What The Bible Says About Divorce, Observance Of The Sabbath, And Strict Personal Hygiene



This article is part of a sub-series: Should We Obey The Entire Law Of Moses? - What The Old And New Testaments Say, which is about Old Testament laws on morality and tithing, customs like animal sacrifice and the celebration of the Passover Festival, and what the New Testament says about them.
This is Part 2 (of 13) in Section 5: "Should We Obey The Entire Law Of Moses? - What The Old And New Testaments Say".

To read an overview of the way Christians should regard the Law of Moses, visit: Bible Quotations on Whether Christians Should Obey the Law of Moses.


Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.


In the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Leviticus chapter 20 (NLT)

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Give the Israelites these instructions,

Deuteronomy chapter 24 (NIV)

1 If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, 2 and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, 3 and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, 4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD.

Leviticus chapter 20 (NLT)

10 "If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.


In Matthew's Gospel in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Matthew chapter 19 (TEV)

1 ... Jesus ... went to the territory of Judea on the other side of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3 Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him by asking, "Does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife for whatever reason he wishes?" 4 Jesus answered, "Haven't you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? 5 And God said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.' 6 So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together."

7 The Pharisees asked him, "Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?" 8 Jesus answered, "Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. 9 I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman."

Matthew chapter 5 (NLT)

1 One day as the crowds were gathering, Jesus went up the mountainside with his disciples and sat down to teach them. 2 This is what he taught them:

21 "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' 22 But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

23 "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. 25 Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. 26 I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.

27 "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not commit adultery.' 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye - even if it is your good eye - causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand - even if it is your stronger hand - causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

31 "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a letter of divorce.' 32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew chapter 5 (TEV)

38 "You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40 And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41 And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles. 42 When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.


Incidentally, the command to turn the other cheek has sometimes been misinterpreted. From the article: Is It "un-Christian" to Engage in Satire?

"Resist not evil," which precedes the "cheek" admonition, is a well-known Jewish proverb (Ps. 37:1, 8; Prov. 24:19) and actually means, do not compete with evildoers by trying to outdo them in terms of getting back at them. Three examples for the teaching follow: Turn the other cheek; if someone sues you for your cloak, also give them your tunic; if you are forced to go one mile, go two. All three of these things refer to what amount to inconvenient, but nevertheless perfectly legal, impositions on the person. The "slap on the cheek" is a type of personal insult, so that the command to turn the other cheek is essentially a command not to start trading insults, but take the higher ground and turn away from the exchange. It is not a license to allow yourself to get beat up."

For more useful insights, visit: The Law and Retaliation-Concluded.

And on giving to whoever asks: Do Luke 6:29-30 and Matthew 5:42 oblige us to give away all our stuff to anyone who asks?)


In the Psalms in the Old Testament, the psalm writers wrote:

Psalm 139 (NLT)

19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you; your enemies take your name in vain.
21 O LORD, shouldn't I hate those who hate you?
Shouldn't I despise those who resist you?
22 Yes, I hate them with complete hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.

Psalm 119 (NLT)

112 I am determined to keep your principles, even forever, to the very end.
113 I hate those who are undecided about you, but my choice is clear - I love your law.
157 Many persecute and trouble me, yet I have not swerved from your decrees
158 I hate these traitors because they care nothing for your word.

Psalm 31 (NLT)

6 I hate those who worship worthless idols.
I trust in the LORD.


In the New Testament, the Bible says that Jesus Christ said:

Matthew chapter 5 (TEV)

43 "You have heard that it was said, "Love your friends, hate your enemies.' 44 But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven.


Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Bible says:

Romans chapter 13 (TEV)

8 Be under obligation to no one-the only obligation you have is to love one another. Whoever does this has obeyed the Law. 9 The commandments,
"Do not commit adultery;
do not commit murder;
do not steal;
do not desire what belongs to someone else" -
all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 10 If you love others, you will never do them wrong; to love, then, is to obey the whole Law.


In the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, the Bible says:

Deuteronomy chapter 5 (TEV)

1 Moses called together all the people of Israel and said to them,
"People of Israel, listen to all the laws that I am giving you today. Learn them and be sure that you obey them.

