What does the Bible say about slavery? If God gave us a sinful nature, are we at fault for sinning?
What does the Bible says about slavery? Many people have tried to argue
that since the Bible endorses slavery, citing certain pauline letters
which seem to encourage compliance with slavery, then the Bible must be
flawed and therefore not the word of God. I was wondering how you would
Also, if God made man, and made his sinful nature, then how can He condemn
him for living in a sinful way? It seems that if a person is born with a
sinful nature into a sinful world and discouraged from participating in
religion, then how can he be reasonably expected to believe or to
overcome? Also, if it so hard to believe, shouldn’t the burden of proof
be on the believer?
Yours is an interesting question. The Bible does not specifically condemn
slavery, but rather seeks to reduce as much as possible its abuses. This
fact has led to much controversy. The fact is that the Bible is the
historical root of the fight against slavery, yet it never specifically
condemns it. Those who have attempted to use the Bible to support or
encourage slavery must radically abuse the document. I would say that on
the whole, most conservative scholars and students of the Bible would
agree that the entire tenor of the New Testament would lead one to believe
that God hates slavery in all its forms and would never encourage
slavery. Yet, to God the principle issue is salvation and a relationship
with him. Neither being a slave nor being free is an impediment to
salvation in Jesus Christ. It would appear that although God hates every
form of human abuse, he was willing to tolerate the slavery which was
endemic in the Roman world in order that the Christian message could
spread. If the early Christian church had come out in absolute opposition
to slavery under any and all situations, it certainly would have hindered
the growth of the church. This may sound like justifying God after the
fact, but it is what I am left with upon looking at history and the
Bible. One can see from Philemon that God would prefer that a slave owner
give up his slaves and set them free, yet God does not command it. He
commands that slave owners treat their slaves with humanity, respect and
the kind of care they would want to be treated with. This is seen in
Ephesians 6:9 and elsewhere.
In summary, although it is difficult to understand from the
modern, Western perspective, God?s attitude toward slavery in both the Old
and the New testament is to mitigate its abuses, to encourage but not to
command its abolition.
God made man, but God did not make man?s sinful nature. I
believe this is clear from James 1:13-15. When tempted, no one should
say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, or does he
tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is
dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth
to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. God did not
create sin; nor did he create mankind to sin. God gave us freedom of
choice to choose to do good or evil. The story of Adam and Eve is very
appropriate to understand this. God gave the parents of us all a choice.
They chose evil and we, through that act, inherited the propensity to
sin. This is made clear in Romans 5:12. Therefore, just as sin entered
the world through one man and death through sin, and in this way death
came to all men, because all sinned?
God did not create us as sinners, but as moral beings with a
choice. For reasons which I do not claim to understand thoroughly, when
Adam sinned, it resulted in passing on to all of us the inevitable
tendency to sin, which we call our “sinful nature.” It may seem that I am
cutting hairs to say that God did not create our sinful nature, when he
created us, knowing that we would one day give in to our sinful nature.
However, I believe that this is how God explains the question to us in the
Although God did allow us to be born with a sinful nature, I
definitely do not agree that he made it hard to believe in God. Romans
1:18f makes it very clear that from God?s perspective his existence and
creative power is extremely obvious from what was created so that those
who do not believe must deny the clear evidence all around them of God.
I, as a scientist, am convinced that the existence of God is so obvious
that only those who by choice of will choose not to believe in God can
deny the existence of a creator. They do so, not because of lack of
evidence, but because they choose to avoid the implications in their own
personal lives of the existence of a creator.