To the editor:
Rod Kuehn writing in “Biblical literalism” Oct. 25, expresses his animosity toward Christian theology and a literal creation. He states: “It’s the theology that gave us the moral abomination of slavery. Support for slavery is stunningly pervasive in both Old and New Testament. Even Jesus never objected.” It appears Mr. Kuehn is missing a few pages in his world history book.
Christians ended slavery in America when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed thousands of slaves in 1863. William Wilberforce, a convert to evangelical Christianity, tirelessly fought against the slave trade in the British colonies. He dedicated most of his life to ending the abomination of slavery and lived to see it happen three days before he died.
In the Roman Empire, before Christianity came on the scene, slavery was widespread, and about one third of the population were slaves. It was an accepted part of life. Slaves, property of their masters, could be bought, sold, exchanged, inherited, or seized if they were needed to pay their master’s debt.
By the time of the New Testament, slavery was starting to change. Slave owners realized slaves were more productive when treated leniently. Masters often taught a slave a trade, and some became close friends to their slaves. Some slaves enjoyed good care under their masters and were better off in many ways than many free men who struggled in poverty.
The New Testament does not directly condemn slavery. Had it done so, according to biblical scholar and author John MacArthur’s website, “the resulting slave insurrections would have been brutally suppressed and the message of the gospel hopelessly confused with that of social reform. Instead, Christianity undermined the evils of slavery by changing the hearts of slaves and masters … and did away with slavery’s abuses.”
Richard Henry Lee, president of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence said it best: “Christianity, by introducing into Europe the truest principles of humanity, universal benevolence, and brotherly love, had happily abolished civil slavery. Let us who profess the same religion practice its precepts … by agreeing to this duty.”