8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

Webster’s dictionary defines a slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another”.   The word ‘chattle’ refers to a human being that is owned by another human being.  By our modern definition of slavery, we cannot comprehend the concept of a person being owned by another person without that owned person not being a slave.

On one side of this debate about the Biblical treatment of wives we have Christians who claim that there is absolutely no similarity at all between the husband/wife relationship and that of a slave owner to his slave while on the other side we have atheists and other humanists who claim that the Bible makes women into slaves.  What do both of these sides have in common? Jesus said it best in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

Matthew 22:29 (KJV)

The truth is that the Scriptures teach us that is possible for one person to own another person without that owned person being considered a slave.  In other words, from a Biblical perspective while all slaves are owned by other people, not all people who are owned by other people are to be considered slaves.

Wives and Children Designated by God as Property and Slaves Allowed as Property

The Bible shows us that God designed two social classes of human beings that were to be considered the property of men.  He allowed a third social class of human being that could also be taken as property as well under certain circumstances.

In the 10th commandment God mentions a man’s wife, along with his male and female slaves amongst those things which are his property:

“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 20:17 (KJV)

In the following passage we see that God gives children to their fathers as property:

“3 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)

The English word “heritage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Nachala” which literally means “inherited property”.

God authorized Israelite fathers to sell their daughters as indentured servants for a period of no longer than six years.  This is shown in the following passages:

“7And 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.”

Exodus 21:7-8 (KJV)

“And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.”

Deuteronomy 15:12 (KJV)

The passages above show that neither male nor female Hebrew indentured servants could be kept indefinitely unless the male Hebrew willingly wanted to stay and serve (see Exodus 21:5-6) or the woman was taken as a wife by the man who purchased her either for himself or one of his sons.   Otherwise after 6 years male Hebrew indentured servants had to be freed and female Hebrew indentured servants had to be allowed to be purchased back by their male relatives or by another man wishing to take them as a wife.

And for those who think these daughters sold as maidservants could be used for sex outside a covenant of marriage, I would refer the reader to the following prohibition against fathers selling their daughters for this purpose:

“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”

Leviticus 19:29 (KJV)

So, it is clear that God did not allow Hebrews to sell or buy their fellow Hebrews as slaves.  They could only could only purchases the services of fellow Hebrews as indentured servants for a limited window of time.  However, it is equally clear that God did in fact allow the Hebrews to purchase the children of foreigners within their land as slaves or they could purchase slaves from the nations around them.

“44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”

Leviticus 25:44-46 (KJV)

And in the New Testament Paul gives the following command to slaves:

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

Colossians 3:22 (KJV)

The word “servants” in the KJV passage above is a translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which actually means “slaves” and this is how most of the modern translations translate this verse.

This brings us back to wives.  We have already shown from the 10th commandment that it includes wives with male and female slaves as the property of men.  But the ownership of a husband over his wife is seen even clearer in the original Hebrew language of the Scriptures. The noun form of the Hebrew word ‘baal’ which means ‘owner/master’ is used eleven times in the Old Testament to speak of a husband’s relationship to his wife.    The word ‘baal’ is used an additional 11 times in verb form to refer to a woman coming to be ‘owned’, or married, to a husband.

The passage below from the book of Deuteronomy uses both the noun and verb form of the Hebrew word baal to illustrate a husband’s ownership over his wife:

“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an [verb ‘baal’ ‘owned by’]  husband [noun ‘baal’ ‘owner’], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)

In the New Testament the Apostle Peter refers back to this concept of a woman being owned by her husband when he admonishes wives to follow the example of the women of past generations like Sarah who “obeyed” her husband calling him “lord”:

“5 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: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

I Peter 3:5-6 (KJV)

Now having proven from the Bible that wives are actually considered by God to be property just as slaves are, we will go on to show that the responsibilities of owners toward these two types of human properties are very different.

8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

As we have previously shown from Exodus 20:17 and Leviticus 25:44-46,  wives and slaves are both considered by God to be the property of men.  And both wives and slaves are commanded by God to obey their masters in everything as Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:5-6 tells them to do.

But this is where the similarity between wives and slaves ends and the differences begin. Below are eight Biblical distinctions between wives and slaves.

1.  Slave owners don’t have to sacrifice themselves for their property – husbands do.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it

Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)

2.  Slave owners don’t have to teach God’s Word to their property  – husbands do.

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.

1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

3. Slave owners don’t have to act as human instruments of God’s sanctification in the lives of their property –  husbands do.

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.”

Ephesians 5:26-27 (KJV)

4. Slave owners don’t have to love and care for their property as they do their own bodies – husbands do.

“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)

5. Slave owners don’t have to give their bodies to meet the sexual needs of their property (nor should they) – husbands do.

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

6. Slave owners don’t have to honor their property – husbands do.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

I Peter 3:7 (KJV)

7. Slave owners don’t have to give their property the fruit of their labors – husbands do.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:31 (KJV)

8. God did not design men to be the property of other men.  God did design women to be the property of their husbands.

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. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV)

Conclusion

We have shown conclusively from the Bible that contrary to modern humanist notions of equality, God has actually designated wives and children as the property of their husbands and fathers. And again, contrary to modern egalitarian views of what marriage should be, God commands wives to regard their husbands as their masters and like slaves to be obedient to their masters in everything. The obvious exception for both wives and slaves in their obedience is if their masters command them to sin against God.  It is only in this case that they can and must disobey their masters as Acts 5:29 tells us.

The truth from the Scriptures is that there are indeed some similarities between wives and slaves but there are also significant differences between wives and slaves.

God created the relationship between a husband and wife to mirror the loving relationship between himself and his people.  A wife is to be regarded as her husband’s most precious possession, one that he cares for and would protect with his very life.

Another significant difference between wives and slaves is husbands as their wife’s owner and master are required by God to give their wife the fruit of her labors as Proverbs 31:31 states.   A slave is not entitled to enjoy any fruits from his labors.

Now this principle must be taken into account with the entire witness of the Scriptures.  In Ephesians 5:24 wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in “everything”. And yes, that would most certainly include finances.  Every dollar that comes into their home comes under the spiritual authority of the husband whether that is income from his work, his wife’s work or inheritances that either of them may acquire.  Even if the wife does not work outside the home but instead is a keeper in the home her work there has great value.

What this means is that whether a wife works outside the home or is a keeper of the home the husband should allow his wife to have fruits from her labor.  Practically speaking that means allowing her some discretionary use of money to buy things for the house or herself personally that she would like to buy.

Finally, on the topic of slavery. It is only because of the effects of sin in the world that God allowed for the practice of slavery but he commanded it to be done under humane conditions.  For a more in-depth look at the reasons and conditions under which God allowed for the practice of slavery see my article “Why Christians Should Not Be Ashamed of Slavery in The Bible”.

Shellfish, Mixed Fabrics And Slavery – Oh My!

This is the second part of my YouTube series entitled “A Defense of Living Biblically”.  In this next part I take on an statement by Rachel Oates that is a very common attack by atheists and sadly even some Christians asserting that we cannot really follow the Bible.  These attacks have even been used in some television shows over the years including the new television series “Living Biblically”.  This video is also available as an mp3 audio download in my audio section here.

After watching this video I suggest reading these articles that I have previously written on methods for properly interpreting the Bible:

How to Correctly Interpret the Bible

What is the distinction between the Moral, Ceremonial and Civil laws of the Old Testament?

