Lesson 16 of the “Teachings of George Albert Smith” deals with keeping the Sabbath and taking the sacrament. I have seen quite a few LDS members not strictly adhering to Mormonism’s Sabbath restrictions. Some were bothered by this, some not so. This particular manual doesn’t go into as much depth as some manuals do in explaining specifics. Here are a couple of quotes from it.
“One of the first sermons that were preached in this (the Salt Lake) valley was by President Brigham Young, and he warned the people to honor the Sabbath day and to keep it holy, and no matter how difficult their circumstances they were not to go out and do manual labor on the Sabbath day.”
“I say to you that if the members of this Church, knowing better, persist in desecrating the Sabbath day in the pursuit of worldly pleasures, they will lose their faith, and the Spirit of our Heavenly Father will withdraw from them.”
The manual, Gospel Principles, lists some of those worldly pursuits. “Our prophets have told us that we should not shop, hunt, fish, attend sports events, or participate in similar activities that day.” It continues by saying: “President Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, however, that if we merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath, we are not keeping the day holy. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts.” (p. 141)
I have often wondered how the dozens of Mormons who have played in the NFL over the years (Steve Young being one of the most notable) squared their playing on Sundays with Mormonism’s teachings. And that is just one of numerous examples. I have seen some of my Mormon acquaintances shopping on Sunday or eating out. To be fair, I also know some who try to follow the Sabbath requirements to the letter. There have also been a few who have told me about some of the less than truthful things they did as families to give the appearance that they were keeping the Sabbath. (One of the my favorites is the family who played cards on Sunday and called the card game, genealogy, so that they could say they were involved in their genealogy if anybody asked.)
I made mention of this because this illustrates a number of unattended consequences when keeping the commandments become such a focal point. Yes, some will try very hard to keep them but will also feel very guilty when they fail. Others will just pick and choose the ones they want to keep. And still others will feel forced to act hypocritically.
How much better it is to make Jesus and his perfect law-keeping for us the focal point! That frees us from guilt and gives us the freedom to confess our sins and not try to hide them. That further serves as a powerful motivation to glorify him in all that we do. Focusing on Jesus and what he has done for us – and not on what we are to do – is the best way to honor and keep the Sabbath.
O, by the way. The Bible also says: “ Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17)