(44) It’s imperative that we understand these differences as we assess how the church through the ages has interacted with slavery.
This is not to imply that slavery in the first century was a pleasant thing.
If no Christian reading the Bible—across diverse cultures and times—ever previously discovered support for same-sex relationships in the Bible until today, it’s hard not to wonder if many now have new cultural spectacles on, having a strong predisposition to find in these texts evidence for the views they already hold.
We shouldn’t be surprised when Scripture challenges cultural trends, even when it challenges our strongly felt experiences.
Likewise, 19th-century Christian abolitionists “appealed to conscience based on the destructive consequences of slavery. So, for Vines, the church was basically supportive of slavery throughout history until the 19th century, when “experience” brought about a reinterpretation of Scripture. Most importantly, does it do justice to the authority of Scripture?
First, we must acknowledge that the story of slavery throughout the ages is complicated.
Specifically, we must recognize key differences between slavery in New Testament times and slavery in America and elsewhere in more recent history.
In his book (IVP Academic, 2001), Murray Harris summarizes several key differences between Greco-Roman slavery and New World slavery: In the first century, slaves were not distinguishable from free persons by race, by speech, or by clothing; they were sometimes more highly educated than their owners and held responsible professional positions; some persons sold themselves into slavery for economic or social advantage; they could reasonably hope to be emancipated after 10 or 20 years of service or by their 30s at the latest; they were not denied the right of public assembly and were not socially segregated (at least in the cities); they could accumulate savings to buy their freedom; their natural inferiority was not assumed.
But Peggy said the vibrant gay community there gave her the firsthand opportunity to come to know gays and lesbians in depth. As the wife of a college professor, she reached out to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in the campus community.
While the Bible lacks a crystal-clear text condeming the institution of slavery, it does not commend slavery either. It was understood to be a reality of contemporary life, not a creation ordinance from God. Scripture doesn’t speak out explicitly against each and every sinful practice going on in the world.
The features of slavery in the first century (for example, not race-based, the regularity with which slaves earned their freedom, and so on)—and also the critical role this particular form of slavery played in the economy—help us to understand why abolition was not on the apostles’ front burner. Even the passages some used to defend slavery were revolutionary in their original context, for they put master and slave on the same footing (for example, Eph. In contrast, one-man/one-woman marriage, gender roles, and the prohibition of homosexual acts are consistently rooted in creation (Rom. Some practices such as slavery are tolerated within the biblical narrative even while they far short of the God’s ideal. That we come across many examples of polygamy in the Bible, even among individuals praiseworthy in other respects, does not endorse the practice.
The lifelong American Baptist has told her views in the essay "In God's House, There Are Many Closets," which is part of a book by Walter Wink, "Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches" (Fortress Press, 1999).
In Phoenix, Peggy Campolo, 66, shared her faith journey, noting that even as a pastor's daughter, she rejected God until about 19 years ago when she sat with an 86-year-old friend who was dying. "I decided I would tell Helen everything I had ever heard about Jesus Christ and going to heaven. As I shared the stories of God's grace and love to a dying friend, the presence of God came near to me. God came into my life as I sought God for Helen." She shared stories at First Congregational about witnessing the mistreatment of gays. ' they called out, silly grins on their faces, eyes darting around to see who was watching their games." "I tried to pretend it hadn't happened, but I felt afraid and sad, and I knew that he did, too," she said.
The abolitionist position rightly sees in Scripture indicators pointing toward freedom. –27, where there are distinct echoes of the creation account; 1 Cor. Similarly, the biblical passages addressing slavery shouldn’t be read as condoning slavery as an institution.