Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Northern Ireland v The Lord's Day

On 29th March the Northern Ireland football team will play their first ever home international on a Sunday with a European Championship qualifier against Finland. Whilst there have been several occasions in the past where Northern Ireland have played games abroad on the Lord's Day (including the 1982 World Cup where Glentoran winger Johnny Jameson would not play in the Sunday game against France), this will be the first occasion that international football has taken place at Windsor Park on a Sunday. Although this is a sad development it is hardly a surprising one as respect for the Lord's Day has been in rapid decline for many years, not only among the unsaved, but also among professed believers.

The Irish Football Association have stated that the scheduling of this game is beyond their control as the fixture dates are dictated by UEFA, and this may well be the case, however the lifting of the IFA's ban on Sunday football in 2007 cannot be ignored. Either way it is a matter about which Christians in Ulster should be grieved as it is further evidence of declining biblical standards in our land. The event does however also call us to consider our own attitude to the Lord's Day and contemplate how we have sought to keep it holy. It is clear that Northern Ireland as a whole is more and more rejecting the setting apart of one day in seven as holy to the Lord, the question is whether Christians have actually contributed to this decline.

For Christian football fans we may ask ourselves what will actually bother us more; the fact we cannot attend the game due to it being played on a Sunday (we are not even contemplating the idea that attending the game can be justified), or the fact that the Lord's Day is being desecrated in such a manner? Are we more disappointed at missing the game, or more disappointed at the lack of respect being given to the Christian Sabbath? All too often, even as Christians, we can hold a negative view of the Lord's Day; it is an inconvenience and hinders us from doing much that we would otherwise like to do. This is a totally wrong view to hold of the Sabbath. It is more appropriate that we look at it as God intended, as a blessing and a delight, rejoicing that we are able to set aside one day a week for the 'public and private exercises of Gods worship'.

How many of us if we are honest are actually hypocritical in our opposition to Sunday sport? We might protest when a game is scheduled in our town on a Sunday, yet we will watch it at home on television, listen to it on the radio or follow it online. A quick glance at the popular social media websites on Sunday will regularly reveal and abundance of Christians commenting on the day's sporting events. Publicly we are opposed to the game taking place, yet privately we are not so opposed that we are able to completely separate ourselves from it.

This issue of course is not solely confined to sport. Restaurants and shops are open on Sunday and increasingly Christians can be found frequenting them, the Lord's Day being reduced to nothing more than the Lord's hour in the morning and (perhaps) the evening. Instead of the Sabbath being set aside as a day for rest and worship, it is now just as much a day for leisure as any other day, and often more so, for the weekend is surely too short unless we can also utilise Sunday for our social activities. Sunday overtime pays well, and we will readily take it when it is offered to us. Publicly we may be disappointed at having to miss the Sunday services, yet the contribution to our bank balance helps to alleviate our concerns.

Has coldness of heart and a low regard for the fourth commandment among many believers contributed to the Sabbath desecration which we see all around us? It must surely be the case for 'if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted'. We cannot expect the world to hold a high view of the Lord's day when many Christians do not have a high view of it themselves. Occasions such as the football match which will be played this Sunday are grieving, yet do present an opportunity to take a stand for the Lord. Regular Northern Ireland supporters can make a point through an empty seat and all Christians can publicly declare the will of the Lord in this matter.

'If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.' (Isaiah 58:13-14)


  1. Ashers bakery products are marketed 7 days a week on the shelves of Tesco and Spar. In fact my local spar opens at 7 am on Sunday until 11pm at night to sell Ashers products and others as well.

    If Ashers, Christian flavour of the month, apparently doesnt give a toss about the Sabbath being desecrated with their products, why should anyone else???

  2. The Protestant Standard may or may not be aware that there is at least one Christian, Born-Again Christian MLA and DUP into the bargain that follow and support football teams that regularly desecrate the sabbath in GB Mainland. They might also be aware that we came very close to having our born again Christian first minister attending the world cup, which would have been seen (had it happened) as support of Sabbath football. Perhaps he read my comments prior to the decision not to attend was made. Perhaps I was able to put a stop on that idea.

  3. Interesting read. Those with a faith should consider showing an example. The speedy drivers rushing to church on time, parking on pavements and double lines, and heading to buy petrol, newspapers and Sunday buffets then trying to tell others to observe Sunday are as the author states contributing to the decline of Sunday as a day of rest and reflection.

