Marriage and Slavery: Apples and Oranges

There are plenty of stupid arguments for homosexual marriage, but one of the stupidest was made by the Prime Minister of Australia last night as he rudely and rather brainlessly replied to a question by a Christian pastor. Kevin Rudd’s nonsense was as appalling as it was disingenuous.

His ‘knockdown and bulletproof’ argument went something like this: ‘You say homosexuality is abnormal. Well the Bible says slavery is normal. Therefore we must have homosexual marriage.’ This has got to be one of the most inept and idiotic things I have ever heard when it comes to pushing homosexual marriage.

Can someone please buy this guy a basic textbook in logic and logical fallacies? Or at least buy him a Bible. It is clear he is completely unversed in both. His “reasoning” is just so wrong on so many levels, that it is hard to know where to begin. But let me offer a few brief points here.

First, slavery in biblical times was much different than say in America’s south two centuries ago. In the Old Testament for example it was in fact indentured servitude. Even Israelites could sell themselves into such servitude in order to pay off debts. It was voluntary and it was all rather humane.

Second, the first act of the sceptic is to rip texts out of context. Rudd’s use of Ephesians 6:5 (“Slaves be obedient to your masters”) has a clear context, and it must be read in its entirety. Paul goes on to tell masters to treat their slaves kindly (Eph. 6:9). And the same Paul tells slaves they may take advantage of release from servitude if offered it (see 1 Corinthians 7:21 and the book of Philemon).

Third, it was the very New Testament which Rudd wrongly claims kept people in their chains which in fact provided the basis of all the abolitionist movements in the West. Paul said quite clearly that in Christ there is “neither slave nor free” (Galatians 3:28).

The truth Jesus emphasised that we are all made in the image of God of course led to the eventual elimination of slavery, and it was Christians, motivated by the New Testament, that spearheaded the drive to see it made history. So Rudd is totally wrong here.

Fourth, slavery in biblical times had little to do with race, as it did in more modern cases, such as with Black slaves in the US. Those who want to draw parallels between the treatment of Blacks and the treatment of homosexuals are simply mixing apples with oranges.

As Black American pastor Ken Hutcherson recently put it: “It has been said loudly and proudly that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. If that’s the case, then gays would be the new African-Americans. I’m here to tell you now, and hopefully for the last time, that the gay community is not the new African-American community. Don’t compare your sin to my skin.”

And fifth, the biblical case for heterosexual marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of slavery of course. Contrary to the clear falsehoods of Rudd, the Bible most certainly does see homosexuality as abnormal, while it always views heterosexuality and heterosexual marriage as the norm.

Heterosexual marriage is the biblical ideal from Genesis through to Revelation. Homosexuality however is not just an abominable and grievous sin, but when Paul writes in Romans 1 he uses it as the epitome of human defiance and rebellion against God, earning his just wrath.

Slavery, like divorce, was allowed by God as temporary concessions for mankind living in a fallen world. Neither was God’s ideal, and neither have a place in the coming Kingdom. Heterosexual marriage however was always God’s intention, and the eternal relationship between Christ and the church is of course fully patterned on heterosexual marriage (see Eph 5:23, eg.).

Sorry Kevin, but you made a ghastly meal of it. There is no doubt that his answer was well rehearsed, and that the ABC told him the question was coming. This is typical of how the ABC operates. And with an audience packed with Rudd supporters, cheering him all the way as he gave his reply, we know this was a stacked deck.

The truth is, no one can claim to be a true Christian and deliberately and defiantly shake their fist in God’s face and call him a liar as Rudd has effectively done. He has made it crystal clear that he treats the Word of God with contempt and thinks that he, not God, is the fount of all ethical truth.

And no one who claims to be a true Christian should dare vote for this charlatan on Saturday. Yet incredibly I fear many deceived believers will do just that this weekend. If they do they will have to stand before God on judgment day to give an account for their irresponsibility and recklessness.

A few other quick points. This same Rudd was of course arguing against homosexual marriage just a few short months ago. This is yet another flip flop from him and Labor. They cannot be trusted in anything. They lie, obfuscate, deceive and twist things on a regular basis. Who in the world would vote for these guys?

