Sunday ban under review

Western Isles Council will consider overturning a controversial ban against the Sunday operating of public facilities and transport services in the Hebrides this week.

The council has provoked fury with campaigners by refusing Sabbath entry to its £7million flagship swimming pool and sports complex in Stornoway on the largely Presbyterian island of Lewis.

At the same time it permits seven-day operation at council-owned sports facilities in the mainly Catholic islands of Benbecula and Barra.

Lewis has a traditional culture of Sabbath Observance, but in recent years this has weakened with some pubs and shops now trading on Sundays.

The Press and Journal: read on....

Earlier this year an attempt to lift a ban on playing golf on Sundays on Lewis was rebuffed by the Stornoway Trust who are the public landords of the local golf course. In response the Stornoway Golf club is to consider legal action.

The Press and Journal: read on...

Meanwhile a letter in the Stornoway Gazette (25/10/07) article stated:

"Fourth commandment – despite being given numerous chances (see letters passim ad nauseam) nobody can quote anywhere in the Bible where God or Jesus say to change the 4th commandment from sunset Friday/sunset Saturday to midnight Saturday/midnight Sunday and instead of commemorating the creation of the world (which it explicitly mentions) that it should commemorate Jesus' resurrection (of which there is no mention at all). Only by quoting verses out of context ('Christian Sabbath' 09/03/2006) or speculating ('The Ten Commandments' 02/03/2006) can they try (and fail) to justify why they ignore biblical commands. There is absolutely nothing in the 4th commandment that has to do with Sunday. There is nowhere in the Bible where Sunday is called a Sabbath."

An article appeared in the Press and Journal in November 2002 which commented on the place of Sunday in the Christian church.


YESTERDAY, Aberdeen hosted the ninth conference of the European Pineal and Biological Rhythms Society. And the study of bio-rhythms and body clocks is fascinating - profoundly influencing, as they do, the functions of life and our world's natural order. They set sleep patterns, produce jet lag, and underlie the astounding navigational precision of migrating birds. But our cycles and modes of life are also influenced by and embedded in our respective cultures and belief systems. And unsurprisingly, Loganair's plans to run Sunday services to the Isle of Lewis have caused a stir.

Such a move - in these parts, on that special day - is a 'big domino'. If it falls, the Hebrides will most likely succumb, as other places have, to the commercial pressures and social changes that are turning us into a non-stop world. So Sunday, as a day of rest, is on dodgy ground. But not just for secular reasons.

The Fourth Commandment says: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." However, the commandment was given to the Jews; and it related to the 24-hour period ending at sunset on Saturday. The move to a Sunday rest-day occurred gradually over the early centuries of Christendom; and for a variety of (non-biblical) reasons. The 'first day of the week' worship meetings of the early disciples were on Saturday after dark; before work the following (Sunday) morning. (And regarding the term 'the Lord's Day', which occurs only once in the Bible, there are no grounds for interpreting this expression to mean Sunday.)

But the Roman authorities outlawed these Saturday gatherings. Later influences included the gradual change in the overall ethnicity of the church from being mainly Jewish to predominantly Gentile. Then the Emperor Constantine amalgamated his new-found "Christianity" with pagan worship - centred on "the Venerable Day of the Sun". Subsequently the Council of Laodicea prohibited Sabbath (Saturday) rest in 363AD.

Yet for hundreds of years, Scotland and its Celtic Church (planted by Columba) resisted this change - even up to the 11th century when Scotland came under the Catholic influence of (Saint) Margaret, King Malcolm III's second wife. Of that period T. Ratcliffe Barnett wrote: "The Scots had perhaps kept up the traditional usage of the ancient Irish Church which observed Saturday instead of Sunday as a day of rest."

Moreover, Martin Luther and the early Reformers refused to regard Sunday as the Christian fulfillment of the Jewish Sabbath. So even though Scotland enacted "Sunday" legislation in 1579, the battle to preserve the sanctity of Sunday struggles; not only in the face of burgeoning secularism and consumer demand, but also in terms of finding biblical support.

A book entitled "The Lord's Day" (author David Wilson; publisher Lord's Day Observance Society) offers its best defense of Sabbatarianism by suggesting: "The manner in which the change of the Sabbath from the last to the first day of the week, was gradually introduced by the divine authority of our Lord and His Apostles." And further states: "To avoid needlessly exasperating the prejudices of the Jewish converts, and the malice of the great body of that nation, the transfer of the day of the Sabbath was made for a long time silently and gradually." Mmmm.........doesn't sound quite right.

However, regarding which day we rest is subordinate to the most fundamental principle of all. And back now to the circadian rhythms of the Rowatt Institute's Professor Peter Morgan and his international symposium.

The principle of resting on one day in seven is a pattern that is embedded in our genes. (And the "daily clock" gene has 24 segments called exons.) It thwarted the French in their post-Revolution efforts to create a 10-day week. It's a creation ordinance in Genesis that God employed when He made the world. It is the way He has fashioned us; it's been instituted for our good. "The Sabbath (rest) was made for man." It was and is our Maker's template for healthy minds, bodies and spirits; and for a healthy society. And we abandon it at our peril.


Press and Journal, 03/09/2008

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