Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Slavery

Does Christianity prohibit slavery? Maybe not always. St Paul taught that both master and slave could be spiritually freed in Christ but did not oppose the continuation of the master-slave relationship as such. In fact, slaves should obey masters who should be kind to slaves. (Of course, it did not matter greatly if the Kingdom was imminent.)

A character in Poul Anderson's Rogue Sword set in 1306 mentions that the Church has forbidden Christians to enslave fellow Christians, thus motivating slave traders and owners to withhold Christian propaganda from their slaves - a strange inversion of the injunction to spread the Word to all creation.

It is possible to pursue a self-interested agenda within a framework of Christian belief. An Evangelical believes that he is saved whatever he does. A Catholic believes that, as long as he has confessed any mortal sins, he need only endure a temporary spell in Purgatory before, equally, being "saved." Both beliefs leave room for much self-interested behavior which, for Catholics in 1306, could include buying and selling foreign slaves.

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