A friend of mine on Facebook put up several quotations on Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday) from prophets reminding us what prophets have said about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Among the quotations he cited were:
“Now I understand that my behavior on the Sabbath is my sign to the Lord of my regard for him and for the covenant under which I was born. If, on the one hand, my interests on the Sabbath were turned to pro football games or worldly movies, the sign from me to him would clearly be that my devotion would not favor the Lord. If, on the other hand, my Sabbath interests were focused on the Lord and his teachings, my family, or the sick, or the poor, and the needy, that sign would likewise be visible to God. Our activities on the Sabbath will be appropriate as we consider them to be our personal sign to him of our commitment to the Lord.” —Russell M. Nelson
It turns out that I watched part of the Super Bowl on Sunday. In fact, a family that I home teach invited me to come over, and my wife and I went and we had a nice time. I’m not that interested in professional football anymore, and we could only stay for an hour because we had to get the kids to bed, but the point is that we did indeed watch part of the Super Bowl on Sunday.
I do not feel guilty about it. I am pretty sure if I were to stand in front of the Lord tomorrow He would be OK with me watching the Super Bowl. I could always be a better person, but for the most part I feel like I am OK with the Lord. I have repented and changed my life for the better in many important ways, and I am taking steps to continue to improve myself. So, as I say, I don’t feel like watching the Super Bowl is a sign that I am on the wrong path.
I also have no problem with my friend quoting the prophets say we shouldn’t watch football on Sundays. I had never seen that quotation before, so I enjoyed reading it.
But my friend got a fair number of negative comments from people who did not like him quoting the prophets on this subject. That I do not understand.
My friend is not a bishop or a stake president. So, to be frank, who cares what he thinks? He is not giving advice to specific people; he is simply expressing his opinion. His opinion is that people should do a better job of observing the Sabbath. That is probably true for all of us. I know I could certainly be a better person. I observe the Sabbath more faithfully now than I did a decade ago. I will probably do an even better job observing the Sabbath later in life. So, if my friend reminds me that the prophets have asked us not to watch football on Sundays, I consider that a very good reminder.
Here is the point: you don’t have to agree with my friend. Your important relationship is the vertical one with the Lord, not the horizontal one with other people on Earth. There are certain people whose opinions really do matter (your spouse, your bishop, your stake president), but my friend is not one of those people. So, if he wants to quote the prophets on this subject, how is he being intolerant? He is not calling you out by name. He is simply expressing an opinion, and if you feel good about your standing with the Lord, and you happen to like watching football on Sundays, then who cares what my friend believes?
It is not intolerant to quote the prophets on Super Bowl Sunday. But, depending on how you respond to somebody expressing an opinion, it may turn out that you are intolerant of people expressing opinions you do not like. Take out that beam from your own eye and stop concentrating on the mote in my friend’s eye! (And, yes, this post is not just about Sabbath Day observance and football — this is a general commentary on how people respond to opinions they do not like).