Now, allow me to explain myself before I get to the question at hand, allow me to explain myself. I have seen, time and time again, hostile atheists attempt to villify the Bible by pointing to the verse that intructs slaves to obey their masters. "The Bible condones slavery," they say, "and since slavery is one of the greatest evils of the world, the Bible must be evil and wrong, along with all who follow its teachings." Nevermind that this verse simply tells that those who find themselves slaves should strive to be good slaves rather than rebel, not that one should own slaves. However, that brings me to a rather honest moral question that I have been thinking about. That is: Is slavery truly wrong? Now, I'm sure that many of you have simply skipped the introductory paragraph and plan to reply based only on the question above, but I emplore you, hear me out. Whenever we Americans mention slavery, it instantly brings up images of African slaves dieing in stuffy cargo holds on their way to the New World, then being sold on auction blocks and being treated as animals, if even that well. Frequent beatings and painful punishments instantly leap to mind as we think of Roots and the brutally scarred backs portrayed in many movies as being typical of former slaves. Few men can seriously argue that the racial, animalistic view of African slavery during the European expansionist era was not a travesty, however, this comprises a very small portion of the history of slavery. Most of the recorded history of slavery actually lies with the Romans and other civilizations of Mesopotamia. Their idea of slavery was much different for the Romans. First off, it was not racially motivated. Any man of any race could be made a slave, given certain conditions. The recently conquored held the greatest chance while Roman citizens held the least, but it was possible for any man. In those times, conquoring armies were not known for the kind of mercy the United States shows today, In fact, the concept of the friendly, liberating army rather than the conquoring horde was a fairly revolutionary concept when the allies entered Europe in WWII. In ancient times, conquored cities would be looted of all valuable possessions, all males would be killed, and all women, after the soldiers were done 'fulfilling their desires' would be made into love slaves and maidservants, with those who were unsuited to these tasks being forced to join the men. However, more merciful armies who intended to occupy the area, rather than plunder, would sometimes move the conquored into exile, as either second class citizens or slaves, as the Babylonians did. The Romans would take a certain portion of the population of many conquored nations and sell them as slaves, with the proceeds being given to the soldiers to prevent them from looting as much. The rest of the population would then be brought under Roman rule. There were also two other ways a man could become a slave, both for his own gain. If a person could not repay a debt or was a dependant of one who could not pay, he/she could be sold into slavery to pay off the debt. A man could also sell himself into slavery voluntarily to create a better life for himself by moving into a more stable region (selling yourself in North Africa and later being sold in Rome was typically a step up, even if you became a slave in the process). Slavery was rarely permanent, and after a certain number of years (I think 7), a slave owner was required, by law, to offer his slave freedom. Freedom was also often given as a gift for good service, and, in accordance with Biblical law, any Hebrew slaveowners had to release all of their slaves on the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) in the sabbath year. In the age of exploration, a similar arrangement called "indentured servitude" allowed many poor to go to the New World in exchange for service. So, with all this in mind, is slavery, in and of itself, truly evil? I don't really have an answer for this question myself, but I think it's not anywhere near as black and white as it often appears.