Guess Who Thinks Fight Against Homosexuality is Like Fighting Against Those Who Freed The Slaves?

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

Dan Savage walked into a “bullshit” storm when he pointed out that the Bible that condemns homosexuality is the same Bible that condones slavery. Anti-gay Christian are still furious over that, with National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has challenged Savage to a debate. (I and at least one writer for Savage’s newspaper hope he takes up the challenge.)

Meanwhile, Lou Engle yesterday asked for support for an upcoming TheCall rally in Virginia by comparing his fight against LGBT people to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson’s “rallying the Virginians” against the forces of Washington — you know, the guys who were trying to hold the Union together and free the slaves.

By the way, Jackson died eight days after being shot at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Lee, of course, lost the war and the sacred cause for which it was fought.


May 4th, 2012

Lol! Thanks for putting these two points together !
I’d make sure Savage and other progressive outlets also publicize this!


May 4th, 2012

I think this needs a correction. Shouldn’e it read “National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown”?

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

Yes it should. Sorry for the brain fart.


May 4th, 2012

The slavery that the Bible condones was an early form of apprenticeship. The slaves lived in the masters house and were freed at the age of 30, and the master was legally required to set the slave up in business and was financially responsible for him for a year. If the master was a citizen, the slave became a citizen. It was the Roman Empire, not South Carolina. The problem isn’t the Bible, it’s the misappropriation of the Bible by slaveowners in the South.

Dan Savage committed three grave errors.

First, he attacked a book that the other side says is holy. Right there he has disqualified himself from the debate in the eyes of the other side. You can’t win a debate if you leave the building; they take that as surrender.

Second, he said the Bible condemns gay people. That is dumb. As soon as you concede the battlefield to the enemy you’ve lost. He should have denied that the Bible condemns gay people and make them prove otherwise.

Third, he spoke of ancient social institutions without learning about them first. He could have read the article on slavery in the Anchor Bible Dictionary and seen the hypocrisy of other side. The rule here is never express your opinioni without researching the topic. Never assume the enemy is right.

What the other side heard Dan saying is, “I’m not qualified to debate, I have no clue what I’m talking about, but God says you are right. I, however, disagree with God.” How could such an intelligent man use such a weak and stupid debate tactic?

Priya Lynn

May 4th, 2012

Ken said “The slavery that the Bible condones was an early form of apprenticeship”.

Do you have a non-religious source that backs up your claim that this is they type of slavery practiced in those times?


May 4th, 2012

Lou Engle, every time I see him doing that bobbing and weaving motion it makes me think he is dry humping the air.

Timothy Kincaid

May 4th, 2012

Priya Lynn

Ken is painting a bit brighter picture than I would paint, but his facts are basically true.

Here is a pbs source

Though I certainly wouldn’t call it apprenticeship’

More info about education of slaves

I think that we can agree that when Southern Baptists quoted the bible about slavery, they were trying to justify something far worse than what the Bible justifies.

However, we can also agree that the notion of “timeless inerrancy” of Scripture fails as well. Whether or not the rules set out in Scripture for who could own slaves, and how, were morally preferable than how others approached the issue at that time, they certainly are immoral today. Anyone seeking to live by Biblical Standards as applied to slavery today is far far more immoral than, for example, Newt Gingrich.

Timothy Kincaid

May 4th, 2012

Also, Jewish slavery (like property ownership) was temporary. Jubilee was a freedom day (and a return to previous owner day for land, if I recall correctly) so a slave became increasingly less expensive as Jubilee approached.

I don’t know what happened to the freed slave of an Israelite. Remember they were not of the tribe, so I wonder if they became citizens of a sort or if they were more or less freed and booted out of the country… which might be a somewhat less advantageous position.

Timothy Kincaid

May 4th, 2012

And here is a Christian perspective that argues that first century slavery was far far worse than others claim.

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

Color me skeptical.

First, Jubilee occurred every 49 years (seven times seven). Not many slaves in Israel would have been lucky enough to have made it to that 49th year.

Besides, Paul’s instructions on how to treat slaves were to Roman and Greek Christians, not Hebrew, and therefore not likely to have been subject to Jubilee. I know the state of slavery in Roman times was different from the 19th century south, but they weren’t exactly “apprentices.” They were often prisoners of war and their families.

Somehow I don’t think Spartacus was exactly leading a revolt for a 40 hr work week or better school supplies.

Timothy Kincaid

May 4th, 2012


Jubilee was not on the 49th anniversary of a persons enslavement, but a calendar date. A slave who became so three weeks before Jubilee was a slave for three weeks until enslaved.

