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What does the bible says about menstruation? Should we avoid touching a woman if she is on her period?
Thank you for your biblical question.
In Leviticus 15 there are numerous rules regarding bodily discharges. These rules cover sections for both men and women, what counts as unclean, how to clean and how to atone at the end of a given time.
Whereas most of the laws given in Leviticus were to differentiate the people of Israel from the rest of the world, the laws in Leviticus 15 have scientific basis that still apply today.
These laws were given at a time when there was very little medical understanding. Matters of cleanliness were not commonplace, antibacterial hand-gels had not been invented and sanitary products simply didn't exist.
Yet we find these rules within Leviticus that seem to understand something deeper going on than simply 'unclean'. Scientifically speaking, we understand about bacteria and germs. As a result, we wash our hands after going to the toilet, we shower several times a week and wash our clothes with cleaning powder. God, in his perfect wisdom already knew about bacteria, and gave rules to the people of Israel to avoid physical contact, that hey should wash their clothes, and clean their bodies. God knew about bacteria and gave these rules to protect his people.
In terms of menstruation, again, there is bacteria in blood and God gave the Levitical rules to protect his people. Since the invention of sanitary products and anti-bacterial hand-gels, the risks are minimised compared to the Levitical times. There is no need for a woman to be separate from the family for a given time. Similarly, the old laws of offering sacrificial animals to atone and make a person clean are no longer required because of Christ's perfect once for all sacrifice.
There is still the matter of sexual contact during a woman's menstrual period. Medically, there is still an increase of infections if a couple have sexual intercourse during a woman's period. HIV and Hepatitis B are transmitted via blood. If a woman is on a menstrual period and one of the sexual partners has an infection or another sexually transmitted disease, the risk of transmission is enhanced. Like with many theological issues and medical issues, there will always be people who disagree with this assessment and it is advisable to seek God's will personally. We must of course never judge anyone who has a different opinion on this matter.
Perhaps during this time you may devote yourselves to prayer more than what you normally do, as Paul suggests: Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5).
The majority of the laws in Leviticus were there to show us that God is holy and that we must be physically and spiritually prepared to be in his presence. However, this has now changed because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live. He died on the cross, paying the punishment for sin that we could not pay. He then rose from the dead to show his power over the grave. If you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, why not call out to him for forgiveness today, that you may know God personally?
In summary, the Levitical laws on bodily discharges, including menstrual periods, were given at a time when bacteria was not known, and yet God gave these laws to protect his people. While we do not have to keep these laws so rigidly, medically there is still an increased risk of infections for sexual contact during the menstrual period. This may be a good opportunity to seek God in prayer and bible reading.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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