12 " "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy, as I, the Lord your God, have commanded you. 13 You have six days in which to do your work, 14 but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work-neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. Your slaves must rest just as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath.


In the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Numbers chapter 15 (TEV)

32 Once, while the Israelites were still in the wilderness, a man was found gathering firewood on the Sabbath. 33 He was taken to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community, 34 and was put under guard, because it was not clear what should be done with him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, "The man must be put to death; the whole community is to stone him to death outside the camp." 36 So the whole community took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord had commanded.



Examples of the Kinds of Problems People Living Today Need to Help Resolve or Stop Causing, in Accordance With What the Bible's Trying to Teach Here

Allegations of Abuse by Employers Who Overwork Their Employees, and the Stress Caused by Overwork


In the Old Testament Book of Exodus, the Bible says:

Exodus chapter 34 (TEV)

10 The Lord said to Moses, "I now make a covenant with the people of Israel. 11 Obey the laws that I am giving you today.

21 "You have six days in which to do your work, but do not work on the seventh day, not even during plowing time or harvest.


In the New Testament, the Bible says:

Matthew chapter 12 (NLT)

1 Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off heads of wheat and eating the grain. 2 Some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, "Your disciples shouldn't be doing that! It's against the law to work by harvesting grain on the Sabbath." 3 But Jesus said to them, "Haven't you ever read in the Scriptures what King David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and they ate the special bread reserved for the priests alone. That was breaking the law, too. 5 And haven't you ever read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? 6 I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! 7 But you would not have condemned those who aren't guilty if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to be merciful; I don't want your sacrifices.'

Mark chapter 2 (NLT)

27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made to benefit people, and not people to benefit the Sabbath. 28 And I, the Son of Man, am master even of the Sabbath!"

Matthew chapter 12 (NLT)

9 Then he went over to the synagogue, 10 where he noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it legal to work by healing on the Sabbath day?" (They were, of course, hoping he would say yes, so they could bring charges against him.) 11 And he answered, "If you had one sheep, and it fell into a well on the Sabbath, wouldn't you get to work and pull it out? Of course you would. 12 And how much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Yes, it is right to do good on the Sabbath." 13 Then he said to the man, "Reach out your hand." The man reached out his hand, and it became normal, just like the other one.

14 Then the Pharisees called a meeting and discussed plans for killing Jesus. 15 But Jesus knew what they were planning. He left that area, and many people followed him. He healed all the sick among them, 16 but he warned them not to say who he was. 17 This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him:

18 "Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not fight or shout; he will not raise his voice in public. 20 He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory. 21 And his name will be the hope of all the world."


In the apostle Paul's letter to the Christians in Rome, he wrote:

Romans chapter 14 (NLT)

1 Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won't. And those who won't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should. 5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter. 6 Those who have a special day for worshiping the Lord are trying to honor him. Those who eat all kinds of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who won't eat everything also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.


In John's Gospel, the Bible says:

John chapter 9 (TEV)

1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. 2 His disciples asked him, "Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents' sin?" 3 Jesus answered, "His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents' sins. He is blind so that God's power might be seen at work in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me; night is coming when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light for the world."

6 After he said this, Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud with the spittle; he rubbed the mud on the man's eyes 7 and told him, "Go and wash your face in the Pool of Siloam." (This name means "Sent.") So the man went, washed his face, and came back seeing.

8 His neighbors, then, and the people who had seen him begging before this, asked, "Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some said, "He is the one," but others said, "No he isn't; he just looks like him." So the man himself said, "I am the man."

10 "How is it that you can now see?" they asked him. 11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made some mud, rubbed it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash my face. So I went, and as soon as I washed, I could see."

12 "Where is he?" they asked. "I don't know," he answered.

13 Then they took to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 The day that Jesus made the mud and cured him of his blindness was a Sabbath. 15 The Pharisees, then, asked the man again how he had received his sight. He told them, "He put some mud on my eyes; I washed my face, and now I can see." 16 Some of the Pharisees said, "The man who did this cannot be from God, for he does not obey the Sabbath law."

