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The Fourth Commandment

By Hildie Westenhaver

My husband and I sat next to each other in bed and stared at our laptops. “I’m not answering that email! You do it!” he said. “No way. You’re the priesthood authority. You do it!” I snapped. Then silence.

The email? Just a friendly invitation to our son’s baseball team dinner next week. On a Sunday. Oh, I hate when this happens. My son is definitely not going, but what do I say? Do I want to be completely religious and tell the coach that we keep the Sabbath Day holy? And unlike most other Christian denominations that means not eating out and having a grand old time. Or do I just want to play the family card and say Sundays are not a day for friends? Which isn’t exactly true. I know we’re a peculiar people, but sometimes I just want to be normal and easy.

Keeping the Sabbath Day holy has always been a perplexing thing for me. I grew up in a house of incredibly strict Sabbath-keepers. Never has my mother been to a store or eaten out on a Sunday. Ever. Even though we lived in Michigan where Sunday was just another Saturday for everybody else.

I missed every ballet recital growing up. The dress rehearsal on Saturday was the best that I got. Strangely, piano recitals were OK with my Mom. Maybe she figured that since the piano is played at church, in the chapel even, that it is a Sunday-sanctioned activity.

Fortunately I wasn’t involved in sports when I was young. I never had to decide what to do about swim meets and games that fell on a Sunday. But now those things are staring me in the face. My husband and I made the decision years ago to not let our children play a sport that requires Sunday participation. It’s been a pretty easy decision to stick with. It’s just these odds and ends that pop up that make me squirmy.

Are piano recitals an appropriate Sabbath activity? What about the championship game? Am I supposed to think of that guy from Chariots of Fire and say “sorry, not on a Sunday”? It’s easy to say, “It’s the finals! It’s not like I’m going to play every Sunday! I’m sure Heavenly Father will understand.” But I guess that’s the natural man talking. The celestial me shouldn’t have to think twice.

There were a lot of Jews where I lived in Michigan. Most Saturdays we would see the more Orthodox ones walking to synagogue. My mom explained how driving was seen as an inappropriate Sabbath activity, so our Jewish friends had to walk to church instead. But they could only walk a certain number of steps. My little mind saw this as completely absurd (driving is more work than walking? Huh?)

Now that I’m oIder I kind of like the idea of a list of do’s and don’ts. I’m sure all of the members of our church agree that playing sports on Sunday is not good. But what about watching sports? Some people frown on that on the Sabbath. Some frown on TV altogether. Some people are Sunday-dress-all day wearers (which seems a little strange to me as I actually wear skirts three or four days a week anyway. I like to treat it literally as a day of rest and stay in my P.J.s as much as possible.)

I never minded my kids playing with their friends on Sundays when they were little, but I feel strange about it as they get older. There were other Mormon kids in our neighborhood who were not ever allowed to play with friends on Sundays. Does that mean that one of us was right and one of us was wrong?

I know that we are supposed to limit Sabbath activities to those things which enrich and edify and bring us closer to God. And we’re supposed to rest. (That’s a big thing for me. I like to nap. I don’t do a big Sunday dinner. It’s Hot Pockets and ramen for us.) However it’s hard not to judge our fellow church members with our standards. I have seen members of my ward drive off to the lake on a Sunday morning and I’ve thought badly of them. And I’m sure members of my ward have seen my kids running around the neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon and thought badly of them (or at least of us, their parents.)

If it’s such a big deal why don’t the brethren make a list of what’s OK and what’s not? Is it all a matter of interpretation? Can something be breaking the Sabbath for one person but not another? Most importantly, how do we keep from judging other Mormons by our own personal standards?

PS. I ended up writing the email to my son’s coach. I told him that Sunday for us is a day for church and family. He answered back and said that it wouldn’t be a big deal to do it on a different day. All that stress for nothing. Why don’t I ever learn?

About Hildie Westenhaver

(Blog Team) was born and raised in Detroit, but is happy to call Austin, TX home now. She majored in Art History and Geography at BYU and graduated a week before having her first baby. There have been five more babies since then. Hildie is an avid baker and tries to fatten up the people she loves.

32 thoughts on “The Fourth Commandment”

  1. This is a fun topic, Jennie!

    I was raised in a medium strict Sabbath observance family: no friends or playing, no stores or eating out, the only tv we watched was the Disney Movie and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. But we didn't stay in dresses all day and my parents didn't really structure anything else we chose to do.

