we agreed to that wage we are not to be envious of another person making more money.

This is the complete opposite of how Americans are taught to view their employers.  We have people suing all the time for unequal pay and this is a violation of the private property rights of the owners of these companies.

On the larger issue of income equality Christ said this:

“7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.”

Mark 14:7 (NASB)

Both in the Old and New Testaments we are encouraged to help the poor.  But the fact is that there will ALWAYS be poor people and there will always be rich people and sometimes there will be those in between. But we will never eliminate poverty in this world.

The giving to the poor in the Old and New Testament was always a temporary thing. And in some cases the poor would have to work for their food.   A man’s giving to the poor was commanded by God and enforced by God – not the government of the nation of Israel.  They did not have tax collectors going around assessing people’s land and taking from them and redistributing to the poor. It was PRIVATE charitable giving, not government taxation and redistribution of wealth as we have in America and other western countries.

Also the giving to the poor was never meant to encourage laziness – in fact the Apostle Paul warns against church giving food to people who are able bodied and could work:

“10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

II Thessalonians 3:19 (KJV)

In the New Testament the specific formulas for charity given to Israel as a theocracy are done away with and giving was to be completely based on one’s free will:

“7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)

There are many passages throughout the Scriptures that talk about the protection of private property.  In fact in many places in the Old Testament we see laws proscribing remedies for the violation of private property rights. Theft of private property was seen as a much more serious thing than we see it today.

“15 Thou shalt not steal…

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Exodus 20:15-17

Civil government is never granted the right to tax for income redistribution purposes.  To do so is tantamount to legalized theft. The poor are to be supported by private free will charity, not government confiscation of private property for the purposes of trying to bring about income equality.

Socialism and Communism are in direct contradiction with the natural private property rights God has given to man.

So here is the point about income inequality from a Biblical perspective.  The Bible clearly respects private property rights as well as the right of workers to be paid the wage they agreed upon. An owner of a company may pay his workers different wages that they have agreed to and they are not to be envious of what he pays their fellow employees.  The government does have the right to tax but this right should never cancel out a man’s private property rights.

Does the Bible support sexual orientation equality?

The Bible does NOT support the right of gays, lesbians and transgender people to engage in these lifestyles nor does it say that Christians cannot discriminate against these people in offering services to them(like florists, photographers, etc.).

The Bible clearly condemns these types of lifestyles as sinful:

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)

Does the Bible support healthcare equality?

I would refer you back up to the income inequality section. No the Bible does not require that we offer free healthcare to anyone any more than it requires us to guarantee free food and shelter to all.  Now should people, especially the wealthy donate to hospitals and help take care of the poor? Yes.

“17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good [a]works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

I Timothy 6:17-19 (NASB)

But again this should be of their own free will.  It should not be based on government confiscation of property and redistribution of wealth.

Does the Bible support education equality?

Again I would refer you back to the section on income inequality.  We do not have a God given right to other’s people’s money to pay for our education. As believers and followers of the Bible we value education.

“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”

Proverbs 1:5 (KJV)

But let’s be honest that just like equality – education has become an idol in American society.

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 12:12 (KJV)

We have thousands of young people believing they are entitled to a free college education when they are NOT.  In fact it can be shown that education standards have dropped while education costs have skyrocketed because of this philosophy that everyone must go to college.  Universities and colleges are flooded with people who should not be there. I have two words for you – it is called “skilled trades”.

Does the Bible support equal rights for all human beings?

No it does not.  Now you might say “Wait a minute! You just said in an earlier section that we are to regard all people regardless of race or gender as equally human – doesn’t that mean that if all people are equally human they should have equal rights?” The answer my friends is no.

Now we can grant equal rights in certain areas like we did with race and religion here.  The Bible does not forbid us from granting these types of equality.

But there was nothing unbiblical about the racial and ethnic quotas that the US Government had from 1790 to 1965 when racial and ethnic quotas were outlawed as considerations for allowing immigrants into the United States. A nation has the right to preserve its cultural, racial and ethnic makeup through controlling what persons may immigrate to its country.

But if Americans decided to place restrictions or stop immigration from certain countries as we are considering today because of the war with Islamic radicals this is not an immoral action by Biblical standards.

Now unlike the issue of equal rights based on race or ethnic origin or religious liberty rights in the area of gender rights Gods has placed firm restrictions on this regardless of what civil governments decide.

While American law may grant women equal rights with men – Biblical law does not.  And unlike the issue of equal rights based on race or ethnic origin or religious liberty rights God has not left the issue of gender rights open.

Woman are to submit to their fathers and then their husbands when they marry:

“3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; 4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. 5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.

6 And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; 7 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. 8 But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her.

9 But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.”

Numbers 30:3-9 (KJV)

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)

Woman is to submit to Man in the Church

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

I Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV)

Woman is to submit to Man in society

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

I Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)

So yes our American society has granted women equal rights with their husbands – but God has not. Another way of putting this is – the American government over the last century as legalized women rebelling against their husbands.

Christian women in America are faced with the same choice that Eve, the first woman, faced in the Garden of Eden:

“1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which theLord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-4 (KJV)

Will you as a woman take the forbidden fruit? Will you try and be equal with your husband as Eve tried to be equal with God?

