Using Public Transportation on Lord's Day

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Jaewon, Aug 23, 2012.

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  1. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    Sir, that wasn't charitable, and I suggest that you read the entire thread - especially examples that have been given regarding third world countries.
     
  2. thbslawson

    thbslawson Puritan Board Freshman

    Tim, I apologize for sounding uncharitable. It was not my intent.

    I have read the other posts. Not to sound unkind, but I would assert that it is equally uncharitable to lay a burden upon a brother's conscience on this issue. If you insist that "There's always another option" then you imply that the Christian who must buy a bus token on Sunday has sinned because he or she has not worked hard enough or tried hard enough to find a way to get to church. There isn't, as you assert "Always another way" and I know this from experience. Objections can be made to your other suggestions because they are real objections.
     
  3. crixus

    crixus Puritan Board Freshman

    There is a Free Church of Scotland affiliated church here in America. It's called the Presbyterian Free Church of Livonia, which is a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. I mention it just in case there's anyone using this board from that area who is looking for a church? I know if I lived near there I'd definitely give them a visit. :pilgrim:
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  4. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    You will notice that the very same denomination that holds this position strictly (no public transport on the Sabbath) has also been reported in this thread to provide a means for congregation members to travel on the Sabbath without using public transport. And this includes reports concerning some of the most expensive cities in the world, as well as third world countries.

    That is neither uncharitable nor arrogant.
     
  5. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    This is wonderful to hear. Thanks for your encouragement. There is great blessing in the Sabbath and I continue to seek it.
     
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Tim, obviously the practice of the FPCoS is good. I think the real difficulty for me was your assertion "there is always another option". There is often another option: and the input of our brethren and the help of those of like faith may serve to expand those options beyond what we would have considered. But that is not "always".

    We acknowledge, however, that sometimes there is no option for someone to make it to church at all: someone who is bedridden, someone who is hospitalized, someone who is quarantined, or contagious, or imprisoned, or unexpectedly and enormously delayed for international travel, or who is run off the road on the way to church, etc., etc., etc. Absent a promise that we will always be able to make it to church, there is clearly no promise that we will always be able to make it to church without using public transportation.

    If going to church is a work of necessity, so that even strenuous physical labor is permitted (though not encouraged) in order to arrive (as in the instance of your bicycling friend), then other means to that end may also need to be permitted (though not encouraged).
     
  7. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Here's Iain H. Murray (no relation to JM) on John Murray and his original denomination's attitude regarding using public transportation on Sundays: Although unable, himself, to use public transport in good conscience on the Lord's Day, he believed that it was going beyond the authority of Scripture to turn away from the Lord's Table someone who gave evidence of love to Christ solely because they had used a tram or bus to make their attendance possible...It was clear, however, to John Murray - notwithstanding the pleas and reasoning of friends - that he could only uphold the discipline required by the Synod at the price of disobedience to his own conscience. From: The Life of John Murray by Iain H. Murray (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982), pp. 35-36. This took place in the summer of 1927.
     
  8. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Two thoughts: (1) if Jesus could tell a man to "take up his pallet and go home" (isn't carrying something "work"?) on the Sabbath, then surely buying gas on Sunday would be no big deal. (2) If Satan can get a Christian to stay away from church from feeling false guilt about buying gas on Sunday, then he's done his job.

    Also: how many of the "work" prohibitions carry over from the Sabbath to the Lord's Day? Isn't there a distinction between the two? And, if so, how big is the distinction?
     
  9. DeniseM

    DeniseM Puritan Board Freshman

    This doesn't seem like it would be quite the problem that you are posing if the church in question adheres to a presbyterian form of church government. We don't necessarily need to view this as a problem of one isolated congregation. In context of presbyterian church government the congregation, with members that are struggling to get to church without relying on public transportation, could appeal to the presbytery for funds for a transport vehicle, if they were not able to purchase one themselves. We used to pick up a man, who visited our church regularly for a time, almost every Lord's day. He could have just as easily hopped on the bus and been free to come and go as he pleased, without relying on us, but we were happy to provide a ride for him. It does seem that the 'works of necessity' to our brethren aught to be carried out by the household of faith, as much as possible, as we are commanded to bear one another's burdens.
     
