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Slavery in Christianity!


Deuteronomy Ch.23, verses 15 & 16

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

This is the commandment given by God the father through Moses. Moses had been overruled by Jesus on many such laws and in proof thereof please read Matt: 25 and 26, wherein Jesus says, “…. but I say unto you…” and amended the Mosaic law with DIVINE authority. However, Jesus does not make any statement about SLAVES overruling the Mosaic law relating to escapee slaves . 

Paul has an opinion on anything and everything. Having an opinion is not as bad as having scripted his opinion and such scripted having been found worthy by the compilers of the New Testament to be included in the New Testament. Further, Paul’s opinions were addressed to members, of the fledgling faith of Christianity, who were not rooted in the Judaic tradition. So when he wrote to the new members in Ephesus, he wrote for the edification of those members who were surrounded by a different spiritual ethos. Even when King Solomon, after having surrounded himself with Sidonian, Egyptian, Hittite women, succumbed to their gods and goddesses like Ashtoreth, Milcom, Baal etc. So Ephesians were in a different milieu and when Paul says at Ehesians 6:5-  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ, he is not recommending SLAVERY, he is merely telling the slaves not to worry about their present plight but “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” of Christian salvation and hope! Is such attitude tenable in Christianity? I am certain that Christianity never did nor would have ever recommended SLAVERY.

Let me first re-quote the Mosaic law: 

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

1600 years (at least) before Paul had ordained himself an Apostle, Moses had written the above law as having been ordained by God the Father. So, Judaism is very clear on THREE things:

IT IS NOT THE DUTY OF THE PERSON TO WHOM THE SLAVE HAS TAKEN REFUGE, TO DELIVER THE FORMER SLAVE TO HIS ERSTWHILE MASTER.

IN FACT, THE LAW RESTRAINS AND PROHIBITS THE PERSON WITH WHOM THE ESCAPEE SLAVE HAS TAKEN REFUGE  FROM CAPTURING AND SURRENDERING HIM TO HIS ERSTWHILE MASTER.

FURTHER, THE MOSAIC LAW SAYS THAT THE PERSON WITH WHOM THE ESCAPEE HAD TAKEN REFUGE SHALL PROVIDE HIM A PLACE OF THE ESCAPEE’S CHOICE AND THE PEOPLE OF THAT AREA SHALL NOT OPPRESS HIM.

THAT WAS THE LAW! AND THIS LAW HAD NOT BEEN AMENDED BY JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF CHRISTIAN FAITH.

But Paul was given to much PRESCRIPTIVE CHRISTIANITY, a malaise from which he suffered when he was a Pharisee and later when he altered into a Pharisaical Christian. In any case, none of Paul’s letters show him to be a meek man (Moses was the meekest man Number 12:3), given to boasting but claiming that he wasn’t and in fact that he shouldn’t be! Another instance where SLAVERY finds a reference in Paul’s letter is at Colossians  at 3:22, however, the KJV states as “servants” and hence I am disinclined to accept the other versions, where instead of the word servant ‘slave’ has been used. Paul  was more than kind to Onesimus in recommending him to Philemon, however,  true to his sophistry and chicanery tells Philemon that Paul would pay Onesimus’ debts with a superb piece of verbal calisthenics thus :I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. (Philemon v. 19). Why will Paul pay, if Philemon owes his very self to Paul?  

So   why did Jesus use Paul? The answer is in Mark 9:39.

 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 “For he who is not against us is for us.…

Paul did what none did or could have done immediately after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. His was to spread the Gospel, he was the greatest CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST, who used letters and speech to turn people into Christians, rather than turn others into Christians by being a model through his own life! 

 Therefore his office was over and in legal parlance, his evangelism is FUNCTUS OFFICIO and to follow his prescriptive Christianity only helps the Pentecostals to build a brand of Christianity which emphasizes on tithes (revenue model for Pentecostal churches), preparatory Eucharist (denying administration of Eucharist if the priest feels that the communicant is unworthy, and thereby exercise authority!) and Exclusivity! 

 I hope Christians would abandon Paulian Christianity and return to Jesus and read the Gospels of John and Matthew, without allowing themselves to be tainted by such PRESCRIPTIVE CHRISTIANITY!

To come back to the topic, Christianity is the REPEALED version of the Mosaic law, where no amendments were made, or Moses’ provisions were not abrogated, the old is to be blended with Jesus’ statements. In the light of such an assertion, Christianity always gave LIBERTY to flee from SLAVERY and cast a duty on others to accommodate a runaway and provide opportunity for pursuit of happiness through FREEDOM. 

So this leads to the next question as to whether, the slave owner has any RIGHT to own a slave and does that IMPOSE any DUTY on others, excluding the slave so owned? Yes, there was a RIGHT  in-personam between the owner and the slave, it was not the slave owner’s right in-rem, where the whole society was to respect the ownership of the master!

