I just got done reading about something called “The New Morality”. The basic idea behind it is that everyone should adopt this new moral code that these people wrote up and decouple morality from religion. Even though this post has nothing to do with Visual Teaching, I just had to write it up.
First and foremost separating morality and religion only works in an atheist worldview because religion is irrelevant and amounts to as much as choosing what your favorite color is. Here is the thing though… what if… God is real, if you ignore what he says, since he holds all the cards, then you are doing something very dangerous and the core of Christian morality is a relationship with God on his terms… not ours.
So, in reading about the new morality they say that Christians and Jews have supported slavery and they use quotes from Jefferson Davis and Richard Furman to support this. In doing this, they leave out the other side of the coin. If you have a chance I encourage you to watch the movie “Amistad” one of the key figures in the movie was John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States and was vehemently opposed to slavery and considered it his God given duty to bring down the institution and in his later years in congress he did everything he could until he died to accomplish that. The surprising thing is if you read most abolitionist literature and look at most abolitionist lives, you will find people deeply committed to Jesus. Another classic example is Harriet Tubman. So, who is right… Jefferson Davis or Harriet Tubman… the answer is easy, if you look at the arguments used by the South to justify slavery and the abolitionist to abolish it. One of them is based on theological interpretation that has existed forever… the other (the Southern) is cut from whole cloth. The southern justification was created almost completely from an episode in Genesis when Noah said that “Canaan would be a slave of his brothers”, scientists at this time had come to assume that black people were from the line of Canaan and hence black people should be slaves to white people. Noah’s prophecy was fulfilled during the conquest time of Joshua and has nothing to do with modern America.
You might be thinking wait… there you just said it, the prophecy of slavery was fulfilled in the Bible. It’s really easy to judge the ancient world by our safe anonymous protected by our military selves, but it is not fair to the ancient world. Life was brutal, food could be scarce and the economic system was hard. The thing the Hebrews had built in for them is two-fold. 1) They didn’t really have racial slavery, they had conquest slavery and indentured servitude. 2) All slaves were released every 7 years, which means there was no such thing as life-long forced slavery. This was amazingly progressive compared to the rest of the ancient world.
Later on Christianity began to break apart the institution in the Roman Empire, in Galatians it says “there is no Free or Slave in Christ Jesus”, well what this began to do and this is well attested historically is that a master and his slave would go to church together and the slave would be acting as a church leader where his master would be subservient to him. The effect of this is it brought about a dignity and an equality that brought slavery to an end in Christian areas, while it continued and intensified in other areas, such as the Muslim world. When racial slavery began to practiced during the colonial period it’s very foundation was against the Hebrew practices for three big reasons: 1) Again it was lifelong which is against Hebrew slavery (which was more of indentured servitude) 2) Hebrew slavery was never based on skin color, it was war and financial related 3) It is against the Hebrew scriptures to kidnap anyone, yet many of the African slaves were kidnapped.
In fact the reason black slaves latched onto Christianity so readily was due to the Exodus history. The Jews knew what it was like to be slaves and they attained freedom.
So, today slavery once again is a huge problem and not only have I never met a single Christian promoting it, but the vast majority of the people working against it I have met are Christians.
To sum up the New Morality is not only wrong about slavery, but a better moral principle would be to treat people’s world views fairly, which they clearly do not, which means their morality cannot be superior.