What are the Moral Laws of God in the Old Testament?

Also on the controversial topic of slavery that I covered in this video please see the article below that I previously wrote on that subject:

Why Christians Shouldn’t Be Ashamed Of Slavery In The Bible 

Is Ethno-Nationalism a Sin against God or by His design?

The sign above was posted in Detroit in 1942 to oppose a new federal housing project being built for African Americans.  Most Christian Americans will agree that slavery was an original sin of America’s founders. But what about the founder’s restriction limiting citizenship to “free white persons” via the Naturalization Act of 1790? Was this a second sin by America’s founders?

The founder’s restriction of American citizenship to “free white persons” is part an ideology called “Ethno-Nationalism”.  Ethno-Nationalists believe that nations are built on three things which are common language, common culture and common ethnicity.

When America was founded the vast majority of its citizens were of British decent (English, Welsh or Scottish) with a minority being from other mostly white northern European nations.  The new American British culture would come to set the tone for America.  Even when a large amount of German immigrants would arrive in the 19th century they quickly assimilated to the American British culture that had been established.

Victor Davis Hanson in his article for the National Review – “America: History’s Exception” writes:

“The history of nations is mostly characterized by ethnic and racial uniformity, not diversity. Most national boundaries reflected linguistic, religious, and ethnic homogeneity. Until the late 20th century, diversity was considered a liability, not a strength…

Countries, ancient and modern, that have tried to unite diverse tribes have usually fared poorly. The Italian Roman Republic lasted about 500 years. In contrast, the multiracial Roman Empire that after the Edict of Caracalla in AD 212 made all its diverse peoples equal citizens endured little more than two (often violent) centuries.” [1]

So ethno-nationalism has been what has knit nations together for the history of mankind.  America even started as an Ethno-nationalist nation.  It was not until after the Civil War that American let go of its ethno-nationalist heritage and began its journey into multiracialism and eventually multiculturalism.  America’s motto “e pluribus unum” or as it translates to English “out of many one” was also transformed.  The founders used this phrase to refer to the 13 colonies becoming one nation.  Multiracialists change it for their purposes to mean that America would be a nation that was centered on multiracialism and multiculturalism.

Most Americans feel America has lost its identity

On March 5th 2017, Matt Sedensky in an article for the Associated Press wrote:

“Add one more to the list of things dividing left and right in this country: We can’t even agree what it means to be an American.

A new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Republicans are far more likely to cite a culture grounded in Christian beliefs and the traditions of early European immigrants as essential to U.S. identity.

Democrats are more apt to point to the country’s history of mixing of people from around the globe and a tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted.

While there’s disagreement on what makes up the American identity, 7 in 10 people – regardless of party – say the country is losing that identity…

Patrick Miller, a political science professor at the University of Kansas who studies partisanship and polling, said the results reflect long-standing differences in the U.S. between one camp’s desire for openness and diversity and another’s vision of the country grounded in the white, English-speaking, Protestant traditions of its early settlers.” [2]

Some Christians openly rejoice that America has transformed from its Ethno-nationalist roots into a multiracial multicultural country.  Many Christian’s believe the world needs to unite and leave old divisions of race, ethnic groups and even national boundaries to the dustbin of history.

But other Christians remain silently saddened as they see the America of George Washington slip away.

The Language of Race Discussions

We have gone from one extreme in our societies to another.  In times past, racial and ethnic hatred were common and generally accepted in day to day language.  In the days of America’s founding it was common for whites to degrade and insult Native Americans and Blacks.  In fact, to defend these groups in any way and condemn such hateful speech was rare.

But now over the past several decades in America a new hatred has arisen. The only acceptable discussion of race in America is that Whites should be ashamed of their past treatment of various races and that White privilege and prejudice is still holding back minorities like Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics. A new oppressed minority are Muslims.  If you were to talk about how Whites still oppress and hold back all these groups and all the evils those of European decent have brought on the world you will be praised.  You will be applauded.  You will be loved.

But any speech about race today that is NOT speaking about White oppression against various races is condemned as racist and evil.  For instance, even to ask the question I did in a previous post – “Is Self-Segregation a Sin in the Bible?” is called racist.  To question government forced integration is to be called evil and racist.  People lose jobs not just because of racial slurs – but even for questioning racial integration and affirmative action policies.

In fact, we are told that race does not really exist and even to consider the possibility that race actually exists is irrational and racist. The debate is closed and may not be discussed.

And finally on this topic of the language of race relations I am going to make something abundantly clear that I made in other previous posts on this discussion of race.

I do NOT support White hate groups like the KKK, Neo Nazis or other White supremacist groups.    In my previous article “We must denounce White, Black, Antifa and Muslim Terrorism” I denounced the actions of the KKK and Neo Nazis from a Christian perspective as not only hateful but actually as forms of domestic terrorism.  I showed in previous posts that there is no allowance in the Christian faith for hating someone because of their racial or ethnic origin.

I put the above statement in red so that no one can try and twist or malign the honest discussion I am about to have about race and ethno-nationalism from a Biblical perspective into saying I support White hate groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis or other such groups.

Denying the reality of race will not end racial hatred or racial atrocities

Even a small child knows that race exists.  When an adopted Black child asks his White adoptive parents “Mommy and Daddy – why do I look so different from you?” he is recognizing what we all know to be true – race exists and it is about far more than skin color differences. The child recognizes the different facial features between himself and his parents.

The difference between races is even more than facial features, hair and skin colors – in other words it is more than skin deep.  While most of the scientific community is trying to erase the concept of races from modern science teachings there is one group of scientists who simply cannot ignore what they see under the skin and they are forensic anthropologists.

“Forensic anthropologists, experts in skeletons that do work for law enforcement agencies, say they are extremely accurate at deciphering the signs that identify a dead person’s bones as African, Caucasian, Asian or American Indian.

“We produce as much accuracy in race as we do with sex and age,” says George W. Gill, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Wyoming and one of the eight anthropologists who are suing the federal government in the Kennewick case.”

[3]

Think CSI, Bones and other crime shows on TV.  When they find a body in a burned out building and all they have to go on is the skeleton.  Forensic experts can ascertain with a great degree of certainty whether a person is of Caucasian, African or Asian descent.  And as far as Native Americans go – Native Americans really are just a particular Asian variant.

The fact is there are three major variations of human beings – Caucasians, Africans and Asians.  We can call them “people groups” instead of “race” as some forensic anthropologists want to do.  But the fact cannot be denied that there are three distinct and discernable major variations of human beings.

But the key word is “variation”.  Just because my major variation type, people group or race is Caucasian and yours is African or Asian does not make any of us less human.  It does not give any of us the right to rule over the other.

We don’t have to pretend or try to erase or minimize race from our vocabulary and thought processes to combat racial hatred.

One other word I will use often in this post is “ethnicity”.  Now today in order to go along with trying to wipe out racial distinctions from our vocabularies people are saying “ethnicity” has nothing to do with race but only groups of people with shared traditions and values or perhaps national origin.  The fact is for all of human history ethnicity has been associated with common heredity as well as common traditions and values and national origin.  You cannot erase heredity as a historical component of ethnicity even though we are trying to do that today in nations.