    I dated a guy whose family went to ice cream on Sundays. That was so strange to me!

    I think the brethren have said some definite no's, haven't they? No shopping, at least. The rest does seem to be left to interpretation. That's probably a good call on their part.

    Once in college a friend came to town that I rarely saw and invited me to dinner and a movie on a Sunday. I said yes, for some strange reason. I was struck by how I didn't feel guilty or bad for doing it. It was very relaxing. Nothing bad happened. 🙂 But as I pondered it the rest of the week, I realized I missed out on some blessings that come from keeping the sabbath holy. I realized *I* need to keep the Sabbath Day Holy because I need those blessings–those regrounding, rest from the world kinds of blessings.

    Another thought on the "day of rest" idea: People with busy church callings don't very often get to feel rested on Sunday, so reframing it as "the Lord's Day" has helped me not resent the obligations when they are there.

    Great post! (And great that the coach said rescheduling would be fine!)

  2. I am so glad someones else doesn't do the huge sunday dinner! I have felt like a bad mom lo these many years. It has been ravioli and hotdogs since the kids started to eat normally. I also refuse to wash dishes on Sunday- that leads to wiping down cupboards, then mopping, then…..

    It comes down to what you feel okay about. I think it is totally unrealistic to keep children sitting quietly all day. Sabbath worship is just that, private and incomparable to anothers.

  3. We do a big Sunday dinner every Sunday with all the extended family. If I were to analyze it, I would have to say that it is nothing less than a completely cherished family touchpoint. It's just become that important. But I also realize that it wouldn't be that for everyone! If I had to do ALL the cooking every Sunday, it would likely have died a long time ago.

    I grew up in a convert home, and our Sabbath activities changed and grew as our family grew in the gospel. But I remember sitting with some other branch members at our home out on the back deck one Sunday. My sisters came racing out the back door and jumped into the pool, and the man in our branch went completely postal, hollering and ordering my sisters out of the water. He went on and on about defiling the Sabbath.

    I don't think there is necessarily one set of answers. And the answers we have now might not always apply. I do want to work enough to make Sunday a day that "feels" different from other days – whatever that means!

  4. I think our Sunday observance and how we think about it changes, just as we grow and change.

    My dh went out to eat every Sunday growing up. His family were members, but no one else was, so that became what they did with their cousins and extended family. It really cemented alot of bonds with his relatives. I remember thinking "how odd" that was, but it truly made his family very close.

    I grew up in a "stay in church clothes" house. I never liked that. My mom always made huge ordeals out of the Sunday meal, to the point that she worked herself to the bone. That, to me, was not really in keeping with the "don't work" tone I thought Sunday should have. And my dad always worked more on Sundays (w/callings) and we never saw him much. So I'm not sure what to think.

    As far as now, Sundays have changed many times in the 21 years we've been married. With youngsters, we started a "stay in your room doing something quiet" for one hour each Sunday. It was awesome. They were told they could read, sleep, whatever – as long as they were quiet. It really helped to calm the house. As kids grew into teens they chose to spend some quiet time, without us saying anything. Now we have college aged and teens and they seem to have realized that Sunday just needs to feel different than any other day. We have a no TV or computer till 6pm rule (sounds arbitrary, hmmm – as if Sunday ends then…), and I don't make a huge meal. We used to have a no friends rule on Sundays, but as they've gotten older we've realized we needed to relax that a little. We end up with alot of kids here, but have found that it is the only day they're all really willing to talk about "real" things, like life, the gospel, how to choose the right, etc. So we have many good discussions that probably wouldn't occur other times.

    I definitely think something can be breaking the Sabbath for one person, and not for another. We each need to find where we stand, and let others find where they stand. The trick is to not judge. To each his own. We are not put on this earth to choose what is right or wrong for someone else. We are only responsible for ourselves. In the end, we will be judged on how WE lived our lives, not on how we made others live theirs.

