Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy: Statements by General Authorities
Compiled by Michael T. Griffith
All but one of the statements below can be found at the various suggested Internet links that are listed at the end of this article. The one exception is the first statement from President Benson, and for that quote I’ve provided the reference from which the statement was taken.
PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY
– I mention the Sabbath
day. The Sabbath of the Lord is becoming the play day of the people. It is a
day of golf and football on television, of buying and selling in our stores and
markets. Are we moving to mainstream
Our strength for the future, our resolution to grow the Church across the world, will be weakened if we violate the will of the Lord in this important matter. He has so very clearly spoken anciently and again in modern revelation. We cannot disregard with impunity that which He has said.
– There isn’t anybody in this Church who has to buy furniture on Sunday. There really isn’t. There isn’t anybody in this Church who has to buy a new automobile on Sunday, is there? No. There isn’t anybody in this Church who, with a little care and planning, has to buy groceries on Sunday. No. Most of us have refrigerators. A quart of milk will hold, insofar as the bacteria go, from Saturday till Monday. There is no question about that. You don’t need ice cream to be bought on Sunday. You don’t need to buy groceries on Sunday, brethren. You don’t need to make Sunday a day of merchandising. I don’t think we need to patronize the ordinary business merchants on the Sabbath day. Why do they stay open? To get customers. Who are those customers? Well, they are not all nonmembers of this Church. You know that and I know that.
– There is no need for people to shop and desecrate the Sabbath day by buying things on Sunday. That is not the time to buy groceries. You have six days of the week, and you all have a refrigerator. You do not have to shop on Sunday. Do not buy furniture on Sunday; buy it the other days of the week. You will not lose anything if you do your shopping the other days and do not do it on Sunday. Let this be a day of meditation, of reading the scriptures, of talking with your families, and of dwelling on the things of God. If you do so, you will be blessed.
PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON
– Now, what about those activities that do not fit the spirit or purpose of the Sabbath? Here are a few:
* Overworking and staying up late Saturday so that you are exhausted the next day.
* Filling the Sabbath so full of extra meetings that there is no time for prayer, meditation, family fellowship, and counseling.
* Doing gardening and odd jobs around the house.
* Taking trips to canyons or resorts, visiting friends socially, joy riding, wasting time, and engaging in other amusements.
* Playing vigorously and going to movies.
* Engaging in sports and hunting.
* Reading material that does not contribute to your spiritual uplift.
* Reading Sunday papers–the largest edition of the week. Why? Because it is diverting and time-consuming on a day we need to build the spirit.
* Shopping or supporting with your patronage businesses that operate on Sunday, such as grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and service stations.
President Joseph Fielding Smith made it a practice not to turn on radio or TV on Sunday except for Church-sponsored programs. [From Ezra Taft Benson, “Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy,” in his book, God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, p. 105.]
– I don't believe it is possible to keep our spirituality on a high plane by spending our Sabbaths on the beach, on the golf course, in the mountains, or in our own homes reading newspapers and looking at television. When the Lord said, "And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayerm,” that is exactly what He meant. We must have spiritual food.
PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL
– To hunt and fish on the Lord’s day is not keeping it holy. To plant or cultivate or harvest crops on the Sabbath is not keeping holy the Lord’s day. To go into the canyons for picnics, to attend games or rodeos or races or shows or other amusements on that day is not to keep it in holy remembrance.
– We have become largely a world of Sabbath breakers. On the Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded, the shows have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players. The Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics; even ball games are played on the sacred day. “Business as usual” is the slogan for many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people treat the day as a holiday, numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers and money-makers.
– A seminary group planned a service in the mountains on Sunday. They felt justified in the have their meeting and enjoyed a spiritual hour together, but after that hour the day became a day for picnicking, games, hiking, and climbing, with no further thought of the Sabbath. The one hour of devotion did not make of that day a holy day.
