The Slavery Post (Part 2)

In my last post, I used questions to describe how slavery in the Bible might compare/contrast with parenthood.

I also asked:

 “What do you imagine would/will happen if our culture decides we must emancipate all children the way we’ve emancipated all slaves.   (And, for reference, the historian Jim Downs argues that thousands of black former-slaves starved or died of diseases in the United States, after being freed.)”

But, I realize not everyone understands concepts in written form. Sometimes they need pictures–and preferably moving pictures–to help them grasp a point.

So here’s a video I found this week which illustrates nicely.

It’s only 1-minute long. Go ahead and watch.


Thought-provoking, huh? And it’s even more poignant if you read the top comment…

  “Why would you have a bird like that in captivity anyways?”

That made me laugh.

Because it’s pretty obvious that “captivity” wasn’t such a bad situation for that bird!

It was the first taste of freedom that did him in.

The Slavery Post

I’ve had this post in my drafts for a couple of years.  It just so happens to be the topic that inspired this blog in the first place, which is why I’ve felt the pressure to make my thoughts clear and hard-hitting.  But, I’ve waited long enough…


If humans are so advanced, why does it still exist–even in supposedly more-developed countries?  And why didn’t God tell the ancient Jews that slavery is bad–always bad–when he had the chance?  (The Eleventh Commandment ought to have been “Let all the slaves go free now,” right?)

I’ve been dragging my feet on publishing mostly because I don’t have many concrete conclusions to offer.

I just have a series of evolving questions, and  I’ve been accused of slipping away from difficult discussions when I don’t take a firm stand on either black or white.

But, isn’t it possible to answer questions with more questions? Didn’t Socrates use that method?  Wouldn’t you rather wrestle with these things along with me, than read my declarative statements on the subject?

With that, here’s the Slavery Post:


Anyone who REALLY wants to know what the Bible says about slavery will Google “Evil Bible dot com,” for the scoop.


Just kidding.

A few basic explanations about how slavery in the Bible was different from what we know today can be found on

“The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery.”

But, a critical thinker has to ask themselves: what did slavery look like in the Old Testament?  Are we talking about kidnapping, beating, and breeding people based on race hatred?  No, no, no, and no.

Moving on.

Another helpful resource is The site looks terrible. But the content is good:

“…although there are rules about slavery in the Bible, those rules exist to protect the slave. Injuring or killing slaves was punishable – up to death of the offending party.1 Hebrews were commanded not to make their slave work on the Sabbath,2 slander a slave,3 have sex with another man’s slave,4 or return an escaped slave.5 A Hebrew was not to enslave his fellow countryman, even if he owed him money, but was to have him work as a hired worker, and he was to be released in 7 years…”

So, if the topic of slavery has been covered well by others, what else do I have to contribute?

Well, I still need to put my signature spin on it. I still need to do something surprising and a maybe a little half-baked–like suggesting that the biblical version of slavery is a lot like parenthood. 



Well, no. I’d never even considered the connection until this week.  And even then, I didn’t think in terms of my own children for very long.

You see, I’m young enough that the topic of “parenthood” still makes me picture MYSELF as the child and MY PARENTS as the authority figures… So, when someone said to me this week “I wouldn’t want to be a slave,” I immediately thought, “I knew lots of kids in high school who couldn’t wait to escape from their parents house, too…”

But wouldn’t your preference depend entirely on the master/parent?

I mean, can I think of a situation in which being forced to obey could work out for my benefit…like, if I’m being fed and clothed and loved in exchange for my obedience?

Yes.  I can think of my own childhood.


I’ve written before that the culture of parenthood is changing. A growing number of people in the proverbial village paint a picture of the Parent-Child relationship as cruel and authoritarian. (Presumably, authoritarianism is always bad.)  While religious Fundamentalists are criticized for their belief that children belong to God, the secular Fundamentalists insist that children belong to “society.”

Thus, the “old way” of viewing families as a unit, with different functioning parts, is going out of style–while some choose to think of family members as struggling competitors, each fighting for their share of power and control.

Of course, that’s a true picture of some families.

However, to tear apart the entire institution and attempt to re-write the parent-child roles only throws out the baby with the bathwater.  While it’s understandable that someone who grew up in an abusive home would be tempted to argue, “I’d never want to be someone’s child!” they must ignore all the children who have had loving experiences inside families that function well.

The difference between an authoritarian relationship that works and an authoritarian relationship that doesn’t is a matter of religious doctrine:

We need to realize we are selfish creatures with selfish motives for things, and we need to check ourselves constantly.  If we’re in a position of authority, we need to treat those in our care with gentleness. If we’re in a position of subservience, we need to treat our masters with respect and grace.  And everyone must treat others as they want to be treated, regardless of the role fate has assigned to them.

