I recently read an online discussion in which a few people shared stories of being out to eat on Sunday in Utah and discovering that an apostle was also eating in the same restaurant on Sunday. (Note the quote in the photo for this post–this is the person who was eating at an IHOP in Utah County on a Sunday). The discussion group shared several theories about why this would be the case:
If they are speaking “out of town” they go to restaurants to eat for convenience. But this was only an hour from Salt Lake (in Utah county), so not sure that applies.
- GAs and apostles, due to travel schedules, observe the “sabbath” on a different day of the week rather than Sundays, which is just a work day to them.
- GAs can do whatever they like due to the second anointing. Their salvation is ensured anyway, so who cares? 
- Sundays in restaurants (and/or stores) are the one time they can avoid being mobbed by their adoring fans / church members.
- The rules are “for thee and not me.”
- TBM response: It’s a lie! Pictures or it didn’t happen! (After pictures are provided) You can fake a digital date stamp on a picture!
Given the amount of preaching about Sabbath observance, particularly linking it to parenting failures when children leave the Church, this practice feels more than a little icky / hypocrtical. I also never bought that claim about retention being linked to Sabbath observance anyway. Like, what, your kids will stay in the Church regardless of other factors just because you didn’t shop on Sunday? That’s like the claim that missionaries aren’t baptizing because they aren’t obedient enough, or that your financial struggles will disappear if you just pay tithing or that you can get rich through Mormoning even harder. It feels like a math problem, a superstition problem, or both. At minimum, it’s a distraction from the more direct things you can do to influence those results. At worst, it’s a way to blame people and make them feel guilty for things outside their control.
There was also speculation that GAs probably were sub-par tippers, which is possible, but IDK. If the bill is part of a reimbursement, they might tip better than normal. I know I was always a generous tipper when traveling on business! But the (ungenerous) assumption was that they might tip lower to punish the wait staff for breaking the Sabbath.
Back to the topic of Sabbath breaking, one of my first posts ever was about the fact that the phrase “ox in the mire” is not found in the New Testament; it’s a Mormon made-up phrase. The actual phrase is “ass or ox fallen in a pit,” but someone unfamiliar with the New Testament or whose dainty sensibilities were offended by saying “ass” made up the phrase. If someone talks about an “ox being in the mire” you know that person is a Mormon (or whatever we are supposed to call ourselves until five minutes after the next Church president’s ascendancy).
Some of my favorite college memories at BYU were going to Chuck-a-Rama after church with my roommates, where we would eat lunch, then hang out and visit long enough for them to switch to the dinner buffet, and we would eat again. When I was on my mission, I don’t recall ever eating out on a Sunday, but there was also the “appearances” factor of preaching one thing to investigators, but then visibly doing a different thing. That didn’t bother me at BYU because Chuck-a-Rama was the closest thing to a home-cooked Sunday dinner I ever had in college.
Decades later, I had a bishop who said that Sabbath observance rules didn’t count once you left your own county, meaning that if you were traveling, you would probably have to go to restaurants and stores, and it was no biggie. I used to misquote him as saying “outside your own zip code,” which was basically about two miles from our house.
Every family seems to have its own rules about Sabbath observance. Some of my relatives have gone overboard from my perspective: only wearing Sunday clothes all day, no TV on Sunday, no homework on Sunday, can’t dribble a basketball, no swimming, and I was really flummoxed by being called a “Sabbath breaker” for using a vending machine on a Sunday, which was going really far to make up nonsensical extra rules, in my opinion. I had often had to work Sundays as a teen, which my family didn’t like, but I suppose they understood it since teens always work in crap jobs, and the dining hall I worked in had students to feed seven days a week. Nurses and doctors also have to work Sundays, which is generally considered socially acceptable, even laudable.
My in-laws were much more relaxed than my own family, which was a nice change. And of course, when my sons got the Aaronic priesthood I discovered pretty quickly how routine it was for someone to have to go buy bread for the sacrament on Sunday morning which surprised me!
- Are you surprised by the idea of apostles eating in restaurants on Sundays? Does it bother you? What do you think is the justification?
- Have you seen an apostle or GA breaking the Sabbath or doing something they had preached against? Deets, please!
- What were your Sabbath rules like growing up? Were they different when you formed your own family? What about your in-laws?
 But let’s be honest, if your salvation was guaranteed no matter what you did, you could certainly get up to something better than eating at IHOP on a Sunday, right?
Well, since the biblical Sabbath is Saturday not Sunday, does it make any difference where they may eat on Sunday?
These days, it takes more than a GA eating out on a Sunday in UT to surprise me when it comes to the church.
My parents were very budget conscious while I was growing up and we have few treats or fun things. I could make multiple comments on what they spent their money on (ward budget, ward building fund, temple fund, tithing, fast offerings, etc) but they were also savers. One rare treat we enjoyed was driving home from afternoon sacrament meeting and occasionally going through the University of Maryland and stopping at the creamery for an ice cream cone. When the minute instructions started coming out (despite our own scriptures saying “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant”) our visits ended. That left us with “ice milk” for our occasional frozen treat at home. Yum! That said, I was allowed to have a church friend come home with us after morning Sunday school and spend the afternoon playing (inside) and we’d take her back for afternoon sacrament meeting. I was not allowed to play with neighborhood friends though. I guess playing with a fellow member was okay but not with my heathen, I mean neighborhood, friends.
