Church discipline of adulterous slave owners

Discussion in 'Church History' started by PointyHaired Calvinist, Mar 17, 2019.

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  1. ArminianOnceWas

    ArminianOnceWas Puritan Board Freshman

    My observations have been that most in the Reformed camp love to keep their history books very near their Bibles. We feel a conviction to point out theological and social errors of the past, Pelagianism and Catholicism just two examples. However, my feeling here is that the impression for many is that history all of a sudden loses its relevancy when applied to our own closer darker past.

    Do we discuss historical theology and church history merely because of our interest or because of the lessons learned from the past? If we do because of more than just academic interest, then why wouldn't the sins of our forebearers be a relevant discussion?

    Does it make us too uncomfortable? Is it much easier to look at the sins of Catholicism and Anglicanism? Does it make us more virtuous to try to forget the mistakes of Presbyterian history?
     
  2. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    Well I think some just don't think there is a need to be apologising for the past here, especially when it is only one very specific aspect of slavery which is being focused on and brought up as something requiring us- generations after the fact- to repent and make reparations for. Are we asking muslims in our nations to make reparations for muslim enslavement of whites (btw, muslims are still practising slavery throughout their countries. I know of no white nation which still uses slavery); are we asking the Jews to make reparations for their extensive involvement in the slave trade? Are we asking blacks to make reparations for their part in selling other blacks to the slave traders? I don't hear these calls... That is because this discussion is not about slavery, it is about punishing white Christians and only about this. We should not play this game. The race mongers and leftists will never be satisfied. We should ignore them and purge them from our churches.

    And it should be noted that whatever the rights and wrongs of slavery, it was the Whites who ended the Atlantic slavetrade and it was White Christians in America who fought and died over slavery. Whatever reparations were due for slavery they have more than been paid. If people today cannot express gratitude for the sacrifice of those who died then they best be silent.
     
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  3. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    Of course, no one here is asking anybody for reparations or requiring anyone to apologize for the past.

    Unless you are aware of an ulterior motive, the OP was simply asking for factual data about events in the past. To assign worse motives than that without cause is not charitable.
     
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  4. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm not making any comment on the OP. I also agree that there is nothing wrong with a discussion about the history of discipline in the church. I think the concern expressed over this particular question is why this issue above others is raised. Unfortunately that query has the downside of perhaps imputing ulterior/malicious motives to the person who raised it especially because of the current context in American churches and society. I'm happy to accept there were no ulterior motives whilst also being suspcious why this issue would receive more examination than others.

    As to the original question my thinking would be that adultery is wrong; extra-marital sex is wrong; abuse of one's position of power is wrong. Any or all of these sins would be deserving of discipline. I think the slavery dimension is actually irrelevant here. Now, were some slave owners who were also members of a church not disciplined because of their position of society? It wouldn't surprise me one bit if that were the case because it is found throughout the history of the church. Respect of persons is an all too human failing. There would probably have been an added element of scandal/embarrassment because of the factor of racial intermingling but again, I don't think the slavery factor is relevant.
     
  5. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm sorry, I just don't see the it in this thread. How is this issue being raised above others? How is this issue receiving more examination than others?

    It really seems like some people are projecting biases here. I hope I am wrong.
     
  6. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    I certainly mean no disparage to anyone, only produce thoughts on what benefit could come from an inquiry like this, and I'm content to leave it there. And if I think anyone in the past did wrong, I'm sure that some will look at me decades from now and comment on what things I was blind to, be astonished I didn't see it, and they'll be right. For myself, I'm angered that I do not sigh and weep for the abominations in our own day as I should.

    Looking all things over, we've lost a brother, and Chris has already indicated that it's adding sorrow upon sorrow to have to keep an eye on a volatile conversation. Might we do well to act in favor of the well-being of the admins and delay this discussion to another time? Not drop it, but delay it. That's what I intend to do, and my apologies for my part in adding sorrow to them, if that's been the effect, though I did not intend it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  7. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Freshman

    That might be a good idea. Just to restate: I'm not imputing malicious motives to anyone here. The question just got caught up with bigger issues, is my take.
     
  8. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Alright, I have been trying to put together a response unrelated to answering the OP (strictly speaking). I got really busy at work today and I hope it is not too late. @Bill Duncan responded to my PM and filled me in on what was underlying his frustration. With some extra info from @Bill Duncan and in re-reading some of the post here, I would like to state the following:

    1. @NaphtaliPress

    Chris, my heart goes out to you and the other Moderators. You all put in so much work that most users (including myself) will never know of. I was not really close to Patrick at all, but even in my short stint on PB, I was blessed to experience Patrick's wisdom, patience, and discernment. Your crew has lost someone close to your hearts and though we know he is now in the sweetest and most beautiful place he ever has been, it can still be painful for those left behind. Patrick now has no pain, no sorrow, no hunger, no stress, and is worshipping our Lord in ways you and I can't imagine. However this can still seem bittersweet for those who will no longer know earthy fellowship with our brother. Hold your head high my friend and place your eyes on the legacy Patrick has left behind. May we all reflect on our post in this thread and others asking, "Would my Lord be honored by this?". In the case of Patrick, he has given no small amount of post that can be answered with a resounding "YES". For use Sabbatarians, let us rejoice for now Patrick knows the eternal rest we try and scratch at each and every Lord's Day (Hebrews 4). He knows the rest that was promised.

