As has now been articulated in a number of previous ‘Thoughts’, we can begin to see that the idea of slavery, when looked at critically, is broad-ranging, and it can readily include what we in the West would call volunteer soldiers, and when we consider this fact, we note that no matter what an advanced civilized society does, whether it has a volunteer army (essentially, volunteering indentured servants) or a conscripted army (essentially, forced indentured servants), a society will always have these types of soldier-slaves in one form or another, and yet an advanced society needs a military (and police force) and cannot survive without one, and so it seems that any civilized society that wishes to survive must necessarily have slaves of one sort or another, and what this realization about the societal necessity of some type of slavery existing points us to is the fact that maybe the reason that Jesus did not condemn slavery in total, is because it would actually have been immoral for him to do so given that it would have been immoral for him to tell a society that it could not have an army to defend itself with (whether volunteer indentured servants or conscripted ones); instead, Jesus–and the New Testament scriptures–did precisely what they should have done: they did not immorally condemn an institution that a society could ultimately never escape from, but rather they advised the citizens of a society to treat the slaves that it would always necessarily have to have in a way that respected those slaves and indentured servants as being made in the image of God (which is precisely how we, today, treat the modern soldier-slaves that defend our societies from harm), and so not only was Jesus not immoral for failing to condemn slavery completely, but he was actually acting morally by not doing so and by focusing on how slaves and indentured servants should be treated rather than on whether such slaves and servants should even exist.
Many people who condemn Biblical slavery–and who also condemn Jesus Christ for not speaking against slavery–do not like the idea that they themselves, as citizens and voters in a democratic state, are actually the slave-masters of the soldiers and emergency personnel whom they tacitly require to obey orders (even unto death) of the democratically-elected governments that control them, and yet when we understand that a slave, as commonly defined, simply means, at its core, that a person can be treated like property and that the person must obey the commands of another person (his master) on pain of punishment, we soon come to realize that at there is little but semantics and a dislike for the term ‘slave’ that prevents us “enlightened” moderns from calling our volunteer soldiers ‘slaves’, for the fact is that soldiers living in a democratically-elected state, once they volunteer for service (just like indentured servants do), essentially become the property of the citizens of that elected the government and these soldiers must obey the government even if doing so leads to their death or harm, and so, what this all means is that modern soldiers could indeed be considered slaves in a very real sense, and we, the citizens of democracies, could also be considered slave-masters in a very sense; and once again, the point of this comparison is to simply make us think on the fact that the Biblical injunctions supporting and controlling slavery may not only be much more reasonable than previously thought, but they may have been necessary given the circumstances surrounding Biblical times, just as it is necessary for our democratic societies today, if we are to survive in these troubled times, to employ the soldier-slaves that we do indeed employ.
In a previous ‘Thought’, and as part of showing that modern outrage against Old Testament slavery and the New Testament’s allegedly lack of condemnation of slavery was rather selective and hypocritical given the fact that secularist citizens in modern democracies (meaning: You and Me) are themselves essentially slave-holders of a nature very similar to Biblical ones, it was the case that some individuals objected to this comparison, and yet the fact is that the comparison is entirely apt in many critical respects which we can enumerate, for consider the following: 1) Biblical slavery was often actually indentured servitude where a person would, for a set period, volunteer to exchange his physical services to a master for certain goods (money, food, lodgings, etc.) and in modern democratic slavery soldiers and emergency personnel (police, firemen, etc.) volunteer, for a set period, to exchange their physical services to their masters (ultimately the citizens) for certain goods