That’s the kind of village everyone wants to live in.


Now, I hate to be the one who ruins a good analogy by over-explaining it. So I have a few questions to ask instead:

Can you imagine a time period or culture where people sold themselves as bond servants?(Leviticus 25:39-42)  What about a time period or culture where some slaves asked to stay, even after their contract was up?  (Deuteronomy 15:16)  What are some reasons they’d do that?

In what ways are Old Testament “slavery” and New Testament “slavery” different?  In what ways is the slavery of the Bible similar to contract work? Are there any ways that biblical slavery can be compared with adoption/parenthood?

What do you imagine would/will happen if our culture decides we must emancipate all children the way we’ve emancipated all slaves.   (And, for reference, the historian Jim Downs argues that thousands of black former-slaves starved or died of diseases in the United States, after being freed.)

And, finally, how should I answer the question “Are you against slavery–yes or no?” In other words, would you conclude from this blog post that I’m pro-slavery?

What are your thoughts? (Leave them in the comments.)

What It Means to Be A “Christian” (Response)

If you have any Christian friends on social media, you’ve probably already come across THIS ARTICLE.

Christian subcultures are an entertaining phenomenon. Multiple brands of Christianity claim the same Lord and read the same Bible, and yet they promote a set of values sometimes as different as apples and orangutans.

When you try to cut out Christians with a religious cookie cutter, you not only tarnish diversity, but you trample on grace. It’s one thing for Christian subcultures to cultivate unique values. But it becomes destructive when those values are chiseled on Sinaitic tablets for all to obey.

Of course, someone like me immediately wonders: “Has that author written his blog post on a Sinaitic tablet, insisting that his view of Cookie Cutter Christians be a view that ALL of us obey?”

But let’s keep reading…

It’s even worse when Christians expect instant holiness from recent converts—holiness, that is, in areas where we think we’ve nailed it…

It’s a shame that some believers have scoffed at some of Shia Labeouf’s recent comments about converting to Christianity, pointing fingers at the fact that he still uses bad language weeks after becoming a Christian…Bad language may take years to weed out.

At this point, someone like me is thinking, “Does Shia Labeouf’s flesh have such control that he can’t keep his fingers from typing profanity-laced messages AND hitting ‘send?'” And, if so, is his soul still in such need of “weeding” that he can’t at least apologize and promise to try harder when someone calls him out?

But, I kept going…

Grace means that we are all works in progress, and God shaves off our rough edges in His timing.

Just look at the thugs God works with in the Bible.

I know we’re programmed to see the 12 apostles as saints with halos and contemplative faces. But actually, they were criminals. These guys were more like prisoners than pastors, and few of them would be let inside our churches today.

Finally, it was here that I realized I needed to write a blog post featuring the apostles, exactly as this author portrays them.

How did the disciples of Jesus act AFTER they met Him, and how would Jesus Himself handle these “thugs?”

Today, I’m imagining the apostles traveled forward in time and fell in love with Preston Sprinkle’s article about Messy Christianity…and then traveled back to their own era in the Middle East to apply what they’d learned.

Here’s how I think that would look:


Peter:  God Dammit!!!

John: Yikes, Pete! Don’t forget, the lips of the righteous know what is acceptable. What’s going on with that loose tongue?

Peter: I’m just really worked up about what Matthew is doing. Did you know he still sneaks to his old booth and collects some taxes now and then?

John: Well, yeah.  (*scratches his head*)  I’d heard that.  But… as you know, we can’t expect someone’s life to be changed overnight. Being a friend of Jesus is messy!

Peter: Yeah–I agree with that, I guess.  I mean, I’m sure I agree with it, when it applies to YOU, showing me some grace while I get my shit together. But stealing from poor people seems like kind of a big deal!

John: Oops, here he comes now.

Peter: Oh, shit!

Matthew:  Hey, guys. Did you see the ladies who were talking with Jesus this morning? They’re prostitutes!

John: So? What’s so strange about that? Jesus has changed the hearts of many prostitutes in the past.

Matthew: Yeah, but that’s just it! He told them to change. It’s like Jesus doesn’t know that these gals are works-in-progress. They’re going to be a little messy!

John: Hm, I see your point.  I wonder if Jesus realizes that a sub-culture of Christians might turn his message of change into legalism.  I’m sure He doesn’t want people to think “change” is something to be dogmatic about!

Peter:  Yeah! Screw Fundamentalism!

*Suddenly, Jesus appears out of nowhere*

Jesus:  Have you been keeping my commands, gentlemen? You know that’s how to show your love for me, right?