    2. @PointyHaired Calvinist
    Johnathan,
    I don't read any ill intent in any of your post here. Admittedly, I feel it to be an innocent (and interesting) inquiry. However, even though you did not intend offense, @Bill Duncan has clearly been offended (rightly or wrongly I will not weigh in here, but I do agree with @NaphtaliPress 's moderation). I think you have rightly expressed that you meant no ill-intent or "wokism" in your OP, and I believe you. Just things to chew on is all. Below you will be able to read what @Bill Duncan expressed to me in PM, which he gave me permission to try and convey to the group here. I wish @Bill Duncan would have shared this interesting story with us on this thread as it would have given more context to his frustrations.

    3. @Bill Duncan said the below in the PM to me:
    Let's not argue whether or not the above is valid justification for @Bill Duncan 's responses on this thread. However, we should all see that something really rubbed him wrong hear. Yes, he should have been more clear on the thread as to who he was responding too, and why he was so upset, but he failed to do this.

    I am not defending anyone, but rather trying to provide helpful insight and info. As it stands now, I would rather the argumentative post be deleted, which may help this thread continue on without the drama. That however, is not my call.

    It is @Bill Duncan 's decision to leave for good or return. Many of us have already encouraged him to stay. I hope he does. :detective:
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  9. JTB.SDG

    JTB.SDG Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree with Jake.
     
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    To address the OP directly: It is highly improbable that it did not happen. If it were not prevalent, then how did the mulattoes comes about?

    One question to consider is whether or not, in actual reality, the issues of chattel slavery and adulterous slaveholders may really be separated - not so much in the abstract, but in the specific historical context of 19th century America?

    I am not at home and cannot consult my books as to the estimated figure. If you do not hear anything by Saturday, please remind me.
     
  11. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    At the risk of stirring the pot further, the OP speaks of "adulterous" slave-owners. But I need to ask if one can truly committ adultery with your own PROPERTY. The relationship was unequal enough that we can say that the slave-owner abused his power and many cases were probably abuse.

    Poor women in Germany in Post-WWII also sold themselves to keep them or their children from starving, and I would not call those "relationships" but rather prostitution. In the prolonged contact of a plantation, it would not be called prostitution, but it was not quite the consensual relationship of mutual equals that we would desire.

    The options of what happened in these relationships are on a spectrum: (1) The man forced himself on her in outright rape, (2) He wielded his power to pressure her into sex, (3) He groomed and favored her to woo her into willingness, (4) They both had sexual urges and an opportunity and chose to fornicate without love, (5) They fell into love with one another, (6) She enticed her owner or used her beauty or seductiveness to gain favors from him, (7) She sought him out to be impregnated to lighten her load and procure a better life.

    I think all of the 7 above scenarios probably happened. But a pure option 5 probably was a minority of those cases.


    Sexual misuse of slave woman was so widespread that it often became fodder for the abolitionists. Even if we suppose they embellished or cherry-picked the worst cases, we cannot deny that it was a true problem.

    Here is one abolitionist's screed against clergy who disallowed slaves to marry, separated slave families and either abused or took part in allowing the abuse of slaves:

    "Ye have
    • recklessly trampled under foot the sacred institution of marriage,
    • consigned every sixth woman in the country to a life of hopeless concubinage and adultery, and
    • turned your famous Ten-Miles-Square into a mart where the rich aristocrat may lawfully sell the poor man's wife for purposes of prostitution, thus legalizing violence on female chastity in its most horrible and disgusting forms.
    Think, ye fathers and mothers, against whom I bring these tremendous charges; O, think of your own daughters on the block of the auctioneer, to be sold to any vile and loathsome wretch who may choose to purchase them, to pander to his beastly lusts!"

    http://medicolegal.tripod.com/thieves.htm#p71-vile-clergy

    And here is a paper on inter-racial relationships in the South, page 161-162 delves into the issue of mixed children: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/cas/staff/lockley/sa1997.pdf
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  12. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Can you clarify? It seems like a false dichotomy.
     
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    To speak plainly, the OP labels as "adulterous" male slave-owners who carried on sexual relationships with slave women who were their property.

    More properly, many of these cases should not be labeled "adultery" at all, or at least only, but these cases should also be labeled as cases of sexual abuse.

    Even the world knows that if a male psychologist has sex with a female patient who comes to him for help this is against their ethical code (misuse of power). Surely then one who is the property of another person (especially a female owned by a male) has less agency and less ability to engage in a consensual "adulterous relationship" and the relationship was probably coerced in some way.


    These slave owners were often not guilty just of adultery, but of sexual abuse. That is my point. This makes it worse.
     
  14. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Ok. So guilty males but not necessarily females since it was basically rape/coercion. Makes sense. I would agree.
     
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes. Thanks.
     
  16. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Greetings, it’s been awhile since I signed in to catch up and it’s sad to see that posts like this still seem to stir up such ill feelings among the brethren. These type of posts should be thought out well before you put them up and all of the ramifications of the feelings of others considered.
    I’m an old man now and very sick. Has I approach my end I see things a little differently and my affliction has caused me to moderate my emotions toward brethren whom I consider to be in error on things that are non essential and those whom I think may be too selective in their reading of 19th century historical subjects.
    Love one another with fervency. Make sure YOUR sins are gone and that Christ is YOUR Lord. After all, you are as wicked as anyone who ever lived. The apostle Paul acknowledges this when he said he was the “chief of sinners”. May the Love of Christ Jesus comfort you all this day.
    Philippians 4:8 KJV
    [8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
     
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  17. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    I see you’re 59 and being taken down at that age. I’m sad that is the case but thank you for the wise exhortation.
     
  18. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    Soon to be 60 by God’s Grace. Maybe I’ll live a little longer. The doctors don’t know everything and my condition is still developing. I’m enjoying the church and life more than ever now and just want to be a blessing to God’s children. The Lord bless and keep you
     
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