Michael Hamar

Anti-Gay Christians: Do They Still Embrace the Bible As Justification for Slavery Too?

Filed By Michael Hamar | October 13, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay bigotry, Bible based bigotry, Christian hypocrites, Leviticus, slave owners

I have written before about the need of the LGBT community to confront anti-gay religious bigots and use their own rhetoric to expose their hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. This is particularly true when publications like the Washington Post give gay haters like Tony Perkins a platform without any challenge to the lies they disseminate. Perkins and similar Christianist are trying to have it both ways when it comes to the Bible as justification for their anti-gay beliefs. They claim the Bible is inerrant and cannot be deviated from, but only when it's convenient to who they are targeting with hate.

This became readily apparent as the boyfriend and I were are watching the PBS special "God in America." Part Two of the series looked at the Civil War period and exposed in my mind the stark parallels between the Southern Christian argument in support of slavery and the current Christianist whining that the Bible requires anti-gay prejudice and bigotry. Somehow, society for the most part - Tony Perkins and similar Christianists and professional Christians possibly excepted - has moved on and jettisoned the excuse that the Bible's inerrancy requires Christians to support slavery. Yet the same type of rants that the Bible is "inerrant" and must be applied" literally" once used to justify slavery are still in active daily use by homophobes like Maggie Gallagher.

Bible inerrancy, however, is an all or nothing proposition. One does not get to have it both ways. So, Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, et al, have to make a choice - if the Bible justifies their anti-gay stance, then under their own inerrancy arguments they must support slavery. In fact, there are many more passages in the Bible that support slavery than there are in the Bible purportedly condemning homosexuality. Don't believe me?

A sampling is set out below. So the next time a Christianist or other self-congratulatory professional Christian condemns gays based on the Bible, demand that they state their position on slavery. (Ditto in respect to Barack Obama who in my view places his personal religious sensibilities above the U. S. Constitution.) If these people do not embrace slavery based on the Bible, then they have conceded the falsity of their claims that the Bible requires the condemnation of homosexuality. Here are the Bible passages in support of slavery, first from the OLD TESTAMENT (NOTE: It is important to realize that the term "servant" or "maid" in the King James Version of the Bible refers to slaves, not employees):

Genesis 9:25-27: "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japeth live in the tents of Shem and may Canaan be his slave'. "

Exodus 20:17: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's."

Deuteronomy 5:21: "Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbor's.

Beating and Killing Slaves: Although an owner could beat a male or female slave, she/he would have to avoid serious injury to eyes or teeth. The owner would have to avoid beating the slave to death. But it was acceptable to beat a slave so severely that it only disabled him or her for two days:

Exodus 21:20-21: "And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money [property]."

Exodus 21:26-27: "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. 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."

Emancipation of Slaves: Slaves in ancient Israel were automatically emancipated after 6 years of slavery, but only if they were Jewish. However, if the slave owner "gave" the slave a wife, the owner could keep the wife and any children as his property.

Exodus 21:1-4: "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself."

Deuteronomy 15:12-18: "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.And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him."

Exodus 21:7: "And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do."

Leviticus 25:44-46: "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." (NIV)

Leviticus 25:48-53: "After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself. And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him."

Leviticus 19:20-22: "And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him."

And the New Testament is not a great deal better from an anti-slavery perspective:

Luke 12:45-48: "The lord [owner] of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."

Ephesians 6:5-9: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."

Colossians 4:1: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."

1 Timothy 6:1-3: "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;"

1 Corinthians 12:13: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Galatians 3:28: "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."

Colossians 3:11: "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

It is time to turn the Bible against our enemies. They seek to brandish it like a club against gays, yet their own arguments lead to the unavoidable conclusion that they are either liars and hypocrites or closet racists and segregationist. They do not get to have it both ways. It's time that we and the media call them out.


Recent Entries Filed under Living:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.


The usual line is that the Bible nowhere commands us to own slaves. That's can be dismissed for the shoddy reasoning it is, but takes time. I prefer bringing up one that makes sinners out of just about everyone alive today whether they know it or not: usury. Not the modern definition of usury, but how the Bible, ancient Jews and Christianity up until John Calvin viewed it. Here's a good post about this:

http://www.askthepriest.org/askthepriest/2005/10/never_a_borrowe.html

David Brian Holt | October 13, 2010 4:34 PM

Great article!

It's perhaps not terribly ironic that the same religious groups which comprised abolitionism in the 19th century are also the same religious groups fighting for LGBT equality in the 21st century.

Religious fundamentalism, which forms the basis of biblical in-errancy, is poison regardless of which religious tradition it is derived from.

I wouldn't argue with people about whether the Bible is "inerrant". Lots of people have come to think God will disappear if the Bible isn't "inerrant". That pretty much guarantees that they'll dig in their heels and you won't get a real discussion.

However, what they usually mean is, "My understanding of the Bible is inerrant", and it shouldn't be hard to show somebody how blasphemously arrogant that is!

While I am not a fan of flinging passages back and forth, if you choose to quote the Bible to a fundamentalist, use the King James Version if you can or NIV if you must. They consider other translations to be inaccurate.