  5. Just today my husband's boss wanted to know why a (Mormon)client accepted tickets to an NFL game on Sunday, when my husband has steadfastly refused golf outings, sports events, etc. on Sunday for 2 years. His boss asked, "Is he a 'Jack Mormon'?" Ughh.
    I (living out of Utah) have come to use the line, "One of the greatest things about my church is the belief in being able to choose for ourselves." This often surprises people, which gives me the chance to believe that whatever the principle, I choose for myself, and I respect their freedom to choose what they choose.
    I honestly believe this. When our leaders tell us "Sunday is a day of worship", I have the freedom, and responsibility, to live up to whatever that means to me.
    I remember my mother always said, "So goes the Sabbath, so goes the week." I found it annoying, but I have found it to be true. My own evaluation of how I spent the Sabbath seems to be reflected in the following week.
    It's not a bad thing to try out…

  6. "The trick is to not judge. To each his own. We are not put on this earth to choose what is right or wrong for someone else. We are only responsible for ourselves. In the end, we will be judged on how WE lived our lives, not on how we made others live theirs."

    Tonya, you are correct about reserving judgement, it is a polite thing to do. But I have always found discussion comments such as yours confusing and non-practical because if no one expresses standards and no one communicates acceptable or unacceptable items for Sabbath observance then people grow up or convert to the gospel with no reference about how to follow the commandment.

    The "do not judge" politically correct rule needs to be conditioned to allow for expression of community or family standards otherwise people naturally resort to the lowest common denominator and take the easy path.

    Standards must be taught somewhere along the line. By totaling eliminating all judgement then you fail to communicate the standards.

    How does one learn about standards unless they are pointed out to them by family or other people? Especially if you are a convert such as I am and have no LDS family traditions to fall back upon.

  7. My take on Sabbath observance is that it's designed for us to be able to step "out of the world" for a while… and whatever that means to us, individually, we're the ones accountable for it :-). And I still catch myself getting the heavy kitchen scrubbing done, on occasion, LOL! (The odds are better then since I rarely do that during the week, LOL…)

    I never understood the "simplicity" of food preparation until a very powerful, simple, fasting experience, and that helped me finally see how preparation can make *such* a difference… so I try to think ahead to Sunday and prepare simple stuff. In practice, it turns out more like "scrounging," LOL…

  8. i grew up in a family that did stuff on sundays because that was my dads only day off. so we were the ones that were at the lake, at sizzler and then at 31 flavors for dessert…pretty much every sunday!! (we lived in utah too!) i can't imagine the judgements being passed then!

    but as i got older and had my own kids, i decided that for me and my house, that was not going to happen. we would save our sundays for church and family. it has been a great blessing…but as we live in texas now, it is a lot harder. EVERYTHING here is on sundays! and to me that is so frustrating. my girls have been invited to several birthday parties that fall on sundays…who does that? so i have had to tell them no each time. at the same time i am trying to teach all of my kids how important it is to keep the sabbath day holy.

    but our sabbath day consists of church, dinner, tv and sometimes games…maybe a little scripture reading and a walk. who knows!! but we try to spend it together. maybe we aren't supposed to watch tv, maybe we aren't supposed to go on walks, but we do what is best for us!! and as long as i feel good about it, that is all that matters!

  9. I totally think it would be much easier if the leaders of the church gave us a list of do's and don'ts for the sabbath day. I think they don't because they want us to be able to interpret by ourselves what constitutes keeping the sabbath day holy. I think it comes down to the spirit of the law – not the letter. I think it also means that we can't judge our neighbors as to how they interpret what they should and shouldn't do on the Sabbath day.

    I really like this post because my husband and I are in the process of interpreting what will and will not constitute keeping the sabbath day in our home. My family was much more strict than his was, so I think it's going to take a bit of compromising.

  10. Jennie, I absolutely think that what could be okay for one person might not be okay for another. For the Sabbath, and for movie watching, and for book reading, and for all kinds of things.

    For example: I have felt lately the need to focus more on keeping the Sabbath holy. For me, that means I'm trying not to blog/amuse myself on the computer that day. Family history=okay, other stuff=not.

    This is really hard for me, so I know that it's something I need to work on.

    But there are lots of uplifting Sunday internet blogs to visit, and someone else might be completely inspired, by the Spirit to surf on Sundays. And for most people I suspect the Spirit doesn't really care.

    I think it's like any other gray area commandment: you have the Spirit tell you what you need to work on, and it's your own personal guidance, and not intended as a rule for anyone else. So my own personal set of Sabbath rules are just going to be different from others', and it's my job to 1-follow what the Spirit tells me, and 2-not judge people who have not had the Spirit tell them the same thing.