And all this arose because one man had the guts to stand up and confront this conman. I say Matt Prater for PM! He not only put to shame the charlatan who wants to be re-elected on Saturday, but he puts to shame the great majority of spineless wonders who occupy our pulpits every week yet refuse to speak out on this absolutely crucial issue.

These invertebrate shepherds will have to give an account on judgment day as to why they refused to stand up for God’s institutions of marriage, family and human sexuality. If God values them so highly then so should God’s people – especially their leaders.

For those who want more on all this, my recent book Strained Relations deals with these matters in great detail: orders.koorong.com.au/search/product/strained-relations-bill-muehlenberg/9780646560953.jhtml

[1000 words]

38 Replies to “Marriage and Slavery: Apples and Oranges”

  1. Bill,

    Thanks so much for taking a stand against Kevin Rudd’s shocking eisegesis of the biblical text. If this is how he exegetes Scripture, what is he going to continue to exegete our economy. What Rudd said on Q& A last night is now available in transcript form online. Below I have included it. Here is a transcript of what Kevin Rudd said on Q&A, 2 September 2013:

    CHRISTIAN VOTE00:55:23 (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3823745.htm)

    MATT PRATER: Hi, Prime Minister. I’m a pastor of a local church and work for a national Christian radio network. Most of the listeners and callers we have had in our radio station have been saying they won’t be voting for you because they’re disillusioned because you seem to keep chopping and changing your beliefs just to get a popular vote with regards to things like marriage. Why should we vote for you?

    KEVIN RUDD: Well, on the question of marriage equality, you are right. I took a position about, I think, three, four, five months ago, well before coming back to the Prime Ministership, because I concluded in my conscience, through an informed conscience and a Christian conscience, it was the right thing to do. And let me tell you why. Number one, I do not believe people, when they are born, choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don’t decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is – it is how people are built and, therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong. I don’t get that. I think that is just a completely ill-founded view. Secondly, if you accept that it is natural and normal for someone to be gay because that’s the way they are, then it follows from that that I don’t think it is right to say that if these two folk here, who are in love with each other and are of the same gender, should be denied the opportunity for legal recognition of the duration of their relationship by having marriage equality. If you accept that – if your starting point is that homosexuality is abnormal – I don’t know if that’s your view.

    TONY JONES: Well, we can go back and ask.

    KEVIN RUDD: Well, I just need to know because that’s…

    TONY JONES: I mean, we will go back to our question just…

    KEVIN RUDD: I just need to know.

    TONY JONES: …quickly to ask what it is that you believe Christians, in particular, are upset about.

    MATT PRATER: I think the – I think the thing is that, you know, every pastor we do marriages between husbands and wives and, you know, Jesus said a man shall leave his father and mother and be married and that’s the Biblical definition. I just believe in what the Bible says and I’m just curious for you, Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don’t you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?

    KEVIN RUDD: Well, mate…

    TONY JONES: Okay. Thank you.

    KEVIN RUDD: Well, mate, if I was going to have that view, the Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St Paul said in the New Testament, “Slaves be obedient to your masters.” And, therefore, we should have all fought for the Confederacy in the US war. I mean, for goodness sake, the human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we are missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel or a spiritual gospel, is all about. And therefore I go back to my question. If you think homosexuality is an unnatural condition then, frankly, I cannot agree with you based on any element of the science. And, therefore, if a person’s sexuality is as they are made, they you’ve got to ask the second question. Should, therefore, their loving relationships be legally recognised and the conclusion I have reached is that they should. And on the question of chopping and changing, I wrote a 2 or 3,000 essay – 2 or 3,000 word essay, stuck it online months and months and months ago, before returning to the Prime Ministership, so everyone would know why I had changed my position, the reasons for it and it was the product of some many, many months and years of reflection in good Christian conscience.

    TONY JONES: Okay. Thank you. Thank you. Okay. We have got to get through a few more questions. We have got a video question from Gary Champion in Malvern, SA.