Will you take advantage of the sin your government condones and rebel against your husband’s authority or will you resist that temptation and follow God’s law?

Conclusion

While the Bible supports such concepts that all people are equally human and equal justice under the law it does not support the modern American philosophy of equality.

The philosophies of socialism, feminism and humanism which are all children of the philosophy of equality are also in direct contradiction with the Word of God.

We all have a choice to make – will we worship the god of equality or the God of the Bible?

“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Matthew 4:10 (KJV)

See the articles below that are related to this subject of equality:

Biblical Human Rights vs American Human Rights

Does the Bible teach the concept of “Human Property”?

Why Christians shouldn’t be ashamed of Slavery in the Bible

Did the Bible allow men to have sex slaves?

Did the Bible allow men to acquire women whose sole purpose was for sex? The real question that we are asking is did the Bible allow men to have sex with a woman without making her his wife?  Many people, even Christians, wrongly believe the answer to this uncomfortable question is “Yes”.  The reason they believe that is because of the existence of concubines in the Bible.

Concubines are wrongly thought by some to have been the Biblical equivalent of sex slaves. But a closer of examination of the Scriptures reveals that this is not the case. The term “concubine” in the Bible refers to a slave wife. There were two classes of wives in the Scriptures – free wives and slave wives.

A free wife was a woman born to a free man. She was acquired as a wife when a man approached her father and offered him the bride price.  If her father consented he would give her as a wife to that man usually accompanied by some kind of wedding feast.  While both free wives and slave wives were considered to be the property of their husbands a free wife held a greater place of social honor and her children had inheritance rights that were required to be honored. The concubine’s children had no inheritance rights unless they were granted under special circumstances.

How were slave wives acquired?

Slave wives were acquired in much the same way slaves were acquired in general. Sometimes slave women were captured as prisoners of war and later converted to concubines (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). Sometimes poor women whose fathers, brothers or husbands had died sold themselves as concubines so they could be taken care of.  A man could sell his daughter as a slave to another man (Exodus 21:7-11).  That man could either continue to use her only as a servant or he could convert her to his concubine or give her as a concubine to one of his sons. Once a woman was converted to the status of a concubine she had the right to have sex with her husband.  Being a concubine in many ways was a step up for a slave woman.

Also it was common for fathers to give their daughters slave girls (hand maids) as gifts as was the case with Rachel and Leah. In many households the free wives ruled over the slaves wives while ultimately the husband was the master of the entire home. Sometimes free wives would give their husband their hand maids to produce more sons as we see in the case of Rachel giving her servant Bilhah to Jacob and Leah giving her servant Zilpah to Jacob(Genesis 30:4-9).  It interesting to note that Leah stated God had rewarded her by reopening her womb and giving her another son “because I have given my maiden to my husband”.

Concubines sometimes served as surrogate mothers

The story of Jacob and his sons shows another interesting scenario when it came to slave wives. Some free wives would use their slave wives to act as surrogate mothers and after the children were weaned raised the children as their own.  This is why even though some of the twelve sons of Jacob were born of slave women they were all equally considered his rightful heirs.

Did slave wives have any rights?

Today when we think of slavery in any form we think of a person who has absolutely no rights.  In fact because of the abuses of slaves throughout history we think all slaves were treated as nothing more than animals.  But while God allowed slavery he also required slave owners to respect the rights of their slaves.

A female slave whether she was a concubine or not could not be physically abused by her master

“20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished…

26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.

27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.” – Exodus 21:20 & 26-27 (KJV)

A concubine had to be provide with food, clothing and sex from her husband

“7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:7-11 (KJV)

So as we can see here a slave if she were to be taken as a concubine then she was to be treated as a daughter by her husband’s father and treated by him as his wife. She would have the right to have sex with her husband (“duty of marriage”).  The pledge of “food, clothing and bed” which was often used in Jewish wedding ceremonies was based on this passage from Exodus 21.

For more confirmation of the fact that concubines were not just slaves but were also considered wives see how Keturah is referred to as the “wife” Abraham took after Sarah died in Genesis 25:1-4 but then she is referred to as his concubine in I Chronicles 1:32-33.  Even within the context of Genesis 25 we can see she is considered one of Abrahams “concubines”(Genesis 25:5-6) all of which he sent away after giving their children gifts because he was giving his estate to Isaac.

The reason Abraham sent away his concubines and their children as he knew his death was imminent was to make it clear that Isaac was the only rightful heir to his estate being the son of his first wife who was the only “free” wife he had.

Were concubinage, slavery and polygamy sins that God overlooked?

In this post we have discussed some topics that are all very offensive to our modern cultural values. This is the part of the article where 99% of Christian writers will tell you that the practices of concubinage, slavery and polygamy were all sins God overlooked for a time but then God rid of in the New Testament.

The truth is that God never condemned the practices of concubinage, slavery or polygamy. He gave strict rules as to how these things could be practiced but he never condemned the practices themselves.

I invite you to look at these two articles that explore all the passages on slavery and polygamy in the Bible and you may be surprised as at what you find.