    I feel like I need to do a MUCH better job with the "can-do" aspect of the Sabbath. I have memories of my mom spending time with us singing Primary songs or telling scriptures stories. Mostly I just let my kids fend for themselves, instead of doing other Sabbath-appropriate activities.

    Excellent post–thank you!

  11. Michael,
    I think you are mistaking "do not judge" for "do not teach". If you read my post, you had to realize that I do teach. I agree with you that it is very important to teach, especially by example. But, to me, judging, and teaching, are two very different things.

    Do I point out to my children, when I think others are not keeping the Sabbath holy? Of course. But I also say "to each his own". I do not want my children looking down on, or treating others poorly because they might not live up to the same standards that I have taught in my own home.

    And Em,
    I agree. I would love to have set in stone rules, but the reality is we all have our free agency.

  12. I don't want a list. It's like when my daughter wants a reason why she isn't allowed to do something. If I list the reasons she will argue every one. If there were a list for what's OK and what's not on the Sabbath then there would be complaints from people who don't like to be told what to do and there would be arguments about why X is OK but Y isn't.

    I love that aside from some general guidelines, Sabbath observance is personal. I know I certainly give it much more thought because it has been left up to each of us to search our hearts to discover what the Sabbath means to us and to determine for ourselves what sort of actions will help us draw closer to the Lord. I feel like I am trying to observe the Sabbath with my heart instead of my head and that's the way I think it should be.

  13. The Sabbath is such an interesting concept and one of the places where we can be too quick to judge others.

    My Sundays are very lazy these days whereas they were once productive. It's what I need right now.

    I love the freedom to choose our own right way.

  14. We decided Sunday should be different from the rest of the week. This meant that some activities were out of bounds because they were things that were too much a part of our lives all the time. Things came and went as long as they fit in with our overall philosophy of treating the sabbath as a special day. We took each decision on a case by case basis. Soccer games or other sporting events weren't on our to do list because they were available most days. I will say that driving in heavy traffic for more than an hour to witness a church sponsored program is not one the things that I would put on my list if I were to make it today.

    Tonya: I realize that what I am about to say might not agree with your ideas. It is just an observation from my own experience. It could be different for others. It is possible to think one is teaching and have children perceive what you are doing as judging. Teaching by your own personal example is the best way to teach. Even then, it is not unusual to find out after they are grown up that what you thought was going on was not at all what the kids thought was going on, and therefore what you thought you had taught them is not what they learned.

  15. If the bretheren got into the habit of prescribing do's and don'ts for everything they would never get any work done! (something in the BoM about diverse ways and means a man can sin, too many to write)It is not their job to be a intercessory for God. It is our job to have a relationship with the Savior as our intercessory.

    Another reason I believe we're not given a strict Sabbath list is because we are all in different places. To some converts not shopping on Sunday is very difficult so if they commit to not do it then they are putting forth their best efforts for the Lord. They may still go swimming, boating, watch TV but for them it is their best effort and that is what the Lord has asked for. My best is different than that, in fact my best effort in this area is even different from that of my husband because of the homes we grew up in. We're all at a different spot on that ladder but we're all moving upwards.

    Most often on Sundays we have leftovers. I need to have my thoughts be as charitable as possible on that day. Not silently fuming that not only do I have the kids on my own all day because of DH's leadership calling but I also have some bizarre guilt trip about having a bigger than average dinner ready when he arrives as well. How is that setting the Sabbath day apart from the rest?

  16. This has long been a topic of pondering in my life and it has yet to be resolved. I for one love my weekends of catching up. Whether it be on sleep, shopping, laundry, cooking, TV shows, etc. Don't get my wrong, I try to do everything outside of the house that I can on Saturday so that I have Sunday as a true day of rest, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

    I wonder if it would be better for me to stay up late on Saturday to finish the laundry (when it really is already Sunday anyway) or if I should just get to sleep and finish in the morning. Am I really going to hell for folding my garments on Suday morning. I don't think so.

    In regards to judging, think of it this way: Joseph Smith was quoted as saying something along the lines of "I teach the saints correct principles and then let them govern themselves." And that is exactly why we have never been given a list of do's and don'ts for the Sabbath day. We all have to choose. But that doesn't mean that what some do is right and what others do is wrong (although there are clearly some things that shouldn't be done). But the point is that we are all different and we all apply the gospel differently in our lives.

