Why do you suppose Jesus never condemned slavery?

No real need for a preliminary discussion of why the question is being asked…or for any explanation of the context in which it is being asked.

It is the kind of question that needs no clarification or justification…and it needs no context in order to make it understandable.

All one has to do is to simply ask it.

Why do you suppose Jesus never condemned slavery?

Why do you suppose he never spoke out against it?

That’s quite an assertion, or presumption. How do you know he didn’t?

It does not seem to have been part of Jesus’s agenda to change the political status quo much. John 18:36, e.g.

I don’t recall anywhere where he had much of a specific manifesto about changing one’s lot here on earth. An emphasis on treating others well, certainly; not so much an emphasis on things like rights and politics and governmental or economic systems and so on.

His approach to maltreatment generally emphasized the response of the one being maltreated. Matthew 5:39, e.g.

Because back then slavery was an accepted part of life. People couldn’t conceive of a world where slavery would be abolished by the powers that be.

It’s more evidence that Jesus wasn’t God - he wasn’t able to take a meta-view and consider a world 2000 years into the future when slavery would be unthinkable in most of the world. It just didn’t occur to him (whereas if he were God then he would have known that slavery would go eventually).

I think there’s bigger issues like why he didn’t bother to preach democracy, social welfare, equality of the sexes and races, public education, habeus corpus, nor even the scientific method.

Paul’s comments are typically considered the most controversial in the New Testament (the Old Testament/Jewish traditions being even more inconsiderate of slaves).

" Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him."
Ephesians 6:5 NIV

I don’t think a religion preaching against slavery at that time would have had a very good chance of getting enough followers to survive until the present. It certainly would have made it harder to get later Roman emperors interested.

Hmmm…unconvincing argument.

The founder of the religion himself was put to death at age 33 and all the followers were hunted down and executed. They had to go into hiding until much later when the romans turned christian.

So it could hardly have been much worse for them as it was. How much worse could it have been if Jesus had preached anti-slavery?

Plus if the early christians had been anti-slavery they would at least have got all the slaves on board - literally a captive market, if you will.

Yeah. Didn’t he drop the golden rule, “do unto others what you would have them do unto you”? That should cover it.

These. He was just a random human preacher whose religion happened to catch on. He had no special knowledge, no special access to enlightenment beyond his time. He wasn’t “the son of God”, nor did he have access to the knowledge of a nonexistent superior being; so he talked like a person of the time would.

What about the view that early Christianity and maybe esp. Jesus’ teachings were pretty much apocalyptic in that they really did think the end of the world was close (as in a couple of decades close)? Not much use going against slavery in that world view - basically just believe in the right god and you’ll be fine after the sorting gets done.

I’ve only a schetchy idea of early Christianity, so feel free to correct me if I’m completely wrong here.

Which then leads to the question of why God would choose a time period where his “son” wouldn’t be able to have proper time to get out 99% of everything he wanted to impart.

Jesus’s message of love was so simple as to not have required documentation. What you see in the form of the Bible was never authored by Jesus or his disciples as a specific guide.

Based on the letters and writings of his followers there are an infinite number of acts of inhumanity that aren’t specifically addressed but fall under the general message of love that he put forth.

Thanks for all comments so far.

Allow me to respond to a couple of points:

I guess I could have done a thread entitled, “Why do you suppose Jesus condemned slavery with gusto, but none of his disciples thought the condemnation was worth reporting?”…but that would have been silly.

I assume that he didn’t, because it would have been extremely aggressive on his part, and I doubt any reporters of his comments and actions would have simply dismissed it as unimportant.

He was willing to suggest loving enemies. It can easily be argued that “loving enemies” and “turning the other cheek” in place of “an eye for an eye” were every bit as “in your face” as would be “why are some of GOD’s children being kept as slaves?”

Why do you suppose he did not condemn slavery?


Paul is on my agenda. Wanna stick with this question for now.

That certainly is something to consider. In fact, it seems a reasonable conclusion. I wonder if that is the only reason…or one of the main reasons. Perhaps he actually saw nothing wrong with slavery. Anyone here think that???

Not necessarily “bigger”…but I will acknowledge “just as big.”

But I am dealing with this question here.

Mutantmoose pretty much captures my feelings in response to this. In any case, I don’t think Jesus was thinking in these terms.

Not even close! If he want to condemn slavery…he would have condemned slavery. No need to quote the golden rule and hide what was being said. Why do you suppose he did not specifically condemn slavery?

And you are certain of all this because…???

Or did you mean to say: It appears as though….?

Basically, I think you are right about early Christianity.

But Jesus came before all that.

Why did HE not condemn slavery? He certainly wasn’t leaving that part out because of his second coming.

Sounds like the basis for a song in the Rock Musical, Jesus Christ, Superstar!


Why do you suppose Jesus did not condemn slavery?

Well, he did go on about a number of specific issues, so ignoring slavery is a pretty glaring omission.

After all, the squeaky wheel get’s the grease.

Jesus also didn’t speak on abortion or homosexuals, but people still seem to think he did.

Personally, I think Jesus’ larger message (of love for all people) sort of implies that slavery is a bad idea. Jesus often spoke in larger ideas, not specifics. That could be partly backlash against the Pharisees and Sadducees who were so overencumbered with specific rules, regulations, and minutae.

I think if people lived by the Message Jesus spoke, they’d be obligated to acknowledge the evil of slavery.

Unfortunately, people have managed to screw that up too.

For the same reason he didn’t condemn crucifixion or poking people in the eye with a stick?

What part of “love they neighbor” is hard to understand? It is implicit as applied to slavery.

Don’t forget that Jesus couldn’t time-lock parts of the Bible - he had to give it immediately.

To hand down dicta on issues such as euthanasia, IVF etc would have been seen as insanity by his contemporaries.
As for slavery in particular, it wasn’t really until technology advanced to the point where it became unproductive (or comparatively less productive) that we abolished it.

“Love thy neighbor” is easy to understand, and covers just about everything, right? I guess that makes everything else he said was just a waste of time,