Was polygamy a sin God overlooked in the Old Testament?

Why Christians should not be afraid of slavery in the Bible

Conclusion

While it is true that many pagan nations may have had “sex slaves” the people of God in the Bible were forbidden from such practices. If a man were to buy a slave woman (or acquire her in war) with the intent of having sex with her had to make the commitment of a husband to her.  He could not simply have sex with her and have no intent of making her his wife.

While it is true that a concubine was indeed a slave the truth is she was a wife as well.  Another way of stating this is truth is that in Biblical times all concubines were wives, but not all wives were concubines.

We have proven here from the Scriptures that God did not allow men to have sex slaves. They could have free wives or slave wives (concubines) but they had to grant the basic rights of a wife to any woman whom they desired to have sex with.

Does the Bible teach the concept of “Human Property”?

 

Now that we have discussed Biblical laws allowing and regulating slavery, I want to discuss the Biblical concept of “Human property”.  I realize that just the idea of thinking that a human being could be property is absolutely appalling to our modern western values. When we think of human beings as property, we imagine people being abused and hurt by their “owner”.  But what does the Bible say about the concept of human beings as property?

In the Bible a man’s wife and children were considered his property

Happy family hugging isolated on white

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:17 (NASB)

This is idea of a man’s wife and child being considered his “human property” is confirmed by these other teachings of the Bible:

A man paid a bride price to a woman’s father for her hand in marriage – the father did not have to consider his daughter’s wishes in the man he chose for her.

A man paid the bride price to a woman’s father if he had pre-marital sex with her, and the father still had the choice of whether he would give his daughter to this man in marriage. Pre-marital sex was considered a property crime against the father of virgin that had been defiled.

When a man committed adultery with another man’s wife he and she could be executed. This was considered a property crime against the woman’s husband. If a married man had sex with a prostitute this was not considered adultery, but rather the sin of Whoremongering as no property crime was committed.

The fact that a man was allowed under Biblical law to sell his son or daughter as a slave confirms that children were considered the property of their father (assuming he was a free man, and not a slave who had been given a wife by his master).

The only exception to this idea of a man’s wife and children being his property was if the man was a slave and his master gave him another slave as a wife. If the male slave were to freed, the master did not have to release his wife and children with him.

Different types of Human property

While all slaves Biblically speaking would be considered human property (unless they were a fellow Hebrew male and then only seed as a temporary hired worker), not all of those who are considered human property were slaves.

A wife while she her husband’s property, is not his slave. A child while is the human property of his father – is not his slave.

Even though Wives and children were also considered human property they had the same human rights as slaves and then even more rights.

The Bible gives an example of this difference of rights between those who were considered human property when it shows in Exodus 21:9-11 when a man gives his female slave to his son as a wife. The Bible states she must be given the full rights of a daughter and a wife – even though she remained human property.

The Treatment of Human Property

Most people in our modern society have the idea that if a person is regarded as human property, that the owner of that person can treat them any way they wish. This could not be further from the truth. I highly suggest that you read my post “Biblical Human Rights vs American Human Rights” and see the section entitled “8 Biblical Human Rights”. These are rights that every human being has, whether they are considered the human property of another person or not.

Children as Human property

Most Americans, while they might not like the use of the word “property” when referring to their children basically regard their children as their property. I would argue that they have a Biblical right to do so. That is why parents get angry when doctors or school officials do things without parental consent. “That is my child, and you did not have my permission to do this or that with them against my wishes” – this is a phrase that is heard quite often from parents, and our legal system for the most part supports this concept of parental consent.

As parents God meant for us to have complete control over things like our children’s education and medical treatment. God meant for us a parents to mold our children through discipline and training to respect and obey not only our authority as parents, but other authorities that God places in their life whether they are teachers in school, church authorities or civil authorities.

Because God places the greatest responsibility on a father and then secondarily to a mother, he gives parents the most power over a child’s life. This is why schools, churches and the government need to be careful to stay within the realm of authority God has given them when they are working with children as God has given the ultimate human authority in a child’s life to their father and mother.

Wives as Human property

Seeing a wife as the human property of her husband sounds degrading and insulting to most Americans and westerners. But there are still some devout men and women of the Christian faith that have no problem with this concept.

As believers we are told that we are not our own, that we belong to God. Christian Men, women and children – it makes no difference we all belong to God.

“…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20(NASB)

Most Christians have no problem with the concept that we all belong to God. It is only when God delegates his ownership over us to a fallible human being that we begin to have a problem.

For Christians who reject the concept of male headship as taught in the Scriptures – it is impossible for them to even conceive of a wife being the property of her husband as they see marriage as an equal partnership.

But even for some Christians who embrace the concept of male headship as taught in God’s Word – they still struggle with this concept of a wife being the property of her husband. The reason is because they fear the abuse of such power and with good reason as many men have abused this power God has given them over their wives.

But the abuse of power by those in authority, whether in government, the church or the home does not negate the truth that God teaches about authority and ownership in the family. God has delegated his ownership of the family – the wife and the children to the husband and father.