Others, however, said, "How could a man who is a sinner perform such miracles as these?" And there was a division among them. 17 So the Pharisees asked the man once more, "You say he cured you of your blindness-well, what do you say about him?" "He is a prophet," the man answered.

18 The Jewish authorities, however, were not willing to believe that he had been blind and could now see, until they called his parents 19 and asked them, "Is this your son? You say that he was born blind; how is it, then, that he can now see?" 20 His parents answered, "We know that he is our son, and we know that he was born blind. 21 But we do not know how it is that he is now able to see, nor do we know who cured him of his blindness. Ask him; he is old enough, and he can answer for himself!" 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, who had already agreed that anyone who said he believed that Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That is why his parents said, "He is old enough; ask him!"

24 A second time they called back the man who had been born blind, and said to him, "Promise before God that you will tell the truth! We know that this man who cured you is a sinner."

25 "I do not know if he is a sinner or not," the man replied. "One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see." 26 "What did he do to you?" they asked. "How did he cure you of your blindness?" 27 "I have already told you," he answered, "and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Maybe you, too, would like to be his disciples?"

28 They insulted him and said, "You are that fellow's disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for that fellow, however, we do not even know where he comes from!"

30 The man answered, "What a strange thing that is! You do not know where he comes from, but he cured me of my blindness! 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners; he does listen to people who respect him and do what he wants them to do. 32 Since the beginning of the world nobody has ever heard of anyone giving sight to a person born blind. 33 Unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do a thing."

34 They answered, "You were born and brought up in sin-and you are trying to teach us?" And they expelled him from the synagogue.

35 When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 The man answered, "Tell me who he is, sir, so that I can believe in him!" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have already seen him, and he is the one who is talking with you now." 38 "I believe, Lord!" the man said, and knelt down before Jesus.


In the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Exodus chapter 31 (TEV)

12 The Lord commanded Moses 13 to tell the people of Israel,
"Keep the Sabbath, my day of rest, because it is a sign between you and me for all time to come, to show that I, the Lord, have made you my own people.
14 You must keep the day of rest, because it is sacred. Whoever does not keep it, but works on that day, is to be put to death. 15 You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me. Whoever does any work on that day is to be put to death. 16 The people of Israel are to keep this day as a sign of the covenant. 17 It is a permanent sign between the people of Israel and me, because I, the Lord, made heaven and earth in six days, and on the seventh day I stopped working and rested."


In the New Testament, the Bible says:

Luke chapter 13 (TEV)

10 One Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue. 11 A woman there had an evil spirit that had kept her sick for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called out to her, "Woman, you are free from your sickness!" 13 He placed his hands on her, and at once she straightened herself up and praised God. 14 The official of the synagogue was angry that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, so he spoke up and said to the people, "There are six days in which we should work; so come during those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath!" 15 The Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Any one of you would untie your ox or your donkey from the stall and take it out to give it water on the Sabbath. 16 Now here is this descendant of Abraham whom Satan has kept in bonds for eighteen years; should she not be released on the Sabbath?" 17 His answer made his enemies ashamed of themselves, while the people rejoiced over all the wonderful things that he did.


The Many Trivial Rules the Pharisees Had About What Constituted Work on the Sabbath

In Matthew's Gospel, the Bible says:

Matthew chapter 23 (NLT)

1 Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 "The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the Scriptures. 3 So practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practice what they teach. 4 They crush you with impossible religious demands and never lift a finger to help ease the burden.



In the Book of Leviticus, one of the books of the Law of Moses in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Leviticus chapter 15 (GWT)

1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron,
2 "Tell the Israelites: If a man has a discharge from his penis, his discharge is unclean. 3 He is unclean because of the discharge from his penis. Whether it is chronic or not makes no difference; he is still unclean.

4 "The man who has a discharge makes everything he lies on or sits on unclean.
5 Those who touch his bed must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
6 Those who sit on anything he sat on must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
7 Those who touch a man who has a discharge must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
8 If a man who has a discharge spits on anyone who is clean, the person he spits on must wash his clothes and his body. He will be unclean until evening.
9 When a man who has a discharge sits on a saddle, it becomes unclean. 10 Those who carry such things must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
11 If a man who has a discharge touches anyone without first rinsing his hands, the person he touched must wash his clothes and his body. He will be unclean until evening.
12 When a man who has a discharge touches pottery, it must be broken, and any wooden bucket he touches must be rinsed.

