Pop quiz: Which of the following is NOT found in Levitical law?
A) Prohibition against planting multiple types of crops in the same field
B) Mandated death for disrespectful children
C) Mandated death for slavers and those who fund them
D) Prohibition against seeking those who practice wizardry and have familiar spirits
If you answered C, a death penalty for slavers… you would be correct. It’s not found in Leviticus.
Which isn’t to say that Leviticus has nothing to say about slavery. On the contrary, Leviticus 25 spends plenty of time detailing… well… how to do it:
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
Which, oddly, seems to be a piece of scripture missing from Family Research Council president Tony Perkins‘ Bible. You see, on his radio show Thursday, Perkins discussed the human trafficking bill that Republicans had slipped anti-abortion language into. The conversation, predictably, turned toward how we really just need more God in government, when a caller made a preposterous and counter-factual statement.
I’m talking about the human trafficking. Levitical law requires the death of the people who enslave or the people who fund the enslavers. And that did not pass with the New Testament coming into effect.
Now, it bears repeating that this is simply not true. Levitical law not only doesn’t prohibit or punish slavery, it sets up the conditions in which it would be deemed completely legal and performed in accordance with God’s laws. For someone wanting a return to Biblical law, this is an amazing ignorance of Biblical law.
But don’t count on Perkins to correct him. On the contrary, he declared “the law is a tutor” that should teach us “what’s right, what’s wrong.” Indeed, it’s the lack of religion in the public square, he says, that brings us human trafficking.
… It’s shocking that we could treat another human being in this way, absolutely shocking, but it’s a reflection of the moral condition of our country and society as a whole. Not just our country, it’s happening everywhere… If you think — you know when people say, ‘oh things aren’t that bad, we don’t need religion, we don’t need God,’ when you take God, the Creator, out of the equation, you kick the Ten Commandments out, you remove prayer, Bible, you remove all of that from the public square, and it’s quarantined to churches for an hour or two a week, this is what you get.
We need to be praying for our nation. We have got some serious challenges. But with these challenges come great opportunities — if we are willing to stand up, speak up, be not only a voice but be hands and feet to minister to those who find themselves as victims, the consequences of this godless agenda.
Whether Perkins is ignorant of (or purposely downplaying) what the Bible actually says about slavery, the fact is that if Levitical law was our “tutor,” our litmus test for “what’s right, what’s wrong,” slavery would be in.
Mixing wool and linen might be out, but slavery would be in.
Perkins is no stranger to making bizarre claims, but he and his caller are remarkably wrong here. Like the Republicans who decided a bill to help human trafficking victims was a good place for an(other) abortion crusade, Perkins is using the plight of trafficking victims to advance a personal agenda. Like those Republicans, the point he’s pushing does nothing to help the people he’s ostensibly concerned about… but he doesn’t hesitate to exploit them to make his point.