 Further, there are different categories of slaves mentioned in the Bible viz. those who have been abducted/kidnapped and sold as slaves;  those Jews who had fallen into debts and have sold themselves as slaves being unable to repay their debts; Jewish slaves who have renounced their freedom and bound themselves with their masters, and non-Jews taken captive and freely traded.

If one were to go by Paul’s recommendation of attitude of the slaves in EPHESIANS, we freeze history to the Roman institution of slavery. But the instructions in the BIBLE, being an eternal book, cannot be limited to a set milieu or political order or even time. Joseph was sold by his brothers before Moses gave the commandment in Deuteronomy, therefore, merely because there was no law can we say that slavery was RIGHT? No, it was permitted by default, because the evil nature of man wanted to subjugate fellow humans and extract labour or other compliance from those fellowmen and women!

When THE BIBLE gives the LIBERTY to a slave to run away and the slave owner denied  any protection through other persons, how can one assume that slavery was a matter of RIGHT? A RIGHT is NO RIGHT, if it does not cast a DUTY on others. In fact the Mosaic law casts a duty on the person, to whom the erstwhile slave takes refuge, to provide him space and liberty. 

It gained the status of a RIGHT only under the ROMAN law, and since Paul was a Roman (which he invoked whenever it suited him!), he had preposterously made the Roman law the benchmark for advising salves to obey their masters as if they were obeying Christ! This verse in THE BIBLE cannot be taken to support SLAVERY in THE BIBLE. Even Kevin Rudd, fell a victim to such Paulian prescription which has unfortunately been embedded in the BIBLE. 

Christianity is the religion of LIBERTY and FREEDOM, let us not choose passages to support our evil  inclination, but be humble and read the Gospels of John and Matthew (simply because, a first hand recounting of Jesus’ life and teachings ought to be more reliable than hear say narration!) and LIBERATE ourselves from such self-demeaning practices. 

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PEARL DIVER- IV


It so happened that Fernandez was tired that evening but un-inclined to go to bed went to the nearby place where there was a new preacher of the Bible, who had set up a small hut, where he was congregating the fisher folks and teaching them The Bible.

He called himself Apostle Zorba. It was rather strange that the so called “Apostle”, did not bear a regular Christian name. It was also difficult for the local Tamil population to get the pronunciation right and he was called ‘apposthalar soba’. Fernandez, upon entry into the hut heard Zorba read out a passage from the old Testament from the book of Exodus which ran as follows:-

King James Bible

“Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.(Exodus 22:28)

Since it was in the middle of a bible study, Fernandez had missed out the earlier part of the sermon. There were hardly ten persons who were attending the Bible study.

Fernandez heard Zorba say : It is time a Christian realized that this verse is as much a commandment from God, as the one that says, “Go & baptize ye the people in the Name of the Father, son and the Holy Ghost.” But you have seen preachers wanting to replace the existing gods with Jesus. Hence they revile the other gods.

Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD. That is the Christian Faith and Creed. There is no need to talk of the other gods. In fact if one reads Exodus 23:13 it is written :And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.

Further if one reads the book of JUDE in the New Testament, it is written (by the way there is only one chapter in the book of JUDE):

8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10: But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

In effect, the Bible says do not say anything against other gods and also do not talk of things that man cannot understand. Therefore I tell everyone here that they have neither the knowledge nor the authority to talk of other gods.”

Fernandez was flabbergasted, it was more so because Apostle Zorba was citing the scripture and cogently building up his case. He did not listen to the rest of the sermon, his mind was going round and round the statement of Apostle Zorba : Jesus is NOT a replacement, HE is the GOD.

Fernandez found for the first time a preacher expounding the Bible in a non-traditional way. In any case he wanted to meet Diaz and discuss the sermon the next morning.

The next afternoon Fernandez met Diaz and spoke of the sermon. Diaz was amused and told Fernandez, “It is easier to believe in any god, but it is impossible to comparatively assess various religious systems and arrive at the best religion. It is the STRENGTH of BELIEF in any system that creates UNITY of the SELF and REDEEMS man. Therefore it is essential to AFFIRM without options and reservations. Hence Christianity requires one to believe in the DIVINITY of Jesus and be focussed on that belief and ONLY on that belief.

Diaz said, ” Get on with your WORK of finding the GREAT PEARL, a busy bee has no time to worry or seek the Truths pertaining to religion.”

Fernandez felt a load off his back, he dived into the warm sea water……….

TOLERANCE


An anecdote to bring out the meaning of religious tolerance.

Not so long ago, but long enough for me to view the happenings objectively, once we as friends had been to Churu in the state of Rajasthan in INDIA. While on our way, it was told that a very famous temple was not very far away and that we shud pay a visit to the Hindu temple.

We reached the temple precincts by about lunch-time. It was not a very hot day, as it was sometime during the winter months. We got out of our car and my Hindu friends started removing their shoes and socks to leave those behind in the car.They were surprised that i had not stirred to remove my shoes or my socks off my feet.

