Question about the Lord's Day

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by EvanVK, Oct 2, 2018.

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  1. EvanVK

    EvanVK Puritan Board Freshman

    My boys and I have been invited to a Father/son discipleship group that meets on Sunday afternoons. They usually do an activity, look at a passage of scripture with some application, and then prayer. Last week the activity was a nerf gun war and this week is fly fishing (both activities I like :)) however, they don't seem like activities that are appropriate for the Lord's Day. I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice.
  2. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Scripture and prayer is fine, but a nerf gun war on the Sabbath? I could think of a few better ways to spend the day.
  3. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I think this event (assuming you have given all the details) would be a matter of your personal conscience. Assuming you have a wife, you and the kids getting out of the house may also provide her time for some private study time or Holy napping;). I have found that the age of the kids is a factor as well. Young kids often still need to burn some energy to help them not be so wiggly during public and family worship on this day.

    In the very least it does not sound like you are involved in labor nor causing anyone else to labor. If the games(activities) pull you and your kids away from the focus of the Lord’s Day, then my advise is to tread very cautiously.

    Edit: If you have not read the below recent thread already..... check it out as it has some good advise.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree; this is a matter of conscience. The plum line I use is, 'is the day being used differently from every other day and am I treating it as such'. If I am doing things I would generally do on the other six, I try and avoid it at all cost.

    Bible trivia games, things of this nature, I believe are fine.
  5. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Well... we are a Confessional group.

    Chapter 21 of the WCF has a pretty straightforward answer:

    VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

    I like fly fishing, too, but it seems pretty clear it is recreation.
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  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I believe the term 'recreation' needs to be parsed. Like, is daydreaming a sin. How about a picnic in the back yard or the kids playing with the puppy?
  7. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Although Van Dixhoorn in his Confessing the Faith does not parse the word "recreation," he does give us this:

    "The main point is that between worship, hospitality—and, since it is a Sabbath, could we add fellowship and rest?—Christians can easily devote their whole day to the Lord. A day with morning and evening worship, and fellowship and hospitality in between, tends to answer most Sabbath practice questions. Indeed we would do well to avoid being over-prescriptive in defining the structures and activities of that day. And we should be aware that pious efforts to justify some sensible Sunday activities are often far too fancy, and ultimately undermine the uniqueness of Sabbath worship and acts of mercy. We do not need to call a walk in the park an act of worship or a deed of mercy to legitimize it. That would only have the effect of redefining biblical categories so broadly that they could lose their usefulness. Let us be aware of our own needs and strengths as well as those of others, and then remember the maxim that our Lord left with the Pharisees: 'it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath' (Matt. 12:12)."

    —Chad Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith: A Reader's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2014), 295.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2018
  8. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I agree. However, you did leave off the last paragraph which was the cherry on top!:D
  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The issue is does it fit one for the day as a quick blow off of steam for some young person, some heath reason met for some old person (pardon me you old people), etc. Just as you need food and rest suitable to the day, it is not unreasonable to expect some need for bodily activity to keep one on point, though it will be the least critical of the three and tends to be entangling even more than sleeping or eating the day away. Hence Bownd, Twisse and Cawdrey & Palmer caution variously:
    8. Much more, then, in it ought we to give over [relinquish] all kinds of lawful recreations and pastimes, which are less necessary than the works of our calling, and whatsoever may take up our hearts to draw them from God’s service; because this law is spiritual, and binds the whole man, as well as any other Bownd, True Doctrine of the Sabbath (2015), 8.

    Secondly, They are therefore our own works that are forbidden; which, what they are, may be perceived by the opposition of God's works: Such works, as are neither works of piety, nor charity, nor tending thereunto, are properly our own, and then unlawful. And this the Commandment doth import, Six days shalt thou labour, and do all (thy) work: In it (the Sabbath) thou shalt do no manner of work: namely, thy own, the ordinary and unnecessary works of thy calling, used and permitted on the week days. So Tertullian long ago understood it.[1] This is then the sum, All our own works, be they servile, or ingenious, toilsome, or easy, are here forbidden, as impediments of the Sabbath's sanctification; This is the general. The particulars instanced in the Scripture, of plowing sowing, reaping, &c. are but comments of this text, and specials of this general.[2]

    XXIII. 2. Works of pleasure, or recreations, are also here forbidden.

    2. But beside these, there are other works of pleasure, some of which, though perhaps delightful, are as toilsome to the body, as some works of labour; and some of them of greater distractions of the mind from the service of God, than most labours are: and therefore are in that respect, as impediments of God's service, confessedly prohibited in the fourth Commandment.