So, when I use the term “ethnicity” I am using it to refer to minor human variation groups.  Northern Europeans could be classified as a minor variation of the major Caucasian variation group.  Englishmen would be a further subset or minor variation group of the Northern European variant group.  Arabs are a West Asian and North African Caucasian variant group. Nigerians would be a minor variation of the major African variant group as compared to Kenyans being another.  Chinese would be a minor variation of the major Asian variant group compared to Filipinos.

So now you will understand what I mean when I say race or ethnicity.

The Christian case against Ethno-Nationalism

Most Christian Americans and for that matter most Christians today around the world believe that ethno-nationalism is the same as racial hatred and the Bible condemns all hatred except hatred of sin:

“Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”

Proverbs 10:12 (KJV)

So some Christians will stop right there and say the case is closed.  Ethno-nationalism is racial hatred and all hatred except for hatred of sin is condemned in the Bible therefore Ethno-nationalism is a sin against God and Christians should condemn it or so they say.

Some Christians will go a bit further in explaining why Ethno-nationalism is a sin against God and incompatible with the Christian way of life.  The following Bible passages are cited as proof that Christians should be opposed to ethno-nationalism:

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)

“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;”

Revelation 5:9 (KJV)

“13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”

Ephesians 2:13-16 (KJV)

So the argument from Christians who believe these passages condemn the practice and ideology of ethno-nationalism goes somewhat like this:

Christ came to save all men regardless of their ethnic background.  But he came not only to save all races and ethnicities – but he came to knock down the boundaries or as Ephesians 2:14 says “the middle wall of partition” between them.  Since Christ made no distinction in his saving of all men from all races and ethnicities then so too we as Christians should erase all racial preferences or distinctions between races in our own personal lives – this is what we are told as Christians we must do.

Some Christians will even argue that the primary reason that Christ gave himself up on the cross was to promote racial diversity and harmony and John Piper is one of those Christians.  John Piper is a nationwide respected Evangelical Pastor and Christian author and I think he represents well the modern Christian arguments against ethno-nationalism.

You won’t find the term “ethno-nationalism” in his book but you will instead find the synonym “ethnocentrism” all over his book “Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian” like this example where he references it:

“This will mean a new global family made up of believers in Christ from every ethnic group on the planet. And it will mean that those who love that vision will work toward local manifestations of that ethnic diver­sity. Jesus is the end of ethnocentrism—globally and locally. Not color but faith in Christ is the mark of the kingdom.”

[4, p. 119]

In the following excerpt, instead of saying Christ came to end ethnocentrism, John Piper frames it differently by saying Christ came to bring ethnic diversity.  In fact, John Piper says Christ literally died on the cross for ethnic diversity when he writes:

“…this aim of ethnic diversity and harmony in the people of God (the one priesthood and kingdom) was pursued by God at infinite cost. The cost of diversity was the blood and life of the Son of God. This is not an overstatement. Consider the wording of Revelation 5:9 very closely: “You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” God paid the infinite price of his own Son’s life to obtain a priesthood of believers and a kingdom of fellow rulers from every race and every ethnic group on earth. Think on it. He paid this price particularly. It was for this particular people. He ransomed people “from the nations.” The issue of racial and ethnic diversity and harmony in the church is not small, because the price God paid precisely for it was not small. It was infinite.” [4, p. 141]

John Piper then concludes that it is part of our sacred duty as Christians to pursue racial diversity in all areas of our lives:

“And if it cost the Father and the Son such a price, should we expect that it will cost us nothing? That it will be easy? That the Devil, who hates the glory of God and despises the aims of the cross, will relent without a battle? No. To join God in pursuing racial diversity and racial harmony will be costly. So costly that many simply try for a while and then give up and walk away from the effort to easier things.

But if you love God—if you live to spread a passion for his suprem­acy in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ—you will trust him and seek his help and pursue with your life what cost Jesus his.” [4, p. 142]

As part of his belief that God has called Christians to pursue racial diversity John Piper and his wife adopted an African American girl knowing it would trouble some of his southern relatives.  He also has placed racial diversity as a hiring criterion for all ministries he oversees at his Church because he believes all local churches should do their best to reflect the racial diversity of the world-wide body of Christ.

So that is the total Christian case against Ethno-nationalism in a nutshell.  According to its opponents, Ethno-nationalism comes from a position of racial and ethnic hatred and part of the reason Christ came and died on the cross was to promote racial and ethnic harmony and remove the barriers between races and ethnicities.

In fact some Christians would even go as far as rejecting not only ethno-nationalism – but even nationalism itself. There are many Christians that would build on John Piper’s theology and state that Christ promoted multicultural globalism.   After all we are all “one in Christ” and if we are one there is no place for national boundaries anymore.

The Christian Case for Ethno-nationalism

We have just explored the reasoning by many Christians today for their belief that Ethno-nationalism is a sin against God and that God wants all Christians in every sphere of their life(which would include family, church and society) to promote and implement policies of racial and ethnic diversity.

But now I will present the case that Ethno-nationalism is not a sin against God.  In fact I will show from the Scriptures that God not only allows Ethno-nationalism but in fact he was the architect of it!

I know that may sound shocking to many Christians but that is because of the sad fact that as much as we push education in our modern society – most Christians have never read the entire Bible.  They just read a few portions here and there or they listen to their Pastor or read books by Christian men like John Piper.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think it is great for us to listen to preachers on the radio – I do from time to time.  It is great to go to church each week and here the Gospel and the doctrines of Scripture preached by a Pastor on Sundays.  I have also read many Christian books by many Christian authors. But each of us must study the Scriptures for ourselves as well and remember that no Pastor or teacher (and that includes me) perfectly understands or interprets the Bible.  We are all flawed men and affected by our culture and upbringing.

No culture is perfect. Sometimes cultures and governments actually get things right and enforce God’s laws and policies. Where governments do push godly polices we as Christians should support and promote such polices.

So the question is this – is John Piper and the host of Christians he represents in America and around the world right in siding with our current cultural emphasis on multiracialism and multiculturalism or are Christians like me who side with the ethno-nationalist policies of our founders as well as all nations before the modern times right?

In other words, have nations since the flood acted against God’s will in protecting their racial homogeneity?

With that said here is the case I make from the Scriptures in support of Ethno-nationalism.

The great omission of Christians who oppose ethno-nationalism

The first argument against John Pipers position is found his same book “Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian” where he writes:

“First, that God is the God of the nations means that God created all the nations. More specifically, he created all the people in those nations in his own image. This is not Paul’s explicit focus in Romans 3:29–30, but it is implied in what he says here.

He makes this focus explicit in Acts 17:26: “He made from one man every nation [Greek ethnos] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” Notice two things from this text. First, God is the maker of ethnic groups. “God made from one man every nation.” Ethnic groups do not come about by meaningless, random genetic change. They come about by God’s design and purpose. The text says plainly, “God made every ethnos.”

Also, God made all the ethnic groups from one human ancestor. Paul says, “He made from one man every ethnos.” This has a special wallop when you ponder why he chose to say just this to these Athenians on the Areopagus. The Athenians were fond of boasting that they were autochthones, which means that they sprang from their native soil and were not immigrants from some other place or people group.

Paul chooses to confront this ethnic pride head-on. God made all the ethnic groups—Athenians and barbarians—and he made them out of one common stock. So you Athenians are cut from the same cloth as those despised barbarians.” [4, p. 153]

So, what is the argument within his own words against his larger position against ethno-nationalism and for the promotion of racial diversity in societies?

