Validity of Commandments


Exodus 21
New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
The Law concerning Slaves

21 These are the ordinances that you shall set before them:

2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God.[a] He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. 7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.** 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

Clearly this made great sense for a society in those times. This will seem utterly wrong these days, especially with the inclusion of slavery. It even seem like God did support slavery those times.
Mathew 19:8 says “Moses game you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach”

My doubt is when Jesus himself says “This teaching does not apply to everyone, but only to those to whom God has given it”, How can we justify the validity of Ten commandments? I do agree it seems right and acceptable, yet those laws were given to people of those days. The same laws belong to a group of laws which Jesus says not to follow anymore (Matthew 5:38)

Can someone please explain to me how and why the ten commandments are still valid?**


2068 The Council of Trent teaches that the Ten Commandments are obligatory for Christians and that the justified man is still bound to keep them;28 The Second Vatican Council confirms: "The bishops, successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord . . . the mission of teaching all peoples, and of preaching the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain salvation through faith, Baptism and the observance of the Commandments."29



On keeping the Commandments, and on the necessity and possibility thereof.

But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments;


  1. Bishops, as successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, the mission to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation by faith, baptism and the fulfilment of the commandments.(161)

2072 Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. the Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.


Nine of the ten commandments are simply a restatement of the Natural Law, which is binding on all humans regardless of faith. As such these commandments bind independently of their placement in the Old Testament.

The only Commandment not directly of innate natural origin is the Second, the Commandment to rest and observe the Sabbath. This Commandment was a gift from God, as demonstrated by Jesus declaring that "man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath made for Man" (after Mark 2:27). The origin of the command lies within Genesis, when God rested following his creation, but was not binding until given in Exodus (and repeated in Deuteronomy).

The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, and presumably were worked hard. The commandment then emphasizes their liberation, by commanding them to rest and refrain from labor.

The Old Testament passages from Exodus 21 suggests that slavery is not contrary to the natural law in all circumstances. The passages here suggest that slavery is acceptable for payment of debts within certain limits. It is similar to the ancient Jewish version of "Canon Law", in that it is temporal in nature. It addresses the Israelite's obligation to show mercy to their indebted slaves, as payment to for their own liberation. (Jesus describes it as "Moses" giving this practice to accommodate their "hardness of hearts", leading me to believe Moses had similar discretion in setting Jewish discipline as our current Church authorities).

The Old Testament is a complicated mix of teaching derived from Natural Law, law originating from Divine Command, and law originating from religious authorities/prophet appointed by God. Even to this day, involuntary servitude is not immoral (think prison labor as a just punishment for a crime or debt).

The Old Testament, at its time, was a living Testament spanning numerous covenants with humanity over a 5- to 10-thousand year period. We are left with scraps of divinely inspired writings documenting the vast oral tradition, but in many cases written only a few centuries before the birth of our Lord. Today, we are living in the New Testament, in a New and Eternal Covenant. In addition to our scraps of scripture, we have the Sacred Tradition to guide us, as well as the positive disciplines and teachings of the Holy Catholic Church.

It was the Catholic Church that, at the passing of the only testament, commuted the Command to rest on Saturday (the modern day corresponding to the Sabbath) so that rest and worship may be celebrated on Sunday. It today has the divine mandate to make such judgements regarding temporal law.


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