Sabbath, recreation, and young kids

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Timotheos

Puritan Board Freshman
How do you keep the Sabbath holy as well as your young children? My church has a morning and afternoon service but not evening. After a nap, the kids are wide open in the evening. Do I actually force them not to play?
 

Rutherglen1794

Puritan Board Junior
Can the argument be made that it is necessary for children to be active each day? I think so.

The question, to myself at least, is what does that activity look like.
 

Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
Not always on Lord's Day, a young family in our neighborhood visits us and other neighbors to bring homemade treats with bible pictures they've drawn or colored. Could this be an activity fit for your family?
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
Not always on Lord's Day, a young family in our neighborhood visits us and other neighbors to bring homemade treats with bible pictures they've drawn or colored. Could this be an activity fit for your family?
What are Bible pictures?
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
Noah's ark, Moses, Ten Commandments on stone tablets, Sampson, Goliath.
Maybe you folks shouldn’t be encouraging Bible images. It violates the 2nd Commandment.
Heidelberg Lords Day 35

Question 96. What does God require in the second commandment?

Answer: That we in no wise represent God by images, (a) nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word. (b)

Question 97. Are images then not at all to be made?

Answer: God neither can, nor may be represented by any means: (a) but as to creatures; though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make, or have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve God by them. (b)

Question 98. But may not images be tolerated in the churches, as books to the laity?

Answer: No: for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have his people taught, not by dump images, (a) but by the lively preaching of his word. (b)
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe after Church, you guys can teach the children metric Psalm Singing, Catechism and Creeds memorization. Talk about the sermon with them. Praying together. Maybe baking some cupcakes, brownies, or some gourmet cooking?
 

Cedarbay

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, Ray, images of the Holy Trinity would be wrong to draw, however, other biblical stories and characters would not be.

I am willing to be corrected on this.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Maybe you folks shouldn’t be encouraging Bible images.
This is a misrepresentation of what the HC is saying. In question 97 it says “as to creatures; though they may be represented..”. All three of those questions are portraying the difference between the Creator and creature. Simply put: God cannot be portrayed as creaturely since He is not a creature or of creation.
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
This is a misrepresentation of what the HC is saying. In question 97 it says “as to creatures; though they may be represented..”. All three of those questions are portraying the difference between the Creator and creature. Simply put: God cannot be portrayed as creaturely since He is not a creature or of creation.
Your right I jumped the gun. I didn’t pay attention. Correct me if I’m wrong though. Isn’t it a slippery slope to even draw images of saints? We don’t even know what they exactly looked like. I’ve seen children in the past color so called pictures of Noah and then after say it’s Jesus.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Your right I jumped the gun. I didn’t pay attention. Correct me if I’m wrong though. Isn’t it a slippery slope to even draw images of saints? We don’t even know what they exactly looked like. I’ve seen children in the past color so called pictures of Noah and then after say it’s Jesus.
Well then that's a teachable moment not to draw/color pictures of Jesus. I'm more worried about a scrupulous fencing than a mistake like that.
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
Well then that's a teachable moment not to draw/color pictures of Jesus. I'm more worried about a scrupulous fencing than a mistake like that.
I’m not against coloring or drawing in general. But I don’t see the practice of coloring or drawing of Saints or Biblical occurrences or themes in Scripture or in Church history.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I’m not against coloring or drawing in general. But I don’t see the practice of coloring or drawing of Saints or Biblical occurrences or themes in Scripture or in Church history.
Nevertheless, a Second Commandment violation pertains only to making some sort of physical representation of God and Jesus Christ, specifically.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
How do you keep the Sabbath holy as well as your young children? My church has a morning and afternoon service but not evening. After a nap, the kids are wide open in the evening. Do I actually force them not to play?
Hi Tim,
To force them not to play would suddenly make all sorts of work for YOU as you tried to keep them under control. Remember that God doesn't give us the Sabbath as a burden but as a delight. Of course you should let your children play--you should probably play with them! (that's what I do). Since you cannot engage in things that cause people to be at work, that means movies and restaurants and mini golf are out, but stacking blocks on your kitchen floor, playing in the yard, etc., are not only necessary to the child, but merciful to your wife who would else have a house-full or scrapping children (ask me how I know).
We can keep the Sabbath holy while pitying the children at the same time.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Children at play is not recreation for them like it is for us. They need a time to run in order to expend energy so that they can later concentrate on what they are being taught. They have recess at school for this very reason. I would suggest allowing them this time.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Samuel Rutherford (1600–1661) is clearly not complimenting this in older children and adults, but this recognizes that the capacities of a young child or baby (the meaning of bairns) are not those of an adult. Of course in Rutherford's day such childhood was short. But the rigors of the day also meant women with small children missed more services than we do nowadays (see the note from Gouge's domestical duties below). Are there any practical writings that deal with this from the Puritan era?