As I was raising my children I tried to be obedient to all the rules – no playing (at least with friends), no eating out, no shopping, no Sunday drives, etc. I had to draw the line at no TV and I was only moderately successful with the others (guilt anyone?) One was supposed to work on family history, visit the sick (and do what with my kids?), prepare simple meals, spend time with family (doing what?), and read the scriptures. My husband’s family got together every Sunday in the summer at the uncle’s pool and had a pot luck dinner with all the cousins (they were *gasp* non-members). Spending time with family is an approved Sunday activity and something I desperately craved as I grew up in MD and my only extended family was in UT and I rarely saw them. Insert guilt again as we went every week and were having “fun”. I’ve come to the conclusion that in church-speak, keeping the Sabbath day holy means NO FUN is allowed. If you are having any type of fun, then you are clearly breaking the Sabbath.
I can think of reasonable excuses for this behavior–he’d recently had a kitchen fire, or the lunch he packed was made with rancid peanut butter and he didn’t have time to rush home to eat. A single incident is certainly different from regular behavior. I’m not saying he had an excuse–just that’s it’s certainly plausable he had one. On the other hand, I can’t think of any excuse for eating at IHOP. At least it wasn’t Denny’s.
My take on not working on the Sabbath day is that it was put into place in order to discourage employers and slave owners from making their workers and slaves work every single day of the week. A lot of shopping places in Europe shut down on Sundays, and it’s a blessing for the workers. I respect people who don’t shop or go out to eat on Sundays in order to curb the demand for workers having to work on Sundays.
Freshman year at BYU I worked in the dishroom at one of the dorm cafeterias. One of the worst jobs I ever had–hot and stinky and sweaty work, and some of the students would pull ugly pranks on the dishwashers. Sundays would always see a crowd of non-dorm students because all the restaurants on campus were closed. Fast Sundays were even worse because the dorm cafeterias were all-you-can-eat. Every worker was scheduled for every Sunday. Had I run the place, I would’ve limited Sunday meals to people who lived in the dorms, or at the very least doubled the Sunday prices for those without a dorm meal card.
My freshman year I worked in the Bakery at the Cannon Center in Helaman Halls at BYU. I worked 8 hour shifts almost every Sunday making racks of rolls, piles of cookies, and hundreds of pies starting at 5 AM. I almost always missed church and then went to the clerks office after work to count tithing with the Bishop and fill my calling as financial clerk.
One of my coworkers complained about having to work Sunday’s with the argument that we were breaking the sabbath. They got a tongue lashing from Verla – our boss. We made the Sabbath better for everyone was her argument. People relied on us for Sunday dinner. Even general authorities ate out when they travelled was even part of her argument.
I have left the church and so have backed off of my Sunday restrictions about going out to eat. My neighborhood has a large Jewish and Muslim population with three synagogues and a mosque nearby so Sunday and Saturday both are peoples free day. Even if it isn’t the same folks. It’s been nice to let go of some of those restrictions we put on ourselves. It is a great day to go to the park or a hike and the art museum is lovely.
Being far from Utah, I’m surprised because here there is a big fuss about preparing meals for anyone traveling for church business on Sundays. Our stake is more than 100 miles both N-S and E-W, and we’re at the end, so we’ve had stake representatives travel nearly three hours to get to us. I’m surprised the local leaderships’ wives didn’t claim the honor of feeding the general authorities.
Sundays at home are days of rest, mostly manifest by not shopping in stores and not playing outside. Walks are good but strenuous outdoor exercise is not. Strenuous indoor home exercise is fine. No sports teams. Usually no playdates.
Sundays when traveling are a second Saturday. We don’t attend church unless we are staying with someone who wants us to attend with them. We love camping on Sunday. Christmas day we’re going to an aquarium…
Decades later, I had a bishop who said that Sabbath observance rules didn’t count once you left your own county,
…so the truly observant choose to live in Barstow. (It’s a geography joke. Residents of San Bernardino County will get it.)
On the other hand, I can’t think of any excuse for eating at IHOP.
A couple of months ago, my health-impaired son-in-law agreed to attend a birthday dinner at IHOP solely because we assured him that he would be very unlikely to come in close contact with infectious people there (or noninfectious people for that matter).
I can’t imagine anything more litmus test-based than the so-called Sabbath Day and Sabbath-keeping. All the supposed logical reasons given in its defense aren’t logical at all. You should keep the Sabbath by not buying things at the store because that keeps others from going to church and making them work. Um, 1) people work in shifts and 2) couldn’t there be church on more days than Sunday? As for the other recommended activities on the Sabbath, you can do those any day of the week. I’m glad that the superstition surrounding the Sabbath is nowhere near that what it is in Israel (make sure you catch that bus before Friday sunset, because everything shuts down on Friday night), but man, it is a still a world of superstition and holier-than-thou-ness in Mormon world around the Sabbath day. Although I must say, that going to Costco on Sunday in Utah county isn’t as free and customerless as it used to be. Maybe the brethren should harp on the Sabbath even more.
