The southern whites attempted to defend slavery basing their arguments on their religion. They did not see the need for abolition of slavery if it was acceptable in the bible. The defenders of slavery believed that it was an institution supported by God and they used biblical examples to support their arguments. For instance, in the bible, there is a mention of slaves in the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, or his manservant, or his maidservant.” They pointed to verses in the bible that showed that slavery was so acceptable that slaves were expected to obey their masters just as they did Christ. An example was Peter 2:18, which states as follows, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” (Bible Gateway, 2011, pp. 1).

The southern people also noted that Abraham and other patriarchs in the Old Testament had slaves and even though slavery was unbridled among the Romans, Jesus never condemned it (Goldfield et. al., 2014). Defenders of slavery argued that slavery was holy since it was a way of bringing the slaves to Christianity and offering them civilization and intellectuality that they otherwise couldn’t access from Africa. The slaves were said to have better living conditions than the workers in the North. Their main argument was that if God had allowed it among his followers in the bible, then it was admissible in America.

The Southern whites felt compelled to express these defenses so as to maintain the status quo. Losing the slaves would be detrimental to their economy since the people of the south grew cotton and tobacco and therefore relied on the labor of the slaves in the fields. The southerners would concoct a set of reasons to support slavery as it had become an institution the society was now formed around.


Bible Gateway (2011) 1 Peter 2:18-25. Holy Bible, New International Version®. Biblica, Inc.

Retrieved from

Goldfield, D. et. al. (2014) The American Journey: A History of the United States, Vol. 1, 7th Ed.

Pearson Publishers.