    Don't sweat the small stuff because sweating sounds like you are doing work…and thus breaking the sabbath!

  17. Growing up we had "picnics" in the family room on Sunday with somewhat casual food (my mom is a fabulous cook–her easy food is like my best dinner) and watched Walt Disney on TV.

    My husband thought my family was of the devil when he first married in, so I adapted to his view of Sundays with nice, family meal.

    Funny thing is, I finally figured out WHY that was my natal family's Sunday routine when my husband was called in the bishopric. I was exhausted. All my big meal/no TV/sit quietly/special Sunday games & activities went by the wayside when I was a single parent for the entire day (6 am bishopric meeting until 8:30 or 9 pm fireside ending). My rules had to relax for my sanity.

    Bravo to my mom who parented 8 children with a husband in the bishopric from when I was nine years old until I left for college! She survived the Sabbath!

  18. I loved this post! Sabbath observance has always been something of a quandary to my family. Is computer time okay or picnics, family dinners, walks on the beach? I am not sure but I have really enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I truly feel like I have had an answer to my prayers on this subject. A thought I had while reading this entry…there is a reason the Law of Moses was done away with. We have the Savior's advice and example to govern us in these latter-days, and the examples of our own prophets. I envision Sundays filled with love, and service and family…mini-Christmases every week.

  19. I asked my husband once whether we were supposed to pay tithing on our net or or gross. And he said, "Do you want net blessings or gross blessings?" He was trying to make a point, and I got it. I think that concept applies to a lot of the commandments that aren't black and white. Are we following the letter of the law only? Or are we trying to follow the spirit of the law? If I'm not sure what is expected of me with a certain commandment, I try to ask myself what it is that the Lord is hoping I'll get out of it. What is its purpose? And then, I think, it becomes more clear to me what things I should and shouldn't be doing. I also firmly believe that the Lord will judge us for how earnestly we believe we are following the spirit of the law. So when things are up for interpretation, I try to err on the side of whatever would draw me closer to God and away from worldliness. That usually helps clarify things.

  20. OUr things are birthday parties. Kids always are invited on Sundays. But after missing one year, the next they are planned on different days.

    It is tough sometimes making the choice. Good for you for trying.

  21. Hmmmm… After reading this, I think my husband and I need to re-evaluate our Sundays and work on setting the day apart more. Our kids are allowed to play with friends, we watch tv, we nap, we even occassionally eat a meal out. We don't do birthday parties, housework or yardwork or swimming (my Mother told us growing up that Satan had dominion over the waters and it was particularly important not to swim on the Sabbath…and the readon why missionaries shouldn't swim…was my Mom completely insane, or has anyone else heard this?)

    More than anything I don't want it to be a day my children dread. I don't want it so strict and formal that they feel too restrained. I also don't want to make choices based on whether my Mormon neighbors will judge me or not. There is always going to be someone dismayed by my actions, Mormon or not…I'm not trying to please them. I think God is more patient with spiritual progression than our neighbors anyway. He understands that we learn line upon line, and that generally when we know better, we do better. As long as we aren't doing something out of direct rebellion or laziness on that day, He will guide our path to what it is He wants us to do.

    I liked the comment about remembering it's the Lord's day, not just a day of rest.

  22. If it’s such a big deal why don’t the brethren make a list of what’s OK and what’s not?

    I have thought about this in general a lot the past year or so, and really have come to believe all the more in that whole 'teach correct principles/govern selves' thing…as a critical, critical part of mortality. We must learn by our own experience what strengthens our spirits and brings us closer to God.

    Think of how many other commandments really have so much room for interpretation. What does it mean to be honest in your dealings? What is a 'full tithe'? What about the specifics of multiplying and replenishing (how many children should we have and when?) The list could go on and on and on….

    I'm reading The Holy Secret right now and it has some great insights into the Sabbath, and into commandments, for that matter. I highly recommend it.

    One thing it points out is what 'rest' means in the scriptures. It's not just about not doing stuff, it's about coming into God's presence. A mini-Millenium is what I have sometimes called it. This book is causing me to ponder all the more what can sanctify me and bring me closer to God's presence.

