My 2 cents worth
I don’t often contribute my thoughts to SHNV, although that in no way indicates a lack of interest or respect for Charles Demastus or any of the contributors to this very worthy effort. Occasionally, however, something hits home with me and induces me to deliver a few thoughts. Hopefully this won’t be so lengthy as to defuse anyone’s willingness to read. I will try to keep it as short as possible.
To state it plainly, I think that we as Southerners often do ourselves and our ancestors a disservice in the way we approach our defense of the War for Southern Independence. We do this when, in debate with the other side, we say, “Yes, we all agree that slavery was evil, but…” I have seen this all too many times in articles, essays, comments, etc., by those who otherwise do an excellent job of bringing out the truth of history. The “buts” are certainly there, and are without question valid. We know that slavery was one of, but certainly not the only
reason for the war, as the modern Standardbearers of the mainstream media would have us believe. Unfortunately, we are not likely to convince them of their error, nor do we have as big a loudspeaker as
My argument, as a student both of history and the Word of God, is that the first part of that argument, “slavery was evil,” is an error. We all know that the North was very hypocritical in regard to its opinion of, and dealings with, blacks. Nevertheless there were some radical Abolitionists who would have fallen more in line with 21st century America’s way of looking at things. But why should we as Southerners surrender the high ground to them? They were certainly not (in the main) Christians in any but the most liberal usage of the word, the vast
majority of them being Unitarians who deny the doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of Southern denominations, on the contrary, held to an orthodox view of the inspiration of Scripture, as well as the other cardinal doctrines which the church has defended since the days of the apostles.
It is my challenge to every Southerner who espouses the Abolitionist “slavery is a great evil” line to either prove it from the Scriptures, or to admit that, like the Abolitionists, they subscribe to a “higher law.” For an excellent theological treatise of the matter, I highly recommend R. L. Dabney’s “Defense of Virginia and the South,” which
treats of the subject from both Old and New Testament. I will only briefly summarize the points. First, in the Old Testament, slavery was regulated by the law, but never forbidden. Some have seized upon this to argue that, if slavery cannot be conducted in an Old Testament fashion, it cannot rightly be used at all. But in the New Testament, we find the apostles addressing Gentile slaveholders, who certainly did not acquire their slaves through the means described in the Mosaic law. Nevertheless, slaves were always enjoined to be obedient to their masters, and never given license to flee from their masters or commit violence upon them (see Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, I Peter 2:18, and I Timothy 6:1 (the word servant used in the King James Bible in
these passages means bondslave in the original Greek). I particularly urge your attention upon Paul’s denunciation of those who disagree with his doctrine of the subjection of slaves, in I Timothy 6:3-6. Like R.
L. Dabney, Jackson’s one time chief of staff, I find this a very apt description of the Abolitionist character.
Furthermore, I would urge you to consider the lists of sins for which men and women are prohibited entrance into the kingdom of God, e.g. Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:19-21, I Corinthians 6:9, 10, and Romans
1:18-32. Slaveholding is only conspicuous in these lists by its absence. It is the lie of Abolitionism which has taught us that slaveholding is a greater sin than adultery or covetousness. It never came out of the pages of the Bible.
Slavery is an institution that can certainly be prone to abuse, but then, so is marriage. That is why the Bible, in both Testaments, gives instructions and regulations to both masters and slaves, just as it does to husbands and wives. The abuse of an institution does not condemn the institution itself. At any rate, we know that the treatment of slaves by their masters in the antebellum South was probably better than that of any other slaveholding group in history, and that the picture that is drawn for us by our modern culture is a product of the fevered imaginations of heretical Abolitionists.
To sum up, when we denounce slaveholding as a great evil, we are saying something God’s Word does not say. Southerners of all people should greatly object to allowing this modern American culture to define right
and wrong for us. If we’re not going to have the Bible for our standard, then we can make up our own rules about anything, including marriage, childrearing, use of money, etc., just like our Yankee Babylon
culture has done.
When we say our Southern forefathers were evil for holding slaves, we surrender half the ground to the enemy, and at best we only say that both sides were wrong and evil, only perhaps the Yankees were a little
more wrong. This I refuse to do. Both constitutionally and morally, our Confederate ancestors remain blameless. I go so far as to say, that if Lincoln had announced his invasion to be for nothing but to free the
slaves, the Yankee cause still would have been one of unmitigated evil, for he would have been instigating bloodshed to cleanse an institution that the God of heaven never defined as evil.