The key is in the passage he cites from Acts 17:26. John Piper makes the same omission that most anti-ethno-nationalist Christians make.  Let’s look at this passage he cites in its entirety:

“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)

The critical phrase he left off (and those who support his position always leave off) is and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation”.

Yes, God made every “ethnos”- every human variation type from one man and that was Adam.  That is an absolute Biblical truth.  But the second Biblical truth found in this same verse is that God also determined the bounds of their habitation.  This is a reference back to a passage in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.

“7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. 8 When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

Deuteronomy 32:7-8 (KJV)

In Deuteronomy 32 we read about “the days of old” when God “separated the sons of Adam”.   Now you will need to follow the bouncing ball just a couple more times to see the complete truth of the Scriptures.  The event where God “separated the sons of Adam” is a reference to what God did at the tower of Babel as recorded in the book of Genesis.

The Biblical Story of Babel

The Biblical account of the tower of Babel is given to us in the book of Genesis:

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”

Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV)

Genesis 11 is not the only part of the Bible to speak of what God did at the Babel event.

The book of Deuteronomy gives us more detail on the Babel event:

“7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

8 When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

Deuteronomy 32:7-8 (KJV)

The phrase “the number of the children of Israel” found in Deuteronomy 32:8 refers to this passage of Scripture:

“And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.”

Exodus 1:5 (KJV)

So Deuteronomy chapter 32 tells us God did not just divide men by language but he also separated them into nations and sent them where the nations originally started across the world and Exodus 1:5 shows us he divided them into 70 groups and then in Genesis chapter 10 we read more detail on the nations and their ancestry.

When did the Babel dispersion event occur?

Bible scholars have debated this for centuries.  The debate centers around a man name Peleg and his life as a reference for when Babel occurred. The Scriptures say this about Peleg:

“And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.”

Genesis 10:25 (KJV)

Arch Bishop Ussher who made his famous chronology based on Biblical events and their given timings in relation to one another placed the Babel event just before Peleg was born because Peleg means “divided”. This would mean roughly only 105 years after the flood the tower of Babel was built and God divided the people.

But if we move closer to Peleg’s death which would still be in his lifetime that would add 235 years to the Babel period. Some scholars believe there would not have been a sufficient population to build the tower as well as fulfill later Biblical events if the division happen only a 100 years after the flood making it much more likely that the Babel event probably occurred around 300 years after the flood.

It is possible if the Babel event happened 300 years after the flood that there could have been anywhere from 500,000 to has high as one million people at Babel when God separated them into nations and sent them on their way to the ends of the earth.  So I would put my guess in the middle and say there might have been 700,000 people at Babel when God divided the nations.

How did God scatter the people at Babel?

Most people think God scattered the people in only one way and that was by language.  The Genesis 11 account does allude to God dividing the people by giving them different languages.  But as we previously have shown from Genesis 10, Deuteronomy 32:7-8 and Acts 17:24-26 not only did God divide the world by language – but he also divided the world into nations.  God is literally the creator of the concept of nations.

So God sent 70 groups of people out and then split them into the various nations inhabiting the world.  If he divided the people evenly we are talking about God sending out 70 groups of 10,000 people to start the first nations of the earth and then each of those groups would have divided once in their new homelands into various family and tribal groups which formed ancient cities and towns.

God divided the world by Ethnic Groups

But God did something even more interesting.  He divided men into major heredity groups (races) both by nations and continents.  Why don’t we find ancient nations in Africa with people who have Asian characteristics?   Why don’t we find people with African characteristics in the Americas before European slave traders brought them? Why don’t we find people with Caucasian characteristics in Asia before modern times?  It is because God “separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people” (Deuteronomy 32:8).

In fact the only area of the world we find any mixture of races at all in ancient times was in the Middle East because it was the cross roads of the known world.

Some Christians would try and argue that the 70 groups of humans that God sent out from Babel all looked the same and that only through isolated breeding over thousands of years did distinctive East Asian, Central Asian, African, European, Australian and Native American characteristics form.   That might sound fine to secularists and evolutionists but I do not buy that as a Bible believing Christian.

I do not buy into Darwin’s evolution of races.  I believe God put in Adam the DNA for every distinctive characteristic of every major and minor human variation type and the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters. I believe Adam carried the human DNA for every skin color variation and every hair, eye, nose and lip variation that would ever be.  And John Piper actually agrees with me on this point when he wrote in the excerpt I quoted above:

“Ethnic groups do not come about by meaningless, random genetic change. They come about by God’s design and purpose. The text says plainly, “God made every ethnos.”

I believe Adam and Eve gave birth to children that had Asian characteristics, Caucasian characteristics and African characteristics. These were the three major human variant types – they did not evolve over thousands of years – but were there from the first men.

God made sure in his divine sovereignty that Noah and his wife would carry the distinctive DNA for all human variation types which most likely means that Noah and his wife as well as their parents were biracial couples which would make his three sons biracial and perhaps their wives were biracial as well.

And no I don’t buy into the theory that Ham was the father of the black race and that God cursed the black race.  So if you think I am saying that please save your breath – I am not. I believe Ham, Shem and Japheth where biracial children who were the product of their biracial parents and grandparents.  Just as the Ark carried every type of animal, bird and reptile so too it carried every human variation type in Noah’s three sons and their wives DNA.

Also I don’t believe Adam was white but rather he was most likely a middle brown of sorts somewhat like a middle easterner.  But whatever he looked like it does not matter because he carried in him the DNA for every human variation that would ever exist.

Where is the proof that God separated nations by Race?

Some people might be screaming at this article right now saying “Ok you have proven that God separated the world by languages and nations but the Bible says nothing about race!”  Well actually it does and John Piper has actually helped me to prove this point with this statement from his excerpt I previously gave:

“He makes this focus explicit in Acts 17:26: “He made from one man every nation [Greek ethnos] of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” Notice two things from this text. First, God is the maker of ethnic groups.”

The Greek word for nation is ethnos from which we get our word ethnicity. It referred not only to a group of people with shared traditions and values but also with shared blood lines (common heredity). This is why I and others who are being faithful to understanding what nations were before our modern era maintain that one of the critical foundational pieces of nations that God created was common heredity or ethnos.

Acts 17:26 serves not as a defense of the concept of multicultural and multiracial nations, as John Piper and other modern Christians suggest, but rather it serves as a fatal blow to their position and a solid rock to support the idea that God not only approves of ethno-nationalism but he actually invented it!

So yes it is absolutely right to say as John Piper did that God created every human being from one man and he created every ethnicity of man.  Amen and Amen.  But it is also right to say that the same God who created all of us from one man and every ethnicity from one man also separated the sons of that one man by ethnicity into nations.  We cannot affirm the first truth while leaving the second truth out.

Not only does the Bible clearly state that God separated the world by ethnicity into nations but world history proves it.

Why don’t we find large mixtures of races in nations before modern times?   The answer is simple.  It is because as the Scriptures state God created the “ethnos” and “separated” and set “the bounds of their habitation”.

That means the original inhabitants of China were sent their by God. The original inhabitants of the Americas were sent there by God.   The original inhabitants of India were sent there by God. The same goes for Africa, and Europe and Australia.

