“Is it all right to study religion homework on Sunday?” New Era, Nov. 1972, 19
Answer/Ben E. Lewis
During the years I served as a stake president, this question was frequently put to me by young people who were concerned about what they should or should not do on the Sabbath day. Many were former BYU students; others were seminary students.
My thoughts turn to the experience Jesus had when he was confronted with this kind of question from those who sought to discredit him and his disciples by charging a violation of the Sabbath day law. Jesus raised this question, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” (Mark 3:4.) In response to his own question, he healed the man who had a withered hand.
Sometimes we tend to emphasize the things that should not be done on the Sabbath day, failing to recognize the positive approach taken by Jesus who, as Lord of the Sabbath, stressed that this was a holy day, a day for rejoicing and giving special consideration to the things of the Lord.
It was he who declared through revelation that the way to keep oneself unspotted from the world was to go to the house of prayer on his holy day, the Sabbath. This kind of promise places top priority on attendance at our Church meetings on Sunday. The revelation continues: “For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High.” (D&C 59:10.)
What are some of the ways to pay devotion to our Father in heaven? We have all been grateful for the increased emphasis that our Church leaders have put on strengthening the home. They have encouraged us to make the home a house of prayer along with our chapels. Home is where we live together, where we pray together, and where we study together.
One of the great blessings in our home is the privilege we have of reading the scriptures together; we often do this on Sunday afternoons after we have eaten and before we return to Church for sacrament meeting. If there is time, I often use these moments to prepare a Sunday School lesson or a talk for Church.
This brings us to the question, should I do religion homework on Sunday? My answer would be yes, but only after we have filled our responsibility to attend our Church services and taken care of our Church assignments for that day. There are undoubtedly some persons who may not agree with this and who have a rule against any kind of homework on Sunday. If this is the rule of your home, it should be accepted and obeyed.
In a conference address in October 1949, President J. Reuben Clark spoke on this subject. He said, “The Lord has told us what we may do in the house of prayer, and what we may do in the house of prayer we may do, I take it, in our homes. We may seek learning. We may read good books. We may acquaint ourselves with languages, tongues and people. … I think we may listen to good music in the home. …”
A number of years ago I had occasion to attend a convention in Chicago where the speaker welcomed us to the great city of Chicago. After praising its many qualities, he went on to say, “Many of you may have heard bad things about Chicago, that it’s full of gangsters, killings, slums, ghettos, crimes of every sort. Don’t you believe it. Why, I’ve lived in Chicago now for nearly fifty years. I’ve walked alone down the streets late at night, and, let me tell you, no one has shot me yet. Let me give you a tip: whenever you are in Chicago, if you’re where you’re supposed to be, at the time you are supposed to be there, and doing the things you are supposed to, you’ll never get in trouble in Chicago.”
We can apply this same kind of formula when it comes to making decisions as to what we may or may not do on the Sabbath. If on this day we are where we are supposed to be, doing what we are supposed to be doing, at the time we are supposed to, then we’re not likely to have trouble making the right decisions as to what we may or may not do on Sunday. And this should enhance our appreciation and understanding of what Jesus had in mind when he said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27.)