Using Public Transportation on Lord's Day

Discussion in 'The Lord's Day or Christian Sabbath' started by Jaewon, Aug 23, 2012.

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  1. Jaewon

    Jaewon Puritan Board Freshman

    Greetings from Korea,

    As a well-known fact, Korea has one of the most developed and advanced public transportation systems in major cities (you can disagree with it if you want :p). In fact, it is a lot faster to take buses and subways rather than driving your own car in Seoul, capital.

    With this as a backdrop, there are not many confessionally reformed/presbyterian churches in South Korea, so some Christians are forced to travel quite a distance to attend such churches. 19+ is driving age in Korea, and having your own car is financially challenging, especially for college students. Many of these Christians (especially young and reformed), therefore, have to use public transportation on Lord's Day, because otherwise, they have to walk to churches, which is nearly impossible (for example, the church that I am currently attending in South Korea is about 3-4 hours by foot away from my apartment).

    Is it lawful to use public transportation on Lord's Day then? Can it be categorized as a work of necessity or as a work of piety? Do churches have to provide carpools for those Christians who have to travel long distance? Or will these Christians just have to settle with non-reformed churches ignoring their conscience?
     
  2. 21st Century Calvinist

    21st Century Calvinist Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I believe that it is lawful to use public transportation on the Lord's Day. To have a functioning public transportation system is a necessity in a modern city. On the Lord's Day some people will need to use it to do works of necessity or mercy. Some hospital staff may need to take a train/bus/subway to get to their jobs. Others may need to use it to visit the sick and housebound. Still others will use it to get to church.
    When I was an undergraduate in Edinburgh and then as a graduate in Glasgow I had no car and would regularly get the bus or train to and from church. Indeed there were a number of people in our reformed and presbyterian congregation (both in Edinburgh and Glasgow) who used public transport.
    Traveling around the country or from country to country on the Lord's Day, is I believe, another matter.
     
  3. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    What are your options? If there is a way that you could catch a ride with someone, I would think that preferable, but if the only other option is public transportation or miss church, then I agree with Donnie above that it would be acceptable to take public transportation.
     
  4. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Jaewon, you are to be commended for seeking to obey God in this way.

    The heart of the fourth command is work six, cease from work and play one, in order to prioritize worship of the true and living God, all day. By implication, not causing others to work for your convenience and thereby hinder their obedience (and perhaps your own).

    We must be willing to suffer and strive for obeying God, not quickly rationalize away that. I'm not saying that is what you are doing, only observing that is far too often the response of self-absorbed sinners (like us all).

    Try every reasonable means to avoid using public transport. Work at it like you would work for something that you really value and that matters to you. E.g. Some people will "move heaven and earth" to get backstage passes at concerts because they really want them, they will wait a long time, stand in the rain, take a chance time after time to get their name called, they will get money somehow, etc. Because they really want it. Oh! How we ought want our Lord and Savior more than that!

    This is an opportunity to carpool with fellow believers, maybe even some that do not go to the same church. What a witness and time for fellowship and prayer that might be!

    If that or other means don't work generally or even occasionally, my opinion only, you can relax in good conscience and rely on "mercy" and "necessity" exceptions, as they are established in the command.

    I had an "impossible" situation like this once in a foreign country.

    We were staying with a nominally Catholic family, did not really know where we were, how to get to a reformed church. We had no ability to drive there and so were at the mercy of others. Or so it seemed.
    Long story short, God sent a driver from a URC church (which is a biblical, reformed denomination) and we drove a long journey through slums, backroads, over aqueducts, etc. to a humble little building, that just had been flooded, where we had a glorious time of worship and fellowship. We have maintained some connection even to this day.

    Seek to obey the Lord of the Sabbath, and ask for faith to make a way in your circumstance.
     
  5. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    When we were in Mexico, we didn't have a car and our church was a forty five minute bus ride down the mountain. Only two or three people in the church did have small cars, and we were all so scattered that it would have been impracticable to pick us all up from various locations. I was very grateful for public transportation on Sunday!

    While I don't have much more to offer besides that experience, I think people in the US scarcely realise how much of a necessity public transportation can be in places where most people are much poorer than the average reformed American (for most reformed churches in the states consist largely of middle to upper class). Even in the states, a church that is not on a bus route or does not have a church bus service is probably not going to be an option for many poor people.
     