And yes. We are talking two different systems (both different from US pre-antebellum slavery).

Incidentally slavery still exists today. Some forms (usually sexual slavery) within the US.

It is wrong now. It was wrong when included in the Torah. But some versions of slavery (like all moral evils) were more insidious than others.

Priya Lynn

May 4th, 2012

Thanks for the links, Timothy. They certainly don’t describe the pollyanna sort of slavery that Ken described. Further discrediting Ken’s claims are that although the bible gives direction on how to carry out slavery it doesn’t mention the sort of rosy features Ken claims.

Although the slavery of that time may not have been quite as severe as what was seen in the States one most certainly can’t make the case that Ken seems to be attempting to make that the slavery condoned in the bible wasn’t a particularly bad or immoral thing.

Jim Burroway

May 4th, 2012

Jubilee was not on the 49th anniversary of a persons enslavement, but a calendar date. A slave who became so the weeks before Jubilee was a slave for three weeks until enslaved.

Yeah, I got that. I was just sloppy in writing it out. But given life spans at that time, many slaves would have spent much, most, or perhaps all of their productive lifetime in servitude of someone else.


May 5th, 2012

How nice that comfy cozy white folk are deciding on how pleasant some forms of slavery can be, like and “apprentice”

Slavery is evil no matter how cozy the conditions. The bible lists the punishments that can be inflicted on slaves who “err” and death is an option.

Calling “believers” magic book a Grimm Brothers horror story on steroids is telling the truth, something deluded believers have trouble with. If they didn’t, they read the entire book they worship and see the words instead of making believe it says and means something “pleasant”


May 5th, 2012

LAG – check the “comfy cozy white folks” racism at the door, please.

Priya Lynn

May 5th, 2012

I don’t find the reference to “comfy cozy white folks” racist


May 6th, 2012

First, trying to make sense of Engle’s preaching is an exercise in futility.

Second, Ken’s whitewashing of Biblical slavery as “apprenticeship” ignores the nightmarish conditions of slaves described in the Bible. The Bible condones beating slaves (Exodus 21:20-21), owning slaves indefinitely (Leviticus 25:44-46) and splitting up families (Exodus 21:4). The enslavement of Noah’s son (Genesis 9:24-27) and of enemies throughout the Bible suggests that slavery was seen as a punishing, humiliating state. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the argument that Biblical slavery was akin to apprenticeship.

David H

May 7th, 2012

Not to mention, in Exodus 21:20-21 you could beat your slave to death, as long as he suffered at least one day (as “the slave is his own property”), and
in Exodus 21:2-6 (as an exemption to “free HEBREW slaves after six years”-law that often is mentiod as an exemple on the humanity in the bible) you could extort him into lifelong slavery by making him choose between his whife/children and his freedom…
(so much for “temporary”, just mention what you are going to do to the slaves kids/whife after the sixyears have gone)

(of course, its all for men, women is not included in the sixyear law (there is even a special part about selling your daughters) and neither seems non-hebrews to be included (ie lifelong slavery))

and does this sounds like apprenice?
“You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)


May 7th, 2012

I also don’t buy Ken’s first argument: “First, he attacked a book that the other side says is holy. Right there he has disqualified himself from the debate in the eyes of the other side. You can’t win a debate if you leave the building; they take that as surrender.”

In the incident that spurred this debate offer, it was, in fact, the small group of Christian journalism students who quite literally left the building–leaving Dan to talk unimpeded to the vastly greater numbers who stayed in their seats.

Brian Brown and a rump of true believers may in their hearts believe that Dan has “left the building” the moment he criticizes even a single syllable of the Bible or how people choose to interpret it, and they are free to talk that way among themselves within their small groups.

But John Templeton doesn’t throw tons of money toward NOM (and thus Brian Brown’s paycheck) to talk just to the intellectually incestuous group of those who are already convinced beyond any possibility of changing their mind. He wants to influence the conversation in the culture.

Holy or not, The Bible is a book full of words and ideas. Those can be criticized–in the very way Dan does. To most people–and especially to those that NOM and its supporters want to influence–both internal contradictions within the text and contradictions in how people choose to interpret the text (e.g., ignoring pretty much all of Leviticus except the prohibitions against homosexuality) are perfectly legitimate topics of discussion. They are right there in that room with Dan–just like all the many young journalists who STAYED to hear the rest of Dan’s speech.

The point of the Dan’s words at the journalism conference (or of his upcoming debate with Brian Brown) is not to convince what you call “the other side”–I suspect even Jesus himself couldn’t change Brian Brown’s stance on same-sex marriage–but to convince all of the other people listening in on the debate.

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