What does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teach about how to keep the Sabbath day holy? Well, many things, and yet very little.
Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to be “commanded in all things,” meaning that he wants us to learn and grow and decide for ourselves what is right. Doctrine and Covenants 58:26. Because of that, you won’t find a list of exactly what is appropriate and what is not. We try to keep our Sabbath day special, and focused on Jesus Christ, because Mormons are Christians. As with anything on this site, I am not trying to declare doctrine, but share what I have learned in the hope that it might help others make their own decisions.
When I was younger, I wondered whether I could do homework on Sundays, since my parents would not allow me to do fun things such as playing football with my friends or riding my BMX bike (ugh, why not?!?). I figured that if I got all my homework done on boring Sundays, then I would be free to do the fun things on fun days (read: NOT Sundays).
I cannot recall now what I read to help me make the decision. The internet had not yet graced my home. Appended to this post is a collection of references which can help you make your decision.
My resolve was to never do homework on Sunday. This was an easy extension of my earlier paper route decision. That resolve never broke. When I was behind on a project, or forgot some homework, or was studying for a Monday exam or deadline, I would always quit what I was doing by midnight Saturday.
There were times that I would nap all afternoon on Sunday and then get up at midnight and pick up my school work as soon as Monday rolled around. Many times I felt that the Lord quickened my mind to help me be ready because of my careful observance of the Sabbath day.
Henry B. Eyring, then as Deputy Commissioner of Church Education, weighed in on this question. “But once the meetings are over, what is wrong with schoolwork? Nothing, intrinsically. Schoolwork is a good thing to do—on most days. However, every hour you study secular subjects on the Sabbath is an hour you don’t spend in the Lord’s service, in the ways he asks us to spend his day.”
In graduate school, my resolve was again put to the test. My grades were not stellar, in part because I was working to support my wife and son (and later daughter) while in school full time. Some Saturday nights, however, when the clock bade me quit studying, I sat and pondered all the ways an extra day of study would help me. I pictured my classmates at their study carrels all day Sunday, leaving me in the dust. Luckily, I had made this decision years before, so I stood by my resolve and closed my books. The Holy Spirit confirmed for me on numerous occasions during tests and study sessions that my mind was being blessed for my obedience to this principle. There are many examples of people who have had similar experiences, even in grad school.
Time for a curve ball – what about seminary or institute homework? Here is one person’s perspective
More opinions? Try this for an interesting perspective from a formerly Jewish man. Or click here for a youth perspective, or here for another one. Primary manuals make some reference – see Enrichment Activity #7 here. Here’s another.
I can certainly think of times when it might be appropriate to do some homework on Sundays. After all, we have all learned by now that we learn more as we make our own decisions about the grayer areas of obedience, clearing out the confusion and learning what the right path is for our future.
What do you think? Is homework something you do on the Sabbath? Or just religious homework? Or just when there is a major test or homework backlog to address?