    Spencer Gear

  2. Firstly let me acknowledge Matt Prater for being far braver than myself. Also I acknowledge that no reasonable argument is likely to change Kevin Rudd’s opinion or be dealt with fairly by the Q&A audience.

    However surely a better argument could be made in the first place. Why not ask why the Commonwealth would bother having a law regarding marriage at all? Simply to celebrate how much people love each other?

    Why not ask why a Christian would encourage people to live in a way that the Bible calls a curse?

    Maybe ask whether Kevin support the efforts in Canada to institutionalise Polyamory?

    Once again though, kudos to all those who brave an intolerant public square on this issue!

    David Churchland

  3. Rudd will eventually find out that God was right and he was wrong. Again! It’s easier to understand why the country is in such a mess when you see how he applies his reasoning with Biblical matters, seriously my son at 10 years old had a better understanding of God’s word than Rudd. The media has been talking up Rudd’s knowledge of the Bible when reacting to that Pastor. So we have Biblically illiterate people patting Biblically illiterate people on the back, it’s just painfully hilarious. Sadly the secular public (and a fair whack of nominal Christians) don’t know the difference between what the Bible really teaches and what yahoo’s like Rudd says, most are happily duped or willingly ignorant so Rudd will always have a fan base I guess. I would like to see a few people like you Bill have opportunity to square up with some of these political clowns but I very much doubt they would want to run into a handful of Godly men and women that can see straight though their foolishness. Rudd’s probably still stroking himself over the whole thing but Luckily his days of playing Prime Minister are nearly over even if his days of playing Christian aren’t.

    Greg Sadler

  4. I would like to hear your comments about what Mr Rudd said about Homosexuals being born that way, about the Bible being about universal love, and what he believes is the centrality of the bible. For me, Homosexuals are NOT born that way; the Bible is about Jesus and His love for us, and how He was willing to die for our sins, and became sin for us. It is about God, and his plan for saving humankind from the sin of Adam, it is all through the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. It is about how God abhors sin & disobedience, and his plans for the punishment of both of these things. The Centrality of the Bible is about LOVE, God’s love for us, and the lengths he went to save us, and make us more and more like Jesus.
    Sorry, I could go on and on, but will stop there.
    Elaine Howard

  5. Bill, I can’t help but feel that Rudd’s reply reminds me that the church has largely failed to pass onto its members, a very basic defense of the faith/Bible. So many issues have Christians dumbfounded, whereas we should be able to coherently explain our position. It is telling that in many instances, unbelievers have a much greater understanding of the issues which trouble Christians, than we do. I am not criticizing the Christian pastor on Q&A here, as Tony Jones was ready to move on and the moment had passed. But just preaching the “love of God” Sunday after Sunday, does not equip the saints to go into battle.

    Cross out Rudd as very few of us has the opportunity to debate him. But what if someone we know makes the same connection as PM Rudd? – that (he claims) the Bible is wrong on slavery, therefore it is wrong on homosexuality. Can we mount a defense?

    Phil Manley

  6. Thanks Phil

    Yes you are quite right that most churches today are not teaching sound doctrine and theology, but are simply offering the masses sugar-coated topical sermons designed to make people feel good about themselves. Therapeutic moralism in other words. But I do believe this alone does not explain Rudd. He has deliberately rejected the clear teachings of the word of God (simply to chase a few votes) and has decided to pimp the theological revisionists here. He is a fraud and a deceiver.

    As to the slavery and marriage issue, I would have thought that my article above goes a little way in addressing that topic, in mounting a defence! But if you want more, you will need to get my book Strained Relations.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. And I’d like to emphasize that in ancient Israel the Mosaic law given by Yahweh required ALL slaves and ALL debts that brought about the voluntary servitude to be cancelled. This was what the Hebrew Bible (OT) calls the year of jubilee. Anyone with even a basic grasp of the OT should be aware if this fact. Read Leviticus people. It’s written for our benefit!!!
    One cannot name any other ancient civilization that legislatively required the releasing of slaves, despite the economic detriment to the community. And the Hebrew bible was written three thousand years before William Wilberforce and the now modern opposition to the African slave trade.
    P.S. I’m yet to see Krudd or the ALP do ANYTHING AT ALL to end the sex slave trade. In fact the ALP’s attempt to liberalise pornography and prostitution laws is the driving force behind modern sex trafficking.
    P.P.S. I’d also like to add that it was the political left who were supporters of the African slave trade. Just as they support servitude to the state nowadays!!