God teaches that when women and children willingly submit to the authority of the husband and father in the home – he blesses them and it is a testimony to the world of God’s power. When a husband uses the power God has given him, not for his own sinful and selfish desires but for the glory of God he blesses his entire family through his leadership, provision and protection(I Peter 3:1-6).

Some Christian women who embrace the concept of male headship may ask for more direct evidence than the passages I supplied so far for God seeing a husband as the owner of his wife.

There are two Hebrew words that the Old Testament translates for us in English as “husband”. The first one ‘ish’ literally means “man”, but it is translated a “husband” whenever the context is talking about a husband and wife. The second word that the Hebrew Scriptures use for “husband” is “baal” which literally means “Owner/lord”. This same Hebrew word is used to refer owner of something.

Biblical examples that illustrate the ownership of a wife by her husband

First here are some examples of the use of the Hebrew word “baal” that are not in speaking of a husband and wife:

“If a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner [baal – “owner”] of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner [baal – “owner”], and the dead animal shall become his.” – Exodus 21:33-34 (NASB)

“Then the man, the owner [baal – “owner”] of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly.” – Judges 19:23 (NASB)

In Exodus 21:33-34 we see that “baal” refers both the owner of a piece of land and another owner of and ox or a donkey. In Judges 19:23 – “baal” refers the owner of a house.

Now let’s move on to examples of “baal” in reference to the relationship of a husband and a wife:

“Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married [baal – “she has an owner”].” – Genesis 20:1-3 (NASB)

“If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband [baal – “owner”] of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.” – Exodus 21:3 (NASB)

“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband [baal – “owner”] may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.” – Exodus 21:22 (NASB)

“An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.

 The heart of her husband [baal – “owner”] trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.” – Proverbs 31:10-12 (NASB)

There are more passages that use “baal” to refer to a husband being the lord and owner of his wife but I think the ones I have provided here are ample evidence to this Biblical teaching.

What about Hosea 2:16?

Some egalitarians actually will concede the inequality in the relationship between a husband and wife in the Old Testament. But they believe that Hosea 2:16, speaking of the coming Christ, shows that God makes the husband and wife relationship no longer a owner/owned relationship but rather and equal partnership.

“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “That you will call Me Ishi[man/husband]

And will no longer call Me Baali[lord/owner].” – Hosea 2:16 (NASB)

There is a problem with this egalitarian interpretation that God was going to change marriage from an owner/owned relationship to an equal partnership with coming of Christ. Apparently the Apostles Paul and Peter did not get the memo – because those Apostles wrote these passages under the inspiration of God:

“For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:23-24(NASB)

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior… For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands;  just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” – I Peter 3:1-2 & 5-6 (NASB)

Peter was actually pointing back to the Old Testament’s use of “baal – lord/owner” in reference to a husband and he was reminding Christian women that the holy women of old treating their husband’s as their lords and owners was the example that God still wanted them to follow in marriage.

When we look at Hosea in context we understand what God was actually trying to teach us:

“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,
“That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.
“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will be mentioned by their names no more.” – Hosea 2:16-17 (NASB)

Verse 17 helps us to understand what God was talking about. Over many centuries the word baal which started off just meaning “Lord/Owner/Husband” was perverted to refer to the false God’s the Israelites began to worship. God was saying that he no longer wanted to be referred to as baal(our master, our owner) – because that now came to refer to false gods. He now only wanted to be called “ishi” or husband because that word had not been perverted.

Conclusion

I doubt I have changed the minds of any egalitarians or Christian feminists reading this since most of them reject Biblical inerrancy. But for those Christians who accepted the Biblical teaching of male headship before you came to this post – you now may be asking “Why does it matter that a husband is not only the head of his wife, but that he actually owns her?”

To Husbands

Husband – this truth that God has given you ownership of your wife and children should not cause your pride to rise, but rather it should humble you. The ownership God has given you is to be exercised for his glory – not yours. You should always remember that your wife and children are gifts from God to you.

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the Lord.” – Proverbs 18:22(NASB)

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” – Psalm 127:3 (NASB)

As Christian men we are responsible for our children AND our wife’s spiritual and physical well-being. We are also responsible for the behavior of our children AND our wife. Unfortunately many Christian men are negligent in ownership responsibilities over their families. God wants us as men to take ownership for the women and children he has given graciously us.

He wants us to love them by knowing them, honoring them, leading them, teaching them, correcting and disciplining them, protecting them and providing for them.

Let me add one caveat to these responsibilities that we as Christian husbands have for our wife and children.  God holds each of us responsible for he has given us power over.  So if our wife or child descends into spiritual rebellion against after we as husbands and fathers have exercised the authority God has given us to try and help them – then we are no longer responsible for their behavior.  What I am talking about is husbands or fathers who watch their wives or children descend into sinful behavior and tell themselves there is nothing they can do and they bare no responsibility to intervene. According to God’s Word as the Spiritual heads of our homes we do have a responsibility to spiritually intervene in the lives of our wives and children.