Problem is, you're using reason where none exists if your target is a fundamentalist. I have found that those whose hearts could be changed did so because they knew someone who is LGBT. They found their own solutions to faith issues as a result. So this sort of knowledge is helpful only when someone is ready to hear it and not before. It won't be a fundamentalist unless he is questioning his doctrine. It can't hurt to be informed, no matter what, and sometimes this is very helpful to family members.

"I have found that those whose hearts could be changed did so because they knew someone who is LGBT. They found their own solutions to faith issues as a result."

Well said. People are more likely to let go of religion (or parts of it) when they understand us, not a slightly different interpretation of the Bible. They become a little more human and humane.

Many self-described religious people will stand with us for our full equality - unless we argue about religion or politics. Both should be left out of the conversation.

"I have found that those whose hearts could be changed did so because they knew someone who is LGBT. They found their own solutions to faith issues as a result."

Andrew, a good example of this is Mary Lou Wallner's book, "The Slow Miracle of Transformation." Ms. Wallner was a rabid literalist until her lesbian daughter committed suicide. She and her husband spent a year doing not much more than examining their beliefs.

http://www.teach-ministries.org/

Err, you know Tony Perkins has well known Klan connections, right? This is the dude that gives speeches in front of white power flags, associates with the white nationalist CCC, and buys mailing lists from Klan Grand Wizards to use for political campaigns. (more here http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/13356/tony-perkins-and-white-supremacy). I bet Perkins does think that the Bible hates black people too...


I am a big fan of quoting ridiculous bible verses at people, but I prefer the Leviticus food prohibitions list myself, because it is less loaded than the racist accusation but clearly shows just how fucking absurd the bible is. (Really, Leviticus 11 is hilariously bad and it seems to think insects have four legs...) Oh, and Leviticus proscribes death for cursing one's parents "All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9)" Oh, and working on the Sabbath as well "the Lord considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. (Exodus 31:15)"

I also highly recommend Kings, it is full of jewels like this:

"From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. "Go up baldhead," they shouted, "go up baldhead!" The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 )"

Agreed. I don't think we want to push too many of the leaders on this... who knows what'll become normalized tomorrow. Consider the right's views on labor laws....

Slavery is just one of many things that the Religious Right ignores in the Bible. Divorce and remarrying is a big one. Even Jesus condemned divorce. If they don't even listen to Him, then how can they call themselves "Christians?"

Renee Thomas | October 13, 2010 7:56 PM

Michael,

The problem is that most christianists are ignorant of the socio-historical context. To wit, both the Tanakh, which includes the Torah, the historical writings (K'thubhiym) and the books of the Prophets (Nevi'im), and the Christian scripture were written at a point in history when the owning of human beings was a socially sanctioned and broadly accepted practice. So that would be easy for them to explain away by pointing to modern sensibilities in the evolution of universal civil rights (assuming they acknowledge their evolution or that indeed “universal” civil rights are properly extended to all human beings).

Somewhat more problematic is the historical phenomena of same-sex attraction. Historically, homosexuality was proscribed, not primarily because same-sex relationships among individuals were considered particularly abhorrent in themselves but rather because those practices occurred in a competing ritual/religious context and not within accepted Jewish ritual practice. The cultic practices were proscribed because they commanded the attention (and perforce the allegiance) of nominally observant Jews.

“No Israelite woman shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any Israelite man be a cult prostitute” (Deuteronomy 23:18). This prohibition speaks direct to the veneration and ritual worship of Ashtoreth, the ancient Phoenician and Syrian goddess of love and fertility.

All history is written by the “winner” and all scripture is written to address social issues and cultural/religious conflicts more or less contemporaneous to their writing . . . give or take a few hundred years either way.
Thus cultic prostitution, both hetero and homosexual, was a common feature of idolatrous worship in the ancient Near East. So it seems what we’re left with (vis-à-vis christianist objections to same-sex attraction) is their learned antipathy bordering on irrational fearmongering of the other. Which itself stems from a mis-reading of history.

As with most things in life, inadvertent ignorance you can do something about, while willful stupidity is usually a lost cause.

Cat,

Yes, I am well aware that Tony Perkins is a racist - as are most of the "family vaues" organizations in my opinion - and has a history of dealing with David Duke and the Klu Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups that have been labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Unfortunately, the Washington Post utterly ignored Perkins' racist history when it gave him a platform to disseminate anti-gay lies.

Renee,

As a history major with plenty of ancient history backgroud, I am also aware that many of the Old Testament's prohibitions had a goal of distinguishing the Jews from other groups. One such prohibition focused on the acceptance of homosexuality by many of the surrounding cultures that sunjugated the Jews at various times in their history. Thus, the prohibitions actually were focused less on condemning homosexuality itself as opposed to separating the Jews from others.

Sadly, your typical Christianists - and I suspect most fundamentalist pastors - are utterly ignorant of true history. Indeed, the conservative Christians do not want accurate history known to the masses since it under cuts their BS and propaganda.

