Josh Hawley roasted on Juneteenth: Christianity and Slavery 

Welcome to Defender’s Voice. I am Paul Kattupalli. Thank you for joining us today. Defender’s Voice is all about defending the great truths of our Lord Jesus Christ as our world descends  into more confusion and chaos. Please visit our website for more information about our ministry. Subscribe to our channel. Support this ministry with your prayers and donations. Download our Defenders Voice app in your mobile phone. 

Let’s see today’s question. Senator Josh Hawley tweeted, ‘Today is a good day to remember: Christianity is the faith and America is the place slavery came to die’. Is this a truthful statement? 

Excellent question. In reply to Josh Hawley, many people attacked Christian faith. One person wrote that Christians were slave holders. Another wrote Bible was used to justify slavery. Another wrote, 

“This Christianity? 

Colossians 3:22 

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, burt with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”

Reading these criticisms, we might ask, 

How does God deal with slavery? How does Bible treat slavery? These are thorny questions that bother all of us, Christians and non-Christians alike. 

First of all, most of us say that slavery is evil. Certain things are absolutely evil. Slavery is one of them. The first question we should ask is, who said that slavery is evil? 

   If you believe in an atheistic worldview, there is nothing wrong with slavery. If materialism is true, then nothing can be evil. As Richard Dawkins often says, everyone dances to his or her DNA. The master dances to his DNA and the slave dances to his DNA. In evolutionary Darwinian worldview, all living organisms are dancing to their DNA. There is no objective truth enforced on them. Look at ants. Look at slave making ants. These ants capture broods of other ant species to increase the worker force of their colony. These ants raid and subjugate other ants. We don’t call these ants evil. We don’t say these ants are evil. That is just nature. 

     Look at honey bees. For the queen bee, thousands of honey bees work hard day and night. You don’t call it evil. You don’t say, ‘the queen bee is evil’.  It is just nature. So, if human beings are just evolved animals, all views on slavery are reduced to mere opinions. All views are expressions of subjective feelings. Nothing is evil about anything in nature. Concepts like free will, freedom or liberty have no meaning in atheism and materialism. 

    So, in atheistic, naturalistic, materialistic, Darwinian evolutionary worldview, nothing is evil about slavery. Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism come to the same conclusion. 

    In materialism, everything is matter. In pantheism, everything is divine. If all that exists is divine, how can you call certain things evil?  It is not a coincidence that India has the largest slave system in the world. If you are born a slave, that’s your karma. Most of these slaves are Hindus owned by Hindu masters. They cannot think of liberty because Hinduism has no concept of liberty. All abolitionist movements that sprouted in India were influenced by Western ideals of equality and liberty. Such concepts are absent in Hinduism. 

   So, atheism and Hinduism both fail to provide moral principles to consider slavery as ‘evil’. Only Christianity provides moral principles to consider slavery as ‘evil’. We believe in dualism. God is not part of this universe. Our souls are not part of this universe. God created one couple, Adam and Eve. And we are all children of Adam and Eve. As Apostle Paul said in Acts chapter 17, we are of one blood. God created all human beings in His image. We don’t behave like ants or honey bees or other animals because we are created in the image of God. We don’t abuse other human beings like slave masters do, because we recognize that all human beings whether they are Europeans or Asians or Africans were created in the image of God. 

      In God’s original creation, there was no slavery. After the Fall, after the sin of Adam and Eve, humanity got corrupted. As the character of Joshua says in the movie Ten Commandments, God made man and man made slaves. 

God made man and man made slavery. 

God made work and man made slavery. 

God made sexuality and man made rape and prostitution 

God made marriage and man made divorce and polygamy 

God did not create slavery. God wanted us to work. Read the Ten Commandments. God said, ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God’. 

   Everyone should work 6 days to take care of his or her needs. Slaveholders did not like to work. They wanted other men and women to work for them. Another commandment says, ‘Do not steal’. Slavery is stealing children of other people for your purposes. 

    So, in God’s original creation there was no slavery. In God’s commandments, there is no slavery. In fact, God is on the side of slaves. What is the story of the Hebrews? The Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt. God sent his servant Moses to fight for their liberty and to lead them to a promised land. Moses was a hero for abolitionists. Moses was a hero for African American leaders who fought for civil rights. Why was that? Because Moses led slaves into freedom under the direction of God. 