So up to this point we have established from the Scriptures that it was God who separated the sons of Adam at Babel and determined where they were to go on earth.  He sent 70 different groups of people out from Babel – some not too far Babel and others he would send to the other side of the planet in what would later become known as the Americas.

While the Scriptures don’t specifically describe the racial characteristics of these groups that God scattered we know from history that the major racial types were primarily clustered by continental areas and since the Scriptures tell us God sent them there we can rightly say God divided the world not only by language and nations but also by major and minor racial categories.

But then the question becomes why? Why did God scatter the people at Babel? It appears that before the flood the concept of nations did not really exist.  The world was not divided by language, racial characteristics or national boundaries.  So why after the flood did God divide the world in the ways we have discussed?

Why did God scatter the people at Babel?

There are positive and negative reasons God scattered the people at Babel.  God loves variety.  He ordained that there would be 12 tribes of Israel and 12 disciples.  Each of the Tribes of Israel were unique as each of the 12 Apostles were unique.  He used 4 different men to write the Gospel from four different viewpoints.

Now God could have had every variety of man in one big worldwide order with all the major and minor variations of man that he knew he created all intermarrying and living in one interracial utopia with one culture.  But this was not what he wanted.  He wanted man to fill the earth and to spread across from one side of the planet to the other. He wanted a variety of different languages and ethnicities and nations to form.

But the people at Babel forgot God and forgot his command that he gave to Noah:

“And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Genesis 9:7 (KJV)

God wanted Noah’s decedents to not only have lots of children but he also wanted them to spread out across the earth and fill the earth. Instead the decedents of Noah turned against God’s command and purposefully sought to keep themselves together.

Often times one sin leads to an even greater sin and this is what happened at Babel.

There is a sinful ideology that absolutely grew like an infectious disease after Noah’s descendants decided to stay together at Babel over several centuries.  That sinful ideology was secular humanism.

Secular humanism is the Spirit of Babel and the Spirit of Babel is secular humanism – they are one and the same. 

And do you know what feeds the Spirit of Babel and causes it grow? When mankind unites in the name of mankind across racial, ethnic and national boundaries under anything except obedience to and the worship of God.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

Genesis 11:4 (KJV)

The people did not want to make a name for God – they wanted to make a name for mankind.  Listen to this definition of Humanism from dictionary.com which so perfectly fits the people at Babel:

“a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.” [5]

In Genesis 11:6 God tells us there would be no limit to what mankind could do if they remained united:

“And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

So, God was saying there were no limits to the sin man could commit when the world unites and this is why he wanted men separated by language, culture and race in various places throughout the world.

America played with humanism and brought about the new Babel

The fact is that while many of the founding fathers were godly men they also dabbled in secular humanism as well.  They thought they could “Christianize” humanism.  Humanist philosophy began to grow in America and be influenced more by European thinkers.  Atheism, egalitarianism, multiracialism, feminism and eventually multiculturalism took over until the values of America barely resembled those of her founders.

America started off as a Christian ethno-nationalist nation of northern European decent and in just over century it transformed into a secular humanist multiracial multicultural “melting pot”.  America would go on to be instrumental in bringing the world together to form the new Babel “that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.”

Truly the new uniting of the world with America at its center has resulted in evils that would be unimaginable a century ago.  The most powerful human sphere of authority God ever established – that of the husband and father has been almost completely neutered as a result of efforts to appease feminists and meet the demand of a secular society for greater equality for all its members. Infanticide in the form of abortion is the law of the land resulting in the deaths of millions of children each year.

Divorce is rampant and cohabitation is fully accepted. Full acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism is mandated by law. God has been chased out of our schools and secularism is fully entrenched.  Laziness is subsidized through social programs.  Most of the Churches in the western world (including America) have bought into the social Gospel.

Integration schemes are continually tried to force different ethnicities to unite.  Governments seize money from the rich and middle classes in their futile attempt to end poverty in all nations as well as redistribute wealth between different ethnic groups.

The fatal mistake Christian Diversity Advocates make

I am going to quote you a few passages of Scripture that point out a critical truth of the Scriptures that Christian diversity advocates make.

“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:”

Luke 20:34-35 (KJV)

You might be scratching your head now saying “what does marriage have to do with ethno-nationalism?” It is not marriage that I want you to notice but instead look at two key phrases Christ says here. Those phrases are “this world” and “that world”.

We live in “this world” not “that world”.  Even Christ said his kingdom was not yet of “this world”:

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

John 18:36 (KJV)

Now he did say that one day he would come to rule and establish his kingdom here on earth:

“26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

Mark 13:26-27 (KJV)

And in the book of Revelation it says that Christ will rule over the nations with a rod of iron:

“13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.”

Revelation 19:13-16 (KJV)

What is my point? The fatal mistake diversity advocates like John Piper and other Christians who attack the concept of ethno-nationalism make is that they think they can bring about “that world” before Christ comes.

Only God himself can cancel his Babel policy that he made for mankind. Only when Christ returns to rule over this earth can the nations of the earth unite without returning to evil spirit of Babel.

Did Christ die to promote racial diversity?

My Bible does not tell me that Christ died to bring “racial diversity” in this world “globally and locally” but rather it tells me “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Absolutely it makes no difference what our race, ethnicity, gender or social status is – Christ saves us all just the same.  And praise be to God he has saved and will continue to save men and women from “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

Christ gave this great commission to his Church:

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Mark 16:15 (KJV)

Christ didn’t say “go promote racial diversity and get rid of ethno-nationalism” he said to go into the world and preach the Gospel. He did not call us to bring about his earthly kingdom – he will do that himself one day.  When I read John Piper’s statements about Christ dying for racial diversity it very much reminded me of when Christian feminists say Christ died to abolish the sin of patriarchy and bring about gender equality.

For now, we are to live in “this world” while looking forward to “that world”.  No Christian should actively seek to work against or cancel out God’s Babel policy in this time and this world.  Only Christ can do that one day when he returns to reign.

How should we as Christians respond to living in the new Babel?

First, we need to realize that we live in this sin cursed world and that ethno-nationalism can create an environment that when unchecked by Christian principles can lead to sinful racial pride, racial hate and bigotry. History shows this time and time again. But do we think God did not know that when he instituted ethno-nationalism at the tower of Babel? Of course, he did.  But he knew an even greater sin of humanism and secularism would occur if men stayed together.  Yes, nations would be sinful on their own – but if all the ethnos of the world united together under anything less that Jesus Christ himself as King it would spell complete rebellion against God. And that is what we see today.

This is another area where John Piper and others get it completely wrong.  Christ was condemning the sinful racial pride, hatred and bigotry of Israel but he was not condemning the policy of ethno-nationalism which he himself established in Israel as he had for all nations at Babel.

So, as we are forced to live in this new Babel we must always be personally checking ourselves against attitudes of sinful racial pride, racial hatred and racial bigotry.  We must also guard against sinful national pride, national hatred and national bigotry.

But I want you to notice a word I always put out in front of pride and that is “sinful”.  Pride is not always sinful in the same way that hate and anger are not always sinful.  Sometimes pride is actually holy and just in the same way that hate and anger can be holy and just.

“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”

Proverbs 17:6 (KJV)

For parents to be proud of their children’s accomplishments if not sinful.  If that pride in their children’s accomplishments leads to them degrading other’s people’s children because they have not had the same accomplishments then it becomes sin.  In the same way, it is not wrong for anyone to glory in the accomplishments of their father or forefathers or even those of their same kindred or ethnicity.

