Random Mormon Poll #12: Keeping the Sabbath day holy

The Sabbath is the Lord’s day, set apart each week for rest and worship. In Old Testament times, God’s covenant people observed the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week because God rested on the seventh day when He had created the earth. The Lord emphasized the importance of Sabbath observance in the Ten Commandments:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11).

After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which occurred on the first day of the week, the Lord’s disciples began observing the Sabbath on the first day of the week, Sunday (see Acts 20:7).

In the latter days, the Lord has commanded us to continue observing the Sabbath. He has promised that if we obey this commandment, we will receive “the fulness of the earth” (see D&C 59:16–20).

Because the Sabbath is a holy day, it should be reserved for worthy and holy activities. Abstaining from work and recreation is not enough. In fact, if we merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath, we fail to keep the day holy. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831, the Lord commanded: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9–10). In harmony with this revelation, we attend sacrament meeting each week. Other Sabbath-day activities may include praying, meditating, studying the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets, writing letters to family members and friends, reading wholesome material, visiting the sick and distressed, and attending other Church meetings.

“Sabbath,” True to the Faith, (2004),145–47

Feel free to expound on your vote with a comment. Please remember to play nice and be respectful of others.

19 thoughts on “Random Mormon Poll #12: Keeping the Sabbath day holy

  1. I can honestly say that I rarely get to lounge around on a Sunday, unless it involves spending the evening with my parents or my wife’s parents. Church meetings and the regular block occupy a good portion of my Sunday, making it nearly impossible for me to do anything that might be considered ‘breaking’ the Sabbath.

    I used to wake up early Sunday morning so I could watch Tim Russert and the other Sunday morning news programs. When Tim Russert passed, so too did my habit of watching these shows.

    I usually DVR the football games I want to watch, but rarely find time during the week to watch them.

  2. We are usually busy with Church work on Sundays. We try to have spiritual music playing. Television is restricted to spiritual, nature, or uplifting shows (Extreme Makeover Home Edition, etc).

  3. I’m curious to know if any families have ever gone to dinner on a Sunday, for a special occasion? When I was younger, I can recall a couple of instances where my dad took the family to a very nice restaurant on Mother’s Day or Easter.

    The day of my older brother’s missionary farewell (some of you might remember what a missionary farewell was), he and I went to dinner at a local restaurant. We had not seen each other in several months and we wanted to have some time together before he left.

    When I was the ward clerk in a student ward, the executive secretary and I went to IHOP after bishopric meeting one Sunday morning.

    Finally, when I lived in Orem, I heard frequent reports from one of the employees of a fast food restaurant (the father of one of my brother’s friends) that an apostle would pull through the drive-thru on Sunday affternoons. I’m sure it was after a long Sunday of meetings, he was probably hungry and his way home to SLC.

    Is there ever a time, outside of travel, where it is permissible to dine out on a Sunday?

  4. Brian, this is basic common sense, but any bishop will tell you that most people get to observe Sabbath day worship according to their own consciences.

    I voted “conservative,” although when I was a recent convert I tried to be Orthodox. No TV, only uplifting Church-related entertainment, certainly no watching football. I’ve come to find that with my family that simply doesn’t work.

    I agree with you that “breaking the Sabbath” is not much of an option when you have before-church meetings, three hours of church, after-church meetings, home teaching and then firesides on many Sundays. I barely have time for my Sunday nap, let alone anything else.

    We have added our own Sunday tradition, which is to take the kids on a “nature walk” on Sundays. I personally think traditions are important to building families, and nature is important to building spirituality.

    As for dining, I don’t think we should be Pharisees about it. We really try to avoid it, but we probably dine out for some special event a couple times a year on Sunday evening/night. I think an argument can be made that giving Mom a rest from making Sunday dinner is appropriate.

  5. Just to add to Brian’s comment. A friend of mine ran into Pres. Monson (then a counselor in the 1st Pres.) at a Denny’s on a Sunday afternoon in SLC a few years back. He was there with his wife. My friend, who sang with the MoTab at the time approached the apostle to shake his hand, but unwittingly realized the awkward situation as both were “shopping” on the Sabbath. Pres. Monson quickly explained that he had been at the hospital all night tending to an ill member in the area and, as a result, they were simply too exhausted to go home and prepare food.

    When it comes to Sabbath observance, I tend to emphasize the cited scripture as follows:

    “For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from YOUR labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:10)(emphasis added).

    In other words, Sunday is a day to rest from YOUR labors, or the labors that you would regularly be tending to during the week (i.e., work, sports, etc.). So whose labors should we be tending to that day? The obvious answer is the Lord’s. To me, this includes all the gospel-related activities mentioned in previous comments, but also spending time with my family.