There seems to be less discussion of and list-making about what you can or can’t do on Sunday these days. Practically, for reasonable people (maybe half of active LDS? two-thirds?) it boils down to:
— Don’t work on Sunday unless you have to.
— Don’t shop on Sunday unless you have to.
— Go to church if you can.
Most of the leader rhetoric on “the sabbath” is designed to keep LDS Sunday calendars clear for important things like going to church, going to extra meetings, going to firesides, going to do home and visit teaching, and so forth. It’s all about doing work, as long as it’s church work.
I once saw Elder Holland at LAX *right next to Shake Shack* on Sunday (probably in the height of Shake Shack’s status as a new desirable phenomenon) and… he wasn’t eating a darn thing. So there’s that.
Sabbath practices are easy to find merit in… and also the easiest to suspend or abandon (I love _The Sabbath World_ by Judith Shulevitz as an exploration of both). The space that I’ve enjoyed occupying most is one where I strike a balance between the two: generally and thoughtfully setting up choices that create a sabbath made for man, but also suspending them when it makes sense.
I suspect that doing the same thing isn’t uncommon in LDS practice, but stories of GAs taking the same approach get attention because it’s very uncommon in LDS discourse, where airtime is more frequently devoted to stories about unfailing observance and suffering as sacrifice bordering on self-flagellation along with other ways of promoting zeal.
That probably represents a form of hypocrisy but more importantly, it represents a profoundly missed opportunity to make church discourse a place where we more frequently have real conversations about the intersection of practical living and spiritual choices.
Guess that’s what the internet is for!
I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 40 years. Military and civilian. I have turned down many callings due to my variable work schedule (EQ President, YM presidency, Sunday School presidency). At least one bishop and multiple members (priesthood holders) have suggested I should change my profession or get a job that required no Sunday or evening work. My specialty is surgery. My usual response was to ask if we should have no Mormon police officers, fire fighters, plumbers, nurses, airline pilots, doctors, etc.
The Law of Moses was done away with. To me honoring the Sabbath Day is more about attitudes than activities. It’s OK for me to ride my regular bicycle with my family while wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but I break the Sabbath if I ride my road bike and wear cycling gear. I recall how Steve Young, Gifford Neilson, Danny Ainge (and other famous Mormon athletes) have been treated. These people were great examples of successful Mormons. I never heard complaints about how they worked nearly every Sunday. Contrast that with articles in the Ensign and Liahona about other famous athletes (mostly outside the U.S.) who were praised for giving up professional athletic careers in order to keep the Sabbath Day holy.
To me it is a mass of confusion.
My parents were quite reasonable about Sunday worship growing up. We could play with friends or watch TV and didn’t have to be dressed up all day. We were always at church and didn’t go anywhere else to spend money.
Recently our church building hosted a mid-singles adult conference one weekend. On Saturday they catered food but they asked our stake to provide food on Sunday. It was a huge undertaking and a lot of work. When I asked why they didn’t cater Sunday as well I was churchsplained that we can’t ask people to work on Sunday, to which I replied that I worked on Sunday! But apparently it’s only work if you pay someone otherwise it’s service which God loves. I’m not helping next year.
I also worked in food service freshman year at BYU. I hated working on Sunday and rarely did as it was usually easy to find someone who wanted the extra shift.
In Hong Kong they offer church service seven days a week as the migrant nannies have no say in their day off. I get why that would be impractical in many places but it was really progressive and I loved having church services every day as a missionary!
Otherwise I don’t care anymore how church leaders spend their time and money. Whatever. I believe the story as credible since it was at IHOP which was my grandma’s favorite restaurant!
I’m not sure they were making up extra rules. General Authorities and church publication actually taught those restrictions explicitly.
For example, Earl Tingey’s talk in 1996 general conference was titled “The Sabbath Day and Sunday Shopping” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1996/04/the-sabbath-day-and-sunday-shopping It’s not a big leap to take what he said in this talk and decide that even vending machines should be off limits.
For another example, Mark E. Peterson gave a strongly worded talk in 1975 that left members really afraid to do anything except church things on Sunday: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1975/04/the-sabbath-day “If we violate his holy day—willingly and willfully—to that extent do we not become enemies of God? We do most certainly become covenant breakers … How dare we trifle with the Sabbath day?” He even listed swimming as a no-no in this talk.
Read this article on the church’s website, and you’ll see exactly where these “extra rules” came from. They’re suggested to members by the church itself, and it’s implied that to be *really* righteous, you should totally abide by these restrictions:
Those “extra rules” weren’t extra. They were exactly what was being taught. Utah mormons took those rules very seriously, so to have an apostle making an appearance
GAs eating in restaurants on Sundays while telling us to keep the Sabbath day holy…Members of the First Presidency not serving full-time missions while messaging that our young men don’t really have a choice…this is fun
One of my favorite GA stories (probably apocryphal) is about an Apostle who was on assignment with a Seventy for a stake conference. In between meetings, they went back to the hotel, where the Apostle flopped down on the bed and turned on an NFL game. The Seventy asked him about it, and he said it helped him unwind between meetings, which can be demanding both mentally and spiritually. Not sure if there is any truth to the story, but I certainly hope it’s true. I won’t reveal the name of the Apostle, since I can’t vouch for the story’s veracity.
