A Christian Defending the Bible’s View of Slavery

Doug Wilson is a Christian pastor, author, professor and theologian and he co-wrote a paper a few years back defending the ownership of slaves by Christians in the south prior to abolitionism. It is a published pamphlet and it entitled, Southern Slavery As It Was. A Monograph by Steve Wilkins & Douglas Wilson. You can read this pamphlet here in it’s entirety(it is only 22 pages). I recommend that all Christians read this paper. Although you may not agree with his point of view, he is trying to be consistent with what the Bible teaches on the subject of slavery and is not shy about saying so. It will challenge you to think about the issue and to grapple with what the Bible says about it.

When I was an evangelical Christian, I used to listen to and read much of what Doug Wilson has written. He is a very well educated and classically trained man with a great sense of humor and a sharp whit. He has more recently done a documentary with Christopher Hitchens entitled Collision which you can read about here. Wilson and Hitch traveled around the united states doing debates and discussing their differences and much of it is very interesting to watch.

In this paper, Wilson defends what he describes as the biblical view of slavery. Many would be surprised to know that there actually is a biblical view of slavery but he will take you through the various pasages that do in fact have a very positive view of slavery and he quotes extensively from pastors in the southern states prior to the civil war who argued in a very similar manner. Wilson is opposed to “man stealing” as it is called in the King James Bible and says that slavery in that sense is wrong but that owning a slave after the fact and treating them in a charitable way is perfectly fine. He does strangely grant that in the old testament, slavery was allowed in Israel for non citizens or as spoils of war and I don’t understand why that is not considered “man stealing”. He spends quite a bit of time demonstrating how much of the criticisms of southern slavery in the united states is overblown and how the vast majority were very good masters to their slaves and the slaves actually preferred to be slaves rather than to be free. He seems to quote quite a bit of material and studies which seem to show this. Whether this is actually true or not I am not qualified to say but i figure that even if that is granted, his position is still quite amazing from a modern civil rights perspective. Wilson even says as much and is fine with that and even takes some pride in his politically incorrect stance.

I appreciate Wilson’s honesty and it was truly an interesting read, albeit a little shocking at times.


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