– Sabbath-breakers too are
those who buy commodities or entertainment on the Sabbath, thus encouraging
pleasure palaces and business establishments to remain open—which they
otherwise would not do. If we buy, sell, trade, or support such on the Lord’s day we are as rebellious as the children of
– May I take you back 142 years when there was, of course, no tabernacle here, nor temple, nor Temple Square. On July 24, 1847, the pioneer company of our people came into this valley. An advance group had arrived a day or two earlier. Brigham Young arrived on Saturday. The next day, Sabbath services were held both in the morning and in the afternoon. There was no hall of any kind in which to meet. I suppose that in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath then or in the future.
Imagine how tempting it must have been for our pioneer forefathers to break the Sabbath day. Their survival depended upon the food they could grow and harvest. Yet their leaders counseled them to exercise faith in the promises of the Lord and to respect the Sabbath day. Church members are the beneficiaries of that heritage and of the promises of the Lord to those who are faithful. We must always remember who we are and that we are different from the world.
– I hope students will use the Sabbath for studying only as an emergency. . . . I believe that generally, with careful organization of time through the week, most studying can be done on weekdays, leaving the Sabbath for worship. . . . There might be times when one would feel forced to study, when he might feel that it was an ox in the mire. I am expressing only my personal opinions on this matter, but since we are talking to students, it would be my hope that your studying could be done in the season thereof and not as a cramming process just before you go on Monday mornings.
ELDER JAMES E. FAUST
– There seems to be an ever-increasing popularity in disregarding the centuries-old commandment to observe and respect the Sabbath day. For many it has become a holiday rather than a holy day of rest and sanctification. For some it is a day to shop and buy groceries. The decision of those who engage in shopping, sports, work, and recreation on the Sabbath day is their own, for which they alone bear responsibility.
ELDER MARK E. PETERSEN
– Our observance or
nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the
Lord personally and toward his suffering in
– We know there are employees in certain essential services, such as in hospitals and other 24-hour-a-day institutions, who have no option as to their working conditions. We do not speak of them. But most people are not so employed, and they have control of their own time.
Would they rather ski or swim or go to the movies or conduct business on Sunday? If the answer is yes, they should ask themselves if they have strayed away from the faith to that extent and adopted another gospel—a gospel of Sunday fun and business.
Why don’t we take the Lord seriously concerning the Sabbath day? We know that we should not trifle with sacred things and that the Sabbath is his sacred day.
ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS
– Modern-day prophets have encouraged us not to shop on Sunday. Those of us who shop on the Sabbath cannot escape responsibility for encouraging businesses to remain open on that day. Essential services must be provided, but most Sabbath transactions could be avoided if merchants and customers were determined to avoid doing business on the Lord’s day.
– When I left this campus
[BYU] to study at the
PRESIDENT GEORGE Q. CANNON
– A man deceives himself when he thinks that by working on Sunday he advances his labor or his interests. So also with those who take that day for excursions and pleasure hunting. A man who strictly confines his labors to six days, and will not work himself, not suffer his animals to work on Sunday, will perform more labor during the year and be prospered to a far greater extent than the man who is careless upon this point.
So also with those who seek pleasure; they lose by using the Sabbath for that purpose. If they would select some other day, they would find themselves better off at the end of the year than they would be in using Sunday for this purpose. It should be an inflexible rule with every man, woman and child in the Church to hold Sunday sacred for the worship of the Lord and never to perform any labor on that day if it can possibly be avoided.
PRESIDENT JOSEPH F. SMITH
– To observe the Sabbath day properly is the plain duty of every Latter-day Saint—and that includes the young men and young women and the boys and girls. It may seem strange that it should be necessary to repeat this often-asserted fact. But there appear to be some people, and sometimes whole communities, who neglect this duty, and therefore stand in need of this admonition.
– Men are not showing zeal and ardor in their religious faith and duty when they hustle off early Sunday morning … to the canyons, the resorts, and to visit friends or places of amusement with their wives and children. They are not paying their devotions in this way to the Most High.
