The Lord’s Day and Activities

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Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Ignoring COVID restrictions, doesn’t the Lord’s Day preclude certain activities?

If a youth sports league had games on Sunday, could you enroll your child?

If a vacation lasted over a Sunday, or was somewhere that you couldn’t go to a church, you couldn’t take that vacation right? Say a trip to a cabin or a trip to Europe?

Cruises would be out too?


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NaphtaliPress

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Moving to Lord's Day forum.
These are two questions that need addressing separately. The first, I guess one could join but make it clear they would not participate in any league activity on the Lord's Day.
On vacations, I think one makes the best effort to plan stops in an extended vacation to be in places with a sound church on Lord's Days, but after best efforts or if it turns out not to be the case in reality as planned on paper, necessity dictates observing the day as one would if not able to get to one's own church on a particular Lord's Day. I'm no fan of cruises so someone can address the realities of that form of vacation better. I know Reformed groups have planned cruises like Dr. Beeke has done and in that case they have a ready made solution as far as holding services.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
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We lose a great deal when we try to reduce the Sabbath to a list of rules rather than receiving it as a precious gift from God to his creation.

When I hear "can I ...." I wonder if the speaker has grasped that the Lord's Day orders all of our days in a weekly progression of worship that begins in the redemptive hope of Christ and continues each day. The choices we make day by day to render necessities, free up one day in seven to worship.

Such a mindset -- joined with the membership vows many of us have taken to support the work and worship of our local church -- preclude other events and absences. We might, on rare occasion, have the opportunity to see more of God's creation that might necessitate an absence, but it does not change the character of the day which is to be taken up in worship wherever we might find ourselves. We might have genuine necessities such as urgent family responsibilities, but even then, we are to order our lives around worship as much as is practical.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
We had planned on going on a cruise soon but Covid restrictions stopped that. Before it got shut down, I asked my OPC pastor what he thought of missing church whilst on a cruise. I would also be having a dinner on Sunday that has waiters. He said that I would not be preventing them from going to services, or failing to go to services on Sunday because there are no services on this cruise. I would have eaten dinner from the waiters but I would have avoided sports on Sunday.

I believe there are some things that should definitely be avoided by every Sabbath-keeping Christian, but many things are circumstantial. I go on a walk every Sunday but that may be distracting to some, for example.
 

NaphtaliPress

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A cruise ship is basically a floating resort. Generally, Sabbatarianism would dictate 1. make sure services knew not to clean the room/cabin on Sundays, and 2. plan ahead and get food that can be eaten in room so as not to be engaging the restaurant services.
We had planned on going on a cruise soon but Covid restrictions stopped that. Before it got shut down, I asked my OPC pastor what he thought of missing church whilst on a cruise. I would also be having a dinner on Sunday that has waiters. He said that I would not be preventing them from going to services, or failing to go to services on Sunday because there are no services on this cruise. I would have eaten dinner from the waiters but I would have avoided sports on Sunday.

I believe there are some things that should definitely be avoided by every Sabbath-keeping Christian, but many things are circumstantial. I go on a walk every Sunday but that may be distracting to some, for example.
 

Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
A cruise ship is basically a floating resort. Generally, Sabbatarianism would dictate 1. make sure services knew not to clean the room/cabin on Sundays, and 2. plan ahead and get food that can be eaten in room so as not to be engaging the restaurant services.
But how does going on a cruise fulfill “do not forsake gathering”?


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NaphtaliPress

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Does Hebrews 10:25 mean you can never miss church for extended work or recreation travel, or is it not talking about a sustained pattern (custom) of forsaking the assembly? I'm not arguing for cruises as I'm not a fan, but I noted a solution above somewhere in the instance when a minister is part of the company traveling. Or it may be a port of call would afford a church opportunity? I just don't see where cruises are automatically off limits for Christians if it is more than 7 days.
But how does going on a cruise fulfill “do not forsake gathering”?


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Timmay

Puritan Board Freshman
Does Hebrews 10:25 mean you can never miss church for extended work or recreation travel, or is it not talking about a sustained pattern of forsaking the assembly?
This is the question I should have asked. I don’t know the answer.

I also am unaware of how the answer was addressed historically. Some of the examples I mentioned in the OP never came into play in the history of the church until the last 100yrs or so. Did people ever take “vacation” and miss a service? In some American colonies they would get fined if they did!

So I’m wondering should we never miss a service, or is our American luxury lulling us into a sense that it is ok to do so?


