I know that Bible can be interpreted in many different ways. But it looks rather obvious that it condones slavery.
Whew, that's a bit unsettling.
That was written in the first century AD, when EVERY CIVILIZATION ON THE PLANET PRACTICED SOME FORM OF SLAVERY. Atheists, Animists, Christians, Druids, Jews, Pagans, etc., every single one. Seriously, does no one study history or ancient cultures?
Here's a cultural lesson:
In the ancient world, there was no welfare, social security, or unemployment insurance. If you lost your home or your job and you had no savings or family close by to help you out, you were pretty well screwed. The desperately poor were given the option to sell themselves into slavery to avoid starving to death. This was condoned because at the time it was considered a neccessity, albeit an unpleasant one.
This is also why the Bible gives strict rules for the treatment of slaves. According to the Law of Moses:
Slaves must be treated well, not abused, neglected or taken advantage of.
Slaves must be given the opportunity to leave after seven years.
When your slave is freed, you MUST give generously to them.
IF a slave is offered freedom, but he/she decides to stay with their master, then they have CHOSEN to be a slave, and they must STILL BE TREATED WELL AND FAIRLY.
And keep in mind, these laws were in effect regardless of how a person was enslaved. Whether they sold themselves to avoid starving, or captured in war, or whatever other metod they came to be enslaved, these rules applied. Unfortunately, not every master in the world abided by these laws, especially not the Romans. The Romans had few if any qualms about executing a slave who did his/her duties poorly. In that sense, "Slaves, obey your masters" is actually sensible advice, seeing as how following that advice could actually keep the slave alive.
Please, if you could, show me ANY other ancient culture which explicitly gave a blanket command to be good to all of their slaves, offer them freedom, and to be generous when they do leave.
And have we really forgotted about the history of abolition? Many nations and cultures have TRIED to abolish slavery, but who were the first to actually accomplish this feat?
The first political entity to successfuly abolish slavery (that is, to make it law and consistently enforce it without re-instituting or allowing it through some legal back channel or loophole) was the State of Pennsylvania in 1780, over seventeen centuries AFTER the Bible was written. And what group was responsible for this? It wasn't atheist, it was the Quakers, a Christian group. And who were next to follow? That would be the rest of the New England states, where the abolitionist movement had taken hold through their network of churches. Very quickly after, abolitioninst movements started in other states and countries, and they ALWAYS started through Christian churches.
Now look at the world today. What nations in the world still practice slavery? Here's a hint, NONE of them are nations where the powers that be follow the Bible. There are a few Muslim nations that still at least tacitly allow slavery, but the biggest nations who still use forced labor on their own citizens are officially ATHEIST nations. The Entire Russian Gulag system and their counterparts in communist China certainly are responsible for more people forced to work against their will than any nation where the Bible has influence, or even all of them combined.
Does the Bible condone slavery? Not in the way atheists like to claim. More accurately, it recognized that slavery existed and at the time was considered by EVERYONE to be a societal neccessity.