The Incongruity of Slavery and Christianity in Harriet A. Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself
Slavery, the “Peculiar Institution” of the South, caused suffering among an innumerable number of human beings. Some people could argue that the life of a domestic animal would be better than being a slave; at least animals are incapable of feeling emotions. Suffering countless atrocities, including sexual assault, beatings, and murders, these slaves endured much more than we would think is humanly possible today. Yet, white southern “Christians” committed these atrocities, believing their behaviors were neither wrong nor immoral. Looking back at these atrocities, those who call themselves Christians are appalled. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, Harriet A. Jacobs describes the hypocrisy of Southern, Christian slave owners in order to show that slavery and Christianity are not congruent.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). Thomas Jefferson, a white, Christian, political southern slave owner, wrote these words in 1776, a period in United States history when slavery thrived. The writer of the Declaration of Independence contradicts himself when he states that all men are created equal, when in actuality, his slaves were denied all that humans were meant to cherish.
The slave owners accepted and rationalized slavery through the Holy Bible. The Bible mentions slavery on numerous occasions, and yet none of these passages condemn it. Timothy 6:1-2 states, “Let slaves regard their masters as worth of all honor.” Titus 2:9-10 informs women to “[B]e submissive to your master and give satisfaction in every respect,” and Ephesians 6:5 writes, “Slave, obey your master.” The Bible condemns neither the raping nor beating of slaves; given that the owner purchased them, he could do as he wished. Any knowledgeable man of the bible realizes that it does indeed refer to slavery and the justification of it numerous times. Jacobs writes that the “[plantation owners] seem to satisfy their consciences with the doctrine that God created the Africans to be slaves” (44). She continues by quoting the Bible, stating “What a libel upon the heavenly Father, who ‘made of one blood all nations of men!’” (44). This statement says that all men are equal, although other verses directly contest it.
The Bible’s verses concerning slavery contradict other verses in several places when discussing slavery and the treatment of slaves. Ephesians 6:5-9 instructs masters to “give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Galatians 3:28 states that “[T]here is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Again, the...