When an American wins at the Olympics it is not wrong for us as Americans to be proud of our fellow American that won.

Some will point to this verse to say Christians should not regard themselves as citizens of any nation whether it be America or any other:

“20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

Philippians 3:20-21 (NASB)

But these Christians are making that same error I pointed out earlier of confusing “this world” with “that world”.  We eagerly await the transformation of our bodies into glorified bodies in heaven – but we are not there yet.  For now, we live in this world and we are in fact citizens of whatever nation God has placed us in.

What should our attitude as Christians be toward racial diversity?

There are two extremes on this issue of racial diversity.  One extreme of ages past taught that we as Christians are forbidden from any interaction with people of other races and ethnicities. The Bible does not support such a notion and this passage of Scripture directly contradicts that:

“11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.”

Galatians 2:11-13 (KJV)

We don’t have to be ashamed to associate with people of other ethnicities, especially brothers in Christ.  Churches should not forbid various ethnicities from coming to them. They should be open to all ethnicities because it is not the job of the church to protect its racial homogeneity.

But then we have the other extreme.  While it is not the job of the Church to protect its racial homogeneity, it is also NOT the job of the Church to vigorously promote and encourage racial diversity.

What about parents and their children? Is it a sin for a parent to prefer their child marry someone of their own ethnicity? The answer is no.  We see examples of parents being very protective of making sure their children married within their ethnicity:

“2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.”

Genesis 24:2-4 (KJV)

Again, as I said in the previous post – interracial marriage is not a sin in and of itself.  But it is also not a sin for parents to prefer their children marry within their own ethnicity.

And finally, on the subject of national policy.  We as American Christians live in a nation where we can vote and we have a say in government policies and since we as the people have say in the direction our nation goes we must oppose policies that continually run contrary to God’s Babel policy.

What that means is we as Christians should vote against any local, state or federal policies which seek to weaken the nation’s sovereignty and identity and give that sovereignty to the United Nations or other international groups.

We must vote against any local, state or federal policies which seek to strengthen the spirit of Babel in our society by forcing racial and ethnic integration such as bussing schemes and housing schemes.  We as Christians should vote against affirmative action schemes and any legislation which would impose racial diversity quotas on centers of education or businesses.  If we as Christians were ever presented with government proposals to limit immigration by ethnicity as we did before the 1960’s we should support such efforts.

Christians should absolutely support a ban on immigration from all Muslim nations not only to protect ourselves from terrorism but to protect our ethnic and cultural identity.  Christians should oppose building permits for new mosques in their neighborhoods.

It’s not about just about protecting Whites from the attacks of racial diversity pushers in America, it is about working to weaken or stop the spirit of Babel which is so prevalent throughout the world today and trying to return to God’s Babel’s policy where he “separated the sons of Adam”.

I hold no hatred for those who are not of my racial and ethnic kindred and I also hold no illusions about America remaining a majority white nation. I am not angry at Black, Hispanic or Asian Americans.

I am saddened at the behavior of my own kindred – those of British decent, those of northern European decent.  They embraced humanism, egalitarianism, multiracialism and feminism and in the process gave away the nation their ancestors fought and died for.  White men gave up their duty to protect the racial homogeneity of their nation both by engaging in slavery of the African people as well as allowing the slaves to stay after had they had been freed against the wishes of Abraham Lincoln who wanted to send them back to Africa.

White men in America gave up their leadership of their families and this nation when they allowed women to leave the home, pursue their own career interests and have less children.  They again failed to protect their racial homogeneity with the removal of all ethnic limits on immigration in the 1960s.

The spirit of Babel may not be stoppable and it may simply hearken the end of days.  But until Christ returns to establish his kingdom in this world we as Christians have no right to throw out God’s Babel policy nor should we embrace the evil spirit of Babel in our world.

References

[1] V. Davis, “America: History’s Exception,” National Review, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/436347/america-melting-pot-immigrant-culture-made-country-great.
[2] M. Sedensky, “AP-NORC Poll: Political divide over American identity,” Associated Press, 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.apnorc.org/news-media/Pages/AP-NORC-Poll-Divided-Americans-fret-country-losing-identity.aspx
[3] W. Lawson, “Anthropologists Disagree About Race and Bones,” ABC News, 2000. [Online]. Available: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=98485&page=1.
[4] J. Piper, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, Crossway, 2011.
[5] “Humanism,” Dictionary.com, [Online]. Available: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/humanism.

Does the Bible Teach that Women are Second Class Citizens?

I recently received an email from a woman asking for Scriptural proof that that God does not want women to be treated as second class citizens.  She could have sent this email to a lot of Christian sites and they may have sent her back Scriptures that they believe support the idea that women should be treated completely equal with men.

The most common Scripture passage used to try and say the Bible supports equal rights for women is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

“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)

The advocates for woman’s rights hail this verse saying that it teaches that God intends for there to be absolutely no distinction and thus completely equal rights between men and women. But is this passage from Galatians God’s complete revelation on the subject of gender? We will explore the answer to that question later in this article.

I have changed the name of the woman who wrote me to Lauren in order protect her anonymity as she gave me her real name in the email.  What follows are several statements from her in the email and my response to her showing her from the Bible what God’s Word says on this issue.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

“I am raising daughters that have been in an environment that teaches them that women are second class… Do you know any podcast, bible verses, bible studies, websites, etc that can guide them back to trusting the Bible as God’s word and that the verses are not intending women to be second class citizens?”

MY RESPONSE:

First, we need to define what treating someone like a “second class citizen” is.  In common language usage today treating someone like a second-class citizen would be to show disdain for them or mistreat them in some way.  If we were talking about treating with disdain or hatred we can easily show that Biblically speaking this is wrong.  We are to be kind to all people no matter what their race, gender or ethnicity is.   We are also to treat others as we would want to be treated as Christ exhorted us in what has become known as “The Golden Rule”:

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (KJV)

But often times this rule that we should treat others as we would want to be treated is vastly abused by many to cancel out entire sections of the Scriptures.

I get people writing me all the time saying “You only believe the way you do because you are a man and it is advantageous to you to believe in Biblical Gender Roles.  If you were a woman you would not so easily believe in such things.”   You know what my response is to such assertions? I tell them if I was a woman like my mother or my daughter or many other godly women I knew growing up I would absolutely believe the way I do about Biblical Gender Roles.  I don’t believe in Biblical Gender Roles because it is advantageous to me as a man – I believe in Biblical Gender Roles because that it is what the Bible teaches.

Trust me, it is not easy living counter to the culture you live in.  It is also not as easy as women think to be a man especially in this day when masculinity is attacked and women no longer respect men. Marriage has become more of a battlefield today than it ever was thanks to feminism poisoning the minds of women. Many men have just given up and given the reigns to their wife and they do whatever she says and whatever makes her happy.  That is taking the easy and cowardly way out.

Returning back to the subject of women being treated as second-class citizens – we are not talking about mistreating women in the sense of treating them with disdain, dishonor or unkindness by Biblical standards.

The key phrase in my last statement is “by Biblical standards”.   Our culture has a whole different set of standards by which women are said to be treated with disdain, dishonor and in an inhumane way.  Before I speak to this let me give a dictionary definition of a “second class citizen” according to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/second-class_citizen:

“A person belonging to a social or political group whose rights and opportunities are inferior to those of the dominant group in a society.”