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NaphtaliPress

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We do have an abundance of riches in our day that past generations did not have (for now at least we have them) and I do think such things need to be evaluated. But the cruise industry has basically provided what was a luxury to the masses now. So it is comparable to a week trip to Disney Orlando or something. Except that, one can't drive around and look for a church to attended. Do cruises have chaplains I wonder and do they offer services on the Lord's Day?
This is the question I should have asked. I don’t know the answer.

I also am unaware of how the answer was addressed historically. Some of the examples I mentioned in the OP never came into play in the history of the church until the last 100yrs or so. Did people ever take “vacation” and miss a service? In some American colonies they would get fined if they did!

So I’m wondering should we never miss a service, or is our American luxury lulling us into a sense that it is ok to do so?


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iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
We do have an abundance of riches in our day that past generations did not have (for now at least we have them) and I do think such things need to be evaluated. But the cruise industry has basically provided what was a luxury to the masses now. So it is comparable to a week trip to Disney Orlando or something. Except that, one can't drive around and look for a church to attended. Do cruises have chaplains I wonder and do they offer services on the Lord's Day?
Cruises do generally have chaplains who receive a reduced rate in return for their services. However, they are likely to be required to offer an "ecumenical" service, so I don't imagine many of the pastors on this board would qualify, or feel comfortable, with such a role. You might find an exception (perhaps a retired conservative PCUSA pastor), but you would be more likely to hear a sermon on why you are guilty for global warming or vague moralistic therapeutic deism. Of course, if you are going on a cruise organized by Ligonier or Beeke, things would be different. Otherwise, downloading some good sermons ahead of time might be a good plan. Land based vacations do sometimes (but not always) offer a wider range of resources, and at least you are joining with a "real" church, though results can be equally variable. I've had some times of sweet fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters and some times when it has been an opportunity to develop our children's discernment as to why that was not a good sermon. They (usually) learned to keep analysis to themselves until we returned to the car - except for the memorable occasion visiting Grandma and Grandpa's "Rock and Roll" church, when Rosie (aged 7) said loudly in the Narthex "Do you think Pastor Larry didn't have time to prepare a sermon this week? Is that why he spent the whole time talking about himself?" Out of the mouths of children...
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have been on two cruises. Both ships had chapels, but no services. I imagine if there were ministers I would expect exactly what Pastor Duguid stated.

Rest assured, I would attend a church on vacation if I was not in the ocean. My mother and I plan on traveling south soon (South Carolina, Georgia [lots of history I want to see]) and we would definitely go to a faithful church.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Asking what one may or may not do on the Sabbath is quite necessary and proper, but it might be better to ask, first, how the Sabbath is best kept holy. What activities are appropriate for the Sabbath?
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
There are many times when providential circumstances prevent church attendance: when on a long journey, such as mariners must often take; when deployed by the military: when on vacation to a foreign land where even a solid church might be unintelligible due to a language barrier. But keeping the Sabbath is not all about going to church. It is a rest--from all unnecessary ordinary labors. From things under your control that would distract from that rest. We kept the Sabbath on our last vacation by resting from the things we would ordinarily have done, and by giving restaurant workers rest from us by shopping on Saturday for things we could heat up in the hotel room to eat on Sunday.
Basically, we do our utmost to not do our ordinary employment on Sunday, and not make others do theirs. We avoid flying (how many people have to work to make a Sunday flight happen?) We avoid eating out, even when travelling, if possible. We do not watch TV or listen to the radio (who's at work broadcasting when they should be resting?). But ship captains and crews in transit must still keep the ship on course; policemen must patrol; the sick must be tended to. I worked on a Lord's Day last year when a boat I was delivering arrived in port on Sunday. I did no other work than the necessary tying it up, but I haveno qualms about Sabbath breaking since it was an errand of necessity.
If you go on a cruise, be comforted knowing that it is necessary to eat, and those preparing your food are doing so to preserve your life. But you can avoid the gambling tables, and the performances, and the shipboard activities that do not attain to necessity. The lovely thing about the Sabbath is that is can be kept by anyone anywhere, no matter what circumstance they are in, and the soldier who regards the Lord's Day in his heart even while he's forced to work keeps it better than the person who goes to church from routine but has not his heart toward God.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
:2cents: I would say that vacations certainly do NOT fall into the biblical categories of mercy or necessity. Therefore if a vacation causes you to miss gathering for public worship on the Lord's Day, then maybe the vacation needs to be planned in another way. Ex. Travel to a place that will still allow you to gather for Public Worship. The Lord's Day (with Public Worship) should dictate our vacations and not the other way around. So if a cruise is not going to allow for that, then pick a different cruise or a different type of vacation entirely. Again I am speaking of what I believe to be outside the categories of mercy & necessity. There are too many other options.