Peter:  (*out-bursting and pointing at Matthew*) He’s collecting taxes again!!!

Matthew: Oh look who’s talking, Peter Potty Mouth!

John: (*holding up his hand*)  Wait, I can handle this, Jesus. Let’s all remember that you can’t sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis.

Peter: What the Hell are “khakis?”

Jesus: (*squeezing the bridge of his nose*)  Aaaaaaaah, my friends. How long shall I put up with you?…

Matthew: You sound annoyed, Jesus? Can we just remind you that sometimes grace is messy and offensive?

Jesus: Fun fact, Matt. I’ve never been recorded using the word “grace” myself…

(*the Apostles look shocked*)

Jesus: Listen up, guys. Put down the blog post, and listen to what I’M saying…


Of course, I don’t have the time or space to copy everything that Jesus said to his disciples.  Nor can I reprint everything the disciples passed down, for the churches they planted.

But I DO think it’s interesting that–whatever Jesus said and modeled for John and Peter and all the others–it led them to write things like:

Peter: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

John: No one who keeps on sinning has either seen [God] or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as God is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

That’s thought-provoking, isn’t it?

Now, granted, there are disputes among Christians about what type of conduct is “sinful” and what type is “holy.”  Smoking and gambling and alcohol and promiscuous dress may be considered “gray areas.” But shouldn’t we be having those conversations about if/when they’re acceptable for Christians?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had the freedom (and the grace) to discuss doctrine, without being told to shut up and let people be messy, without question?

I hope I’m not the only one tired of running head-long into someone’s Grace Shield, which is just an excuse not to take responsibility for our actions.

If what I’m doing is actually, demonstrably wrong, then I can show that I’m a Christian by owning it and letting God change it.   (And that goes for Shia LeBeouf, too.)  :)

Blocking the Truth

I was blocked by somebody on Facebook this week.

Mind you, that’s different from simply being unfollowed or unfriended.  By blocking someone, you prevent them from seeing ANYTHING related to you, even things you’ve written on public pages. A blocked person can no longer search for your profile or contact you via private message.

You’re dead to them.

In truth, “blocking” is a great tool if you run into a child predator or potential ax-murderer.

But what other reason could a person possibly have for so dramatically cutting me off?

The irony this time was that my last conversation with Blocky McBlockerson* had to do with censorship.

(*name has been changed to protect the cowardly)

6-25-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 1)


Me: I’m baffled by anyone who thinks discussing things is a “distraction.”  If…your philosophy about sexuality is wrong, then deleting comments keeps others from seeing the truth..

Blocky:  Go ahead and discuss it on your page.  I don’t enjoy debate. It takes too much energy.

Me: Someone who knows what they believe doesn’t shy away from explaining themselves.   In my opinion, the least loving thing you can do for a person is withhold the truth when they’re honestly seeking.  A philosophy that doesn’t pass the test of BOTH the heart and the mind isn’t worth having.


At this point, Blocky decided to try a different approach. She never explained why she liked the ridiculous meme she had shared (and why I was wrong to suggest that adulterers and pedophiles could use the same meme.)

Instead, she opted for self-pity.


6-25-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 2)


Blocky: I guess I just don’t measure up. Fortunately, my faith allows for people to be whoever they may be and still be of use.  Maybe in a few years, after a few life experiences, you’ll be less rigid in your judgment… If you were my kid and you wanted to talk about what Mom has learned or believes, I’d be happy to talk.  That’s not what this is, and I’m not interested…

Me: I’m not your kid. But I am your sister, am I not? It’s true, you may just choose not to discuss certain things on Facebook. You may have people in “real life” who are allowed to question the areas of your faith that don’t make logical sense. But—again—people who have answers for my questions usually offer them.

That’s when she got really upset!  And that’s okay.  I don’t necessarily believe that being upset with each other is a bad thing. In fact, you can’t have relationships without being upset sometimes…

Blocky: In my experience, people who ask like you do NOT have questions, they have answers. So…your like-minded inner circle, would be the places that your questions/conclusions should be shared. They are only agitation in my little corner. So cut it out… An honest, face-to-face, heartfelt exchange is fuel for my soul. But confrontational, argumentative debate is an energy suck that I can’t afford…and with that, this and any future conversation (in this forum) is over. My boundary has been reached.

But that last bit is the problem for me.

Saying, “That’s it. I won’t talk with you” and offering no explanation for why strikes me as downright contradictory.

So I told her so.

Me: If we were sitting face-to-face, having a heartfelt exchange, I would confess that I don’t know how to move forward. I’m completely stumped about how to have a relationship with a person like you, without being both rejected AND accused of only associating with people who agree with me.