I think that a lot of our Sabbath observance is just folk tales that vary by region perhaps (like the grey area Diet Coke languished in for so long). Sometimes certain GAs will give conference talks with a list of dos and don’ts and some people will respond to the “Follow the Prophet, not Jesus” cult. The Church’s official website on the Sabbath day does NOT have a long list of does and don’ts although they made one glaring error. It was not Jesus’ disciples that changed the sabbath to Sunday, it was the Emperor Constantine, who frequently pictured himself with a sun behind him to evoke the image of Apollo, the Sun God, who was widely worshiped in the empire. He got baptized on his death bed (always one to hedge his bets).
I’m sure we all have stories of the extremes. When I was at BYU, my roommates and I decided the don’t buy anything until Midnight rule was ridiculous, and at 11:45pm went to Albertson’s.and bought brownie mix. A lot of tisk tisks for that. My most ridiculous Sabbath story is a couple newly arrived from BYU to Columbia Law, decided that using their Metro Card for the bus or train was spending money. So they walked from 116th to the church near Lincoln Center on 66th. Seriously. Had they not been late, they might have seen the bishop and his family, and many of us, arriving in a taxi.
I grew up in the in the 80s and 90s in CA, and my recollection of LDS Sabbath observance at that time and place was that it would have been unthinkable for any faithful member to go shopping or eat out or spend money at all on Sunday. My family wasn’t super strict about it (we changed into casual clothes when we got home from Church, and were free to watch TV after dinner) but generally Church was the highest priority of the day, and sports/outdoor activities were not permitted. So I grew up thinking of Sunday as the most boring, lifeless day of the week. I remember talking about it once with one of my high school friends, a devout Catholic of Mexican descent. I asked him, very earnestly, why he and his massive extended family always spent Sunday afternoons in the park playing endless games of soccer, despite his supposed belief in keeping the Sabbath Day holy. He explained to me his belief that Sunday was meant to be a day for people to engage in forms of rest and recreation that they don’t have time for on other days of the week, so soccer games and family barbecues were the perfect way to honor that commandment. My teenage Mormon brain exploded right there. Many years later, after I was married and visited my wife’s extended family in rural southern Utah for the first time, my brain exploded again when I saw that it was totally normal for people who called themselves Mormons to shop on Sunday, drink coffee, use profanity and do yardwork in uncovered garment tops. Ironically, I had never heard the phrase “ox in the mire” (used to justify shopping on Sunday in extenuating circumstances) until my wife used it the first time we ran out of a key ingredient while preparing for Sunday dinner.
Nowadays, I’m pretty casual about my own Sunday observance, especially since I am often working and/or traveling on Sundays. Out of habit, though, I try to avoid routine shopping trips and eating out on Sunday as much as possible. Whenever large corporations make a big deal about their retail operations being closed on Sundays (such as Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby) it’s quite obvious that it’s for Christian virtue signaling rather than truly honoring the Sabbath; for one, not everyone observes the Sabbath on Sunday.
I don’t really care whether GAs eat out on Sundays, as long as they aren’t hypocrites about it. I would rather not have to listen to a pulpit-pounding talk in stake conference about “true” Sabbath day observance, when I know very well the same GA will eat dinner that night at a restaurant on the way to the airport to catch his commercial flight. I’m also uncomfortable with the idea that GAs are somehow above the rules that the rank-and-file are expected to adhere to, but the Second Anointing is still a thing, so…
@engelcameron raised a good point about transportation. Many members used taxi or public transport to get to church on Sunday in Hong Kong. We had to pay a driver to get to church in India on Sunday. There was no way we could walk there. It is what it is.
What I find odd, as a probably quite naive non-Utahn, is how this goes against the dreaded “appearance of evil” that I was warned against so much. In fact, I remember during one lecture during YM that one of the Brethren, (I want to say Monson), would only ever drink milk when he was out in restaurants, in case anyone thought he was drinking a naughty drink. Struck me as a bit weird at the time, but is doubly weird in a world where members of the Q15 will go out for fast food on a Sunday, in Utah no less.
My dad grew up on a family-owned livestock farm in northern Utah. I think that 7-day work week informed our family policies later on. Even though he and my mom worked 9to5 jobs while raising us kids, there was no stigma in our house about working or eating out on Sundays. Best example is the day I got my patriarchal blessing. My parents accompanied me to a chapel where an elderly man I’d never met put his hands on my head and promised me godhood. Then my folks and I went out for Chinese. It felt so normal at the time. …Chicken Cashew if you’re wondering. These days my only Sabbath policy is to lay off the morning cup of coffee (and treat myself to a latte instead).
I like to think of Elder Holland’s IHOP breakfast as being consistent with the Church’s recent shift in emphasis on Sabbath observance: replacing prescriptive lists and judging each other with allowing people to make personal decisions based on principles. I view it as a positive example.