So, if one social group of people has inferior rights and opportunities to that of some other dominant group than they are said to be treated as second class citizens.

American and Western culture in general have devised a new standard of treating someone as “less than a person” or treating someone in “an inhumane way”.  The standard is equal rights.  If a culture has different classes of people with different classes of rights then they are said to be treating those people with hatred, disdain and in an inhumane manner.  No one is allowed to question this modern definition of treating someone in an inhumane way.

In fact, in America we have sacrificed the doctrines of our Christian faith as well as our marriages and many other things on the altar to our false god of equality.  It is ok if we worship the Christian god too, as long as our service to the god of equality comes first.

So now the question then becomes does the Bible advocate for women to be treated as second class citizens to men according to the dictionary definition I just gave?

The answer simply put is YES.  The Bible does in fact advocate for women to be treated as second class citizens to men if “second class citizen” simply means they are to have less rights and opportunities than men.

In fact, women occupy the second of three social classes of humanity that God designed.

The Three Social Classes Ordained by God

Contrary to modern Western and American ideals about equality God’s original design of mankind features a social order with three classes of people.

God’s First-Class Citizen – Man as God’s Image Bearer

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27 (KJV)

There are a great number of Christian theologians that misread this famous Biblical account of the creation of man and woman.  This passage does NOT teach that God created “them” (male and female) in his image. It clearly states “in the image of God created he HIM”. Many Christian teachers (even non-feminist teachers) have tried to argue that because “man” can refer to mankind that this can mean “So God created mankind in his own image”.  That is absolutely true that sometimes “man” (or Adam as it is in the original Hebrew) can refer to an individual man or mankind in general. The problem with this interpretation in this particular passage is found in the second phrase with the word “him” which is a translation of the Hebrew phrase “eth haa-‘adam” which literally means “this same man”.

So in Genesis 1:27 the Scriptures are telling us “God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God created he this same Adam.  Male and Female created he them.”

This passage tells us two very important truths.  God created man (male human beings) in his image and also that he created women as well.  It does not say he created women in his image, only that he created women.

And if there was any doubt as to the correct interpretation of this passage God gave the Apostle Paul this divine commentary on Genesis account:

“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)

God’s Second-Class Citizen – Woman the helper to man

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)

In Genesis chapter 2 we see that God did not want Adam to be alone and so he created a helper for him.  Now a helper can be one in authority (like a manager who helps his workers), a helper can be an equal partner or a helper can be a subordinate.  So which kind of helper did not create Eve to be? The Genesis account tells us that Adam named her type “woman” and later he even gave her personal name which was Eve.  This was a sign that she would be a subordinate helper, not an authority helper nor an equal partner.  Throughout the Old Testament this is maintained when we see that men ruled over women and that husbands could override any decision of their wives and fathers could override any decision of their daughters (Numbers 30).

Multiple New Testament passages confirm that woman was designed by God to be a subordinate helper to man.

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” I Peter 3:1-2 (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)

God designed woman to be man’s subordinate helper in many ways.  She helps him by bearing and caring for his home and his children (1 Timothy 5:14). She helps him by being a faithful companion (Proverbs 31:11, Malachi 2:14). She helps him by bringing him sexual pleasure (Proverbs 5:15-19).  But another way she helps her husband is simply by being “the weaker vessel” (1 Timothy 5:14) and needing his leadership, provision and protection.  A man cannot fully image God as he was designed to do without being a husband and father and woman helps him in this way to fulfill image God to his fullest capability.

So, if you are asking “Why did God make women to be second class citizens?” the answer is found in a passage we just stated above:

“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.” Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)

Not only was man made to image God and thus bring glory to him but marriage between a man and woman was made by God to model the relationship between God and his people. So, by fully embracing their status as second-class citizens to men women help men to fully image God and also model the relationship between God and his people.

To our equality obsessed world this makes no sense but this is why we as Christians are called to honor women for being the second-class citizens God designed them to be (I Peter 3:7).

Let me put this another way.  God could have made a partner for man that was his equal in every way. In fact, God could have created man as a hermaphrodite (with both sexes) and then humans could have just chosen any other human as partners. They could have equally broken up the division of having children, caring for the home, leading, providing and protecting.  If what I just said sounds familiar it is because this is exactly what our culture does today.  We promote homosexuality and gender equality – both ideologies which are in direct contradiction to God’s Word and his design.

But if humans existed in pair bonded relationships as equals this would not have properly modeled the relationship of God to his people.  Only if there were two genders with one dependent on the other for their leadership, provision and protection could the relationship of God to his people be properly modeled.

God’s Third-Class Citizen – Children as God’s inheritance to man

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)

While man does not create life in exactly the same way God does – God wanted man to have a taste of his ability to create life and in this way, he blessed man with the ability to father children.

Children help both men and women to fulfill their God given God given roles by having someone who needs their care and support.  Children help men to exercise their father role in the way God is father to his children.

Summary of God’s three ordained social classes

Now let’s summarize the three classes and how they relate to one another. Men are to be the image bearers of God. One of the ways a man images God is by loving his wife as Christ loved his Church. Another way a man images God is by loving his children as God loves his children.  Women are to show respect and deference toward men in general and specific obedience and submission toward their father and later their husband.  Children are to show respect and deference to adult men and women and they are specifically to obey and honor their father and mother.  This is God’s original creation design and order of humanity.

A fourth social class allowed by God because of Sin

Sin’s entrance into the world resulted in crime, laziness, poverty and war.  These four human conditions would necessitate that God allow for a fourth class of citizen which is that of a slave.

“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)

While God allowed for slavery he also specifically gave rules regarding the humane treatment of slaves and the conditions under which slavery may occur.  The version of slavery that occurred in North and South America neither met the conditions allowed for slavery or the treatment of slaves.  See my article “Why Christians should not be ashamed of Slavery in the Bible” for more on this subject.

Is a woman’s second-class status only applicable if she is married or living with her father?

Some might think by the passages I mentioned previously that a woman’s second-class status only applies to her if she is married or perhaps is still a young woman living at home with her father.  Such thinking is flawed and does not take into account the entire witness of the Scriptures.  Yes, God allows and even praises celibacy in both women and men (I Corinthians 7).  However, celibacy is God’s exception to his first command to mankind to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and to keep this command men and women must marry, have sex and have children.

Even if a woman feels called by God to celibacy in his service this does not remove her second-class status.  Paul’s divine commentary on the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman makes this clear.

“3 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. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

5 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. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

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. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”

I Corinthians 11:3-10 (KJV)

This is one of the most controversial and most un-preached passages in modern churches today. Why? Because it blows away our entire “equality based society”.  Men and women are equal in their humanity because woman was taken from man. However, Paul explains why women were to wear head coverings in worship services – because they were to reflect the order of God’s creation.  Notice there is no mention in this passage of marriage or the relationship between a husband and wife. Instead this speaks to the social order between men and women in general.  This is why women regardless of their marital status are to wear a sign of authority on their head when they come to worship.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

 “We attended home church and was told that women are to be submissive to their husbands, and not speak in the church.”