In my area camper camping is all the rage. Admittedly it can be fun. However, many families make several trips a year to go camping which causes them to miss gathering for Public Worship even though many campgrounds are near enough to churches. The justification given is that the families still have bible study while they camp on the Lord's Day. In my opinion, this flattens the distinction between Private and Public Worship and indeed boarders on absenteeism and violating the 4th.
 
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Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I'll add that since we have found a Reformed psalm-singing congregation, I have not wanted to miss a week. I wouldn't miss public worship for any vacation in the world (even to Iceland).
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Ignoring COVID restrictions, doesn’t the Lord’s Day preclude certain activities?

If a youth sports league had games on Sunday, could you enroll your child?

If a vacation lasted over a Sunday, or was somewhere that you couldn’t go to a church, you couldn’t take that vacation right? Say a trip to a cabin or a trip to Europe?

Cruises would be out too?


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Recreations are forbidden on the Sabbath so that would mean no games on Sabbath.

Holidays which take one over a weekend and involve missing church because there's nowhere to go are not in themselves sinful, as far as I can see, so long as (as mentioned above) one keeps the Sabbath within the place one is staying. Although in times past I think there would have been a reluctance to plan a holiday over a Sabbath which didn't allow for attending church (though if one is away over a Sabbath it is better to worship "at home" than attend a church one wouldn't attend in normal circumstances just because one is on holiday. Standards often slip when on vacation and there is no reason why that should be the case).

With cruises I would argue that even if one stocked up on food for the Sabbath and remained in one's cabin there is till a problem: the ship itself is being run in a manner which breaks the Sabbath. It is being operated, very likely it will be travelling on that day, and it is not necessary travel. A cruise ship is not like travelling by ships in times past. Such journeys necessitated being on the ship over a Sabbath. A cruise ship is purely recreational. One may not be keeping waiters away from services because there are none on the ship, but one is still paying for people to be employed in a manner which breaks the sabbath (especially in the entertainment offered on board). Personally I would stay away from cruises which run over a Sabbath.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
:2cents: I would say that vacations certainly do NOT fall into the biblical categories of mercy or necessity. Therefore if a vacation causes you to miss gathering for public worship on the Lord's Day, then maybe the vacation needs to be planned in another way. Ex. Travel to a place that will still allow you to gather for Public Worship. The Lord's Day (with Public Worship) should dictate our vacations and not the other way around. So if a cruise is not going to allow for that, then pick a different cruise or a different type of vacation entirely. Again I am speaking of what I believe to be outside the categories of mercy & necessity. There are too many other options.

In my area camper camping is all the rage. Admittedly it can be fun. However, many families make several trips a year to go camping which causes them to miss gathering for Public Worship even though many campgrounds are near enough to churches. The justification given is that the families still have bible study while they camp on the Lord's Day. In my opinion, this flattens the distinction between Private and Public Worship and indeed boarders on absenteeism and violating the 4th.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I've wondered about this as well, and don't know what the best answer is. Perhaps the problem is my own attitude but I have often wanted to do things like an extended, multi-week backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest trail or in Colorado. That would mean being in very remote places with no church. Certainly we could keep the Sabbath while on the trail, but wouldn't be in corporate Worship. Does that make such a trip unlawful? I wrestle with both sides.

I've wondered about travel that the Puritans and other Reformed folk did. One could argue that it was "necessary" travel and what we're talking about is "recreational" travel, but I have to wonder: is any travel TRULY necessary? Maybe if you are saving a life, but what about if you're just visiting relatives? To move to a different country for better opportunities for your family? To procure more business? To see more of the world? Too narrow a view of "necessary travel" would basically restrict ALL travel which is longer than seven days...which for most of world history, would limit your world significantly. Too lax a view could render almost any reason acceptable for travel. There have to have been people in the past who have thought about this issue at length.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Though they had now been acquainted a month, she could not be satisfied that she really knew his character. That he was a sensible man, an agreeable man, that he talked well, professed good opinions, seemed to judge properly and as a man of principle, this was all clear enough. He certainly knew what was right, nor could she fix on any one article of moral duty evidently transgressed; but yet she would have been afraid to answer for his conduct. She distrusted the past, if not the present. The names which occasionally dropt of former associates, the allusions to former practices and pursuits, suggested suspicions not favourable of what he had been. She saw that there had been bad habits; that Sunday travelling had been a common thing; that there had been a period of his life (and probably not a short one) when he had been, at least, careless in all serious matters; and, though he might now think very differently, who could answer for the true sentiments of a clever, cautious man, grown old enough to appreciate a fair character? How could it ever be ascertained that his mind was truly cleansed?
Jane Austen, Persuasion (emphasis added).
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Many of us have the luxury of one or more solid churches within range of our homes, and of choosing travel destinations where a good church can be found to visit. And what a wonderful thing that is! But how many Christians 'round the world don't have that luxury? How many are many days' travel by dugout canoe from the nearest assembly? How many are constantly scattered by persecution so that assembling is more rare than not? How many providentially live somewhere with no access at all to a solid church? how many missionaries are there that have no converts yet to gather with? How many can only get to church by public transportation, which forces a bus driver to work (been there)? All of these may still keep the Sabbath with perfectly good consciences, because the primary purpose of the Sabbath is not the assembly--however sweet it is to meet with God among His people--but to rest from our ordinary work. A person who does not go to church when he could do so is worse than one who would be glad to go but cannot.
 

