Friday, January 11, 2013

To Keep or Not to Keep - The Sabbath Day Holy: Part 1

Exodus 20:8
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

What exactly is our expectation of keeping the Sabbath day holy?  What does that even mean?  Are there exceptions? 

I've often asked myself these questions as a Christian and as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I also often think of the Ox and the Mire, where Christ is teaching the principle of keeping the Sabbath day holy, but that there are times when one must make exceptions. 

Luke 1:5
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?

One of the best articles I found on this topic "Will the Real Ox in the Mire Please Stand Up," by Franklyn W. Dunford and Phillip R Kunz, read, "Some have understood this to mean that under certain circumstances it is permissible to violate covenants we have made with the Lord, the justification being that we are getting our oxen out of the mire....However, evidence suggests that many of us misinterpret and misuse the intent of this principle."

The article goes on to provide some rather amusing survey statistics (the article was written in 1972) about the reasons people give for disobeying the commandment - being asked on a date, being hungry after church, no bread for sacrament, etc.  We read, "A good example of this misuse emerges from a study we recently conducted that focused upon the Sunday shopping activity of active Latter-day Saint Church members. We surveyed two ward memberships.  78 percent reported that they shop on Sundays. This is surprising when we consider that 99.6 percent of this group reported that they understand the Church’s position to be, in principle, against Sunday shopping; when 89 percent reported both that they personally feel that the principle against Sunday shopping is important and that in principle Sunday shopping is wrong."

They continue, "At this point one may wonder just what the Savior meant... One may feel that he needs to examine his judgments on issues such as what he should and should not do on the Sabbath, what constitutes and does not constitute a modest dress standard, what distinguishes honest business dealings from shrewd dealings, what is and what is not gossip, and so forth.

With the Law of Moses, A higher law was initiated that was founded on the fullness of the gospel. Agency came to play an increasingly significant role as man was given principles by which he could work out his own salvation. Central to this plan is the need for him to seriously commit himself to the covenants he makes with the Lord.

This commitment removes the obligation from the law and places it on the individual. Under these circumstances it is imperative that we deal honestly with ourselves.   We must very carefully differentiate between deceitful rationalization and honest justification of our actions."

Knowing that we are held accountable and trusted to know the difference between rationalization and honest exceptions, what are your feelings on keeping the Sabbath day holy?

What do you feel are appropriate exceptions?

Should children be denied growth opportunities in activities on Sundays, or does abstaining provide growth opportunities?

Because I've got a story.  All about me.  And all about how my regular violation of keeping the Sabbath day holy as a youth was one of the greatest and most formative blessings in my life. 


Heidi said...

So I've thought about this over night and even asked a few people their oppinions on the matter, and I've come to this: It's all completely relative. The entire religious idea is relative. I know that God will judge me according to me and only me. I also believe that the laws and covenants he asks me to keep are strict and straight forward. HOWEVER, he is going to take into account EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of my life at judgement. Therefore, my judgement on everything I choose to do is just that, my judgement. No one else but me will truly see why I went to get a Diet Coke at the Holiday Oil at 2:15 pm when I know I should've been in Sunday School. No one except me and God. So whether or not it's justified is between Him and me. I know that God will understand that my migraines are only remedied by two Exedrine and a Diet Coke and because I let my headache get so bad by fasting when I know I shouldn't because of my low blood sugar, my nausea got to a level where I needed one asap otherwise I wouldn't be able to function the whole rest of the day and well, let's face it, a mother can never be sick. OR I just had a really strong craving and caved in. Either way, I will be held accountable. So if you are someone who holds so strongly to the idea of keeping the sabbath day holy as Moses did, ie. being a talor and not even carrying a needle on that day, congratulations, you will be held accountable for that action and no doubtably rewarded. Or you are someone like me who will go on a date with my husband that night because we don't have the kids and it's our only night off together and view it as a way to become closer and carry on the idea of "Sunday is for family time", then I will be held accountable too. I think the bottom line for me is, if we held a survey for every commandment we are to uphold, we would still be only about 14% in complete compliance, why? because we are human, and God knows it. Is that an excuse to deliberately break a commandment, no. I do however believe it gives us the right to make that judgment for ourselves and only ourselves. I do know that keeping the sabbath day holy is important. I also believe that it is relative to your situation, so I do not feel guilty letting my girls go see their dad on the weekend knowing full well he will be "shopping at the store" or whatever can be deemed as breaking the sabbath because over keeping that commandment, I believe it is more important my kids see their dad. I don't believe anyone can be compared to anyone else, so it also goes to say the same is for what they choose to do. I'm excited to read your next installment. :)

Larissa said...

Heidi - I absolutely agree with you! I'm so refreshed!