Question: What are appropriate activities for the Sabbath?

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Question: What are appropriate activities for the Sabbath?

Introduction to Question

Like many Christians, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrate the Sabbath on a Sunday. On Sunday, members attend worship services held at local chapels.

Members of the Church have been confused as to what activities might be appropriate on the Sabbath.

This article seeks to present scriptural quotes, commentary from prophets, and some ethical considerations about the issue that may elucidate a definitive answer to the question.

Response to Question

Scriptural Quote

The most relevant scriptural quote to answer this question is given in the 56th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. There, the Lord declares the following in verses 9-19:

9 And 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;
10 For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
11 Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times;
12 But remember that on this, the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord.
13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

This scripture already has given us a pretty definitive declaration. You should:

  1. Go to your local chapel and offer up sacraments, oblations, and vows
  2. Rest from your labors
  3. Pay your devotions to God
  4. Confess your sins before your brethren and God
  5. Prepare food and specifically with singleness of heart
  6. Fast
  7. Pray

We should do these things with:

  1. Thanksgiving
  2. Cheerful and glad hearts
  3. Cheerful countenances
  4. Not with much laughter

The blessings for following these injunctions are the fulness of the earth including all beasts, fowls, herbs, and other foods for clothing, housing, industry, medicine, and general enjoyment.

Commentary from Prophets

The pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, written and approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, includes several restrictions on Sabbath day activities:

Sunday is not a day for shopping, recreation, or athletic events. Do not seek entertainment or make purchases on this day. Let others know what your standards are so they can support you. When seeking a job, share with your potential employer your desire to attend your Sunday meetings and keep the Sabbath day holy. Whenever possible, choose a job that does not require you to work on Sundays.[1]

The Church’s official handbook for leaders lists the following activities as appropriate:

  • Personal worship through prayer and fasting
  • Gospel study and learning
  • Ministering and service to others
  • Family history
  • Joyful family time
  • Other appropriate gatherings.

Ethical Commentary

We spend the majority of our weeks focused on things and people that aren’t God. To an extent that’s good and divine. Often that means we’re busy thinking of ways to keep the second great commandment to love our neighbor as ourself.[2] But is it any wonder that the Creator of the World asks us to set aside one day for Him and to do nothing else besides pay our devotions to Him and rest from labor after we have spent all week not talking to him? Not thinking about him? We often think that God is entirely self-sufficient and doesn’t need our devotion or love. That may come because of our seeing Him as all-powerful. While He is all-powerful, He is an all-powerful human. Like all humans, He is blessed and nourished by love. Don’t treat God as so distant that you think He doesn’t want or need your love. Treat Him as if He were as near to you and in need of attention as your closest friend or relative.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has illuminated one way that we can more fully love God by keeping his commandments.[3]

Notes

  1. For the Strength of Youth (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 31.
  2. Matthew 22:34-40
  3. John 14:15