Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The problem with Sundays

I have a couple of disclaimers for anyone who may read this blog:
*You may  - and most likely will disagree with me on one or more things in this blog post.

**I am not out to offend anyone in the health/medical field. I just have questions, and your field is one big one for me.

Ok. You have been warned. Continue at your own risk.

I have questions. And they revolve around this:
Exodus 20: 8-11:
8 “ Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

And here is the problem with Sundays. In today's world, it is really tough to keep this commandment. A lot of Christians seems to just toss it out. Other than going to church, it is just another day. A day to shop, go to the amusement park, ball game.... the possibilities are endless.

My parents were backslidden, or whatever you want to call it - for most of my childhood. They got back to God when I was 4 months shy of turning 12. We attended church sporadically - Sunday school 2 or 3 times a month. My dad had Monday-Friday jobs, and I can still remember my parents not wanting to do much on Sundays, even though they were not professing to be Christians.

Then life changed. Since then, I have been in the church. I heard it taught and preached that you don't work on Sundays, even if it means losing your job. We don't shop - more on that later - do unnecessary work or strenuous activities.

Problem/question #1: My church, and many like it, make a blanket allowance for Sunday work for the medical/health field.

I've heard all of the arguments. "Someone has to do it." "If you need to go to the hospital on a Sunday, you want someone there." And "If you do need a doctor on Sunday, wouldn't you like it to be a Christian."
Here is my problem with this - there are medical fields you can enter that aren't open on Sundays - doctor and dentist offices. The rest are excuses to excuse doing that.

Another problem I have: is it not a double standard to allow this Sunday work - to not even expect Christians in the medical field to even TRY to get out of working Sundays? Who has the right to make that judgment/allowance, that they are ok to work Sundays, to not have to try to get Sundays off, yet say John across the aisle is wrong for working as a mechanic when he has to... to say he needs to stand up to his boss, lose his job if necessary.... really - what man has that right?

And I don't think you can find it in the Bible to excuse one kind of work. Yes, Jesus healed on the Sabbath, but He didn't take a paycheck for doing it - nor did He miss church to do it on a regular basis.

Now hang on, medical people.... I am not condemning you... nor am I done.

Now for a quick side trail... shopping/eating out on Sundays. I have friends who don't get why we don't. I firmly believe that if every Christian didn't shop/eat out on Sunday, business would be so slow on Sundays, that most places would close for Sundays. They used to. They used to have to. It was called the "Blue Law", if I am correct.

Plus, why should I go take unnecessary advantage of someone working Sunday.... the cashier at the store or restaurant. It is possible she/he is a Christian, not wanting to be there on Sunday, and there are their fellow Christians helping to make them work on Sunday. Yeah, "they are already there, so it isn't like I am making them be there". So... since the prostitute is already selling herself, you might as well take advantage of her too? And no... not comparing the two... just showing that kind of reasoning can be used to excuse a lot.

So am I condemning people for shopping on Sunday. No, not condemning... but I don't think it should be done. And yes, I have heard the reasoning that if you cook your own meal, you are working - I have heard it all.... but they are all rationalization and excuses. But stick with me.......

When I was living in Indiana, I faced having to work a Sunday. The business was not open on Sundays, but the district manager wanted everyone to go in on this one Sunday to prepare for inventory. I prayed, and didn't know what to do. My manager, a Christian, knew how I felt and said he had no choice about it. I had to work. I went in the next day, and as nicely as possible, told him I couldn't. I never had, felt it was wrong, that the Bible was clear, and if it meant my job - so be it. He said he respected it, and said he would just not say anything to the district manager, and as long as no one else did, he would never know. And nothing ever did come of it.

That was then. This is now. Should we take a stand like that? Should our church, fellow Christians - expect us to, when they give allowance for the medical field? Is it any more wrong for a person to work in a non-medical job when he has to, than in a hospital, nursing home, etc? Do we have to keep this commandment today, in the 21st century?