  10. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    They all carry over In my humble opinion, but the Jewish interpretations of them are classically erroneous and legalistic.

    Carrying your bed home with you wasn't forbidden by Moses but by the legalistic interpretations and additions of the Pharisees. Works of necessity and mercy aren't forbidden in Moses, but engaging in and encouraging regular work is.

    We can discuss the various points that Moses makes about how to observe the Sabbath on another thread, and I can indicate to you other threads that deal with this and problematic Jewish interpretations. Moses and Christ agree on how to observe the Sabbath.
     
  11. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    We lived in China for over a decade where people were also 99% unable to buy a car, but we all took taxis to church and thought nothing of it. There was one church in this city of 11 million people. For us, the walk would have been two hours each way and meant that we would have had many small children in tow, a dangerous situation if you know the city we were in.

    That being said, it was not our lack of opportunity to travel by foot or some other conveyance, it was the fact that it was inconvenient to do it in some other manner. Just trying to get a half dozen children out the door for church was a trial every Sunday morning, never mind getting them there by foot or bike (which we did indeed do for a while in summers when weather permitted). In Ethiopia where some of our children are from, walking 10km is no big deal (and that's in a mountainous country, no sidewalks, and altitude changes of several hundred feet in both directions along the way). We simply don't bother with it any more, we live in a different world. But I know of those who do live in poverty and would probably ask me why it was that I would take every precaution available not to break the 7th commandment, while I am so lax with the 4th. I don't really have an answer for that.
     
  12. JennyG

    JennyG Puritan Board Graduate

    Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way round, but is it really a given that to avail oneself of a service that will be run anyway, and almost certainly by non-Christians, is worse than working one's socks off to manage without??
    If it were possible, I would want Sunday to be free of the kind of effort and hassle that the week is full of. It's already enough of a task just having to travel miles to church. After all, a "Sabbath day's journey" in the Bible means something very short, and Sunday travelling of any kind was frowned on until very recent times.
    So in a way it's a new situation that for many people now there is no decent church within a reasonable distance. It means that two almost incompatible objectives (keeping Sunday free of toil and striving on the one hand; finding an orthodox church to worship in on the other) just have to be balanced the best way they can.
     
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    A few thoughts.


    One other observation, not categorically true, not in every case, but people tend to get what they really want. If they really want to obey God and spend time worshipping Him one day in seven in way they can't the other days of the week, they will order there life around making it happen.

    God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
    :)

     
  14. davenporter

    davenporter Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with most of what has been discussed in this thread. I think there certainly should be an exception for necessity, when it really is necessary, but otherwise, of course, we should avoid public transportation on the Sabbath. Certainly it is not possible in every instance to avoid using public transportation, but ideally one would desire that as an option.

    I think that, however, an important point has been brought up. It is my personal view that necessity requires anything necessary to concern yourself primarily with spending the whole of the day in the worship of the Lord, rather than focally avoiding doing work yourself or causing work for others. Certainly both elements are present and required, but the worship of the Lord in personal, family, and corporate worship takes the prime position over the avoidance of common work.

    With that in mind, I think that if a person finds himself in a season where the options are walking 2+ hours each way to attend church so that 4+ hours of the day is spent walking (and tiring oneself and one's family) or using public transportation, the best option to me seems to be to use public transportation. Of course, I certainly don't deny that one ought to seek a better option, such as a ride from someone at church or seeking to advance in work so that he can afford a car, but I think that avoiding 3+ hours of tiresome work/walking so that time can be devoted to family or personal worship is preferable (and merciful to your family) and less distracting to your overall sanctification of the day. Otherwise I can't imagine how one could possibly fit all those blessed duties the Puritans encouraged/commanded on the Sabbath into a day. I know it's not merciful to the bus driver, but I still think it's the best option in such a scenario. One should interact with their elders if in such a situation to seek a remedy.