    1. As our own works.

    Not expressly indeed, but first by implication, as thy works, opposed to God's works:

    2. As impediments to the sanctification of the day.

    And secondly, by consequence and conclusion; both as equal, if not greater impediments to the publick and private sanctification of the day: And then thirdly à minore ad majus; If honest labour be forbidden, much more honest recreations; for recreation is but the means to prepare and fit men for labour; therefore if labour, which is the end of recreation, be forbidden; much more recreation, which is but the means to labour. And indeed (which may be added) Recreation is a week day's work, as well as labour; Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do: But moderate Recreation is a work we have to do on the weekdays, otherwise we are cruel to ourselves and ours. There is indeed, a spiritual Recreation, which is an holy joy, rejoicing, delighting in God, in his services, in his ordinances, &c. and this is the Recreation not only permitted, but required on the Sabbath, @Isaiah 58 and is (as we may so say) the Spirituality of this 4th commandment. And this the Jews themselves understood to be the right manner of sanctification of the Sabbath:

    So Philo tells us:[3] Moses (saith he) ordained that all his Commonwealth, following therein the course of nature, should spend the seventh day, in Festival, or cheerful delights, resting therein from all their works: Yet not to spend it, as some do, in laughter, childish sports, or (as the Romans did their time of publick feastings) in beholding the activity, either of the Jester, or common dancers, &c. Yea, it is confessed by some of their own, that recreations and sports, were forbidden the Jews on their Sabbath (where but in the fourth Commandment?) God (says one)[4] commanded a most exact and strict cessation from all works, which otherwhere he calleth servile works, that is, appertaining to their temporary and ordinary callings, either for profit, or for Recreation, &c. The like is said by another, (though otherwhere he deny it)[5] The Jews' own works, pleasures, wills and words, were such as were repugnant to the positive Law of the Sabbath, then in force. And now we proceed in the exposition of the next words.


    [1] Dicendo Tuum, de humano opere definiit, quod quisque ex arctificio, vel negotio suo exequitur. Contr. Marc. 1.4. c. 12.

    [2] See Primr. p. 257. S. 14. [David Primerose, A Treatise of the Sabbath and the Lords-day Distinguished into foure parts. Wherein is declared both the nature, originall, and observation, as well of the one under the Old, as of the other under the New Testament. Written in French by David Primerose Batchelour in Divinitie in the University of Oxford, and minister of the Gospell in the Protestant Church of Roven. Englished out of his French manuscript by his father G.P. D.D. (London: Printed by Richard Badger for William Hope, 1636).]

    [3] Lib. 3. de vita Mosis. [Cf. C. D. Younge, B.A., The Works of Philo Judæus: The Contemporary of Josephus, Volume 3 (London: George Bell and Sons, 1899) 118.]

    [4]Primr. p. 258. S. 20. [Primerose, A Treatise of the Sabbath and the Lords-day Distinguished into foure parts (1636).]

    [5] B. of E. 252. [Francis White (Bishop of Ely), A Treatise of the Sabbath-day Containing, a Defence of the Orthodoxall Doctrine of the Church of England, against Sabbatarian-novelty (London: Printed by Richard Badger, 1635) 252.]
    Herbert Palmer and Daniel Cawdrey's Sabbatum Redivivum: or The Christian Sabbath Vindicated (part one, 1645; part two-four, 1652), part two, 36–38.

    Exerts from The Morality of the Fourth Commandment, as Still in Force to Bind Christians (London: 1641). By William Twisse D. D. From An Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature 1.3 (1988) 79.

    [pp. 242-244] As for recreations, which are here said to serve lawfully to the refreshing of our spirits; this appellation is very ambiguous, neither do I know any difference between the recreating of our spirits, and the refreshing of our spirits. Yet here the refreshing of our spirits is made the end of recreation. Again it were good to distinguish between recreation of the body, and recreation of the mind. I think the refreshing of spirits pertains to the recreation of the body. Men's spirits are natural and material things, and they are apt to be wasted (1) naturally; for as life consists in calido, in hot matter, so heat is apt to spend and waste the matter wherein it is; and spirits thus wasted are recreated, that is, repaired by eating and drinking. And thus provisions of victuals are commonly called recreates.