  6. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I think that most of the advice that you get from Americans will be slanted. For most of us, especially on the PB, car ownership is a given. If you do not own a car, then public transport IS a necessity.
    Even the fact that people drive cars on Sundays is causing some people to work. Police, traffic cops, transportation departments, etc. (Red lights can break on a Sunday.)
    Though I have heard of a Christian who skipped church because his gas tank was empty and he wouldn't purchase gasoline on a Sunday, so some Christians will disagree with me that the necessity of driving to church counts as a necessity in the confessional sense.
     
  7. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    If you have searched long and hard and can find no other way to get to church, then I believe it is a work of necessity and you are not sinning. You know your own heart about the 4th and I believe God will provide for you in his good time. I would talk to your pastor and tell him about yours and other young people's situation if you haven't already.
     
  8. Kim G

    Kim G Puritan Board Junior

    I spent two months in Korea with a team of thirteen people and not a car between us. EVERYONE used the subway system. Even the four-year-olds took the subway home after school. I can't imagine how we would have gotten anywhere without public transportation.
     
  9. TexanRose

    TexanRose Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would not take public transport to get to church on the Sabbath day. Yes, churches ought to provide carpools for those who don't have private transportation. The Free Presbyterian congregation in Singapore, for instance, has invested in two vans, which are driven by volunteers.
     
  10. newcreature

    newcreature Puritan Board Freshman

    To add to this, many churches, though not reformed, have police to direct traffic past the churches and in and out of their parking lots. I drive past 3 such churches every Sunday. So, by driving past those busy churches, am I causing the traffic officers to have to work on Sunday?

    There will always be some obstacle and some way of causing or preventing others to be burdened by work on the Lord's Day. We are to be diligent to not work ourselves and to not lay burden on others, causing them to sin. But if you have only one way to get to church, I believe the Lord is pleased that you get there and worship. I don't think the Lord would be pleased for you to not go to church because your only means was public transportation.
     
  11. newcreature

    newcreature Puritan Board Freshman

    To add to this, many churches, though not reformed, have police to direct traffic past the churches and in and out of their parking lots. I drive past 3 such churches every Sunday. So, by driving past those busy churches, am I causing the traffic officers to have to work on Sunday?

    There will always be some obstacle and some way of causing or preventing others to be burdened by work on the Lord's Day. We are to be diligent to not work ourselves and to not lay burden on others, causing them to sin. But if you have only one way to get to church, I believe the Lord is pleased that you get there and worship. I don't think the Lord would be pleased for you to not go to church because your only means was public transportation.
     
  12. JoannaV

    JoannaV Puritan Board Sophomore

    If bus companies were Christian they could easily organise their Sunday schedule such that there was some provision for necessary travel and so that the bus drivers could attend church.

    Of course in reality, it doesn't always work out that way. In towns I have lived much of the bus routes started up the same time most churches start. So the bus doesn't take many people to church but instead takes them shopping.

    Walking is good when possible. But otherwise, I think public transportation might actually be preferable to cars, because it reduces the need for traffic control officers etc.?

    Don't they have unmanned subway trains yet? Or does someone sit there just in case?
     
  13. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    Fire, Police, Army, medical staff, Pastoral work, etc are works of mercy and necessity.
     
  14. newcreature

    newcreature Puritan Board Freshman

    Even with unmanned trains, someone must sit in a control station to operate them.
    He said his walk is 3 or 4 hours. I couldn't walk that far. I don't know about most people. By the time he got to church, he'd be in no shape to focus on worship, and then might be too tired to walk back home.
     
  15. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    That's an excellent way to handle things; it also presupposes the financial ability to pull that off. Singapore probably has that; a church in La Paz very likely would not.
     
  16. Covenant Joel

    Covenant Joel Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is an issue that I have had to think through quite a bit, as we will not have a car overseas (at least initially). Public transportation will be our only option. I have wrestled with it a lot, as I have held to my sabbatarian convictions very strongly here in the States. But I believe that it can be a work of necessity, and so I will have to use it at times.
     
  17. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I am going to address this comment, but I am not picking on you, Joel, because others have said the same thing.

    I don't believe public transportation is ever "the only option". I can think of several ways to get to church services for the Sabbath without relying on public transportation. It requires creativity, planning, and sometimes a bit of help from fellow believers.

    I am not going to list my ideas because folks tend to suggest why each will not be feasible, but the fact remains that there is always an option. I would encourage that we all think carefully so as to identify those options. Will the Lord not provide a way?
     
  18. Covenant Joel

    Covenant Joel Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Tim, thanks for your thoughts. I do appreciate the spirit and sentiment behind them. Surely there are often other options. And I suppose there is always the option of walking, but depending on where you are, that might be a 5-hour walk one-way. Not sure that this is feasible.