    Going back to the guy who didn't go to public worship because he failed to buy gas on Saturday, one sin doesn't justify another. The sin wouldn't be purchasing gas on the Sabbath (for it has become a necessity), the sin would be failing to prepare for the Sabbath. In his case, he is committing another sin by refusing to go to Lord's Day worship. I think this may apply to many cases we may find ourselves in. If something is required to get you to Sunday worship, it's a necessity on that day. If you failed to prepare beforehand, I think your sin was failure to prepare beforehand, rather than going and purchasing gas or food (for your wife and kids; perhaps if you're the one who is hungry it can be a lesson to you) on that day.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts as a recently-converted Sabbatarian.

    And yes, it is important to trust God to provide, but that often takes time, and certainly takes personal effort in addition to prayer. If you're an introvert or you don't like asking other people for things, it'll be a challenge you'll have to work through, which would be a good thing to go to your elders or deacons about.
     
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Many of us don't accept this as a term, following God's fourth commandment,
    any more than keeping the tenth commandment makes one a "covetarian."

    It's simply a matter of trying, by God's grace to obey Him, His moral law binding on all men in all generations, summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.... all of them.:)
     
  16. davenporter

    davenporter Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with what you're trying to say, but to me it's just a term that's necessary to make distinctions, like "Calvinist". Obviously Calvinism is Biblical, but unfortunately no one knows what "Biblical" means anymore so you have to call yourself a Confessional Calvinist Presbyterian. :p I hope everyone understood my point. I took the non-Sabbatarian position previously, but I have recently recognized it is Biblical. :)
     
  17. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    This thread has the energy of the energizer bunny! :deadhorse:
     
  18. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    I know the situation in Seoul and I realize Jaewon has a legitimate problem which will be faced by very few people in North America.

    The last time I ever used public transport on the Lord's Day was in 1997 and it was in Seoul. I was very unhappy about using the subway on the Lord's Day, but my Korean friends did not own cars, and getting someone else from the church to drive halfway across the city to pick a "nurangmori" (foreigner) up for church was not an option. I can't think of any other time in at least twenty years that I've used public transport on the Lord's Day, and I would not have let that situation continue on a long-term basis.

    I agree with Prof. Murray that using public transport on the Lord's Day is wrong because it forces others to work, but is not in and of itself a disciplinable offense.

    This is not a hypothetical issue for me -- I've been threatened numerous times in my life with being fired for refusal to work on the Lord's Day, and while in each case my employer did back down when I told them they could fire me if they wanted but I would never agree to their demands, that was usually after I offered to work on the worst possible shifts that everybody else hated. (There are legal reasons why that offer also needs to be made, and putting copies of relevant court decisions on my employer's desk didn't hurt.) While I have never been fired for refusal to work on the Lord's Day, I have been denied promotions for refusal to work on the Lord's Day and have been told on several occasions that the only reason I was not hired for certain jobs was my refusal to work on the Lord's Day.

    Something more needs to be said on this issue, however. Once I got into salaried rather than hourly positions, I became well-known for working hundred-hour weeks six days per week but absolutely refusing to work one minute on the Lord's Day. People who have conscientious objections to working on the Lord's Day need to be prepared to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to their employer that they value hard work on six days per week just as much as they value not working one day in seven. Generally employers are much more willing to accommodate the refusal of a hard worker to work one day per week that they would be willing to accommodate a refusal from someone they consider to be a slacker or even a relatively hard-working employee. Quite frankly, the sort of hours most Americans work today aren't even close to what was considered standard a few generations ago, and we as Christians need to consider whether what passes for good work ethics today would have been viewed very differently in the 1800s or earlier.

    Back to the main point -- let's be grateful for Jaewon's desire to follow biblical principles on this matter. His efforts to pick other people up using a private car for church are to be commended.