MY RESPONSE:

If you had church services in your home (as many churches do) then your husband would be right in teaching that you and your daughters should remain silent and simply listen during the spiritual instruction given by the men.  This is actually very clearly taught in the Scriptures.

“11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” 1 Timothy 2:11-13 (KJV)

Now does these mean women can never speak in their home because it is also used for church services? No.  Paul even commands that elder women are to teach younger women in the Lord when he writes:

“3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 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 2:1-5 (KJV)

So, it is perfectly Biblical for elder women in the Lord to conduct women’s Bible studies in their home or maintain blogs online with other women as long as this occurs under the authority of their husbands.  The women teaching should teach what is in accordance with their husband’s teachings and the women attending should do so with their husband’s permission.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

 “Some of the men in the church were not very caring and loving husbands and they did not honor their wives.  Last year I realized that my efforts to be a proverbs 31 wife has led me to have a relationship that is not what I consider to be what God wants.  My husband is verbally abusive, self-centered, and has neglected his role as Father and Husband.”

MY RESPONSE:

Who determines if a husband is acting in a caring or loving way toward his wife or honoring his wife? I can tell you who does not determine this.  Neither his wife nor his children. Ultimately it is God himself who judges whether your husband is caring and loving to you and honoring you in the way God expects of him.  And how does he determine God’s will in these areas? By examining the Scriptures and how God loves his wife.

Now this is not to say that men should not listen to the counsel of other men whether it be their fathers or their pastors or other spiritually mature men in the Lord.  The Scriptures tell us “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14).  Also, men should hear their wife’s concerns but men must weigh their wife’s concerns by the Word of God. Is what she is asking for within the commands or example of God’s love toward his wife? Maybe.  But is it also possible that how a wife feels her husband should care for her and love her is not warranted or commanded by the Scriptures? Could she actually be selfishly ambitious for a type of love that God does not entitle her to?

For instance, what is verbally abusive? If a man simply raises his voice to his wife is that verbally abusive? You won’t find that anywhere in the Scriptures. If a man calls his wife foolish for acting or talking in a certain way is that verbally abusive? No – in fact we have the example of one of the most righteous men in the Bible doing just that with his wife and the Scriptures tell us he did not sin in doing so (Job 2:10).

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

“As my daughters are growing up they are rejecting this unfair situation and are questioning the Bible.  They see how there are many verses that are not in favor of women and that we are not as entitled as men… My daughters are losing interest in the Bible as they feel how can God want us to be treated unfairly and they also think that because men wrote the Bible that their sin and attitude about women is revealed in their writing.”

MY RESPONSE:

If I had a dime for every woman that wrote me over the past few years saying something like this “Thanks for confirming for me from the Bible why I never want to be a Christian” or “Thanks for helping me to leave the Christian faith your gender role teachings” I would be a wealthy man. The Atheist emails are especially humorous with their “I love your site – keep up the good preaching! You will convert everyone to atheists like me.”

I have had others write me things like “Please stop teaching these gender role doctrines.  The Gospel is the most important thing people need to believe but people will never come to hear the Gospel if they first hear these gender role doctrines.  Let them discover these passages on their own and decide for themselves what they believe.  Stop putting a stumbling block for people coming to Christ.”

What are all these complaints really saying? They are saying that Christians need to leave behind anything in the Bible that conflicts with our modern culture.  We need to teach people what makes them feel good and things that match the values of our culture or so we are told.  A lot of big churches today do just that.  Even many small churches do this.  The sad fact is only a small percentage of Christian Churches today follow Paul’s example when he stated in Acts 20:27 “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” 

The fact is the doctrines of Biblical gender roles are part of “the whole counsel of God”.  Pastors and Christian teachers do exactly what the Apostle Paul warned them NOT to do:

“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (KJV)

What do most Pastors and Christian teachers do today? They teach only what their congregation’s itching ears want to hear.  They have conformed themselves to the pattern of this world and the culture we live instead of transforming their minds and seeing the sin that the lays before them in our culture as the Bible exhorts us to do:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)

We need to pray for preachers who will once again not be afraid to preach “Thus saith the Lord”.

But Christ didn’t treat women as second-class citizens!

The truth is that there are many Christian Pastors and teachers today that “preacheth another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4).  The Christ they preach is a feminized Christ who is not Lord of all, but one who bows the knee to the false god of equality.

Some online articles try and point to the fact that Jesus broke some social norms of his age when it came to interactions with women and that somehow shows he was a feminist or rejected patriarchy as I have shown the Bible clearly supports.

Their supposed evidence for this is that Jesus encouraged women to sit and listen to him rather than doing house work while he taught (Luke 10:38-42), he spoke to a Samaritan woman (John 4:6-30) or that he had women followers who came along with his disciples.

None of these actions by Christ prove one iota that Christ did not in fact treat women as second-class citizens to men.  What it proves is that he believed the men had had gone too far in forbidding women to hear the teaching of God’s Word (which many did).

Did Christ have even one of his twelve Apostles whom he commissioned to build his Church be a woman? No, he did not. Did Christ one time tell women they should be social equals with men? No, he did not.  Did he tell women not to submit to their husbands? No, he did not.

But the biggest problem with saying Jesus Christ believed in treating women completely equal with men is the fact that his Word says otherwise! Remember that what the Prophets before Christ and the Apostles after Christ wrote came directly from God.  Some Christians falsely believe that the words Christ spoke while he walked among men are more authoritative then the words he gave to his Apostles after he ascended to heaven. To attack the teachings of the Apostles like Peter and Paul regarding gender roles is to attack Christ himself who gave them his Word.

Conclusion

We have shown that those who use Paul’s statement that “there is neither male nor female“ in Galatians 3:28 and Christ’s actions in teaching women have built a false platform of support of equal rights for women.  When we examine the whole counsel of God as found in the entirety of the Scriptures we see this is not the case.

If you are a Christian woman who feels as Lauren and her daughters do toward your husband, father or just men in general this is what you need to do.  You need to heed the words of the Apostle James where he wrote:

“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:13-16 (NIV)

As a woman who feels the way Lauren and her daughters do – you need to recognize your feelings for what they are when measured against the Word of God.  If you desire anything God did not intend for you to have that is by definition selfish ambition.  If you are desire the status that someone else has that is envy.

If you as a woman desire to be a first-class citizen – meaning to have all the rights and privileges of a man, then you have selfish ambition and envy in your heart.  You need to get down on your knees and pray the prayer of David in Psalm 51:10 where he prays “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” You need to fully embrace your position as the weaker vessel and your place in God’s design.

If you are a father, husband or teachers of God’s Word you must have the courage to stand firm against the evil attitudes and ambitions in the women of our age.

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”

I Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)

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)

Both free wives and slave wives(concubines) 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)

Whether a woman was born to a free man or taken as a slave if she were taken as a man’s intimate sexual companion 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.

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.

But neither male or female Hebrew indentured servants could  be kept permanently.   We see that in this passage the following passage:

12 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13 When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you.”

Deuteronomy 15:12-14 (NASB)

The difference between male and female Hebrew indentured servants was that the woman had to be “redeemed“(Exodus 21:8) which is a reference to either her parents, brother or other male relative buying her back or another man purchasing her as a wife for himself.  But it is clear that God did not want Hebrew women being permanently kept as indentured servants but wanted them to have the opportunity to become wives and mothers.  So if the man did not want her for himself or one of his sons he had to allow her to be redeemed.

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”