To Wives

Wife – this truth that God has given your husband owner over you might at first be scary. It’s scary because we all know that human authority can be abused. But God calls you to have faith in him, and faith in his design. This does not mean your husband will never mistreat you, or sin against you because he is a sinner just like you. Also know that just because God has made you the property of your husband this does not mean as “human property” that you have no rights.  You have certain human rights and additional rights as a wife that your husband must respect – otherwise God will hold him accountable.

God did not give your husband ownership over you to crush or dehumanize you, but to provide for you what he knows you need. Once you understand how God view’s a husband’s ownership over his wife – it should give you comfort that if he owns you the way that God owns us all, you have nothing to fear.

This will then free you to embrace your husband’s ownership over you. It will humble you and help you put aside that sinful pride that can often rise up in your heart. You will be able realize you are not your own – you were bought with a price, and God gave you to your husband.

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB)

“For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” – I Corinthians 11:7(NASB)

Biblical Human Rights vs American Human Rights

What we think of today as “human rights” and how God defined human rights from the beginning of creation are two very different things. “Human Rights” would be defined as those rights every human being has.

There are a lot of different definitions of human rights, some longer and some shorter so I will just offer a brief sample of common human rights that most people in American(and Western) culture believe in.

12 American Human Rights

All persons should have full autonomy (full freedom), regardless of their gender, race, economic standing, national origin, ethnic background or religious beliefs.

Every person has the right to believe as they will, and worship or not worship as we they will.

Every person has the right to do with their own body as they will (this includes any type of voluntary sexual activity inside or outside of marriage).

Every person has the right to work for and obtain property and do as they wish with their own private property.

No person can sell themselves or their children into slavery and no person may own any slaves (human property is forbidden).

Every person has the right not to be physically abused.

Every person has the right to defend themselves harm.

Every person has the right to choose whom they will marry (or divorce). Men and women have equal rights in marriage, and equal rights to their children and all property between them is to be divided equally about the dissolving of the marriage in divorce (absent a prenuptial agreement).

Every person has the right to a free education (at least up to a secondary level).

No person should be deprived of his property, his freedom or his life without due process of the law,

Every person should be treated equally before the law.

No person may be treated differently by the Government based on their religion, their race, their ethnic background or their gender.

There are many other rights that many Americans believe in (on both the right and the left), but once we get past these rights there begins to be much disagreement. For instance when it comes to rights regarding sexual orientation or rights to health care and other social welfare items, there is still much disagreement in the United States. Also there is a lot of disagreement as to the difference between the rights of children and adults with some advocating for more autonomy among children (taking away parental rights over children).

But now let’s compare and contrast these American human rights with the rights given to human beings by the God in the Bible.

8 Biblical Human Rights

Every person has the right to Love the one true God, the God of the Bible. Everyone has a right to worship him and obey him even when this conflicts with the wishes of their human authorities.

“You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” – Luke 4:8 (NASB)

We must obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29 (NASB)

Every person has the right to be treated fairly and justly

“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” – Colossians 4:1(NASB)

Every person has the right not to be physically abused.

“If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.” – Exodus 21:26-28(NASB)

No person, male or female, may be deprived of their life without due process of the law. Every person should be treated impartially before the law.

“You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.” – Deuteronomy 16:19(NASB)

No person may be kidnapped, which is the illegal acquiring of human property. Only persons who are legally acquired as property may be bought or sold.

“If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.” – Deuteronomy 24:7(NASB)

“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.” – Leviticus 25:44 (NASB)

“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.” – Exodus 21:7 (NASB)

Both men and women have an equal right to sex with their spouse within marriage.

“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” – I Corinthians 7:4 (NASB)

Every person is entitled to a day of rest one day a week

“but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.” – Exodus 20:10(NASB)

Every person has the right to defend themselves and their family

“If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account.” – Exodus 22:2(NASB)

“fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” – Nehemiah 4:14(NASB)

Some big differences between Biblical and American Human rights

First off all I want to remind the reader that we are discussing “human rights”, meaning rights that all human beings have in common.

There are many more rights that God gives to various groups such as males vs females, husbands vs wives, free vs slave and adults vs children.  

This discussion of “human rights” is really a discussion of “equal rights between all human beings”.

There are some big differences between what we believe as Americans are human rights and what the Bible presents as rights given by God. Listed below are key differences between Biblical human rights and American human rights.

Except for the 8 Biblical human rights listed above, men and women do not have equal rights under Biblical law.

Except for kidnapping (the illegal acquiring of human property), slavery is allowed under Biblical law. But even slaves as human property are entitled to the 8 Biblical Human rights listed above.

There is no right given to worship any other God, except the God of the Bible.

There is no right to sex outside of marriage between a man and woman.

Only free men have the complete right and power over their own property and decisions. A father could override his daughter’s property decisions, and a husband could override his wife’s property decisions under Biblical law.

No person had a right to education whether paid or free under Biblical Law.

Under Biblical law, discrimination between men and women, Israelite and non-Israelite was not only allowed, it was commanded by God. Even under new law of Christ in the New Testament, there are some differences between how believers and non-believers are treated.

But doesn’t God support more human rights (equal rights) in the New Testament?