     Many atheists contemptuously called Judaism and Christianity as ‘slave religions’ because they give value to slaves. For example, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called Judaism and Christianity ‘slave religions’ because they elevate slaves as creatures made and loved by God. He said, slaves made up these two religions to feel good about themselves. He wanted master religions to reject Christianity. 

   So, Christianity teaches that God loves all human beings including slaves. God dignifies all human beings including the slaves. God sent His son Jesus Christ to save all human beings including the slaves. That is why Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians chapter 3, verse 26, 

‘For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ 

    That was an earth shattering revolutionary statement. There is neither Jew nor Greek? Seriously? Are you calling a Jew to have fellowship with a Gentile? There is neither bond nor free? Are you calling the master to have fellowship with his slaves? Are you calling the master to call his slaves as his brothers and sisters  in Christ? 

    So, Christianity brought Jew and Gentile into one home. That was quite a revolution. It brought master and slave into a loving relationship in Christ. Master and slave are equal in Christ. They should love each other like brothers and sisters. In that way, the Apostles planted the seeds for the destruction of slavery. As Christianity took hold of Roman Empire and later European civilization, slavery was gradually outlawed. 

Some people quoted Colossians 3:22, Slaves obey your masters. 

Why did Apostle Paul teach slaves to obey the masters? That is a good question. Remember, there were more slaves in the Roman Empire than free people. If slaves stop working, there would be no food for anyone. No milk for babies. No clothes to wear. No water to drink. No hospital visits because slaves carry the patients to doctors. The entire society would come to a screeching halt if slaves revolted abruptly. Christianity would be seen as an anti-slavery movement. Christianity would have been reduced to a social justice movement. 

    But Christianity is primarily about liberating human souls from spiritual bondage to sin and Satan. Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘Everyone who sins is a slave to sin’. Physical slavery is an outcome of spiritual slavery. The master is a slave to greed and selfishness. First the master must be liberated from his spiritual slavery to greed and selfishness. Once the master is liberated, the slave gets his or her freedom. 

  That is exactly what happened to John Newton. John Newton lived between 1725 and 1807. He was a captain of slave ships. He invested his wealth in slave trade. Then he found Jesus. He realized the wretchedness of his life as a slave holder and human trafficker. He started to fight against slavery. Once a slave holder, John Newton became an abolitionist. He sat down and wrote the great hymn, Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound. 

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound 

That saved a wretch like me

I once was lost, but now am found 

was blind but now I see. 

Human beings are spiritually blind. The light of Christ must shine upon them and give them sight to see spiritual things. So, Christianity is focused on changing hearts and minds first by the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. Once you accept slaves as brothers in Christ, that would spell a death knell to slave trade. Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon, a slave holder to receive Onesimus, a slave as his brother in Christ. 

Also, remember, in the ancient world slave trade is not race based. People of any race could be taken into slavery at any moment. If you lose a war to enemies, you would be taken into slavery. If you fail to pay your debt, you would be taken into slavery. If you fail to pay your taxes, you would be taken as a slave. Many people voluntarily became slaves because that was the only way to earn wages and support a family. So, it was a complex situation. It boils down to the nature of a slave. 

    The Greeks looked at slaves as less than human. Aristotle said, they are just breathing property of the master. If you look closely, slave masters in the ancient times used the same arguments used by abortion proponents in our time. Today, abortion activists say, ‘My body, my choice’. The slaveholder would say, ‘This is my farm. The slave is my property’. The abortion activist would say, ‘The fetus is just a breathing tissue. It is not human’. The slaveholder would say, ‘the slave is just a breathing tissue. It is not human’. The abortion activist would say, ‘the unborn have no soul’. The master would say, ‘the slaves have no soul’. So, ultimately it boils down to the nature of the slave. 

    What is the nature of the unborn? We have not settled it. That is why we are having prolife-prochoice struggles in our society. What is the nature of the slave? Just to make people  accept that slaves are human beings took millennia. It took a lot of time to convince people that slaves have souls. It took hundreds and hundreds of years to accept the truth that slaves are human beings with equal rights. 

  Slavery has not vanished.   Do you know we are in the golden age of slavery? More people are enslaved today than at any other time in human history. Literally, hundreds of millions of people are living in legal slavery around the world. So, the fight against slavery is a tough fight still going on around the world. But make no mistake. Christianity is the only worldview that says slaves are equal to anyone else in the sight of God. It is Christianity that taught the world that slaves are made in the image of God like everyone else. 

