The other day I was listening to a podcast where they were talking about slavery. The podcaster is an avowed atheist and said that Jesus Christ never condemned slavery. That got me thinking if any Mormon scriptures (do they still call them Standard Works?) condemn slavery.  Here is what I found.

Old Testament:  There is a lot written about slaves in the OT, but it is mostly rules about how to treat them. The 10th commandment says you are not to covet you neighbor’s manservant (slave) [1]. It never says not to have slaves, just don’t covet ones you don’t have.  Exodus 21:26-27 says if you hit your slave in the eye and blind him, you have to let him go. Same if you knock out a tooth. Exodus 21:12 says if you beat a free man you are to be put to death, but if you beat a slave (20-21) and he lived at least 2 days you are OK.

New Testament: Lots of mention of slaves in the NT, but again no probations against it. Jesus healed the ill slaves of a centurion (Luke 7:2). Why didn’t he tell the centurion how bad it was keeping slaves? Jesus also uses the term slave as a metaphor, such as when he comparing the relationship between a slave and his master to that of God with mankind (parable of the faithful servant). But again, never a condemnation. Paul tells the slaves to be obedient to their masters (Eph 6: 5-8).

Book of Mormon: Here we have a winner (though no chicken dinner)

And the king said unto him: Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren, and we will be their slaves until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.

But Ammon said unto him: It is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should be any slaves among them; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren.

Alma 27: 8-9

So the Nephites had a law against slavery!  But it seems it was just their law, and not applicable to our day. The Book of Mormon answered the question on infant baptism that was of concern in the early 1800’s, but does not really answer the question about slavery, maybe because nobody was asking?

Doctrine and Covenants: The only mention of the word slavery comes when Joseph Smith predicted the coming of the Civil War which would break out over disputes about slavery. There is no commendation nor prohibition about slavery. God was concerned about ‘hot drinks” (D&C 89) and laughter (D&C 88), but not slavery!

Pearl of Great Price: Facsimile 3 has a dark figure (#6), which Joseph Smith interpreted as “Olimlah, a slave belonging to the prince.” Again, no commendation, just a mater of fact that there were slaves.

It is well documented that the early slave owners in the Southern US used the Bible to justify slavery. Why do you think Jehovah in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New Testament, BofM, and D&C was so unconcerned about slavery? Does the Judo/Christian God approve of it, or at least turn a blind eye to it? Is this the kind of God we want to worship?

[1] Most modern Bible translations use the word slave not servant, and slave and servant can be used interchangeable in biblical times. 

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