Some Christians may concede that there were far fewer human rights given in the Old Testament than in the New. But these same Christians (feminists and egalitarians) would point to this passage from the New Testament which they believe supposedly grants more human rights:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28 (NASB)

The truth is that this passage does no eliminate all social classes or gender distinctions between men and women, slave or free, Jew or Greek. It simply affirms an old truth that from the very beginning, all people had a human right to come to the one true God, worship him and obey him regardless of their gender or social status.

If you look into the full context of this passage it is talking about how God would no longer deal with his people through the nation of Israel, but now his people would be represented in a new body, the Church which is the body of Christ. God’s promise of salvation was not restricted to the nation of Israel but rather God saves all people and brings them into his body, regardless of their social status, ethnic origin or gender.

So in the view of some egalitarians, God eliminated all distinction in rights between men and women and he also eliminated slavery or social castes with different rights by this one passage.

But as with any other subject, we cannot take one passage and cancel out all other passages in the Bible. These old allowances and principles were reinstated and in some cases even elaborated on further in the New Testament.

The Principle that that God created woman for man and that he is her head in society, in the Church and in the home is brought forward and reinforced in the New Testament:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God… Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” – I Corinthians 11:3 & 9(KJV)

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” – Ephesians 5:23-24(KJV)

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands… For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord…” I Peter 3: 1 & 5-6 (KJV)

On the slavery issue – see my post “Why Christians should not be ashamed of Biblical Slavery”.

Conclusion

Our rights do not come from our government, they come from our maker and our God. He gives us some rights that our government does not, and he does not give us all the rights our government does.

Some extra rights that our government gives us are not sinful and therefore as Christians we may enjoy these additional rights that are granted to us in American society. But other rights, such as the right to private sexual acts outside of marriage, the right to engage in homosexual sex or prostitution and the new right to gay marriage are sinful and Christians may not exercise these rights.

Another sinful right that our American society grants is the right to no-fault divorce. God grants no such right. A husband or wife have no right to divorce their spouse expect for if their spouse violates the covenant of marriage by engaging in sexually immoral acts, physical abuse or physical abandonment of the marriage.

We as Christians must never forget that God is the one who created us, and he is the one who defines what it means to be human.  God is the one the grants our grants us our rights, and his commands supersede that our modern cultures and governments.

Why Christians shouldn’t be ashamed of Slavery in the Bible

Many Christians wish this issue would just go away. Atheists and other Non-Christians often bring up the topic of slavery in the Bible as a way to discredit the Bible as the inspired Word of God. Even some who claim to profess faith in Jesus Christ use slavery in the Bible as a way to discredit Biblical commands regarding gender roles. How can we as Christians believe that slavery in America was immoral but at the same time defend slavery in the Bible? Isn’t this a huge a contradiction?

The typical response that most Christians give about slavery in the Bible

“Well God overlooked many sinful activities in ancient society like polygamy and slavery, but these were not his perfect will. Later in the New Testament he told Christians not to practice slavery and polygamy anymore.”

Even though this post is about slavery, I include polygamy in the above statement because usually these two issues are used together to attack the morality of Christianity. I won’t be dealing with Biblical polygamy here but I have written an entire series on it and I will provide a link to it at the end of this post .

The vast majority of Christians, and sadly even many Ministers of the Gospel of Christ simply concede the modern western world’s notion that slavery is ALWAYS immoral. The other concession they make which is even worse is that God tolerated or even regulated an activity (slavery) that he believed was sinful. What these believers are doing is actually accusing God of overlooking sin.

Whenever I hear Christians saying God overlooked the supposed sins of slavery and polygamy this passage of Scripture comes to mind:

“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.” – Deuteronomy 32:4 (NASB)

The God I worship who gave commands that allowed for the practices of slavery and polygamy is just and righteous in all he commands.

If we say that God’s commands allowing polygamy and slavery were anything less than just and right – then we open the door to say that anything other commands in Scripture can be dismissed “sins God chose to overlook”.

Some Christians who reject any type of inequality – be it social or economic and especially Biblical inequalities between men and women – will say things like this:

“God always hated the sin of inequality in any sphere it appeared in society, but he wanted to reveal his will on these issues slowly and not turn society upside down by trying to explicitly take on on the “sin of inequality” that existed in practices like marriage,polygamy,slavery and capitalism.”

In fact for many Christians who reject Biblical inerrancy, they will claim that Jesus was Socialist and Feminist. I wrote some posts a while back refuting the idea that Jesus was a Feminist.

If we as Bible believing Christians surrender on issues like slavery and polygamy, and concede that they were sins God just “overlooked”, then we are at the same time surrendering the inerrancy of the Scriptures and the justice and righteousness of God in everything he commands.

But I understand that as a believer – you may need a little more than my word on this. So we will look at what the Bible says about slavery and also compare and contrast that with slavery as it was practiced in the United States.

One type of slavery is still constitutional in the United States

Before we get into what the Bible says about slavery I wanted to point to an interesting fact that most Americans are completely unaware of. Believe it or not, the United States still allows slavery.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1865 gives this exception to our prohibition of slavery:

“neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”

When a person is sentenced to life with hard labor for a crime they commit – that is a form of slavery. There are still some prisons that have forced labor, but it is not as widespread as it once was.