as well, and 2) Biblical slaves / indentured servants had to obey their masters in most things during the time period that they had volunteered for service and in modern democratic slavery the same is true for soldiers and emergency personnel for they too must obey nearly all the orders that they are given by their chain of command regardless of the possible harm to their lives or health that those orders might lead to, and 3) Biblical slaves / indentured servants could be physically punished and disciplined by their masters for disobedience and in modern democratic slavery the same is true for soldiers and emergency personnel who can to put through physical punishments, fined, and/or imprisoned for insubordination and disobedience, and 4) in Biblical times, during certain periods, people were sometimes forced to be slaves and yet in modern democracies we have had, during certain periods, mandatory conscription, where citizens essentially become soldier-slaves forcibly taken from their homes and forced to be obedient to their democratic masters even if doing so might lead to their harm or death, and 5) in Biblical times, foreigners were sometimes captured in war and taken as slaves and yet modern democracies have also captured enemy combatants and put them to work as POWs (essentially, slaves for the opposing state) and have occupied territory and put the local populace to mandatory work during periods of war as well (essentially, indentured servitude), and so the parallels between Biblical slavery and the slavery that we currently engage in (although we do not call it that because doing so seems unpleasant) are strong; so the point of all this is not to claim that this analogical comparison between Biblical slavery and modern democratic slavery is perfect, but rather to show that there are many strong parallels between the two, and since we neither condemn nor furiously denounce what modern democracies do (in fact, we often consider them to be “enlightened”) then perhaps we should extend the same understanding and reflectiveness to Biblical times and realize that if even modern democratic states engage in a type of slavery that mirrors Biblical slavery, then perhaps Biblical slavery is not necessarily as bad, or as unnecessary, or as immoral as we once supposed it to be, and perhaps people in Biblical times had good reasons for doing what they did, just as modern democratic slave states have good reasons for doing the same thing as well.
As I mentioned in a previous ‘Thought’, unbelievers in the West often attack Christianity (and Jesus in particular) for not condemning slavery in its sacred scriptures, but not only is there nothing intrinsically wrong with the institution of slavery as understood in the scriptures (more often than not ‘indentured servitude’), it is also worth pointing out that this condemnation of Christianity about slavery is particularly rich coming as it does from people who are all slave-owners in the Biblical sense, as all such unbelievers are, for note that in our modern secular and democratic societies, where the people are technically the rulers, we have men and women who freely indenture themselves to serve for monetary compensation even though they lose their freedom when they decide to do so, and they can be ordered to risk their lives and die by their masters (us), and they suffer bloody hardships and pain upon the orders of their masters (us), and can be jailed if they disobey their masters (us), and so on, and we call these types of people ‘volunteer soldiers’, but what they ultimately are, once they sign the dotted line, are indentured servants (slaves) to the state, and the state can move them and use them like a piece of property; indeed, it is interesting to note that what volunteer soldiers are called to do and suffer is little different from what indentured servants (Biblical-type slavery) were called to do in the past, and yet, in a democratic society, we are all technically the owners of these military indentured servants and we are the ones, through our votes, that elect their immediate masters who command them to fight and die, and so not only should we, as actual slave-owners, not be so high-and-mighty in condemning the people of the past about their slavery, but perhaps we should also realize the point that I was making in the earlier ‘Thought’ about slavery: namely, that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the institution of indentured servitude / slavery–and democracies support this point by having military institutions filled with what are essentially indentured servants–but rather the problem with slavery is the practical and pragmatic problem of how slaves are treated.