I already said it’s possible that Facebook just isn’t your preferred place for theological discussion. That’s fine. But it’s the only place I have to hear other views…

How do I break free from my “like-minded circle,” when I’m unceremoniously barred from circles like yours? Regularly?

It’s frustrating to meet person after person who has a problem with the WAY I talk….and never wants to address the crux of my points.  You say you’re dropping out of this conversation, but I hope you’ll reconsider. I hope you’re not putting up a boundary between yourself and a God-indwelt member of your spiritual family every time relating with one becomes a challenge…


And that’s when she decided she needed to make sure we never talked again.

During a conversation about the importance of hearing other perspectives, she essentially stuck her fingers in her ears and yelled “lalalala!”

It’s astounding.

But I’m afraid that blocking ourselves from confrontation is becoming a Standard Operation for Christians.

It seems that “tolerant” Christians are happy to have coffee with gay people or support the unwed mother… They’re happy to get messy being the hands of Jesus to the tax-collectors. But, when it comes to loving other Christians, they need BOUNDARIES.

(Love sinners–unless they’re arrogant, I guess?)

At least two church leaders recently unfriended a relative of mine, over disagreements about racism.  And the former “Youth Director” of my childhood church dropped into a pretty mild discussion on my page about marriage, before burning our bridge.


Meanwhile, I’ve been bantering with Atheists on my dad’s blog for weeks–and they just keep coming back for more. 

They’re mean and frustrated and they keep threatening to leave me wallowing in my ignorance…

…but they can’t help returning.  They come back over and over, like moths to flame.

I remarked to my dad, “It’s like the Gospel is a bug zapper.”   The lost souls are relentlessly drawn to the light, even though it shocks their flesh.

It hurts.

But they’re compelled…as if they sense on a subconscious level that truth is waiting.


What’s happening here, Christians?

Is there more hope for the rebellious pagan than for the half-hearted members of our own churches?

Have we grown so attached to our religion that we must block anything that threatens it?

If we’re so sure we’ve found the truth, then why do we need to protect it like a glass sculpture?

Iron will not sharpen iron if we keep burying our swords. Over and over, I see Christians making “tolerance” and “diversity” into gods–then cutting off the brothers and sisters who try to warn them.

 That’s not tolerance OR diversity, brothers and sisters. And I believe I’m well within my right to point that out.

Are we family, or not?

Are we interested in the truth, or not?

And what does it say about the things we believe, if we come undone when an arrogant, pestering little sister holds our feet to the fire?

6-26-16 Private Message with Sarah (Edited 3)6-26-16 Private Message with Sarah (4).PNG

You Aren’t a Gunman, Either

I saw this helpful picture, making the rounds on social media:

“You weren’t the gunman, but you didn’t want to see gay people kissing in public. You weren’t the gunman, but you don’t like gay characters on TV. You weren’t the gunman, but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.

You weren’t the gunman, but you were upset when gay people gained the right to marry. You weren’t the gunman, but you use slurs for gay people. You weren’t the gunman, but you would vote against protections for gay people.

You weren’t the gunman, but you’re the culture that built him. You’re the bullets in his gun.”


Apparently, a love for personal responsibility isn’t ever going to catch on with this generation.

We’re absolutely determined to blame faceless, unrelated people for every tragedy.

We never miss an opportunity to say “I told ya so!”…even when the person we dislike had nothing to do with what happened.

So, fine. I’ll join the bandwagon.

EVERYONE is guilty for the actions of a few, correct?


Then I expect anyone who considers him/herself a “liberal,” and particularly members of the LGBT community, will meditate on this list of offenses until they feel sufficiently remorseful:

  • You’re not a gunman; but you swear at those who disagree with you on the internet.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you openly mock that religious persecution is a “thing.”
  • You’re not a gunman, but you believe conservatives are bigots who deserve shaming.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you spend all of your time demanding that others focus on your tiny, little world.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you have enemies.
  • You’re not a gunman, but you shoot words like “hateful” and “wing nut” and “fundie”  and “Bible-thumper” and  “Jesus Freak” on people you’ve never taken the time to understand.


If you’d rather make up an indirect way your conservative neighbors are responsible for everything than publicly denounce the teaching of Muhammad–YOU are the culture that built this.



Or, if you don’t think this is your fault, then let’s stop with ALL the “My people” vs. “Your people” stuff, okay?

I read an article this week reminding Christians of the danger of lumping people into groups.

It was well-stated. And convicting.

The “lumpers” in the LGBT community would be wise to read it and take their own advice about building cultures of undeserved blame.