I actually believe this remaining form of slavery should be expanded in the United States. Imagine if every car thief, every drug dealer and especially those white collar criminals all knew they were going to have to do hard labor during their sentences instead of just being confined to a cell and given time in a yard with three meals a day?

This could bring down crime rates as well as help with the costs of prisons.

Does the Bible actually allow slavery or is it just silent on the issue?

The Bible not only allows the practice of slavery but it also regulates slavery in the laws that Moses gave to the nation of Israel. There are two primary passages in Mose’s Law that give us God’s regulations for how slavery could be morally practiced.

“If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service.  He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee.  He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers.  For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale.  You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God.  As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.  Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession.  You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another. – Leviticus 25:39-46 (NASB)

“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.  If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.  If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.  But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently. “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.  If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.” – Exodus 21:2-11 (NASB)

So it’s pretty clear in Moses’ Law that God not only allowed slavery, he regulated it. Slaves from pagan nations were automatically regarded as permanent property, and could actually be left as an inheritance to the children of their Hebrew slave owners.

Male Hebrews (countryman) could not kept as permanent slaves, but had to be treated rather as hired hands and they had to be freed after six years of service. Female Hebrew slaves could be kept indefinitely, but they could not be sold to foreign people. If a man bought a woman and gave her to his son he had treat her with the full rights of a daughter, and his son had to give her the full rights of a wife.

Biblical Rules for proper treatment of human property

“but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.” – Exodus 20:10(NASB)

“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property… “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.” – Exodus 21:20 -21 & 26-27 (NASB)

“Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” – Colossians 4:1 (NASB)

Slaves were to be treated fairly and justly by their masters. They were to be given rest one day a week when the rest of the family rested and they were able to participate in the various festivals. They were not allowed to be physically abused or murdered.

Does the New Testament maintain slavery or get rid of it?

The New Testament maintains slavery as an acceptable practice before God, provided that slaves were treated justly and fairly.

Some Christians have tried to say that the Apostles and especially Paul wanted to abolish slavery because of an issue with a runaway slave. Paul wrote a letter to a Christian slave owner named Philemon.  Paul had mentored a man name Onesimus who became a believer in Christ. He did mission work with Paul and was “useful” to Paul .  But at some point Onesimus revealed that he was a runaway slave and Paul sent him back to Philemon with this exhortation:

I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,  who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.  I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart,  whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel;  but without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.  For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,  no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.  But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;” – Philemon 1:10-18(NASB)

Some Christians point to this phrase “that you would have him back forever,  no longer as a slave, but more than a slave” to say Paul was commanding Philemon to free this slave, and by extension was against slavery and wanted him and all other Christian slave masters to free their slaves. But again whenever we look at a topic in Scripture, we have to look at everything written on that topic and not just one passage before we can truly understand God’s position on an issue.

Paul addresses Christian slave owners in these passages:

“All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.” – I Timothy 6:1-3 (NASB)

“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.” – Colossians 3:22 – 4:1 (NASB)

“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;  not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,  knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

 And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” – Ephesians 6:5-9(NASB)

If Paul was against Christians owning slaves – he would have clearly said so.  He had every opportunity to tell at least Christian slave owners that they should free their slaves and stop using slavery in their businesses. Instead Paul exhorts Masters to treat their slaves with justice and fairness, and if they are believers to treat them as brothers in Christ even though they are still slaves. Some have said that Paul did not want to impede the Gospel by taking on slavery.  But this idea reduces the Pauline epistles to mere human letters – when in fact they were divinely inspired by God.  Remember what we said previously – every command of God is just and right and Paul was giving us God’s commands regarding slaves and their masters. If God had changed his mind about slavery from the law that he gave Moses, he would have said so through his Apostles, but he did not.

Paul tells slaves if they can be free, then be free but if they cannot they need to accept their condition as slaves:

“Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.” -1 Corinthians 7:21-22(NASB)

The Apostle Peter weighed in on slavery to when he told slaves they needed to submit even to Masters who were cruel.

Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” I Peter 2:18 (HCSB)

It is interesting in each of Paul’s exhortations to slaves, he always starts off with the slave needing to respect and obey their masters and then he goes to telling the masters to treat their slaves fairly. He also does the same thing when he speaks to wives and husbands.  He starts off telling wives to submit to their husbands and then ends telling husbands to treat their wives kindly.  The principle Paul was giving us under the inspiration of God was – our respect and obedience to our authorities is not dependent on how they treat us, but rather our obedience is to our authorities is based on our obedience to God.

I believe the New Testament Scriptures are clear – God did not get rid of slavery but simply made sure that Masters treated theirs slaves fairly and that slaves knew they needed to obey their masters.

Based upon the passages cited above, as well as other passages and principles of the Bible the test of whether a particular practice of slavery is moral is answered by the two sets of questions:

The First morality test of Slavery – How did the slave come to be owned by their master?

Did they voluntarily give themselves as a slave in exchange for protection and economic security?

Were they born from slave parents?

Were they sold as a slave by their father?