Renee Thomas | October 13, 2010 10:08 PM

" . . . I am also aware that many of the Old Testament's prohibitions had a goal of distinguishing the Jews from other groups . . .”

Precisely correct, but additionally both the Torah and later the Nevi'im raged to KEEP the Sons (and Daughters) of Israel safely in the fold as it were. That they were defecting in droves was the main reason the prohibition was so harshly cast and so often repeated. *Bene Israel's engagement with Ashtoreth was well established at a time when the Israelites were safely ensconced on the western shore of the Jordon River . . . and well beyond.

The "High Places" of Ashtoreth were always a historic problem for Israel's Kings and High Priests . . . at least those who professed allegiance to the dictates of the Torah . . . to the extent they were publically faithful to them anyway.

*Not to be confused with the Jewish Diaspora of Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad who are also refered as ??? ??????, "Sons of Israel", Marathi:???? ???????

You just can't believe everything you read in the Bible, can you?

I certainly can not speak for anti-gay Christians. Actually I would not call anyone with hate and condemnation in their heart a Christian though certainly many such people self label as Christians.

My approach is rather simple. I attend church and I love. I don't confront with words but rather with my life and my presence. I doubt I can teach anyone yet some may learn because I am there and they can observe. As a practical example every child in the church knows me and no parent has ever told me to "please do not interact with my child". That may seem silly to those reading this but it is simply the reality that even those in my own church who have some level of moral indigestion about me realize that I walk in love of all.

Progress is not made through a single major event in the life of an individual, a community or a nation. It has been more than 4 decades since Dr. King was struck down in the prime of his life. And in the thirteen years before his tragic death he moved a nation and he articulated most of that force from the perspective of God's will. In my own small way I am proud to carry on that quest one person at a time. If I were to bother with a count I would estimate several hundred previously anti-glbt church going people now are no longer haters. I hope it is thousands or even thousands of thousands before I die. Can you match that by protesting, quitting church or engaging in cross condemnation? I hold out sincere hope that you can actually do better.

Very authentic and beautiful Deena.

Let's hope the tragic loss of innocent life of our young gay teens wakes Christians up. Your example is helpful - I hope others will stand up and say "enough is enough." It will save lives.

Lives? Andrew your perspective on incarnations into flesh is so far removed from my own that I hardly know how to approach a conversation on it. I do not worry about lives.

I am talking about the young innocent LGBT youth that take their own lives. They do so because something taught them they are "lesser" human beings. Only Christians do that. Christians need to fix that. I think you are one of them in your own way. I wish there were more, some of them screaming "enough is enough," loud enough for the next kid to hear. Enough to save lives. Not in the "Jesus way" but, in the "right here, right now" way.

Joe-Allen Doty | October 14, 2010 1:25 AM

True followers of Jesus' teachings actually don't even have to read one word in the Hebrew Scriptures, aka the Old Testament, to know how to live right for him.

The author of the textbook used in my biblical hermeneutics class, "Interpreting the Bible," wrote that one of the worst things done to the scripture was to divide the books of the Bible into chapters and verses. That gave the people the ability to proof-text verses completely out of their original contexts to suit their own agendas.

Read Leviticus Chapters 18 through 20 as though it is ONLY one chapter. The opening verses of chapter 18 are restated in chapter 20. The author of the book is telling the Israelites not to follow the religious based culture of the residents of Canaan, aka the Canaanites.

Joe-Allen Doty | October 14, 2010 1:39 AM

There is only one verse in the whole "Christian" Bible translated and interpreted in its historical and culture context that even mentions the sexual activity of the residents of Sodom.

And that is verse 7 of the Epistle of Jude which has no chapters. The KJV word "strange" in that verse is "heteras" the proper grammatical form of "hetero" since in modifies "sarx" the word translated as "flesh."

Since Jude was a Jew, he translated the Hebrew word, "basar," used in the Hebrew scripture as a euphemism for sex organs. "Basar" literally means "shame."

The KJV has those living in Sodom and Gomorrha "giving themselves over to fornication." "Fornication" is an English euphemism for the Greek Bible text word "porneia" which actually means "prostitution."

The residents of Sodom are NEVER called "sodomites" in the Hebrew Scriptures. Every time that word appears in the KJV, the religion in question is that of the Canaanites. The word is actually "Kodesh" (vowels may vary but it's still the same 3 Hebrew consonants) and as a noun, it means a "holy" person, place or consecrated thing.

A Canaanite kodesh, aka votary, served in Canaanite shrines or temples where their goddess of fertility, Asherah, and god of fertility, Ba'al, aka Molech, or Milcom, were worshiped.

"I have found that those whose hearts could be changed did so because they knew someone who is LGBT. They found their own solutions to faith issues as a result."

Andrew, a good example of this is Mary Lou Wallner's book, "The Slow Miracle of Transformation." Ms. Wallner was a rabid literalist until her lesbian daughter committed suicide. She and her husband spent a year doing not much more than examining their beliefs.

http://www.teach-ministries.org/