   In response to Josh Hawley, some people mentioned how Christians practiced slavery and used the Bible to justify the slavery. Let us see this issue for a few minutes. Let us focus on America. 

   Who were the first people to fight slavery in America? Quakers. Right? Even the Quakers were not on the same page on the issue of slavery. 

The Germantown Protest, 1688

   The  English Quaker  William Penn had founded the city of Philadelphia in 1682. Just two years later, In 1684, Philadelphia received its first slave ship Isabella with 150 Africans onboard. Quakers bought these slaves and put them into a variety of works. 

     In 1688, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, some quakers drafted a statement criticizing other Quakers who traded or owned slaves. This is called the Germantown Protest. It was written by a Quaker leader named Francis Daniel Pastorius. In this statement, the Quakers argued that blacks should be treated equally in all aspects of life. 

Pastorius wrote, “Here is liberty of conscience. Here ought to be likewise liberty of ye body…Bit to bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against.” 

  “All men, as they are the Sons of Adam, are Coheirs; and have equal Right unto Liberty” 

   He connected all human beings to Adam. 

He quotes Exodus 12:16 

“And seeing GOD hath said, He that Stealeth a Man and Selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to Death. Exodus 12:16. This Law being of Everlasting Equity, wherein Man Stealing is ranked amongst the most atrocious of Capital Crimes: What louder Cry can there be made of the Celebrated Warning, Caveat Emptor! 

   In Genesis chapter , Joseph says, “For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews

 They compared the oppression of blacks in America to the oppression of Quakers in Europe. Didn’t we leave Europe to escape oppression? Slavery was a theft. It was not voluntary. Quakers also opposed all forms of violence. Slave trade was an inherently violent activity. 

      We are throwing their babies to alligators. When Pharoah threw the babies of Israelites into Nile, God called it evil. 

   Another Quaker George Keith published a pamphlet in 1693 entitled Exhortation and Caution to Friends Concerning Buying or Keeping of Negroes. He recommended that Quakers refuse to buy any African slaves. If you buy them, give them Christian education and free them. 

   In 1694 a Boston landlord named John Saffin promised freedom to one of his slaves named Adam at the end of his seven year term. But in 1700, Saffin changed his mind and determined to keep Adam as his slave. Adam became furious and took his master to court demanding his liberty. Their case went before judge Samuel Sewell. That marks the first anti slavery activism by white Europeans in colonial America. 

Selling of Joseph

    Judge Sewell wrote the Selling of Joseph. He quoted from the Book of Exodus. He argued against the belief that dark skin was a mark of sin committed by one of the sons of Noah. Some people used Genesis 9:25 to justify slavery. It says, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers”. Judge Sewell said that was a wrong interpretation. He said,  Man stealing is ranked among the most atrocious of capital crimes. He opposed slavery by linking emancipation to the Bible. 

    In 1701, John Saffin published a response called A Brief and Candid Answer. He wrote that equality was not a natural state. Some men were born to be kings and others to be slaves. 

   In the court, Judge Sewell had ruled that John Saffin must free Adam in 1701 as per the agreement they made seven years earlier. Saffin tried his best to obstruct this judgment but he failed. Adam walked out free in November 1703. 

     So, if you take a look into American history, the first anti slavery activism was based on the teachings of the Bible. The first slave got freedom in America because of the influence of the Bible.  Judge Sewell based his activism on the Bible, on the Old Testament, on the Book of Genesis. Selling Joseph as a slave is evil, so is the selling of every slave in our time. Joseph was the favorite son of his father, Jacob. After selling off Joseph, Jacob spent many many years silently weeping for his son. How much pain does a father or a mother endure when you sell off their child into slavery? How much pain does a child endure when you separate him or her from their parents? Slavery is an enormously evil institution that breaks families forever. 

Jacob spent many years in weeping for his son Joseph, who was sold into slavery

    To Summarize, Josh Hawley wrote, ‘Today is a good day to remember: Christianity is the faith and America is the place slavery came to die’. 

    First part of his statement is true. Christianity is the faith that brought death to slavery. The second part of his statement is not true.  All nations where Christians are a majority made legislation outlawing slavery. Many Christian nations in Europe outlawed slavery long before America. For example, due to the efforts of great Christian leaders like William Wilberforce, England outlawed slavery before America without firing a shot. 

That is my answer to your question. Jesus Christ is our Savior who saves us from our sins. He liberates us from slavery. If you don’t know Christ as your Lord, please accept him today. Thank you. 

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