Did they voluntarily sell themselves to pay off debtors?

Were they forced into servitude by governing authorities either because of debts they owed or because of a crime they committed?

Were they captured as a prisoner of a just war?

Were they kidnapped and forced to be a slave?

Biblically speaking, if a person were to answer yes to any of the first six questions, then the way that they became a slave was not wrong. If however the person was kidnapped and forced into slavery, then this type of slavery would be immoral and wrong.

The Second morality test of Slavery – How is the slave being treated by their master?

Are food, clothing and shelter being provided to the slave?

Is the slave being treated justly and fairly?

Is the slave being given proper rest?

Is the slave not being physically abused?

If the answer to all these questions is yes regarding the treatment of slaves in a particular situation then this instance of slavery would be moral – Biblically speaking.

Comparing American Slavery to Biblical Slavery

As Americans we see the practice of slavery through the eyes of African Americans and how their ancestors were treated here in America. But we need to understand that the practice of slavery here in America was nothing like the slavery that God allowed and regulated in the Bible.

Before the modern era, people often had to choose between personal liberty and economic security in most cultures around the world.

For instance in Biblical times it was not uncommon for a father to have to sell one or more his children as slaves to a wealthier family. This served two purposes – it would ensure that his children would be feed and cared for and often times it would help to pull his own family out of poverty because of the money he would receive in return.

Other times young men who had lost their entire families and lived in poverty on the street might sell themselves to wealthy man in order to have food, clothing and protection guaranteed.

Another thing is the image we have of slaves. We have in our mind men, women and children in chains and rags working their hands to the bone each day. The truth is that in many instances in ancient Israel you might have had trouble distinguishing who in the household was a slave and who were family members.

On the other hand, the slavery in practice in America was completely different than the slavery that was allowed by the Bible. Chains were a very a common occurrence with slavery in America. It was based on the false ideology that one race was less human than others and they could be enslaved if for no other reason than their race.

The Bible dispels such a notion about slaves being less human than their masters:

“If I have despised the claim of my male or female slaves When they filed a complaint against me, What then could I do when God arises? And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?

“Did not He who made me in the womb make him, And the same one fashion us in the womb? – Job 31:13-15(NASB)

Job was clear that God made his slaves in their mother’s wombs just as he was made in his mother’s womb.

No person is less human than another, and no one deserves to be enslaved simply because of their race.

Besides American slavery being based on race – it massively failed the two tests of Biblical Slavery that I mentioned above. Africans were kidnapped from their homes. They were treated worse than animals and loaded on to ships without proper food, clothing and shelter. Many Africans died while on Ships coming to America. Many African women were raped by their owners, instead being given the full status of wives. They were often physically abused and even sometimes murdered. But because they were not considered fully human, no punishments were given.

Even in some American homes where slaves were treated more humanely – the origin of how they were brought here was tainted. Their parents did not nothing deserving to be enslaved, they were the product of kidnapping.

So here is the summary in regard to American slavery. The simple fact of one man enslaving another is not in and of itself an immoral act. The act of enslaving a person is not synonymous with treating that person as less than human if the enslavement occurs under just conditions as we noted earlier.

For instance prisoners being made into slave labors is not unjust and it is not treating them as a less than human by essentially turning them into a slave workforce.

But what the Bible did not allow in regard to slavery was simply kidnapping people and enslaving them based on their race. This was a violation of Biblical human rights and this was the first reason American slavery was evil and wrong.

The second reason American slavery was wrong was the treatment of blacks after they were enslaved. They were not just enslaved wrongly but in many cases they were treated more harshly than their owners treated their horses or their livestock.  This is why American slavery was evil and nothing like the slavery God allowed in the civil laws of Israel.

Was America wrong for outlawing slavery?

The Bible does not command that anyone must have slaves. It only allows slavery under certain conditions and then it stipulates what is considered fair and humane treatment for slaves.

I believe abolitionists were right in convincing Americans to end slavery (except for criminals as I mentioned previously) but as I have shown here in this post – I don’t believe all instances of slavery are immoral. However the slavery that was practiced here in America – both in how the slaves were acquired, and how they were treated as less than human was in fact immoral.

How should Christians respond to attacks on the Bible over the issue of slavery?

First know where the attacks on Biblical slavery will come.

Attack #1 against Slavery

“All instances of slavery abuses people and treats people as less than human, therefore slavery is immoral.”

Wrong – American slavery, and slavery practiced outside of Israel may have treated slaves as less than human and it was therefore immoral. But in Israel slaves were guaranteed certain human rights that God commanded.

Attack #2 against Slavery

“Even if Israel treated their slaves more kindly they still were treated as less than human because they did not have equal rights and were not free. All adult humans must have equal rights including full autonomy.”

Wrong – God is the one who grants our rights and while he has guaranteed certain human rights to all – he did not guarantee an equal amount of rights to all. It is not immoral, or treating someone as less than human to give some people more rights than others if we are following God’s Law in doing so.

I promised at the beginning of this post to give you the link to my series on Biblical Polygamy as this and slavery are often used together to attack Biblical morality.

Here is the series “Why Polygamy is not unBiblical part 1”