Not in seeking pleasure and recreation do they offer their time and attention in the worship of the Lord; nor can they thus rejoice in the spirit of forgiveness and worship that comes with partaking of the holy sacrament.
Boys and young men are not fasting with singleness of heart that their joy may be full when they spend the Sabbath day loafing around the village ice-cream stand or restaurant, playing games, or in buggy riding, fishing, shooting, or engaged in physical sports, excursions and outings. Such is not the course that will keep them unspotted from the world, but rather one that will deprive them of the rich promises of the Lord, giving them sorrow instead of joy, and unrest and anxiety instead of the peace that comes with works of righteousness.
– Theaters and various
public amusements are now held on the Sabbath day contrary to the revelations
of the Lord, and they prove a potent factor in destroying the faith of those
who participate in this practice. The parents of the youth of
PRESIDENT JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
– You ask if it is wrong to take rides on the Sabbath, to view television and listen to the radio. Certainly it is not in harmony with the day to view shows on crime and scenes of murder, banditry, and other things contrary to the spirit of the gospel; and it must be admitted that these dominate the picture shows. So far as my practice is concerned, the radio and television are not turned on in the home on the Sabbath day, except it be to listen to religious sermons or other programs sponsored by the Church. We never go automobile riding on the Sabbath except in the line of religious duty and appointment.
– The Lord has given us six days of each week in which we can work and earn our living and in these days most of us, and especially children, can and do find time for some amusement and relaxation. The demands upon the time of working men and likewise professional men, seldom, if ever, require all of the time during these six days without any hours for relaxation and amusement. School children have one day free out of the six, and each school day leaves some period for relaxation. The athletics, playing of games, and other amusements that they engage in indicate that the entire time of the six days is seldom occupied without some hours free. Most businessmen and professional men can find time for golf or fishing and hunting; and they do not need the Sunday to "stretch their bones," in sports and other entertainment. Some working men today work only five days a week, yet they have formed the habit of taking the Sabbath for additional time for leisure and amusement. There are very few exceptions where no free time can be found.
– The great majority of men and children today are not content to take only the six days for the purposes of the physical needs of the body and are starving their spirits. If we go without food, we get hungry; if we go without sleep, we get weary and ill; but we seldom think that the starving of the spirit is anything that should worry us. When we do this, we feel no pain, no misery, unless it is that our conscience troubles us. If we persist in the violation of the Sabbath day, the time comes when our conscience becomes seared, and we fail to heed its warnings or its call for spiritual food. Surely it is not unreasonable for us to be commanded to obey the Sabbath when the Lord has given us six-sevenths of our time for all temporal purposes.
ELDER BRUCE R. McCONKIE
– Sunday being the Lord's Day, it is a day on which men should do the Lord's work, and do it exclusively. There should be no unnecessary work of a temporal nature, no recreation, no unnecessary travel, no joy riding, and the like. The Sabbath is a day for affirmative spiritual worship, aside from which, "thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart."
PRESIDENT GEORGE ALBERT SMITH
– Much of the sorrow and distress that is afflicting and will continue to afflict mankind is traceable to the fact that they have ignored God’s admonition to keep the Sabbath day holy.
FIRST PRESIDENCY STATEMENT, 1993
-- We sense that many Latter-day Saints have become lax in their observance of the Sabbath day. We should refrain from shopping on the Sabbath and participating in other commercial and sporting activities that now commonly desecrate the Sabbath.
We urge all Latter-day Saints to set this holy day apart from activities of the world and consecrate themselves by entering into a spirit of worship, thanksgiving, service, and family-centered activities appropriate to the Sabbath. As Church members endeavor to make their Sabbath activities compatible with the intent and Spirit of the Lord, their lives will be filled with joy and peace.
FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH Pamphlet
– Sunday is not a holiday or a day for recreation or athletic events. Do not seek entertainment or spend money on this day. Let your friends know what your standards are so they will not try to persuade you to participate in activities that are not appropriate for the Sabbath.