Jesus allowed for his disciples to pick corn on the Sabbath, for they were hungry. Allowance was made in the Old Testament for when the ox fell in the ditch on the Sabbath.... they were allowed to get it out. So what about today? What does God expect? If we can do anything on the Sabbath, if we don't have to "keep it" anymore, then why bother posting it with the other nine - why not take it out?

I have had to deal with Sunday work in my current job. I really had no choice. I had been out of work for months. I had been been putting in applications all over, always checking "no Sunday work", and never got any calls. Then this store opened. I checked I'd work any time, but said in the interview I'd rather not - and why. I got the job, and couldn't get out of working on Sundays. It bothers me. I feel like I am doing wrong - and not because of what my church says - of what the Bible says. Yet, there are many Christians who do it - how do they deal with it? Are we breaking the commandment when we have to work on a Sunday?

And yes... it bothers me that many in my church would condemn me, or at least think I should fight harder to get out of it, but has no problem with the medical field.

There are those who bring up the fact that the Sabbath is really Saturday... don't even go there, unless you keep Saturday as the Sabbath. That isn't relative to this.

I hope I haven't offended anyone. If you're offended, maybe you're just too thin-skinned... Christians are supposed to take persecution, and what I have said is far from that :-) - I did want to show where I am coming from - what I grew up believing, how deeply ingrained this has been in me - and I honestly am not trying to condemn anyone by raising my questions.

Weigh in. I don't have the answers, and would like honest, thoughtful input. I'm not looking to argue or get snarky comments. I really don't know what to do about Sunday work. I really can't see where Jesus does away with this commandment, so what are we to do in today's world. Where even Christians will force you to work on Sunday, and you are passed over due to it being a religious conviction... maybe I need to say I am a Muslim - they seem to get what they want.....

But seriously... I have thrown out what I believe - or thought I believed - and would like some input. So if you have something wise to say - or just have some thoughts, pass it on. I'd really like to hear it.

An added note:(long note!)
One of my friends thought I was too hard on the medical field... I don't mean to be. I am just tired of the idea that no one in that field has to deal with the pressures of trying to get out of Sunday work. They never have to face losing their job over the issue, yet anyone else does.

I threw out the reasoning/excuses used, and my response to them because I want to even the playing field.... And - pay attention to this part: I figure if I didn't shoot down the reasoning, I would just get those in reply - and I don't want the same platitudes of "someone has to do it" and so forth - I want real answers - is it wrong to work Sundays? If so - what are we supposed to do? Do we keep this commandment, or ignore it, throw it out? And yes... even though someone has to do the medical thing on Sundays, is it not a double standard to expect everyone else to stand up for that commandment, and not them?

I know it seems I'm picking on the medical field, but this issue has bugged me for years, and now that I am having to work some Sundays, it is bugging me more. There are people who would - who will - think I am wrong for doing an occasional Sunday to keep my job, but have no problem with the person working every Sunday, or almost every Sunday in the hospital or nursing home.

My friend pointed out that I forgot the farmers. I meant to mention them. They have to do that on Sundays - the cows won't milk themselves.

There are other necessary jobs - policemen, firemen, electric company - your power goes out on a Sunday, you want it fixed! - but again.... is it fair, is it Biblical, to set one set of standards and expectations for some people, and not others? I am not trying to be nit-picking... I am looking for answers.

Second update:
Two articles have been recommended to me that I think are pretty good, so I am sharing them here:


Annette said...

I'm sorry this has you in such a state.
I used to be apart of that group that worked on Sunday's. Actually I worked every other weekend for 13 years, as well as most holiday's. I disliked it, but it was a good job for us and especially since it was hours that was opposite of my husbands work hours we did not need to pay a babysitter--which put more food on the table.
First, I believe that we are a New Testament church, no I don't believe we should through out the OT, but we are under the new covenant which is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are not under the law but under grace.
Instead of dwelling on Sunday and attending church on that day.
How about the people that do go to church every Sunday yet don't honor Him in their hearts.
That to me is the greater question. Do we honor Him in all our life?

Mark said...

good point, Annette - thanks for the comment

Melinda said...

Hello Mark,
I enjoy your blog.

To build on what Annette has said, Colossians 2:16 (and the verses before and after).

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