    Joel van der Horst

  8. Like this article. Would like to take it further.
    In Israel, slavery was slavery, but it was a temporary economic contract. Israelite slaves were freed on the Jubilee.
    It took the form of indentured servitude, but it could also be an alternative to slaying P.O.W.s in war. So slavery was normal in that time, it was an alternative to dying by starvation or dying by the sword. But the Bible clearly points out its not a good thing, and a master unrighteous to his servants will face his Master.

    R S Stewart

  9. Phil, I agree. The love of God is only directly referred to in about 30 something verses in the Bible. That’s roughly 1 in every 1000. Moreover it was never referred to in evangelism and the love of God is notably not mentioned in Acts the book which shows New Testament evangelism in practice.

    While the love of God is undoubtedly very important and can be inferred in a number of passages there is a real danger of focusing so much on God’s love that we lose an understanding of what God’s love actually is (redefining it to what we want it to mean) and ignore other aspects of his character.

    If preachers preach their way through a whole book, teaching books the way they were primarily meant to be taught they are more likely to present a balanced view of God as they can’t avoid difficult passages that are uncomfortable to consider.

    Matt Vinay

  10. The slavery the bible refers to really is not massively different to getting a mortgage. You willingly go and you pay off your debt. Certainly, nobody wants one and owing nobody a debt is a good financial place to be. However, sometimes you find yourself in that situation and it is not morally wrong like the rightly reviled ethnic slavery that the various colonial powers used.

    Christians who have yet to publicly stand for truth in the west are already getting familiar with the principles behind ethnic slavery as they are forced to become slaves-in-thought to secular humanism. The chains they use are tight and their thought police will quell any dissent. These people need to stand for truth before they become complete atheists!

    On a side note, I wonder what Rudd thinks about slavery according to Islam. Correct me if I’m wrong but Islam did not conquer the Middle East and half of Africa by the joy that comes from believing. Of course, I hear criticism of Islam will get you time in thought correction.

    Simon Fox

  11. Homosexuality was rampant in Greece and Rome and so was slavery. Indeed the economy could not have run without it.

    It is no coincidence that with the rise of homosexuality in the west there is also a rise in the sex slave trade .
    And no doubt you have it in Australia?

    http://www.alansangle.com/?p=1261

    How dare Kevin Rudd mouth his lies.

    David Skinner, Uk

  12. I am a Christian and I will be voting for Mr Rudd. To me, homosexuality isn’t a big issue and doesn’t bother me. Mr Abbott once visited my workplace and was extremely rude to a co-worker (female) and humiliated this poor woman. It was awful. Some Christian. I will never vote for him.
    Ralph Toomey

  13. Thanks Ralph

    But of course all that your comment tells us is that you are far more of a Labor hack than you are a Christian. No one can call himself a Christian if he tells God He is wrong about what He clearly calls sin, and who remains cavalier about the destruction of His institution of marriage.

    And while I never heard anything about your supposed Abbott incident, we do have plenty of confirmed reports about how rudely Rudd treats people. So by your own words, you should never vote for Rudd. But you are, so we all can see right through you here. What was that word again that starts with h and ends in ypocrisy?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  14. Hi Bill,

    God proclaims man and wife as Marriage, while the state is claiming otherwise.

    Yet the state doesn’t care who is Baptised, receives First Communion, or who celebrates a Bar Mitzvah – or who doesn’t – so what’s the big deal if we turn gays away from Holy Matrimony?

    So could us Christians get divorced under state law, but maintain our Holy Matramonial Vows if gay ‘marriage’ gets passed?
    And those Christians who are wanting to get Married in the future, could they only take the Vows, but not sign the state Marriage certificate?