NaphtaliPress

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The purpose of the Sabbath in affording rest from our week day work IS to be able to assemble and worship. Worship is the primary focus of the Lord's Day; not rest. Otherwise, as one puritan so aptly put it, the cows keep as good of a Sabbath as we do. That is the teaching of Puritan Sabbatarianism, WCF, LBCF, Savoy, etc.
because the primary purpose of the Sabbath is not the assembly--however sweet it is to meet with God among His people--but to rest from our ordinary work. A person who does not go to church when he could do so is worse than one who would be glad to go but cannot.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
The purpose of the Sabbath in affording rest from our week day work IS to be able to assemble and worship. Worship is the primary focus of the Lord's Day; not rest. Otherwise, as one puritan so aptly put it, the cows keep as good of a Sabbath as we do. That is the teaching of Puritan Sabbatarianism, WCF, LBCF, Savoy, etc.
I agree that public worship is the primary reason we are given a rest, but the commandment states that we will work six days and rest the seventh. So to miss out on public worship because there is providentially none available is not thereby to break the Sabbath. To go to your ordinary six-day work, to make others do theirs, is breaking the Sabbath.
I would never miss out on a Sabbath assembly if I didn't have to, and I have ordered my life more and more so that I don't have to. But we cannot insist that the Christian's first duty is public worship. Where public worship cannot be accessed (and this was the point of my post), there can still be rest.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I agree that public worship is the primary reason we are given a rest, but the commandment states that we will work six days and rest the seventh. So to miss out on public worship because there is providentially none available is not thereby to break the Sabbath. To go to your ordinary six-day work, to make others do theirs, is breaking the Sabbath.
I would never miss out on a Sabbath assembly if I didn't have to, and I have ordered my life more and more so that I don't have to. But we cannot insist that the Christian's first duty is public worship. Where public worship cannot be accessed (and this was the point of my post), there can still be rest.
In such a circumstance there would still need to be worship. Maybe public worship would not be possible, but private with one's family and secret worship alone with God are still possible. Certainly there are times when one is not able to attend public worship, but whether we choose to place ourselves in a situation where we can't is another matter.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
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Agreed; I only disagree with your original statement placing "primary" on "rest." The day is for worship still in private and family as Al has noted even if hindered from the public gathering.
I agree that public worship is the primary reason we are given a rest, but the commandment states that we will work six days and rest the seventh. So to miss out on public worship because there is providentially none available is not thereby to break the Sabbath. To go to your ordinary six-day work, to make others do theirs, is breaking the Sabbath.
I would never miss out on a Sabbath assembly if I didn't have to, and I have ordered my life more and more so that I don't have to. But we cannot insist that the Christian's first duty is public worship. Where public worship cannot be accessed (and this was the point of my post), there can still be rest.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
In such a circumstance there would still need to be worship. Maybe public worship would not be possible, but private with one's family and secret worship alone with God are still possible. Certainly there are times when one is not able to attend public worship, but whether we choose to place ourselves in a situation where we can't is another matter.
I engage in both secret and family worship all seven days, though. So inability to find corporate worship doesn't cancel communion with God. And I do strive to NOT place myself in situations where public worship is not available--Lord's Day worship only comes 52 times a year--it's a shame to waste even one.
 

Josh Williamson

Puritan Board Freshman
If a vacation lasted over a Sunday, or was somewhere that you couldn’t go to a church, you couldn’t take that vacation right? Say a trip to a cabin or a trip to Europe?
Don't worry, we do have churches in Europe. In some places they may be limited, but there are still gospel churches here. :p
 
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