I hear people say, “We can’t judge the actions of people 150 years ago by today’s standards.” I would say I’m judging American slavery not by today’s standards, but by the standard of Scripture. Most of these men not only claimed to be Christians but used Scripture to defend their cruelty and their perception of white supremacy.
They kept their neighbors in chains. They beat them and raped them. It wasn’t as though it had never occurred to any of them that this behavior might be wrong. There were thousands advocating not only for abolition but also for racial equality. We act as if racial equality is a modern concept. It’s not. It’s a biblical concept.
If we can’t be honest with ourselves about the sins of the past, then we can never help our brothers and sisters affected by those sins to heal. You or I may never own slaves; we may never beat a person because of the color of their skin; but if we idolize or lionize those who did, then we are guilty of perpetuating their sin.