Sometimes I read these posts and comments and wonder if I grew up in an alternative Mormon universe. I grew up northern Utah, back when we did priesthood and SS in the am and sac. mtg. in the evening. We (all the neighborhood kids, LDS and other) played and roamed between the am and pm church. We had some epic pickup games and kick the can at night. No one, parents or kids, were uptight about our Sunday activities. Eating out on Sunday, although not a regular occurrence, wasn’t a big deal. Living in the Northeast post grad school for 35 years, again, Sabbath observance has not been an obsession among the Saints. Some of my best memories of Sunday were dinner with the family and my Dad asking us to describe what we learned in our lessons that day. Then he would proceed to correct any false doctrine, politics, or folklore. Many times after correcting something he would say “I love Bro. ______, but he’s a Bircher, so don’t pay too much attention to what he says about . . . . ”
The comments on GAs are pretty nit picky. And, frankly some are bunk (2nd anointing blank check, bad tippers,etc) Give um a break. Most of their weekends are spent in planes and chapels. One GA told me that he had traveled the world on assignment but only knows the inside of chapels and hotels. Many of those weekends are exhausting. If they have a domestic assignment they fly out Friday often arriving late and eating airport food on layovers. Then they are at the stake center Saturday beginning at 8:00 or earlier (never mind jet lag and time changes). They conduct interviews most of the day when organizing a stake then do training Saturday afternoon then the evening adult session. They arrive back at the hotel late Saturday. Sometimes they get a dinner in between sessions. Sometimes its snacks at the hotel. Then they start early Sunday training the new Stake Presidency before the stake conference starting at 10:00. Maybe lunch with the stake president’s family or in route to the airport. Rinse and repeat. It’s not a life I would wish on anyone. Yes they have the sacrament in their weekly meeting because they won’t get it at stake conferences. They don’t ask for this life. I know it is hard and they try very hard to guard against becoming rote in their messages
Marion D. Hanks once said to a group of GAs – “Are you giving the same talk you gave 10 years ago?” He warned them about becoming entertainers. It’s a hard life in many ways. I’ve seen it up close and don’t wish it on anyone.
If the Sabbath truly is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, how does one go about “breaking” the Sabbath? Isn’t it mine to do what I will with it?
Back in my more active days there were many Sundays when I was on my 7th hour of church and I found myself looking forward to going back to my job on Monday morning. Monday morning started to look more preferable than my Sundays. Monday morning!
That’s when I knew we were doing our Sabbath wrong. I agree with Dave B. above. With the way the Sabbath has been taught in the church (at least historically), it’s not a day of rest so much as it is a day to stop working for yourself and to start working for the church. The Sabbath is presented as a day to do the Lord’s chores, not as an opportunity to rest or recuperate. The teaching that it’s okay to take a nap on the Sabbath… but make sure the nap isn’t too long!!! springs out of the recesses of my memories.
In high school, my best friend’s family and our family (both of which were pretty orthodox Mormons living in Arizona) went out for Mexican food nearly every Sunday after the three-hour block. That tradition did not seem to damage the spirituality of any involved, but it did create some great memories that we still talk about 35 years later.
I cannot remember a time since my family joined the Church that my father and I did not watch football, golf, or whatever other sporting event was on TV on Sunday. Even now, living hundreds of miles apart, we call each other whenever there is a good play…and invariably we are both watching. Again, no spiritual damage.
People who try to dictate what is/is not “appropriate” on the Sabbath–like the article by the BYU professor referenced above–are exhausting. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question because everyone’s situation is different and everyone ends up with their ass in a pit at some point.
As far as a GA going to IHOP or anywhere else “illicit” on a Sunday, there are two possibilities: they are fallible humans so give them a break; or they are on assignment. Either way, who cares.
President Monson was rather fond of a dark soft drink or milk shake with burger and fries. One of his favorite stops was the Little America coffee shop in SLC. I ran into him multiple times there. He was usually accompanied by one or more church security guys. FYI, the worry wasn’t caffeine or coffee, it was sugar. He was diabetic and notoriously neglectful of his diet. He behaved himself better when his wife was there.
I have lived a long the Wasatch Front most of my life and have never witnessed nor heard of an apostle in a restaurant on Sunday locally. So I doubt the story in the OP. But if I did witness one I would not care. I take it is an article of faith that anyone who attends interminable church meetings gets a free pass or two.
Like many others above, I might be bothered by the hypocrisy of a GA eating out on Sunday in Utah when they are assumed to be close to home. But a) I don’t know who the specific GA was (did I miss that in the OP?) or whether he has personally spoken about not eating out on the sabbath before, so he might not be that hypocritical as an individual.
More to the point, the LAST thing I want is for the church to get more nitpicky about things I don’t think matter. In that vein, let all the GAs eat out on Sunday and stop making rules about the sabbath.
In my family growing up we were pretty thorough about not spending money on the sabbath. Even when traveling out of town we kept it to a bare minimum. We did not stay in church clothes all day. I think my mom was worried about us ruining the nice clothes and encouraged us to change as soon as we got home from church.