  23. Arianne, I don't think I want blessings if they are gross ones.

    (Pardon my stupid humor.)

    We wore church clothes all Sunday long in the family I grew up in, and I actually liked it. It did make a difference in the activities we participated in. (One quiet Sunday afternoon, one of my siblings went around the house taking candid photos — and found that every single family member was reading something.)

    As a newlywed, when we were occasionally invited to other members' homes on Sunday evenings, I was embarrassed to discover I was the only one still wearing church clothes. Not wanting to make others uncomfortable for dressing down, nor to stick out, I learned to change into more casual clothing if I were going anywhere.

    Then, because I didn't want the extra laundry, I started making my kids change out of church clothes right after church — but that was when I had to use a shared coin-op laundry room. Now that I have a good washer and a dryer in my home, I don't mind the kids staying in their nice clothes, and my girls often prefer to (they like their pretty dresses.) My oldest son changes the second he gets home, and it kind of bothers me, but so far not enough to make a new rule about not changing.

    Nowadays whether or not I change has a lot to do with how comfortable my church clothes are. I will stay in a long flowing skirt with flats, but if I wore a short straight skirt and heels to church, I will change when I get home just as quickly as my son does.

    I'm not sure why I went off on this particular trivial aspect of Sabbath observance — I guess the only conclusion I can draw is that I DO think how we dress can make a difference in how we feel, but I'm grateful for the leeway to be flexible in how that principle gets applied in my family.

  24. Knowing what was right for the sabbath seems to me to be exceedingly simple. It's supposed to be holy, right? and what does "holy?" mean. Aything that brings you closer to the Lord or His spirit is holy. Anything that draws you away from His spirit is unholy. Easy concept. But in reality, keeping a holy Sabbath with small kids is simply impossible – let alone giving yourself any REST! Even getting and keeping the Spirit during Sacrament is a lost cause when you have toddlers. But learning to be quiet in church is the beginning of a child learning reverence. That requires endless training, and the trainers (mom and dad) don't get to relax for a minute! I'm sometimes surprised mothers of young children nurture any testimony at all.
    My own mom was not one for arguing or laying down laws. But she did like to put up signs without any comment or discourse on them. For example, the sign over the phone read: "Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" and hung there for 12 years. "Sabbeth activity: Does it bring you closer to the Lord?" would be another sign. If such a sign is up there forever, it gradually sinks into the subconscious.
    However, Jennie and Arianne have expressed with adamancy how much they HATED my notes and signs. I thought I was only making free-will suggestions. (Another lesson: No matter how much you work to be a good mother, your kids won't believe it. A fact you will just have to eat."

  25. I am glad there isn't a list. I like that the Lord trusts me enough to make my own guidelines. I think there are lines where lines need to be and in some things, like keeping the Sabbath Day Holy, a commandment that is for showing devotion, not for keeping you healthy or safe or securing your eternal salvation, that it is up to us to find the best way for our family to worship outside of church. It isn't about doing or not doing something, it is about making the choice to draw closer to the Savior.

  26. I had a religion professor talk about a pattern surrounding commandments. There's a principle given–the "why" behind the commandment– like "life is sacred." Then there is the commandment that is given, "Thou shalt not kill." And then we are left to make our own personal fences or guidelines.

    He also said that our personal rules for keeping commandments should follow two guidelines: They should be personal and they should be temporary. Because we grow line upon line, precept upon precept and because our lives are constantly changing and require different sacrifices.

    I'm extremely glad there is no set of rules. I think because it is left to our own discretion we have to be more aware of whether or not our heart is in the right place on the Sabbath day. We have to ask ourselves each Sabbath day those questions that Alma asks in chapter 5, that if you have felt that you're setting Sunday aside for the Lord, can you still feel that same way?

  27. I'm so glad church leadership hasn't given us a list. That's so Law of Moses. I think it comes down to your own situation and what brings your family closer together… which will ultimately bring us closer to God. When we were married, my husband was shocked that our family would get together for a big extended family dinner each Sunday at my parents house, which included swimming if it was a super hot day. He grew up with the whole devil in the water idea. I was shocked to see his younger brother going off to work a high school job at the grocery store, which my parents would have never allowed, or going out for dinner. I'm sure swimming is on many people's lists of what we shouldn't do, but for us it was part of great family time where we could be home together.