Q. Quho abuse the rest of Godis day? A. Those that ar idle this day, qlk is horses' Sabbeth [sic]; 2. those that sportis and playis, qlk is the bairnes' [infant; young child's] Sabbeth; 3. those quho banquittes and feastis, qlk is the belligodis Sabbath; 4. those that sinnes, qlk is the devils' Sabbath; 5. those quho waitis upon worldlie callings this day, qlk is the wretches' Sabbath.

Alexander F. Mitchell, Catechisms of the Second Reformation: With Historical Introduction and Biographical Notices (London: James Nisbet, 1886), 232.

41 Q. What instances may be given of ordinary servil works which hinder duties of piety?

A. 1. Tending young children.



Most families have some young children which cannot looke to themselves nor be brought to Church without disturbance of the whole Congregation.



All these therefore are ordinary servil works whereby some are kept from duties of piety, and yet are blamelesse. Instance Hannah who tarried from the Temple till her child was weined (1 Sam. 1. 22.) and was blamelesse.

http://tei.it.ox.ac.uk/tcp/Texts-HTML/free/A68/A68107.html
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I’m not against coloring or drawing in general. But I don’t see the practice of coloring or drawing of Saints or Biblical occurrences or themes in Scripture or in Church history.
I assume some will say, "Well, that was commanded by God, so that makes it Oaky." But, the temple was ornately decorated with all kinds of artwork and images and carvings and even of Cherubims. I agree that the second commandment teaches that all representations of God or any of the three persons are strictly forbidden, but I think our anti-art Reformed culture has often gone beyond what Scripture teaches.
 

Timotheos

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe after Church, you guys can teach the children metric Psalm Singing, Catechism and Creeds memorization. Talk about the sermon with them. Praying together. Maybe baking some cupcakes, brownies, or some gourmet cooking?
This is part of our daily family worship. However, you must not have 4 children ages 5 all the way down to 1 month old. Sitting them down is one thing. But doing that for an extended period of time, especially after they've been forced to do that at church, it seems almost cruel and unusual. They don't have the attention span for more of that at this point. I'm at a loss.
 

brendanchatt

Puritan Board Freshman
Not to detract from the concern, is it possible for kids to get worn out from days prior? Do they need more energetic activity outside of school M-F and on Saturdays?

I don't have kids and am a youngest child.
 

brendanchatt

Puritan Board Freshman
A point has been made of trying to employ children's energy in overtly Sabbath keeping ways. Can the young be better used for acts of mercy and necessity on the sabbath, especially in assistance to the elderly?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Isn’t it a slippery slope to even draw images of saints?
Jesus actually gave us some tests for this sort of situation: If the action flows from a heart-level violation of the commandment, then we should forbid it (see Matthew 5:21-30). But if it's merely a slippery-slope concern and we would be adding our own laws on top of God's law, then we should not forbid it (see Matthew 23:1-4).