The main thing that happened in our house on Sunday was that my dad watched a lot of sports after church, whatever was in season. I found it quite boring and kind of felt like Sunday was the day we weren’t allowed to have fun. No friends allowed on Sunday as it was supposed to be family time, but “family time” was not fun because I wasn’t that interested in watching sports.
I loved Sundays in college as they were the days when everyone was the most social. As a grown up I have still generally avoided spending money on Sunday or working, although I don’t take it nearly as seriously as my family did as a child. Even now when I’m mostly out of the church I kind of enjoy having Sunday as a different day. I work/clean when necessary and I’ll go to the store or restaurant if I have a need, but I keep it as a more easy going day than the rest, and I quite like it that way.
Many years ago I dined with a several general authorities in restaurants on Sundays, including, as it happens, once with Elder Holland. This was abroad and apart from putting the members to a lot of work and expense (which was money they emphatically did not have), there weren’t a lot of options.
On more than one occasion, I have heard a White Shirt opine, in off-the-record situations, that they wish things were less uptight, but they fear creating a slippery slope:”I saw Elder X drink a Diet Coke! That’s a go for my morning coffee… then my glass of wine… then my raging meth addiction.” I don’t think life works that way, but they seem to think they are constantly scrutinized by the membership who is looking for the least justification to sin. And, I mean, they are definitely scrutinized, but I would say there was an unhealthy level of preoccupation there that is definitely out of proportion. But what do I know? If IHOP weren’t so vile (Did anybody see the Comedians in Cars episode where Jerry takes Christoph Waltz there? Magical.), I’d happily join Elder Holland in a stack of Sunday pancakes. It’s been decades since I last had the chance to sit at the table with him, but to his credit, he was–back then anyway–ever the one to entertain a divergent point of view, and boy-howdy have I got some.
One of my memories of growing up in rural southeastern Idaho (very definitely Mormon corridor location) in the 1960’s is of one of our ward members writing a check to my father at church on Sunday and emphasizing that she had put Monday’s date on the check.
At this time in our lives and as the only church attending people in our family, my husband and I feel that anything that promotes family love is a good use of the Sabbath. Family members respect our choice to attend church and to rarely eat out, so activities that include us allow for that as much as possible. In case of an uncompromisable conflict with attending church or rarely eating out, we act on our belief that anything that promotes family love is a good use of the Sabbath.
What if it turns out that, contrary to the way I was raised, eating a meal you exchange value for on a specific date (a restaurant meal) vs. eating a meal you exchange value for on another date or dates (a home prepared meal), has basically nothing to do with Sabbath observance?
I grew up in Tucson in the 80’s. One of my fondest memories is going to Lubby’s Cafeteria after Church and seeing all our friends from Church still in their Sunday clothes.
After graduating from college I moved out of Utah to California and worked in a (Catholic) hospital—which included working rotating weekends. One of my co workers was a 7th Day Adventist. Her husband was the Pastor. One day my co worker informed our boss that she could no longer work on their Sabbath day—Saturdays—so changes were made to accommodate her request. (the law required religious accommodations). It made me wonder, briefly, whether I should do the same—stop working on Sundays.
A few years later we moved to PA, where I learned about “Blue laws” which were laws enacted to preserve Sunday as the Sabbath. While most of PA’s blue laws have gone away, as of 2020 car dealerships are still prohibited from operating in Sundays. (according to AP news)
My sons got involved in our local rec league soccer. Games were only on Saturdays unless your team made it to the finals. The championship game was on Sunday. Well, one year we made it to the finals. While in church we were hearing the ways people should keep the Sabbath holy—not watching tv, not playing etc. we decided we would allow our son to participate in the game. (We also went to church that day).
(On the other hand, never mind that our stake membership included several professional sports figures where playing/coaching on the Sabbath was totally fine).
The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath.
Sometimes I wonder if I grew in a different church than some of those that post here. Growing up in Northern UT the entire neighborhood went to church in the morning (LDS and other) and we all played and roamed after church. Nobody was ever uptight about it, parents or kids. And then the LDS kids went to sacrament meeting in the evening. Although, dining out on Sundays was not frequent (mostly for financial reasons, I assume) it was never a big deal. But root beer floats was a weekly religious experience as we watched Ed Sullivan.
I’m frankly amazed at the angst of GAs eating out on Sundays. This an accurate description of a GA weekend. Fly out Friday afternoon, arrive late to a hotel in the city where you are assigned for the a stake conference that weekend.If lucky you get a meal at the hotel if you don’t get in too late. Otherwise it’s snacks in the room. Get up early saturday and begin meetings at 8:00 with the stake presidency. If it is a stake reorganization, begin interviews at 9:00. Maybe a short lunch around noon, then continue interviews or training until the afternoon priesthood session around 4:00. Dinner before the adult session. 7:00 2 hour adult session. Return to the hotel 10:00. Training at 7:00a the next morning with the new stake presidency, 10:00-12:00 general session followed by a lunch maybe with the stake president’s family then off to the airport. Dinner, airport food, or peanuts on the plane. Repeat that schedule 3 weekends/month. Sound glamorous and fun? Now consider doing that until your are 70 or later if an apostle.
