My dad is not a member of the Church and likes to plan family activities on Sundays and over weekends. I would like to go to church and keep the Sabbath day holy, but I love my family and want to be with them. What should I do?
Some of the hardest decisions to make are between two right choices. We have been taught to honor our parents and to stay close to our families. We have also been told to keep the Sabbath day holy. Free time to spend in good activities with our families is hard to come by. And we need to be recharged by attending church regularly and learning more about Jesus Christ and his gospel.
This is a dilemma faced by parents and youth, members and nonmembers. The very first thing you need to do is talk openly with your parents about your dilemma. Several readers with similar situations in their families wrote to the New Era to say that once their father or mother knew how important attending church was to them, their parents quit planning Sunday activities and tried to arrange things for another day. At least if you start by talking, together you may be able to work out a compromise.
It is important to obey the Lord’s commandment to honor the Sabbath day by righteous observance. The Sabbath day is a time to worship our Father in Heaven and his Son Jesus Christ. It is a time to renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament.
President Spencer W. Kimball gave this instruction about the Sabbath. “The Sabbath is a holy day in which to do worthy and holy things. … If one merely lounges about doing nothing on the Sabbath, he is breaking it. To observe it, one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day” (“The Sabbath—A Delight,” Ensign, Jan. 1978, pp. 4–5).
One reader, Lynna Shin, now a student at BYU, faced the same dilemma about dealing with her family, who are not members, and attending Church meetings. She wrote, “My parents needed to know I was still their daughter. My spending so much time with church families made them feel they were ‘not good enough.’ I began suggesting Sunday activities like a drive into the mountains or a walk as an alternative to shopping malls, amusement parks, or movie theaters. Sometimes it worked, but not always. But I still spend time with my family because this is what the Lord asks of us. Trying to avoid my family for fear I was becoming a ‘bad’ Latter-day Saint only estranged me from my parents, making it harder for me to share with them the joy of the gospel.”
Lynna also suggested reading Mark 2:27, where Jesus teaches that the Sabbath day is for our benefit. We do not have a list of dos and don’ts like the ancient Jews had for observing the Sabbath. Instead we feel it is a day to worship and be with loved ones.
You need to talk about how you would like to spend your Sundays with your family. The issue of Sabbath observance shouldn’t be a cause for anger or contention in your family. As much as possible, attend your meetings. You may be surprised how supportive family can be when they know how much attending church means to you. Above all, let the truths of the gospel shine through in your life and in your example.
Be respectful of your father as he tries to give your family opportunities to be together. And if your dad sees that every time you have a choice, you choose to keep the Sabbath day holy, then he may choose to respect your decision and support you.
I too had similar problems with my family regarding the Sabbath, but the scripture Matthew 10:37 [Matt. 10:37] stuck in my mind. I knew what I should do. I put the Lord first in my life and also did all things possible for my family to show that they too were important to me. Now my dad has allowed me to serve as a full-time missionary, the first sister missionary in the India Bangalore Mission.
Sister Xavier, 21 Bangalore, India
I am in this situation many times. I try to arrange another time to do a certain activity with my dad. This way you keep him happy and yourself happy by keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Matthew Black, 18 Silver Spring, Maryland
I showed my dad how much the Church meant to me. He respected me and knew not to schedule family activities on Sunday. If he had a family activity on another day, I was sure to go.
Elder Justin Maher, 20 Oregon Portland Mission
Don’t be discouraged; just be patient. I love my dad a lot and have seen big changes in him. You may too if you just keep believing. You never know what may come up that makes him think about changing.
Heather Bratt, 16 Port McNeill, British Columbia, Canada
First of all, you should ask your dad to plan activities and other fun things on weekdays and Saturdays. You should also have the courage to ask your father to go to church with you to help him understand.
Terri C. Hendricks, 13 Pittsburg, California
One of my friends struggles with the same thing. Tell your father you want to be with him but that you would like him to choose another day for his activities. Tell him why the Sabbath is important to you.
Whitney Luke, 14 Lincoln, Nebraska
My dad is not a member and used to plan activities on Sunday. We respected and loved him. We never blamed him or told him he was wrong. We kept on doing the things we knew were right. He knew that Sunday activities bothered us, and after a while he quit asking us to join him and he started to join us in going to church.
Penny Long, 13 Rohnert Park, California