One of the ‘arguments’ that Christians routinely hear against the Christian message is that “Jesus never condemned slavery and the Old Testament actually encouraged indentured servitude, and so, in light of these points, both Christian/Biblical morality and the example of Jesus are suspect and unworthy of being followed”, but the fact of the matter is that–and I know that this will be a “shocking” point of view–the reason that Jesus never condemned slavery is because there is nothing theoretically / in-principle / intrinsically wrong with slavery, and a short thought-experiment can bear this claim out, for imagine a society where everyone was free to quit the work and they had and move around at will but all the work offered in every place was such that people had to work like dogs just to make enough to barely survive, they were given no holidays, they were fired from their job if they had a conscientious objection to some form of their work or complained about their conditions, they were fired from their work if they did not accept the advances of their superiors, they were fired for having the wrong religion or the wrong views, etc., but in another society nearly everyone are officially slaves who ultimately have to obey their masters, but these slaves have masters who ensure that the slaves’ hours are entirely reasonable, that the slaves are very well paid (based on merit) and have full health benefits, that the slaves can change to different positions if they wish to do so and are qualified to do so, that the slaves have holidays and family days, and that the views and opinions of the slaves are listened to and respected, that the slaves can move elsewhere if necessary, that the slaves can freely worship, etc.; now, in viewing these two societies, both of which are possible, it is–at least to me–clear that the immoral one, and the one that truly denigrates people made in the image of God, is the former ‘free’ society, whereas the ‘slave’ society is quite moral and genuinely respects men as human persons made by God, and so what this little thought experiment helps to show is that the institution of slavery, as a formal institution, is not, in and of itself, immoral, for what makes the institution immoral is the way that the slaves are treated, not the fact that they technically fit the definition of being a slave, and so given that slavery as such is not obviously immoral, then it is not surprising that Jesus did not address it directly, and so the objection against Jesus and Christian morality is baseless, especially in light of the fact that the scriptures do admonish masters to treat their slaves well (Ephesians 6:5-9), which is precisely the main moral point that should be addressed (however, it is obviously also understood that, in practice, sinful men, being fallen creatures, would readily abuse their authority and nearly always abuse their slaves, and so the institution of slavery should be abolished and remain abolished for pragmatic reasons, but this does not therefore mean that, theoretically-speaking, slavery as such is an immoral institution, but only that men cannot be trusted to faithfully institute such an institution here on Earth).
For all the resistance exercise enthusiasts and avid weight-lifters out there–and if you aren’t pumping the iron at least three times a week, you really should be–remember that there are essentially two primary but opposite ways to train and focus when you lift: the ‘Form-First’ method or the ‘Will-First’ methodology; the former is the way most people train, and that is where you place the most importance on the physical form of your lift and stop lifting once that form begins to falter and crack, but on the latter ‘Will-First’ method, your mental drive to get that bloody weight up no matter the cost takes precedence over all else, and so you push that weight up even if your form has to crack while doing so, and yet note that while the ‘Form-First’ method will help you achieve a bodybuilder-like body (good looking, but relatively soft and lacking in functionality), it is the ‘Will-First’ method that builds mental toughness, endurance through suffering, a drive to succeed at all costs, monster strength, and a physique that causes fear in the hearts of other men…and that is why, in my view, if you are going to lift, lift like a beast who will get that weight up no matter what (except injury), and thus, lift ‘Will-First’.
Modern atheists love to claim that atheism is just a ‘lack of belief in God’, but this is bullshit for a good number of reasons (see my ‘Is Theism Just a Lack of Belief in Atheism’ paper for details), and so, in order to rhetorically defeat this atheistic talking point, the next time that an atheist condescendingly tells you that he just “lacks a belief in God”, look him right in the eyes and say “Well, if that is the case, then, concerning the topic of the existence of God, you are as fucking dumb as a rock, for rocks lack a belief in God too, and since rocks have nothing of value to say about the existence or non-existence of God, I guess its the same with you, so please piss off and stop wasting my time”; and then, when the atheist starts stammering that “Well, I just do not find the arguments for God’s existence compelling” or that “I see no evidence for God” or that “I just do not think that the arguments are good either way” or that “I’m an atheist agnostic” or that “blah, blah, blah”, you can then point out to the atheist that 1) not only are all of his statements positive claims about the God question that show that he has thought about the God issue and that he does not just lack a belief but actually has positive beliefs about the topic of God that require positive substantiation, but also that 2) most of these atheistic responses show the atheist to be more of an agnostic than an atheist, and so by claiming to be an atheist, the ‘lack of belief’ atheist is essentially spreading a falsehood by labeling himself as an atheist, and so not only is the atheist incompetent in his own self-description, but he is also potentially being deceptive with it as well, which is a damning indictment either way…and that, my friends, is a good rhetorical way to shut down the ‘atheism is just a lack belief’ meme that modern atheists love to prattle on about (and lest the atheist tries to claim that rocks cannot have beliefs so the analogy is not sound, note that the analogy works just as well if the term ‘rock’ is replaced with ‘cat’, or ‘monkey’, or ‘a newborn baby’).