    One thing that's always bothered me is all the endless meetings that take place on Sundays, pulling family members away from each other and draining individuals of energy and time for thoughtful spiritual contemplation. For me that's just not ok. It shouldn't be the day for getting a week's worth of church work done.

  28. I think keeping the sabbath day holy is alot about our personal evolution. We keep trying to move ourselves away from the the cares of the world and more towards the things of the Spirit. we're all in different places on that continuum but hopefully moving in the same direction. I do notice the more "effort" I put into making the sabbath a truly special, different day, the more my family benefits. For me it comes down to building relationships, keeping things more calm, harmonious.

  29. Mindy, I could SWEAR I heard an apostle or general authority once say (a few years ago) that the church now recommended NO church meetings on Sunday other than the regular three hours plus "a brief ward correlation meeting." I really do have a good auditory memory — but I have never ever been able to find the quote, and I don't think my husband believes me. My guess is that (assuming my memory was correct) the church backed away from making that recommendation a *rule,* because there are places and circumstances where members truly can't find time to meet except on Sunday; when they really do have to fit most interaction into Sunday (for example, if you have a congregation whose members all live far from the church and have jobs with very long hours.) What we ARE all being told, though, is to minimize frills and simplify as much as possible in order to create time for gospel teaching and family togetherness at HOME. But people are slow to change, and there's such a strong tendency to try to magnify callings by multiplying meetings and busywork, that it's very, very easy for the family to be inadvertently relegated to 2nd place (or 3rd place, or 4th place, etc.) I'm extremely family-oriented (not to mention busy and overwhelmed,) and I get VERY annoyed and frustrated at how the "simplify" message seems to be ignored — but I should probably spend less time examining others' motes, since I've doubtless got large beams of my own.

    (I did, however, just persuade my Enrichment committee that paper dishes for Enrichment Night would be just fine. Some seemed a bit dubious; some indifferent, and some seemed relieved.)

  30. Here's my Sabbath interpretation. You know that feeling you get when you walk out of the temple after some heavy worship and prayer, spiritually enlightened and edified, and you get to the parking lot and realize that those feelings will be fleeting because you MUST return to the world. You look at your car menacingly because you know that in it you'll be cut off by other drivers who will need a good tongue lashing, and face speed limits that will need breaking. You know the route home will take you past the mall where you spend more money in a day than a 3rd-World family makes in a month. So much for obedience and consecration!?

    As surely as leaves fall from a tree in Autumn, the spirit falls away one thought at a time, until it lays in lovely piles of memory. Sure, I understand we can't always reside in the fullness of the spirit, or choices wouldn't require enough thought to make us grow. Just as we had to leave heaven to be tested, our best growth experiences in life come when we are forced to decide without the spirit resting heavy upon us; when it is more of a lingering influence than a powerful presence. And so I'm forced to think of ways to prolong the feelings and memories, and live life so that the spirit of the temple fades more slowly. These are the activities I strive towards. But since life gets in the way most days, these are the things that make me holier on the Sabbath.

    Sunday is my day to try to live the way I'd like to live after just leaving the temple. Doing all the things that edify, and none of the things that don't. I barely need to drive, and traffic is light, so I have no road rage and don't feel pressured by other drivers to go too fast. No anger, obey the speed limit. There's no shopping so I'm not spending money I should be sending to someone more needy than I am. There's no work, so I can spend more time with my children and family, teaching and sharing bonds of love. There aren't chores, so I can better focus on the work that I don't "have time for" otherwise, like home-teaching, missionary work, genealogy, or preparing for my calling and classes. It's a great escape from normal life and a great preparation for a week of turmoil and tough choices.

    Am I perfect? Far from it, but I'm moving in the right direction. And I know I must be doing something right when I'm more concerned about losing the spirit on Monday morning than I am when I walk out of the doors of the Church Sunday afternoon.

  31. One of the things my mom did to try to teach us that the Sabbath is different is she allowed us to watch movies, but they had to be "Sunday movies". She would buy church history movies and church plays on tape and seminary videos and so on for us to watch. I can't count how many times we watched "My Turn on Earth" or "Saturday's Warriors" or "It's a Miracle" or "A Field So White". We really loved the set of videos about the Restoration. We could watch those for hours!


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