Honoring the Sabbath

One of the requirements for my Christian education class this semester was that we memorize the 10 commandments. It might sound a little silly, but try this little test: can *you* recite all 10 of them? Ask a couple of friends if *they* know all 10 of them. I’ve already said that content is the essential part of catechesis, and I’m pretty sure my professor agrees with me. And what did you think that essential content was supposed to look like? Few things are more basic than the 10 commandments, and hardly anybody knows them.

But here’s the odd thing: reading through the commandments, I find that here are a set of rules so basic that almost everybody can agree to them: don’t lie; don’t steal; don’t murder; honor your parents. Some of them, obviously, you have to be a montheist to get behind: no other gods before me; no graven images to worship. But there’s only one that I ,and most people I know, break regularly and with vigour. Number 4: Do no work on the Sabbath.

Whether you call it Saturday or Sunday, how many people do you know who do anything in the direction of setting a day aside and not *working*? I don’t think simply not going to the office really counts.

Honestly, I have been thinking about it for some time, though the discovery that it’s the *only one* of the 10 commandments I completely ignore has made it a little more pointed. Traditionally, the interpretation has been that the Sabbath is not supposed to be a general goof-off day, but that we’re supposed to set aside the entire day for worship, prayer, and bible study. But then my question is, how is that supposed to be a special, set aside day for the minister? It’s also possible to interpret Romans 14:5 (One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.) in such a way as to make the Sabbath optional, but it seems to me that before you can use this scripture to throw out the Sabbath, you ought to verify that you really do “consider every day alike.” Ought I to ignore the Sabbath when I make such a big deal out of Mother’s Day?

So. Since I do in fact honor Mother’s Day (I’m better at Christmas and birthdays), I’ve been looking for ways to properly honor the Sabbath. Frankly, I think saying that I set it aside for “spiritual studies” would definitely be a cop-out for me, since I’m going to a school where that’s what I’m supposed to be doing all day anyway. What to do?

Yesterday, I think we hit on something. Valerie suggested that we start by leaving the computer off. If you’d seen us vying for time on the thing, you would have been amazed that we’d consider it even for a moment. But we tried it, and it seemed to be just the thing. One whole day without email, without weblogs, without Age of Empires, makes for a day that very much seems more “set aside” than all the others.

I haven’t exactly got my Sabbath theology perfectly lined up, other than “it seems like a good thing to do,” and no doubt there are a whole host of other ways we can make the day more holy. But this feels like a good step in the right direction. Just that one thing, and there was a completely different atmosphere in our home.

I think I’m going to like the Sabbath.

Author: KB French

Formerly many things, including theology student, mime, jr. high Latin teacher, and Army logistics officer. Currently in the National Guard, and employed as a civilian... somewhere

6 thoughts on “Honoring the Sabbath”

  1. You’ve read it? I didn’t think you’d ever heard of Marva Dawn. I hadn’t until this Christian Education class.

    When I’m not busy hating her, I like her a lot.


  2. Just the one book — why do you hate her when you’re not liking her a lot?

    Actually I loved the book — just haven’t been able to figure out how to implement it. In some respects it’s a bit more difficult than when the entire culture is built around it.


  3. Try reading *Is It a Lost Cause?* It’s an excellent book on how the church should be training its kids in a secular world. When she’s right, she’s very right, but when she’s wrong, she’s a liberal. If you want I can bring it.

    Generally much of it could be boiled down to the fact that a lot of people conflate “consumerism,” which is bad, and “avarice,” which is evil, with “capitalism,” which is good, or at worst, neutral. So we end up with a lot of people (including Marva Dawn) talking about how we need to derail capitalism in order to help the little guy, when derailing capitalism would likely **kill** the little guy. Drives me bonkers.


  4. Well, as an example of what they’re teaching, I’m told in Sand Springs if a teacher is going to put up “holiday” (Can’t say Christmas, remember, someone might get offended – why does no one care that the exclusion of Christmas offends people?) decorations, they have to cover all holidays, or the school will take down what decorations that teacher does have. Obviously, that’s what the school needs to be focusing its time on, instead of just teaching the kids.


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