    The only people who will then be left ‘married’ is the liberal progressives [gays ect] under the state but not God.

    While us Christians will then have our Holy Matrimony ceremony with Holy Matrimonial Certificates in Latin ect, and all the ‘pomp, ceremony & regency’ of Marriage in the Church under God.

    On the one hand it looks good, as Christians only really get Married ‘under God’ anyway, and being recognised by the state is really only a secondry matter to us[once we think about it], but on the otherhand, will the State then move further/quicker with claiming that religion is a ‘private matter’ and push us further out of the public square?

    What I’m trying to say Bill is this:
    Is it detrimental to Christianity[in australia] if we took this approach before/after gay marriage legislation?

    And as Christians, we have a duty to hold Christ the Almighty above the state, as the state is fallen man – so would those in Canberra then punish us for valueing Holy Matrimony above Marriage?

    Thanks Bill. God Bless.

    Mike Marshall

  15. Thanks Mike

    I hear what you are saying but I don’t think it is a wise move. God created this institution and it is one of our most important and enduring social institutions. We should not just put up the white flag of surrender here. A tiny minority group should not be allowed to destroy marriage – at least without some solid resistance on our part. And as I have written elsewhere, there are some very good reasons why the state should be involved in marriage:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/04/04/libertarianism-and-marriage-part-one/
    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/04/04/libertarianism-and-marriage-part-two/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  16. Eventually everyone who leans left starts to ‘progressively’ redefine morality and consequently the Word of God.

    Graham Jose

  17. Mr Rudd’s contention that Scripture holds slavery to be a natural condition of humanity was subsequently rebutted by Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, who points out that notion of slavery as a natural state of humanity is derived from ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle and not from the Bible! For the archbishop’s media release go to: http://sydneyanglicans.net/mediareleases/statement-on-pms-q-and-a-comment .

    In his famous speech against the slave trade, William Wilberforce appealed to that one of the Ten Commandments which prohibits murder as the prime reason for his call for abolition: For Wilberforce, the anti-slavery cause was a matter of obedience to God and not a matter of political policy or ideology.

    John Wigg

  18. Yeah Ralph, that was an incredibly ignorant and imbecilic thing to say. It’s public knowledge that Krudd is rude, boorish, and extremely sexist (remember him putting a tenner in the g-string of a stripper in a New York Strip club a few years back while intoxicated), whereas your imagined episode of Mr Abbott’s rudeness is completely unverifiable, and seeing as you reject the Scripture and Christianity (hence your voting for the baby-killing, family-destroying, poverty-creating ALP), I suppose that means you’re more than happy to violate the 9th commandment and therefore fib about the never-heard-of-before rude incident involving Mr Abbott.

    Joel van der Horst

  19. “for the duration of their relationship”, was part of Mr. Rudd’s definition re ssm. So not only does the heterosexual section of the definition of marriage go out the window, but also the “till death do us part”. In real terms, I know it has already gone out the window with our divorce rate etc and the undocumented brake ups of defacto relationships. But it was interesting, that he actually said it.
    I am utterly astonished at how many “decent”, well respected family loving people, not Christians vote ALP because they believe that they handle social reform and welfare better than the Liberals. It makes me cry how little they realize how central marriage, family and the protection of life on both end of the spectrum of vulnerability are to the prosperity even in material terms of communities and of a nation.
    David Skinner, you made a comment above I would like to ask you to explain. You said that the economy of these cultures the Romans and the Greeks, would not have functioned without homosexuality. I cannot see the connection between the life-style and productivity, at least not in the long run.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  20. In response to what Ralph said:

    “I am a Christian and I will be voting for Mr Rudd. To me, homosexuality isn’t a big issue and doesn’t bother me.”

    Should Christians only be concerned with things that impact us personally, or are we called to act for the well being of all people, especially children who are being impacted by homosexuality and certainly will be by a change to the marriage laws?

    Frankly, this attitude is the same selfish humanist attitude everyone else votes with – what will the government give me for my vote and how will I benefit?