    I'm talking about places where this is little or no gospel witness and where this is much poverty such that many if not most believers do not have their own transportation. That's a bit different than some situations here.
     
  19. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    Wow! He'd rather not buy gas on a Sunday than be able to go to church? Talk about backwards thinking...
     
  20. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    John Murray left his original denomination over just this issue - he thought it was ridiculous that it could be considered a sin to take public transportation on a Sunday - to go to church. Good for him. On this subject, the end justifies the means.
     
  21. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Just to add some thoughts about options: in Mexico, we were living on 500/mo as one of the richest people in our church family, forty five minutes (busride) from church, in opposite directions from others who came the same distance. I honestly cannot think of other options in those circumstances. Some of those people (who walked) would wake up Sunday morning not knowing what they would do for breakfast. We none of us had the wherewithal to stable a horse. Our three legged dog was not accustomed to bearing men. Some Sundays I couldn't go anyway because the few blocks uphill from the bus stop to the church was too much for me to be walking. We could not move closer to the church (it would have taken our entire income to rent a place in the city) nor simply go to the charismatic or catholic one closer to hand.

    There are options for people with money, in societies or churches that have money. Poverty limits options.
     
  22. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Sir, there are people on the Puritan Board who hold to this position; I hope that you would not be so quick to dismiss this as ridiculous (you said "good for him", so I assume you approve of the use of that word). By all means, debate the subject, but please don't apply the term ridiculous, which means "worthy of mockery".
     
  23. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    Okay, then it would be helpful to give our dear brother who is asking this question some options. The only options I could come up with would be 1) walk 2) get a ride 3) obtain your own vehicle. It's not a stretch by any means to see how these three might not be viable options. So then what?
     
  24. Dordts5

    Dordts5 Puritan Board Freshman

    Wonder if that means that he was too lazy to get it on Saturday. Either way the way I see it: sin to avoid "sinning" truly is backward thinking.
     
  25. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior

    I figured that someone might bring up Professor Murray.

    Murray hinself would not take public transportation on the Lord's Day, but he did not think that it was a clear enough matter to make a disciplinable offense. His original denomination did, as Richard noted, and disqualified him as a ministerial student.

    I agree with Professor Murray that it is adiaphora that each must decide for himself, consonant with Romans 14, and thus not a matter for which we should judge each other. I don't take public transportation because I have no need to but do go through toll stations when driving to preach. Must I avoid those? I don't think so. If someone thinks that they must and they cannot go through toll booths in good conscience, then they should avoid them. But don't judge others, I would say, who may be acting out of good conscience, even as we should be charitable and not judge the motives of those who believe that public transportation is verboten on the Lord's Day.

    Peace,
    Alan
     
  26. Dordts5

    Dordts5 Puritan Board Freshman

    Um, sure this person should most certainly be commended in regards to his thoughtfulness. However, as reformed people we have a tendency to over-think things that we shouldn't be over thinking. I understand both sides of the argument, and with that said, ride the bus. Work six and take a sabbath rest. Those who perform work on Lord's Day may be performing works of mercy, yes, and then they will take their day, a sabbath rest just as the Lord commanded. The OP could ride a bike, that's a lot of work. He could ask someone for a ride, that's extra work (albeit mercy). For the many who pride themselves for holding to Solas, they sure get caught up in works just trying to be obedient.
     
  27. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Thank you for this Dr. Strange. I remember how much it is emphasised in the gospels that Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath; and how the Lord of the Sabbath could tell someone to carry his bed on that day if He wanted to, in special circumstances. It's His day, not any man's. I think perhaps we each receive somewhat different orders from Him with regard to those practical 'bed carrying' matters.
     
  28. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    All right then, but just watch as people offer reasons why these won't work.

    1. I would take into account transportation needs and distance to church before moving to a certain house/apartment;
    2. Travel by public transport on Saturday, stay over with someone who lives near the church, and leave early Monday morning;
    3. I suspect that some of the folks in Seoul will have cars. There is an enormous opportunity to minister to temporal needs here;
    4. A church plant should be considered.
     
  29. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I also know of a certain young man who used to ride his bike to the evening service in the rain, at night, in Cape Town, South Africa before he was eventually able to get a car.
     
  30. Caroline

    Caroline Puritan Board Sophomore

    Good for him. He is very fortunate not to be elderly or disabled or have young children in those circumstances.
     
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