Long before the majority of Christian people in the United States were ready to turn their back on major parts of God’s Word, they acquiesced to turning their backs on the Sabbath Rest that God had commanded. It happened quickly, and it happened for the love of money. Serving Mammon proved overwhelming to serving God.
As a young boy I remember that all the stores were closed on Sundays. There were, it is true, a few hours in which each pharmacy, in turn, stayed open for emergency medicines to be purchased, but all other retail stores closed. If asked why we kept the Sabbath on Sunday, not Saturday, all would respond with the truth that the Lord Jesus rose on that day, and henceforth the Sabbath for his followers became what the world calls Sunday. It was the Lord’s Day. To fail to keep it holy was to turn from the Lord God’s clear will.
Social Historians may be able to date this change precisely, but I know that it happened between 1963 and 1975 in my hometown. Big box stores, able to undercut local retailers, began to be open on Sunday in the nearby city, and soon many were purchasing their appliances and other goods there. I watched as my uncle and his family fought valiantly to maintain their local business in the face of that rising competition, and finally succumbed to opening on Sunday rather than declare bankruptcy. By then many of the local customers who had sustained them for generations had already abandoned them. When I left at 17 it was not so, and when I came back to visit at 27 it was.
It was not long before more and more establishments were open on Sunday, and soon the draw of restaurants adopting the trend began to invade the community of believers. It was not uncommon for many to make going out for lunch after attending church services, a regular – if not weekly – event. Failing also to heed the biblical strictures against requiring the poor and the stranger to work on the Sabbath, many church goers got a reputation for callous and ungenerous behavior toward those waiting upon them. In time it was soon not uncommon for those who served tables on Sunday to dislike the church goers who came, so many of them seemed to not even notice them. And their tips were so miserly.
While the day of rest became a day of shopping and eating out, another trend was rising, and that was Sunday sports for teenagers. The strange pressure to have their children participate in competitive athletic competitions, and the quest for them to excel, seemed more and more to alter Sunday patterns. Sporting event schedules, even those only for practice, began to preempt the historic pattern of Sunday obligation. And again, Christian people, or so professed, yielded to the pressure of the world. Then clergy and religious institutions caved. More and more decisions were being made by the churches to accommodate the new social patterns, even though directly contrary to God’s Word.
Next Week: Modern Marriage & Divorce