What did the Savior mean when He said that “the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath”? I believe He wanted us to understand that the Sabbath was His gift to us

-thus Elder Nelson, from this April’s Conference.

He then goes on to recommend church attendance, taking the sacrament, diligently working in your church calling, teaching gospel principles to our children, family prayer and other forms of “righteous, intentional parenting,” family history work, service, self-discipline, not pursuing pleasure, and forgoing routine or recreational activities.

Some gift!

It’s a present so generous that any more of it could break you.

A few years back I told my dad I wanted a cabin in our mountains. He gave me the sceptical fish-eye. “Exactly how do you plan to pay for it?” he said. “I was more thinking you’d let us use it after you bought it,” I told him.



It turned out I was joking.

But let’s think about cabins as gifts for a minute. Truly a princely gift. No one would disagree with that. At the same time, the gift would inherently confer on you a bundle of restrictions. If you wanted to use the gift, you would have to use it where it was. Its location would be fixed. Travel distances and times would be fixed. The weather would not be up to you.  The scenery would be what it was.  The accommodations could be changed, but only within a limited range, and only with expense or effort. These limitations are not unfortunate side-effects of the gift. They aren’t unavoidable evils. They are the gift.

If you were to get around these restrictions by selling the cabin and buying something else somewhere else, in a real sense you would have rejected the gift.

The best gifts come from a friend who has seen something in you that you don’t know about. “A dance lesson? Why would I want to learn dancing?” “Just try it.” You try it and you love it. You have to conform yourself to the gift before you can discover the gift.

So what gift is inherent in Sabbatarian restrictions? The gift is rest and refuge. The Sabbath is the Benedict Option expressed in time.

Spirit is material, supposedly. Whatever else that means, it means that holiness is not just a subjective opinion. Holiness is real. It can be experienced. The restrictions on the Sabbath make the experience of holiness possible. Until you embrace the restrictions, you can’t know the gift.

The Church is renewing its emphasis on the Sabbath and on teaching children on that day. Children can’t make choices for the Kingdom unless they have experienced the Kingdom. Otherwise they would be like Hydarnes, knowing only half. There is a saying abroad that public schooling is child abuse. That saying exaggerates. But there is probably a religious equivalent. Leaving the holying of your children to the Church alone is parental neglect.


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