13 "When a man's discharge stops, he must wait seven days to be cleansed. He must wash his clothes and his body in fresh water. Then he will be clean. 14 On the eighth day he must take two mourning doves or two pigeons and come into the LORD's presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He will give these birds to the priest. 15 The priest will sacrifice one as an offering for sin and the other as a burnt offering. So in the LORD's presence, the priest will make peace with the LORD for the man who had a discharge.

16 "If a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body. He will be unclean until evening.
17 Any clothes or any leather with semen on it must be washed. It will be unclean until evening.
18 "When a man has sexual intercourse with a woman and has an emission of semen, they must wash themselves. They will be unclean until evening.

19 "When a woman has her monthly period, she will be unclean for seven days. Those who touch her will be unclean until evening.
20 Everything she lies on or sits on during her period will be unclean.
21 Those who touch her bed must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
22 Those who touch anything she sits on must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.
23 If her blood touches anything on the bed or anything she sits on, it will be unclean until evening.
24 If a man has sexual intercourse with her while she has her period, he will be unclean for seven days. Any bed he lies on will become unclean.

25 "If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days other than her monthly period, she is unclean. If her period lasts longer than usual, she will be unclean as long as she has a discharge. It is like her period. 26 As long as she has a discharge, any bed she lies on or anything she sits on is unclean. It is like her period. 27 Those who touch these things are unclean and must wash their clothes and their bodies. They will be unclean until evening.

28 "When her discharge stops, she must wait seven days. After that, she will be clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two mourning doves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest will offer one as an offering for sin and the other as a burnt offering. So in the LORD's presence the priest will make peace with the LORD for the woman who had an unclean discharge.

Leviticus chapter 15 (TEV)

31 The Lord told Moses to warn the people of Israel about their uncleanness, so that they would not defile the Tent of his presence, which was in the middle of the camp. If they did, they would be killed.

32 These are the regulations about a man who has a discharge or an emission of semen, 33 a woman during her monthly period, or a man who has sexual intercourse with a woman who is ritually unclean.


In the New Testament, the Bible says:

Mark chapter 5 (GWT)

21 Jesus again crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee in a boat. A large crowd gathered around him by the seashore.

24 A huge crowd followed Jesus and pressed him on every side. 25 In the crowd was a woman who had been suffering from chronic bleeding for twelve years. 26 Although she had been under the care of many doctors and had spent all her money, she had not been helped at all. Actually, she had become worse. 27 Since she had heard about Jesus, she came from behind in the crowd and touched his clothes. 28 She said, "If I can just touch his clothes, I'll get well." 29 Her bleeding stopped immediately. She felt cured from her illness.

30 At that moment Jesus felt power had gone out of him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" 31 His disciples said to him, "How can you ask, 'Who touched me,' when you see the crowd pressing you on all sides?" 32 But he kept looking around to see the woman who had done this.

33 The woman trembled with fear. She knew what had happened to her. So she quickly bowed in front of him and told him the whole truth.

34 Jesus told her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace! Be cured from your illness."



The next file in this section (Part 3), is entitled: "What The Bible Says About Clean And Unclean Foods And Other Things, And Fasting Rules".
Bible

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

Warning Against Believing Everything you Hear or Read

Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:

The Beauty of the New Testament's Moral Teaching and Other Important Pages on this Website

Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:


There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:


Fancy some light relief or laughter therapy? Then go to the first of our jokes pages:


If you have a problem affecting your mental health or well-being, like depression, a difficulty with life-damaging worry, panic attacks, phobias or OCD, marriage problems, an addiction, an eating disorder, recovering from the trauma of sexual abuse or domestic violence, coping with bullies in the workplace, or bullying and teasing at school, trying to lose weight, raising difficult teenagers, caring for someone with a disease like Alzheimer's, wanting to recover from anorexia or self-harm, or grieving for someone you were close to or feeling lonely, and you'd like some ideas on coping or getting past it, visit our Self-help series.


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