    This is not how followers of Jesus should decide our vote.

    Simon Fox

  21. Absolutely right Simon. Not only is such an attitude selfish in the extreme – and therefore not at all Christian – but it is also completely wrong. Homosexual marriage changes everything. I have hundreds of examples of this in my forthcoming book.

    But see here for starters:

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/12/10/same-sex-marriage-who-says-nothing-will-change/

    https://billmuehlenberg.com/2012/05/15/homosexual-marriage-everything-will-change/

    And this just in today’s news: “Christian bakers who refused cake order for gay wedding forced to close shop.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/sep/2/christian-bakers-who-refused-cake-order-gay-weddin/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  22. Hello Bill
    Mr Rudd obviously is not a bible believing nor God fearing christian and I think Ralph might be a troll…its apparent that Rudd is still a captive to the enemies lies, plus his massive ego and arrogance has him thinking he knows better than God. Such foolishness… We still have to pray for these pollies as they lead the government but thank God rudd and labor’s time is almost over..
    Keep up the great work bill
    Prayers and encouragement
    Pita Lino

  23. Kevin Rudd is neither a theologian nor a bible scholar. And it shows how ignorant he is about Jewish theology and the Christian doctrine, in general. Even I as a 22 year old university student, am even aware that the Bible itself needs to be read in its context.

    I seethed with righteous anger as I heard this statement from him. It clearly shows that he is no fit leader for this nation (as he proves himself that he is a liar and an opportunist). He’s clearly not an intelligent and wise man. At best, an arrogant populist who thinks, perhaps, that he interprets the bible even better than the best of our Christian scholars i.e. N.T. Wright, Daniel Wallace, Bruce Malina, Mike Licona, and Bruce Metzger – all who have been studying these ancient texts carefully for decades.

    Shame on this generation of leaders.

    Karina J Filipino

  24. Any criticism of homosexuality is deemed as “judgmentalism” and something to be extremely cynical about – really, it’s about time the righteous stood up against the evil and proclaim and explain how wrong homosexuality is.

    Janice Tooh

  25. Even some Christians hold on to this view. There are wolves in sheep clothing within the Church – some who think they are saved when they are not.

    Janice Tooh

  26. Hi Bill,
    The worst thing K Rudd said on Q&A last Monday was, to my mind, that the Biblical Gospel is all about love and tolerance. He said this in the context of same sex marriage and therefore in the context of homosexuality. It amounted to saying that the Biblical Gospel is all about homosexual erotica and tolerance. To every serious Christian this is blasphemy. Unlike in English, where the word love can mean almost anything, the Greek of the New Testament of the Bible distinguishes between different types of love. The love the Gospel is about is agape-love in which God gave up his only begotten Son to a torturous death on a Roman cross, for the salvation of the world, not erotic-homosexual love Mr Rudd was talking about, seeing that that was the context in which he spoke. Moreover, the Gospel-love, demonstrated in the death of Jesus, was at the same time the demonstration of God’s intolerance to sin, including the sin of homosexual activity.

    Joost Gemeren

  27. Indeed let’s get real when the gays and their proselytizers like Rudd try to speak from a superior moral position, that position is om reality an inversion of the Biblical one. Tolerance becomes intolerance, love becomes violence, equality – division, inclusion – exclusion, decency – degeneracy, kindness – grooming, truth – lies and too many other examples to name. They are beyond hypocrisy for at least a hypocrite pretends to be one thing whilst being something else, but the gays are now so confident that all pretence has gone as they openly flaunt their corruption and rub our faces in it.

    David Skinner, UK

  28. To say that the word love can encompass all types of loving relationships would be saying that white is all colour, though technically that is true, white is the sum of all colours, but each one is still distinct from the other. So each type of love has its distinct shape and place in the scheme of things. Blue is not to be confused with red and neither is filial love to be confused with marital love. Only the love expressed in the frame of marriage set by God is to include sex. This is God’s plan and we can see it is good Only those who have a vested interest in not seeing or not wanting to admit it is good want to convince people otherwise.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

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