Mixed Sig­nals

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - Michael Walker By

At least the bi­ble op­poses the re­turn­ing of es­caped slaves to their for­mer masters, for as Deuteron­omy 23:15 tells us, “You shall not give up to his mas­ter a slave who has es­caped from his mas­ter to you.” Gala­tians 5:1 con­curs: “Christ has set us free; stand firm there­fore, and do not sub­mit again to a yoke of slav­ery,” which is all very good news in­deed. But Leviti­cus 25:44-46 does not agree: “As for your male and fe­male slaves: you may buy male and fe­male slaves from among the na­tions that are around you. You may also buy from among the strangers who so­journ with you and their clans that have been born in your land, and they may be your prop­erty. You may be­queath them to your sons af­ter you to in­herit as a pos­ses­sion for­ever. You may make slaves of them.” But then again, Ex­o­dus 21:16 seems to be of a dif­fer­ent opin­ion: “Who­ever steals a man and sells him, and any­one found in pos­ses­sion of him, shall be put to death,” which sort of puts a fly in the oint­ment of those who take things lit­er­ally.

Gala­tians 3:28 non­cha­lantly shrugs off the dif­fer­ences: “There is nei­ther Jew nor Greek, there is nei­ther slave nor free, there is no male and fe­male, for you are all one,” though what he meant by “no male or fe­male” is a bit of a mys­tery and could eas­ily be mis­in­ter­preted as gay lib­er­a­tion pro­pa­ganda.

Ti­tus 2:9-10 ex­pects us to know our right­ful places: “Bond­ser­vants are to be sub­mis­sive to their own masters in ev­ery­thing; they are to be well-pleas­ing, not ar­gu­men­ta­tive, not pil­fer­ing, but show­ing all good faith,” so no steal­ing from the boss, folks; 1 Peter 2:18 cer­tainly agrees: “Ser­vants, be sub­ject to your masters with all re­spect, not only to the good and gen­tle but also to the un­just,” no mat­ter how badly the boss treats you. Speak­ing of bad bosses, Ex­o­dus 21:26-27 de­fends the rights of slaves: “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or fe­male, and de­stroys it, he shall let the slave go free be­cause of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or fe­male, he shall let the slave go free be­cause of his tooth,” so that's okay, ex­cept of course, there's no­body to take care of them.

Ex­o­dus 21 lays down the law: “When you buy a He­brew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the sev­enth he shall go out free, for noth­ing. If he comes in sin­gle, he shall go out sin­gle; if he comes in mar­ried, then his wife shall go out with him. If his mas­ter gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daugh­ters, the wife and her chil­dren shall be her mas­ter's, and he shall go out alone,” which I have to say I find a bit tough on the poor fam­ily. But it gets worse: “If the slave says, ‘I love my mas­ter, my wife, and my chil­dren; I will not go out free,' then his mas­ter shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the door­post. And his mas­ter shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave for­ever.” Just a minute, did I get that right? The guy doesn't want to aban­don his fam­ily so the boss gets to bore a hole in his ear?

Leviti­cus clearly had a prob­lem with women: “When a man sells his daugh­ter as a slave, if she does not please her mas­ter, who has des­ig­nated her for him­self, then he shall let her be re­deemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a for­eign peo­ple, since he has bro­ken faith with her. If he des­ig­nates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daugh­ter. If he takes an­other wife, he shall not di­min­ish her food, her cloth­ing, or her mar­i­tal rights. And if he does not do th­ese three things for her, she shall go out for noth­ing, with­out pay­ment of money,” which ba­si­cally means a man can throw a fe­male slave out in the streets with­out a penny to her name if she turned out not to be a "good lay” or his son didn't want her.

There's no end to the abuse of women; even gang rape or beat­ings that re­sult in abor­tions have a law. “When men strive to­gether and hit a preg­nant woman, so that her chil­dren come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's hus­band shall im­pose on him, and he shall pay as the judges de­ter­mine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” Bet you didn't know where the phrase “an eye for an eye” came from, did you?

To top it all, slaves were sup­posed to be truly happy: “Bond­ser­vants, obey in ev­ery­thing those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-ser­vice, as peo­ple-pleasers, but with sin­cer­ity of heart, fear­ing the Lord.” But even the worst sce­nar­ios have an up­side, “If a man lies sex­u­ally with a woman who is a slave, as­signed to an­other man and not yet ran­somed or given her free­dom, a dis­tinc­tion shall be made. They shall not be put to death, be­cause she was not free.”

You know what? Th­ese are the rules that poor mis­guided peo­ple lived by hun­dreds of years ago. They did what The Good Book told them to do. Surely we can do bet­ter than that.

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