    Rather than trying to find exception cases where public transport may be the least bad of bad options, perhaps it would be better, when confronted with such situations, to focus our efforts on trying to find solutions to the problem.
     
  19. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    For those who believe it is a sin to use public transportation on the Lord's day, why is it not a sin to drive one's own or one's church's vehicle on the Lord's day? Just curious. (Since the Orchid Lady and I need only walk 5 blocks to our church, we do not encounter the problem.)
     
  20. davenporter

    davenporter Puritan Board Freshman

    Because in driving yourself you're not forcing anyone else to work; you're simply doing an "act of necessity" for yourself and your family.
     
  21. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    It's not just that.

    You are encouraging the bus and taxi companies and their drivers in their laying on of a Sunday service for all sorts of purposes. It would be a very different thing if a skeleton service was laid on by taxi companies or bus companies specifically for people who needed to get to church. One could imagine a Sabbatarian bus tycoon doing this, or this happening in a thoroughly Christianised society.
     
  22. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    We should be grateful to God that our lives are so blessed that the hardships we are presently called to endure are so inconsequential that this sort of an issue rises to the point of being worthy of such intense discussion.
     
  23. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Are other breakings of the Sabbath disciplinable? I just have a hard time thinking it's a sin to use public transport on Sunday if you live in a society where public transport is THE way people move. Or if you are poor and don't own a car. And if it is wrong, but not disciplinable even after weekly breaking, I don't get that dichotomy, either.
    If I were to get on a bus to get to church on Sunday morning, my only thought would be "How annoying is this?" So yes, I'd be sinning in my attitude toward a blessing. But it would not cross my mind that to use the bus, that would be already running where I need it to go, is a sin.
    In my society, public transport is not a reality. I don't live in a city and we have two cars, etc. BUT, were I to live in a city where public transport was readily available, I think it'd actually possibly be good stewardship to NOT own a car. If we're OK with using the electricity that keeps people working, we should feel the same way about other public works. It IS possible for a society to have a Sabbath mode as far as electricity, traffic-lights, cops, etc. We could halt everything but emergencies in the public sphere. Are we going to argue that this is the best way? Even so, are we going to protest it by not using the things that will be used anyway--such as electricity OR public transport--because we think the idea of them are wrong? It is not a necessity for me to use the lights or the oven or the crockpot of Sunday. Since I am not personally, or singularly, causing the electric company to work I feel that my using them is not contributing to their decision to work. BUT, I think it is possibly true that if all of us in a society agreed not to drive or use lights, we could contribute to the ease of labor for some.

    I'm just trying to say, it is the same thing.
    I like this:
     
  24. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes!

    And this is the point, obedient people want to serve and obey their God who has bought them with price and told them they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily.

    So the energy, and focus is not looking for (or justifying) excuses to disobey, or hinder others from obeying but rather,
    how can I obey, not hinder others from obeying and be different from this world, which knows not God, nor His ways.

     
  25. Raj

    Raj Puritan Board Sophomore

    Friends, walking or taking a public means of transportation to worship the Lord and hear His Word is not sin.

    From our experience: We have several men and women who regularly walk in our worship in Nepal and in the hills of Himalayas. Some of them walk 2-3 hrs every Sunday/Saturday. I also remember about one of our believers who walked 21 kilometers on foot to take Lord's Supper every three months. To come to worship for him, it was 5 kilometers walk every Saturday for worship.

    Many servants of the Lord here ride bicycle and walk on foot to go to teach and preach on Saturday/Sunday.

    While doing anything or making a decision we should focus on the context and motives of the action. Keep on going to the worship of our Lord dear friend. He will make your paths smoother in the days to come.
     
  26. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Amen, Raj! It was situations like you describe, and experience everyday, that were on my mind when I read this thread. Comfort and prosperity can give rise to frivolous concerns. It must seem very silly to you, brother, and it embarasses me for the Church in the parts of this world that presently find greater liberty and prosperity. We can busy ourselves with incidentals and lose sight of things that matter.
     
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