The smartest ( i prefer to keep names out) of my friends, said HEY DUDE U CAN’T ENTER THE TEMPLE WITH ALL THOSE LEATHER OR YOUR SMELLY SOCKS ON, LIKE U DO IN YR CHURCHES.

I said, Boss! I am not entering the Temple.

He was concerned as he thought that i did not like the parallel he drew between the Temples and Churches. I was as liberated then, as much as I am now. But there was hardly any scope for discussing religious matters as we were at an age, when our mental space was filled with fine restaurants, nice ambiance, elegant women and girls- who were breaking into womanhood and were donning traits and skimpy micros to assess their attraction quotient from the response from the type of men they mentally held in awe!

I allayed his anxiety and said that it had nothing to do with what he said about entering the Churches with smelly socks and dirty shoes. I told him firmly that i was not coming for reasons which i told him i’d explain while having lunch. He agreed and left for his Darshan. He came back probably in 45 mins. I’d had a peaceful smoke and taken my rounds in the market which was exclusively catering to the devotees who wanted certain puja material.

We went to a nearby restaurant which was serving authentic Rajasthani food. As we sat, my pal said I DIDN’T IMAGINE THAT U WERE A FANATIC! I had not entirely unanticipated that response from him. I said that my personal experience and my religious conviction made me believe that i’d be first of all a misfit to enter a temple and secondly, i may be forced by circumstances to do things which are explicitly forbidden in my religion.

He was flabbergasted that an Indian could be not only liberal enough to visit the Temple but was also adducing reasons for his staying back. I told him that when i, was a kid of seven and, wanted to gain access to the Tanjore BRAHADEESWARAR temple i was thwarted by the person standing at the entrance, after he ascertained if i was a Hindu and negatively answered by me, he held my hand restrainingly and told me that i can’t enter. When i went back home, i was wondering if i was wrongly stopped.

With none to turn to, i asked the Driver Rajendran, who was my dad’s driver if it was a mistake for a christian to enter the temple. He said in chaste Tamil, saar from your mannerism and the body language he had made out that u were just a curious visitor and not a devotee, that made him single u out. So don’t take it to your heart. Rajendran was a witness to the scene in front of the THANJAI BRAHADEESWARAR temple. Rajendran had been a lorry owner and had fallen in bad times and thus had taken up employment. He was a person with tremendous self respect and conducted himself with dignity which was way beyond the function he was performing, at that time.

That night I had to take a serious decision- whether i cud enter a temple merely as a visitor and not as a devotee? The inner voice’ answer was a resounding NO.

My friend after hearing the episode thought that that had happened so far back in the past that it shud not be allowed to interfere with the present.

I said i was not thru. I told him that my religion was monotheistic and the name of my God was JESUS. I neither know about other Gods nor am i obliged to know about other Gods, therefore i was merely following the prescription of my religious creed. I am too small a fry to talk about others’ beliefs but for the integrity of my existence, i have to focus on one God and the name is JESUS.

So where is the prohibition to enter Temples, even if u do not recognize our Gods? – he asked. I told him AS AN INDIAN I HAVE THE LIBERTY TO ENTER A TEMPLE OR NOT TO, SO DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO ENTER A CHURCH OR NOT TO, WHY DO U HAVE TO INSIST ON MY ENTERING THE TEMPLE?

FURTHER IF I WERE TO ENTER, AND A PLATTER WITH A BURNING CAMPHOR WERE TO BE EXTENDED BEFORE ME, I WOULD NOT WORSHIPFULLY FOLD MY PALMS TO THE FIRE EXTENDED TO ME, AS IT WOULD AGAINST MY BELIEF. THEREFORE WHY GET INTO A SITUATION THAT MIGHT MAKE ME STAND OUT AND CAUSE CONSTERNATION TO THE OTHER DEVOTEES?

THEREFORE i as a matter of principle and practice do not enter Temples.

IN future i also will not enter your churches, my friend said.

I told him, I FOLLOW MY RULES AND YOU SHUD YOURS ! I am prohibited from doing certain things and the commandments are NEGATIVELY WORDED for me such as, YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME; but if such restrictions are placed in your religion you shud also follow that.

This is a great country which has given rights to individuals NOT TO SING EVEN THE NATIONAL ANTHEM, IF IT WERE TO BE AGAINST THEIR CREED AND PRACTICE- but they have to show respect for the singing of the anthem by standing up etc. (Supreme court’s decision on JEHOVAH’S WITNESS Vs. STATE OF KERALA)

Once the Mahatma said, I AM A HINDU, A CHRISTIAN, A JEW, A MUSLIM and a PARSI.

Jinnah who was in the vicinity said ONLY A HINDU COULD SAY THAT.

Knowing the sarcasm of Jinnah one can undersatand the sense in which he must have made that statement, but in its essence a HINDU IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN WORSHIP ANY GOD IN ANY PLACE WITHOUT ATTRACTING THE FEELING OF GUILT- BASED ON HIS RELIGION.

Let us preserve it.

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