I could care less if they eat out. And the whole 2nd anointing comment is just bonkers. Yes, the GA ‘s do have a separate sacrament meeting at their weekly meeting because most can’t attend a sacrament meeting on the weekend. Can you imagine being on every Sunday, with people looking for inspiration and instruction. That’s a pretty heavy burden. I once was a driver for the PQ12. He was in his 90s. He arrived in our NE city pretty late and we drove him to his hotel. As PQ12 he and a security person with him. I picked him up the next morning and drove him around to the local sights. He slept much of the time, then I took him to the Mission President’s Seminar where he was to train the MPs. He was alert, engaged and genuine. No pat answers. As the MP’s were asking lots of detailed questions after a while he kind of paused and said – “Presidents, I have never intentionally violated a law, commandment, or policy of the Church.” Then he got this big smile on his face and said, “But I have bent some so far out of shape they are hardly recognizable. Presidents, get the spirit and follow it and don’t worry so much about policy and procedure.” I loved his frankness and willingness to not just give pat answers.
So give a break. They aint perfect and neither are we.
Eons ago I attended a Mutual activity that ran late on a Saturday night (activities in those days ran later than they do now). There were about 10 minutes remaining on a movie we were watching, when a Mutual leader literally pulled the plug on the movie projector. It was midnight and technically the Sabbath, so who knows how the movie ended.
A few years later I was a freshman at BYU living on campus. There was a rule that we had to stay in our Sunday clothes if we left our unit for the common area. So, one side of the door we could get in more comfortable clothing, but not on the other side of the door.
I’ve noted the past several years, with relief, that the Church has backed off its prescriptive Sunday behavior lists and aimed for more general guidelines. As for anyone eating at a restaurant on Sunday, anyone at all, why do we make it our business or concern. Ah yes, those decades of conditioning.
Rockwell: the GA in question was the same one whose quote is the image at the top of the post, and the IHOP was in Utah County. IDK if it’s true, but I tend to think based on comments here and on that social media site that it’s accurate. It sounds to me like there’s quite a lot of dining out on Sundays that are contradictorily being preached against from the pulpit. Make of that what you will.
Fred VII, “If the Sabbath truly is made for man and not man for the Sabbath, how does one go about “breaking” the Sabbath? Isn’t it mine to do what I will with it?”
I would love a version of Mormonism where this logic applied to everything. But then, I’m of the opinion that humans are on the giving and receiving end of every revelation and doctrine of the church so the whole system is made for the members and not the members for the system.
Has anyone else noticed that while “ordinary” members are chastised for playing sports or competing (in, say, the Olympics) on Sunday, this absolutely does NOT apply to famous baseball or football players, or to award-winning gymnasts. who are praised in Conference talks and on the Church website because they bring “positive attention” to our religion (despite their Sabbath-breaking). This, IMO, is total hypocrisy on the part of Church leaders. Years ago the Tabernacle Choir performed at the closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, which just so happened to be on a Sunday. One of my less-active brothers snarkily commented along the lines of, “I guess when you’re broadcasting to an international audience, anything goes!” (Speaking of working on Sundays, not everyone involved in “Music and the Spoken Word” is a volunteer.)
When I attended BYU in the mid-1970s, the dorm cafeterias didn’t serve breakfast on Sundays, thus mandating that everyone fast at least one meal every week. I don’t recall anyone thinking this was odd or complaining. You also had to wear “Sunday dress” to be served. One week a Chinese student came in wearing jeans, was refused, and left in tears.
I grew up in upstate NY, and we often went on scenic drives on Sunday afternoons or to the NY State Museum. Or played board games or did puzzles at home–no religious connection required. We always changed from Church clothes to ordinary outfits after, or between, Church meetings, not just for comfort but for protecting those dry-clean-only suits and jackets from food spills. My mother prepared a huge meal on Sunday afternoons, and after Sacrament meeting (which ran from 5:30-7 or some equally atrocious time) we had “Sunday cereal,” i.e. pre-sweetened cereal which was normally forbidden by my practical and money-saving parents. It ended the day on a special note and gave us something to look forward to. When we got older and had bigger appetites, we switched to homemade pizza (one of my brothers would make the dough before Sac;. meeting and let it rise while we were at Church), along with salad. This was easily adaptable if we invited people over at the last minute. At some point Mom declared herself free from big Sunday lunches. Interestingly, in my own family–since I worked full-time for decades including nights and Saturdays–I always used time on Sunday to prepare a major meal that we could live on for several days (much easier with a 3-hour Church schedule and microwaves). Once my daughter became involved in dance and other activities, and then started working herself, Sundays were often the only day of the week the whole family sat down together. When she had to report to Target at 4 a.m. and thus went to bed super-early, I was often up past midnight on Saturday prepping so that we could eat as soon as Church was over. (Lots of crock-pot recipes.)
The Sabbath has to be a sticky issue for the church. I recall my parents being heavily influence by the Mark E. Peterson GC talk, I think in the mid 70’s, which was as close to a fundamentalist reading of Sabbath Day “do’s and don’t’s”–and it was very restrictive. At other times and in other regions, it seems Sunday activities were far more pliable.