    (2.) They are wasted also by labor voluntarily undertaken, and these are repaired, as by the former way, so by rest also. And each way we are allowed to recreate our spirits on the Lord's Day; and as to allow such rest to our servants as a work of mercy, so to our own bodies also. But now a-days many courses are called recreations, wherein there is found little rest; and the natural spirits of man are rather wasted, and his nature tired; far more than the one is repaired, or the other eased. And when all comes to all, I doubt the issue will be, to style the pleasures of our senses by the cleanly name of recreations.

    Now the Jews were expressly forbidden to find their own pleasures on the Lord´s holy day (Is. 58:13); yet were they not forbidden all pleasure, that belonged only to such a Sabbath as was a fast; and therein indeed hypocrites are taxed for finding pleasure on that day (Is. 58:3). But the weekly Sabbath was for pleasure and delight, but not for man's own pleasure, nor for the doing of their own ways. But to delight in the Lord, which is spiritual pleasure, and the recreating of our souls in the Lord. This is blessed rest, thus to rest unto him; and the Word of God is the best food of the soul. No recreations like unto God's holy ordinances. Of wisdom it is said, that her ways are the ways of pleasantness (Pro. 3:17). I willing confess, that to the natural man, as the things of God are foolishness, so the word of God is a reproach unto him. He hath no delight in it (1 Cor. 2:14; Jer. 6:10. He delights rather in carnal pleasures; and is it fit to humor him in such courses, and that on the Lord's day? Our Savior expressly tells us, that The pleasures life choke the word, and make it become unfruitful (Luke 8:14). Therefore it no way fits a man to God's service; and if way is opened to such courses, though not till after evening prayer, as many as are taken with them, will have their minds running upon them, so as to say, when will the Sabbath be gone, and the time of divine service over? That so they may come to their sports, as well as covetous persons longed after the like, that they may return to their trading.

    A natural man, before his calling is described unto us in Scripture, to be such a one as served lusts and diverse pleasures (Titus 3:3), and the wicked are said to to spend their days in pleasure (Job 36:11); and such are they whom the Prophet describes after this manner, Hear now thou that art given to pleasure (Is. 47:8). As for the children of God, as they are renewed in their affections generally, so the matter of their delight is much altered. His delight is in the law of the Lord (Psa. 1:2); as Christ says, I delight to do thy will (Psa. 40:1), and I delight myself in thy statutes; thy testimonies are my delight; and I will delight myself in thy commandments (Psa. 119:16, 24, 47), and Thy comforts delight my soul (Psa. 94:19). On the other side, the character of the fool is this, He hath no delight m understanding (Ps. 18.2). As for the reformation of such fools, let every wise and sober Christian consider, whether it is a fit course to let the reigns loose upon their neck, and give them liberty to take their courses, and not rather to endeavor to wean them therefrom by representing the vanity of them, witnessed by the experience of King Solomon, who was acquainted with the delights of the sons of men (Ecc. 2:8) as much as any, and tells us what fruit and profit he reaped by them, saying vanity of vanities, all is but vanity; and that the end of that discourse of his, is to promote this exhortation, Fear God, and keep his commandments, For this is the whole man. Then on the other side, the blessed, the comfortable and only profitable condition of delighting in the Lord, in the judgment of David, the father of King Solomon, Delight thou in the Lord, and he shall give thee thy heart's desire (Ps. 37:4); to meet with the contrary judgment of carnal men, who say, It profitteth not a man, that he should delight himself with God (Job 34:9). If it is said that such sports are tolerated to fit a man for his calling the day following; it is very strange that works of our calling should not be permitted on any part of the Sabbath day, and sports and pastimes should. And shall not the spending of our time in God's service, not public only, but private also, far better fit us to serve God in the works of our calling, and make us more capable of his blessing upon our labors, than the exercising of ourselves in sports and pastimes.