In the case of drawing pictures of Old Testament characters, there certainly is a possibility that one could do this out of an idolatrous heart. In that case, it would be sinful. But I don't think we should assume it is usually an idolatrous-heart situation. So to forbid this feels more like piling our own law on top of God's law, which we must not do. Perhaps we warn kids not to treat such drawings as idols, but we should not forbid the drawings outright.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not to detract from the concern, is it possible for kids to get worn out from days prior? Do they need more energetic activity outside of school M-F and on Saturdays?

I don't have kids and am a youngest child.
Tired children are even less inclined to behave quietly during the service. And children small enough to require play time will be no help to the elderly, or to any other errand of mercy. Even if allowed to play and if entertained, they will learn quickly, in my experience, that the Sabbath is a different day, set apart from normal use. As for baking or cooking, which one poster suggested, I'd point out that those are regular everyday activities, and my family benefits from resting from those labors on Sunday--we bake our bread on Saturday or Monday, we avoid making huge kitchen messes on the Lord's day: cooking is kept to a minimum, just because it is an everyday thing.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Maybe baking some cupcakes, brownies, or some gourmet cooking?
Teaching the children to not labor on the Lord's day by getting the wife to slave over a hot stove all afternoon while entertaining the children?
 

Ray

Puritan Board Freshman
Teaching the children to not labor on the Lord's day by getting the wife to slave over a hot stove all afternoon while entertaining the children?
Slaving? I enjoy baking and grilling myself. And it’s not slaving. It does not even take a long time. It’s calming and i enjoy when I bring a smile when I can to a brother or sister when they visit by cooking something for them. I don’t see cooking as labOr but as a necessity. I labor with my schooling and job Monday-Saturday. Sunday Morning and Afternoon I Worship my King. Then when I get home I relax. And cooking something really tasty is relaxing for me Since I don’t have time during the rest of the Week to do so.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
My children have a clear view that the day is set apart (holy). Their clothes are set out the night before, food is generally prepared ahead of time, we don't go to businesses, and attendance at stated meetings of the church is non-negotiable. But it seems too much to ask them them to spend their free time as I would, glad for the rest and opportunity to read and contemplate. They have a great time running around outside with their friends. We all enjoy the opportunity to observe God's creation in a more leisurely manner than we might on other days.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
We have morning and evening services. My wife and I have found allowing our children the opportunity get their energy out in between services goes a long way to ensure they are less antsy and pay better attention in the evening service.
 

richardnz

Puritan Board Freshman
If you have a number of small active children, a wife tired from pregnancy and a husband tired from work it is a challenge to work out how to manage resting on the Sabbath profitably. You might want the children to rest but if you have children like ours were as soon as they had a rest they would wake up buzzing with irrepressible energy. You cannot shut them in a room to be quiet because the danger of them engaging in unauthorized activity is too high. You cannot force them to be inactive because to do so requires too much work on your part when you should be resting.

The way I looked at it was to consider that the Sabbath is a day of rest but not a day of inactivity. We are to do different things, but God-centered things instead of our normal work. Children are not resting from their regular work in the adult sense, but I wanted them to get used to the idea that everything is different on the Lord’s Day, different breakfast cereal, different routine, worship services, special clothes, no computer games, no games that they might play during the week, everything is special. You could say they were resting from their children’s activities rather than their work. So they were as active as usual on the day, but we as parents were able to have some rest while we loosely supervised them as they engaged in absorbing activities. The long term plan was to move them toward more serious Sabbath-day practices by degrees. I do not know if this is the best solution for everyone because so much depends on the kind of children God gives you. However you have to have a plan of where you want to them to be in the long run and how you are going to get there. It has worked out for us, but that is not to say that it could not have been done better.
 

kainos01

Puritan Board Senior
Slaving? I enjoy baking and grilling myself. And it’s not slaving.
I would agree! Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes (right after eating what I have cooked!). In fact, many people really do enjoy their jobs; still, that is not a justifiable reason for doing those jobs on the Sabbath. We are to cease labors - whether they are a drudgery or a delight - on the Lord's Day.
 
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