Slavery & Racism in the Bible
Comment: God allowed Israel to take slaves from other nations. This is immoral and racist. So if Christians were consistent they would also reinstate slavery and institutionalized racism.
Response: We must remember, the removal of the Canaanite peoples was a judicial ruling by God. Consider, in the USA we give people rights. But those rights can be taken away if people commit a crime. Its called prison. Is that hypocrisy to say people have rights (out of one side of our mouth) but then put them into prison (out of the other)?
No, because those persons gave up their rights when they committed a crime. There were no prisons in Canaan. As a judicial ruling, God told Israel to dispossess the people in the land. They were either to kill them or in some cases enslave them. The Canaanites had already lost all of their rights and were under God's just judgment. There was no justification for arbitrary chattel slavery in the Bible -- (the kind which we knew in antebellum times) ... in fact the slavery which kidnapped people and sold them as property was punishable by death (Exodus 21:16) .
No, they were ONLY to kill or enslave under God's direct verbal orders. Remember, He is God so His judicial ruling is more just than any human court has ever been since He knows all of our crimes perfectly. So when Israel killed people they were simply acting as God's hand, speeding up the death sentence we all justly deserve.
You think this racist because it targets foreigners? Think again. God also warned the Israelites that they were not immune from the Canaanites' judgment: "But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.' "(Numbers 33:55-56).
So not only were foreigners made slaves ... when the Israelites disobeyed God - REMEMBER - they were carried off in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. So God is not partial or racist.
Again, the Israelites deserved judgment just like the others, whether Egyptian or Canaanite. This should serve to remind us that we may not assume that those who suffer unique or catastrophic calamities in this life are any worse than we ourselves, since it is only the grace of God in Jesus Christ which makes us to differ from anyone (see Luke 13:1-5; 1 Cor. 4:7).
Also Christians, being consistent with the scripture and understanding this, would never enslave people. God has commanded us to set all men free with the gospel. The time between Christ's coming and His return is a time of forbearance. But the time is coming when God's patience will end and justice will be carried out in full measure. So it is important to differentiate what God commands as a way of life for us and his judicial rulings. The confusing of them causes college professors to misrepresent the beliefs of both Jews and Christians, and many atheists, who are ignorant of the fullness of what the Bible says, take this up and make unfortunate misrepresentations of the Bible in public. But at least it gives us an opportunity to bring the truth to light. So for this I thank you.
Lesson: We must learn to distinguish God's judicial pronouncements from his commands about a way of life for us so as not to mix apples and oranges.