Here are a few observations from my lifetime of Sabbath Day activities and practices:
*I grew up in a mostly agricultural and rural region just outside of the Mormon Trail. Half our stake ran cattle and many had dairy farms and grew hay. The other half had more conventional occupations: Government civil servants, teachers and school administrators, dentists, hardware store owners, builders, contractors. There was a bit of tension between the dairy farmers who never got a day off and the others. A part of the dairy farmers’ tradition was to eat out Sunday evening. It gave everyone in the family a little time off and away. Then around 1983 a ball busting stake president was installed and he went full fundamentalist about the Sabbath. It created a lot of tension with the farmers.
*A mission companion from Rigby Idaho told me his family, potato farmers, went water skiing every Sunday after church because it was the only time they could recreate, and they weren’t the only ones. His father was on the high council so I will assume the stake president was in the know. This would have also been in the mid 1980s.
*My family went through this insane period where my parents made us wear our church clothes all Sunday long. No playing with friends. No TV. We were only to read church books and write in our journals. After two years the children totally revolted, led by my older sister who was in high school, and my parents pulled back from the brink of a revolution within the house. Secretly I think part of it was driven by my dad’s want to watch a football game or two on Sundays. Wearing church clothes all day was dumped and we could resume playing with kids in the neighborhood who were ‘good influences’, and playing board games. Knowing how orthodox my mom was, she must have seen the stricture didn’t bear positive fruits.
*In college at BYU in 1989, I drove up to Rick’s College on a Sunday to see some friends. We decided to go out to eat at the Golden Corral. It was packed and we waited 30 minutes to be seated. There were as many suits, white shirts, ties and dresses as you would see at church. I asked my friend if Rexburg had a lot of Mormons. He laughed out loud and said this place is more Mormon than Provo. I asked the waitress if it was always this busy on Sundays. She said it is our busiest day of the week! Coming from a very orthodox home, I was surprised (even through I dumped the orthodoxy when I got to BYU and often ate out on Sundays).
*A good friend who grew up in Murray told me growing up (six children in the family), the first thing they did after fast and testimony meeting was to pile into the family Suburban and head for the Wendy’s Drive Through. They would go home with a pile of hamburgers and fries and eat until they couldn’t move. He told me we all loved fast Sunday. And why not?
*Lastly, I knew our stake patriarch well in my home stake, a long time resident of our area. We talked about Sabbath activities one afternoon after church. He told me back in the 40’s and 50’s, our ward always held a big potluck after church, and the men played softball for a couple of hours while the women visited. Then they would make homemade ice cream, break down the tables and tents and everyone would head home around 5pm. He said it was the best day of the week, and mourned that ‘we have lost our ability to have fun together on Sundays.’ Amen to that.
Growing up I think my family was one of the stricter ones in the ward when it came to Sabbath observance. Though we did have afternoon drives through the countryside, and summer family picnics at a nearby country park. But dressed in our Sunday attire which made those visits to the country park very different to weekday holiday visits in terms of activities, more sitting around chatting as a family but outdoors instead of at home. We could read church books. Back before the consolidated schedule siblings were sometimes allowed to lunch with church friends, to be returned at sacrament meeting. I remember being appalled that two of my brothers got to attend an air show with a member family one Sunday afternoon.. probably jealous as well, and confused..
We didn’t do the picnics and country drives with our kids. For one, I don’t drive and my husband hates driving, so not his idea of a relaxing or restful activity.
More and more, both for myself, and from observation, I see people who try to do all their calling work on a Sunday, because that’s approved sabbath work, freeing up time for other activities during the week. To the point that I often actually resent when calling work intrudes on other days. It’s as though the sabbath has become the Lord’s time, and the rest of the week our own time. More and more members seem to be erecting such boundaries around our own time as some kind of defence.
Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if a GA or anyone else eats out on Sunday or goes to the store. I recall as a young missionary reading the New Testament closely and realizing in the Early Church (the one we are supposed to be restoring) Jewish Christians kept their sabbath and Gentile Christians (as well as Jews) honored The Lord’s Day, a separate observance and one that was about meeting together and participating in a communal meal (the Lord’s Supper). The Lord’s Day had pretty much nothing to do with the Jewish sabbath and Jewish sabbath rules.
Anyone who reads the New Testament can see this. I’m sure LDS leaders have either learned this through their own reading or been instructed by visiting BYU scholars. The whole LDS approach to “the sabbath” is built on ignorance and disinformation. As with a variety of other LDS topics, it seems best to just ignore the LDS rhetoric and do what works for yourself, your family, and your conscience.
So, when a GA is out of town on a Sunday it’s OK to eat at a restaurant, but not when the GA is near home? How bout on general conference Sunday? They don’t all pile into their cars and head home for lunch between sessions. They eat on the church office building campus. Those meals are provided by paid cooks, paid servers, paid dish washers just like in a restaurant. The only differences between that and a restaurant is the GAs don’t get a bill or tip the staff. So maybe that’s the line; tipping is the deal (sabbath) breaker.