Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part One!

XIII

How to Buy Slaves (and Other Tips for Godly Living)

(Exodus 21)

Having given Moses the rough draft of the Ten Commandments, God proceeds to lay down the moral law.

Now, Christians tell me a lot about how perfect God is. Even the ones who aren’t Real True Christians™, and believe in hippie socialist Jesus rather than Legalistic Uptight Asshole Jesus, wax lyrical about how good God is. Many Christians tell me that the Bible is God’s timeless Word, which established a perfect moral law, even though some of the bits were just for those uncouth tribal dudes and needn’t trouble us today. None of them seem to agree on which of those laws God tossed, as God never specified in the text (although quite a few seem to just adore those bits of Leviticus that bash gay people).

When it’s pointed out that the Good Book contains some really bad laws, Christians get kind of blustery and stammery and insist that those laws were the best God could do at the time. The people were rebellious, they say, and primitive, and prone to sin: they would’ve refused to follow laws that were too advanced*.

To which I call: shenanigans.

If God is as powerful and wise as claimed, he should have had no problem laying down superb, compassionate, and flawless moral laws, and enforcing them. If god was trying to ease people in, he could have said right then (cuz he knows the future), “These are the laws for now. I’ll have better ones once you lot are more civilized.”

I want you to pay close attention to this chapter, dear Christians, and tell me how these laws are perfect, or where in this chapter God said they were temporary and would not be applicable to future generations.

God jumps right into the deep and stinky, starting off with slavery. He’s completely for it. He just wants to establish a few regulations:

  1. You can have a Hebrew as a slave for up to six full years. But you’ve gotta set him loose, debt-free, in the seventh year.
  2. Return your slave to freedom in the same marital condition in which you found him. If he was single, he goes alone. If he had a wife, she goes with him, free of charge.
  3. God, as we know, is all for strong nuclear families. But not for slaves! No, if you, kind master, gave your slave a wife, and he sexed her up, and they had sweet children together, your male slave gets his ass set free alone in Year 7. Wifey and the children extra slaves they made are yours to keep.
  4. If the slave you just so generously (were ordered to) set free is all like, “But I love my wife and kids! I can’t leave ’em!” then congratulations! You may now take him to your doorpost, drill a hole in his ear, and keep his ass enslaved forever. (Ex. 21:1-6)

There is not one sentence in these verses that says, “But verily I say unto you, slavery is horrible, and you’d better enjoy it while it lasts, cuz I’m gonna abolish and forbid it in a few generations when y’all are more enlightened.” God speaks not one word against the practice.

Image is a woodcut showing an Egyptian overseer menacing a brick-laden Hebrew with a stick. A woman clutches her head in the background. There is a slumped man to the right, a woman carrying a water jar on her head in the middle background, and an Egyptian taking a baby from a woman in the background.
The Egyptians Afflicted the Israelites (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster). Public domain image and caption via Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe he’ll get to it whilst he’s giving instructions to Moses regarding women and slavery:

  1. If a man sells his daughter, she gets to remain a slave indefinitely – unlike the male slaves, she doesn’t get freed.
  2. But if the dude she’s sold to doesn’t like her, he’s not allowed to sell her to any durned foreigners. He has to allow her daddy to buy her back.
  3. If he bought her for his son to sex up, he has to treat her as a daughter.
  4. If he takes her as his wife for his own self, and later takes an additional wife, he’s got to keep providing his first wife the same level of food, clothing, and sexy fun times as before.
  5. If he can’t do those things for her, then he’s gotta set her free, without debt. (Ex. 21:7-11)

Nowhere does God ever say: “Dads – don’t sell your daughters as sex slaves. That’s disgusting.” He doesn’t say, “Dudes, don’t buy women as sex slaves – that’s an asshole thing to do, and also really skeevy.” In not one single place does God say, “You know what, guys? Don’t buy and sell women at all. Just don’t. I’m gonna call that an abomination unto me right there.” Don’t get so starry-eyed over God giving a few paltry rights to these poor girls people are selling. Don’t get so over-awed by the fact it’s God talking that you forget these girls were slaves whose destiny was to be repeatedly raped. God is regulating the sex slave trade. That is in no way moral.

And if you’ve ever condemned sex trafficking, you’ve got to face the fact that your God was completely down with it.

Just wait ’til we get to the rules on how to beat your slaves!

 

*Some Christians, horrifyingly, insist God is perfect and those horrific laws are still right and just today, but they’re a definite minority.

Exceptions apply.

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Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part One!
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3 thoughts on “Really Terrible Bible Stories vol. 2: Exodus Excerpt – Chapter 13, Part One!

  1. 1

    where in this chapter God said they were temporary and would not be applicable to future generations.

    Oh, that’s easy. When we outgrow these laws for simpletons, we will see that they are laws for simpletons and just ignore them. Sooooo, since I am not a simpleton (Christians, like children in Lake Woebegone, are all above average), any law that *I* think should still apply, should still apply, and any that I don’t, don’t. QED!

  2. 2

    Fundy: How can you atheists have absolute morals? What’s to stop you believing that something is evil now, and later decide is it OK?
    Atheist: Well the Bible has plenty of awful morals.
    Fundy: Those are in the Old Testament, those don’t apply anymore.

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