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Compromising a Commandment?

Posted on August 04, 2016
Compromising a Commandment?
It’s the Sabbath—and 12-year-old Jacob has a school baseball game scheduled.

Should he skip the game, completely drop out of the league, or be flexible and attend? In a Deseret News article titled, “Observing the Sabbath takes teamwork for this faithful Little league player,” writer Kelsey Dallas explains how this New York boy “loves his sport and his Jewish faith, but being committed to both requires an unusual compromise.”

Since motorized travel is forbidden in his Jewish community, Jacob walks three miles to his game. The boy’s classmates offer to bring his gear and will even walk beside him. The writer then explains, “His story is a bright spot in what's becoming a contentious debate over the appropriate balance between Sabbath observance and youth sports.” But is compromising God’s law the answer?

The article discusses the challenges that Sunday pastors have with members who opt for sports instead of attending church. It also mentions how some parents hold to their beliefs and either have kids drop out of sports or simply don’t attend on the Sabbath. Sometimes that works for the coach and team, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Others argue that in today’s marketplace, you just have to make adjustments. “When trying to make Sabbath observance work in a modern world, compromise is key,” said Mark Fowler, deputy chief executive officer of Tanenbaum. “The employee can make a request and the employer, looking at the reality of the amount of work, schedule challenges and who can step-in, can counteroffer,” he noted.

But doesn't compromising the Sabbath in this way make the fourth commandment more like an optional “holiday” rather than a sacred “holy day”? For instance, would we make the same trade-off with any other commandment? Is there a time when murder and lying are justified? Would sleeping with your neighbor’s wife “just once” be admissible—or is worshiping other gods once in a while okay?

For those who suggest that of all God’s commandments, the Sabbath is one that can be adjusted, perhaps we should remember Jesus’ words: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

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