    [pp. 184] Lastly, all recreations are to this end, even to fit us to the works of our calling; either for the works of our particular callings, or the works of our callings, as we are Christians. Such sports, if they fit us for the service of God, were more seasonable in the morning than in the evening. If for the works of our particular calling, then are they inferior works to the works of our calling, the furthering whereof is their end; and the means are always inferior in dignity to the end. Now if the more noble works are forbidden on that day, how much more such as are inferior are forbidden? But it may be said, that men's minds being burdened, and oppressed with the former service of the day, therefore some relaxation is to be granted for the refreshing of our spirits; as much as to say, a part of the Lord's Day is to be allowed for profane sports and pastimes, to refresh us after we have been tired out with serving God. Can this be savory in the ears of a Christian?
    Here is a summary I just found I wrote several years ago on this that I trust is just as cautious about such activities on the Lord's Day.

    Organized, time consuming, sports, amusements, pastimes (think time spent watching the game), etc. are indeed prohibited on the Lord’s day by the fourth commandment (concluded from the prohibition of the greater, laboring, reasoning to the lesser, our pastimes and recreations). But there is not in this view a total prohibition of activity, any more than there is of eating or sleeping. We need appropriate amounts of these to function on any day and moderate use of all these is necessary to be alert and capable for observing the worship of the Lord’s Day. However, while an individual needs some level of all these, which will vary due to individuality and circumstances, perhaps medical necessity, this is no more a permission to run some miles, than to ‘pig out’ feasting, lounge away the Lord’s day in bed, etc.

    In general, as with rest and food, we may require modest activity to keep us alert (or in children perhaps to blow off some pent up energy), but such bodily activity should be always directed within the confines of what is necessary to keep us fit and on track for the duties of the day. Can one take a walk on the Lord’s Day between worship services? Casually toss a ball with a child? Perhaps, perhaps not. Can it be done while turned to a good use of the time in keeping with the Lord’s Day? Are such things something you already do during the week and how does a proposed activity comport with putting aside our normal pastimes as we do our normal weekday labors to observe the Lord’s Day? Is it an incidental thing to blow off some energy or does it turn the heart away from the purpose of the day or end up simply burning time that could be spent in private and family acts of worship? Are we of a mind to keep a Sabbath of the mature, or of a child (cf. Rutherford’s Catechism, Catechisms of the Second Reformation, [1886] 232)?

    The root question over modest bodily activity as opposed to recreational pursuits on the Lord's Day, is, will they comport and aid the duties of the day, or will they distract, consume time, and merely unfit us for observing the worship of God? Convenient food, rest and activity (perhaps in decreasing importance?) are necessary in their place, but should be subservient to the purpose in view of spending the day in the public and private worship of the Lord.
  10. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    Sorry, I don't like cherries. ;)
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

  12. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Excellent post. I agree.
  13. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    For some fly fishing is heavenly and not worldly. ;)
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Mmmh; I think CVD addressed that definitional issue up above somewhere.:)
  15. Andrew David Short

    Andrew David Short Puritan Board Freshman

  16. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    I think those are some great ideas.

    Side note: I have never seen a site with so much emphasis on being blind folded.:eek:.... as I viewed the page, I became increasingly grateful for my eyeballs.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  17. EvanVK

    EvanVK Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you all for taking taking time to reply. Very helpful.
  18. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    No fly fishing? As a Presbyterian I thought there was no distinction between fishing and religion? :)

    Seriously, I'm part of the crowd that sees a need to get the wiggles out of children. I do think, though, that children are vastly under-rated when it's assumed you have to provide fun to earn their attention.
  19. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    Vitamin D deficiency is endemic because kids don't get enough time outside in the sun anymore. Look up all the many reasons the body needs vitamin D. And no, pills don't substitute for all that sunshine does. Not to mention that some precursors to B vitamins are made in sun in the skin. Plus hormones are affected by sunshine. If it is an activity in the sun, God is probably 100% for it depending on how the rest of the week looks. I view all sunshine Sunday afternoon activities as generally medically necessary in today's indoor centered world. Homeschoolers and full time Moms can get usually get enough during the week, but not the majority of people.
  20. brendanchatt

    brendanchatt Puritan Board Freshman

    As someone who abstains from recreation on the Lord’s day and sees those activities as recreation, I would not participate in them. I don’t know if I would attend for the other parts.

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