Boobs, Babies, and How to Protect Them

This video echos all the rallying cries of the Normalize Breastfeeding movement:

“Some people have breastfeeding fetishes, or whatever. But I GUARANTEE YOU, those people are not walking around in public looking for breastfeeding women to jack off to.
…I’m just feeding my child…

…Shame on you! Shame on your for even thinking there’s a correlation [with sex].”

Unfortunately, just yelling “There’s no correlation!” doesn’t make it so.

In fact, I’m afraid demanding the right to feature our bare breasts in videos and photos is making it easier for sickos to revel in their pleasures online.

Thanks to bumper-sticker simplifications like “Normalize Breastfeeding” and “Boobs for Bernie,” most breastfeeding mothers are gaining confidence that there’s nothing weird–let alone dangerous–about letting strangers catch glimpses of their breasts.

As long as there’s a hungry baby nearby, it’s cool, right?

But, if it’s true that women shouldn’t worry about staying covered when breastfeeding–how do we stop it when someone goes too far and OBVIOUSLY exploits a nursing child?

(Reference: the BreastFeeding channel on YouTube, the Asian Breastfeeding Mom channel, and way, way too many others.)

The videos usually are produced by non-English speakers and have click-bait written all over them–with titles designed to lure in the lewd.  (“Breastfeeding Husband/Breastfeeding Adult” or “Big Girl and a Nice Nurse,” for example.) Usually the mothers are wearing red lipstick and talking in sultry whispers, while smiling coyly at the camera…and then smiling down at the child, who is also on camera.


In most other circumstances, YouTube removes videos containing bare breasts….

Just as Facebook doesn’t allow “nudity” in their photos.

But, breastfeeding activists have spent many years insisting on exceptions when the breasts are exposed near the mouth of a child. If Mom says she’s doing it for her kid, then no one can question.

So how far is too far?  (Oops. I questioned.)


All the major social media sites are afraid of being sued by mothers who want the unrestricted and absolute right to go topless.  (You know. For the babies.)  No one wants to hear another angry Mama Bear lecture about how naaaaatural and beeeeeeautiful their boobs are.

So most websites have policies that go something like, “If a mother has a baby on her lap, none of our rules apply.”

But, when someone DOES cross a line, who’s to say?

As this article explains,  porn slips through the YouTube vetting systemwhen users fail to report inappropriate things.

“The site’s censorship…relies almost entirely on users to flag offensive or sexually explicit content. If a video get’s taken down, another will likely soon replace it, on another person’s channel and with another set of views.”


When people see children being exploited in videos or photos, they are responsible for reporting to have them removed.

That’s great, in theory.  Except society has been shamed over and over and over by breastfeeding mothers–to the point we are second-guessing our instincts. We have been called “milk haters” and we’ve been told to “lighten up.”  We’ve been told it’s “not our business” and that we “just need to be educated.”

And if anyone dares to notice that sometimes innocent children REALLY ARE being used by their attention-seeking mothers, for everything from making a political statement to purposefully enticing creeps to click on their videos, it’s the reporters who are told to stop “sexualizing breasts.”

Because, come on, you prude. Miss Whisper-For-The-Camera is just feeding her child!

“She doesn’t want people to watch.”



“She’s not trying to prove anything.”




“Shame on you for even thinking there’s a correlation!”





Look, I’m ready for the accusations of Mommy Wars and Milk Hatred.

I’m ready.

But while trying to come up with a really good name to call me, just consider this:  once part of your body is available on the internet, it’s out there.  Forever.

Anyone can use those photos of YOU AND YOUR CHILD, as this poor woman discovered when her legitimately innocent video was taken without consent and turned into a viral porno.  (It’s still the top result, when you search her name, MaryAnn Sahoury.)

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we can’t trust everyone…  And, though we wish we could leave our front doors unlocked, we can’t.  So why keep trying?

It’s simply unwise to leave valuables out on the lawn, no matter how much we should be able let our guard down, in a good situation.

As mothers, we can’t afford to be naive.  Let’s step yelling “Shame, shame!”when people warn that we never know who’s watching in public. (They’re actually correct.)

Let’s remember that our moms and sisters and best friends aren’t the only ones who can see what we’re posting.

And–mostly–let’s stop being angry at those who report our photos when they honestly believe a line has been crossed. (Ask yourself, “If everyone on my friends’ list suddenly walked in while I was posing for this picture, would I be startled and embarrassed?”  If yes, maybe don’t share the moment in digital form.)

Anyway, the people who report are the least of our worries. Just think of the creep who isn’t reporting you…because he really wants to see more.