  6. My mindset is “conservative” (although I allow shopping/dining out exceptions when traveling, etc, and given that I’m young and single, this is actually a fair percentage of all Sundays). However, most of the time, I think my behavior is more “orthodox” simply because of time constraints. I generally spend all day on Sunday at church, church events, or doing Sabbath-appropriate activities with close friends. I use Sundays to write letters to my brother, who is on a mission, and to have phone conversations with family. There isn’t any time for TV or shopping, or much of anything else.

    I think, in general, it is hard to be super-orthodox by accident, but I like that in terms of Sabbath day observance, orthodoxy just happens. It may change in the future, but right now, most of of my Sundays are models for Sabbath day observance without much effort on my part.

  7. Conservative, though I’ve eaten out on the Sabbath. My non-member Grandparents used to invite us out once a month and my Dad always felt keeping them happy/respecting your elders outweighed breaking the sabbath. I still feel that way, we occasionally eat out with our in-laws.

    I’ve also bought medicine, birth control, baby formula and a few other items on Sunday without feeling an ounce of guilt.

    And I work every other Sunday, though usually I can get away with going into work after church.

  8. I’m third generation of “no TV/no media whatsoever on Sundays”. I found out when I was a teenager, though, that my Grandmother stayed home from church with the little kids sometimes (from Sunday School, back when there was all day church, coming and going to meetings) and listen to the radio. She had some fun stories to tell about sluffing as a young mother, apparently without anyone knowing until I interviewed her. We continue the tradition now, but my married son isn’t as orthodox. For us, it’s not really much of a sacrifice; we hate sports. We’ve had our callings in the past that required all Sabbath day service, too, so we’re glad to loung around and visit with 3 teenage daughters who are very busy during the week that we hardly see them. It’s nice relaxing time for all of us.

  9. I’ve had some interesting experiences on the Sabbath as it relates to transportation. I’m fortunate to be able to choose from a number of modes to get to and from church, including a car, motorcycle, bicycle, or walking. I basically view them as modes of transportation, not as recreation. Yes, some might be more enjoyable than others at different times, but it’s a matter of opinion/attutide. At times I get some judgmental looks from members, as if my chosen mode is somehow breaking the Sabbath. I think it’s simply a matter of conscience, as has been stated above. I couldn’t care less if I see a fellow member roll up in his convertible.

  10. KevinR-It is interesting that you brought that up. Before the 1960’s it was the practice at Sacrament meeting for young mothers to stay at home with little kids. Little kids and mothers attended Sunday School held in the morning. In the 1960’s, the church leaders encouraged Sacrament meeting worship as a family. It became a source of contention between young families, who brought their nosy squirming kids to 2 hours of Sacrament meeting, and older members, who were brought up with kids should stay home from church.

    I was a child in the 1960’s and we attended Sunday School in the morning as a family. My father went to Sacrament Meeting in the evening. When I turnerd eight, I sometimes went to Sacrament Meeting with my Dad.

  11. What do you do with an 18-year-old son who doesn’t keep the sabbath at all?

  12. Conservative usually – did have a period of my late teenage and early single adult life where we’d go get slurpees after church and felt really good about it 🙂

    While we’re talking about the Sabbath, I had a question that was asked to me in Elder’s Quorum the other day, and I didn’t have an answer. Just as a little background, I live in an area where it literally is 110-115 degrees during the Summer, where you cannot go outside from 10 AM to 6 PM for a solid 2-3 months of the year. My parents had a pool growing up in this area, and would make weekly “exceptions” for us to swim on Sundays, since we couldn’t really do anything else.

    What’s funny is that we would never in a million years swim in the neighborhood pool where other ward members/friends could see us. Somehow that was wrong, but somehow swimming in the pool in our backyard was fine. One thing is for sure, swimming in the pool together as a family was a great way to spend time together and to survive the grueling heat. So with that in mind, I pose the question: Why do Mormons not swim on Sunday? Is it just based on the scripture towards the end of D&C that states that Satan is around in the water or whatever? Any general conference/GA talks/comments on this? I just don’t want to fall into cultural/church habits if they’re not substantiated by doctrine. I’d rather leave the decision of obeying the Sabbath up to my family/wife and I.

  13. Matt, observing the Sabbath is up to you and what you feel is best for your family. Personally, I would not take my family swimming on a Sunday, but then again I don’t live in the desert and there are other things to do, like go for a Sunday walk, that we do, so if you choose to have that as a Sunday family activity, more power to you. I think the point is to observe the spirit of the Sabbath in a way that you feel would be pleasing to the Lord. If that is your way of doing it (spending a refreshing time with your family on a Sunday), more power to you.

    There is a talk by Pres. Kimball on appropriate Sabbath worship. If I were you I would go to lds.org and look up talks on the Sabbath and then pray about it and go with what the Spirit advises.

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