  4. Gerry

    I was in two minds about posting your first comment as I have no doubt you are being deliberately facetious. It is hardly reasonable to suggest that a Christian business is responsible for what others do with their products once they have sold them, or to limit who they sell them to on the grounds that you seem to be suggesting.
    As regards following football teams which regularly desecrate the Lord's day I don't believe that it is necessary for Christians to completely stop supporting that team, so long as they are not doing so on the Sabbath. Do we then only go to shops which refuse to open on Sundays? There can be legitimate reasons for boycotting certain businesses, brands etc but they must be reasonable and justified.

  5. you say "" It is hardly reasonable to suggest that a Christian business is responsible for what others do with their products once they have sold them "" Ashers bakery would not agree with you that is the reason they would not bake the gay cake

    Christian businesses surely can refuse to employ marketing partners /service providers who are going to use their products for the purposes of sin. but it all boils down to what their ethics and priorities are does it not.

    I mentioned Tesco is it not in your opinion a strange choice of Bed fellow for a claimed Christian ethical bakery when there is a UK wide boycott of Tesco by Christian Voice due to its promotion of Sodomy and a stern letter of support from our very own DR Ian Brown, then of Londonderry FPC now the Martyrs memorial to Mr Broadbend chairman of TEsco PLC link here

    You know in your heart of hearts there is hypocrisy going on here but you can't bring yourself to say it.

    You say "There can be legitimate reasons for boycotting certain businesses, brands etc but they must be reasonable and justified."" Well I think DR Brown's letter and the Christian Voice articles cover that explicitly but we cant let things like that get in the way of business and profit now can we?

    Thats what its all about isnt it and profit.. all the scriptures is only window dressing for the masses, to divert attention from the business and the profit.

  6. In addition to what had been said already the Free Presbyterian Church believes that the day of the sabbath can be changed without violation of the 4th commandment. so the ones who want to watch the football and the football players, and the ground staff who are of Christian belief can have their sabbath on another day without violating the sabbath according to the free presbyterians. Likewise rather than cause confrontation and bad feeling the Free Presbyterian Church from the village that is set on sinning so the can protest by [ going outside their normal place on a Sabbath Exodus 16:29 ] instead to avoid confrontation and promote brotherly love it could for that one week have its sabbath on another day for instance the Saturday, without violating the commandment.

    All this is contained in the publication of the free presbyterian church, its available on line but I have my own copy "Separation Unto the Gospel" theres the link,

    in the chapter on the Sabbath the FRee Presbyterian Church clearly states that it believes " The Free Presbyterian Church heartily agrees with this
    succinct summary of Scripture regarding the duty of man to
    observe one day in seven as God’s day. The Confession correctly
    presents the basic premise of the fourth commandment—that a
    seventh of the time allotted to man is to be observed as a sabbath
    or day of rest (which is the meaning of the word “sabbath”).
    It should be carefully noted that the fourth commandment
    not only stipulates that one day in seven is the Lord’s, but
    it is also written in such a way as to permit the change of
    the actual day of the week for the observance of the Sabbath
    without violating the commandment itself. "

    the fourth commandment
    not only stipulates that one day in seven is the Lord’s, but
    it is also written in such a way as to permit the change of
    the actual day of the week for the observance of the Sabbath
    without violating the commandment itself. "

    So as long as the footballers and fans are having a different day there is no reason to protest apart from "who do these people think they are choosing a different sabbath than ours" which would be based on arrogance and pride and no foundation in Christ or the Scriptures

  7. Gerry

    The reason that Ashers bakery did not bake the cake was because of the message that was displayed on it, that has been made clear from the start. Had they asked for a plain cake and later placed a pride flag on it, it would hardly have been reasonable for Ashers to be criticised for that. Likewise they cannot be held responsible for what other businesses do with generic products that they sell to them.

    Tesco did back down somewhat from their support for the pride parade in England, indicating that they would not necessarily support it in future years (I do not know whether this turned out to be the case of not) and some Christians would have viewed this to be sufficient for them to use Tesco again. This is a matter of individual conscience, however it is frankly completely off topic for a post relating to the Lord's day.

    If you continue reading the publication that you mentioned you will see read that the sabbath was indeed changed from the seventh to the first day after Christ's ressurection. This has been the standard belief of mainstream Christianity down through the ages. It was changed on one occasion only for everyone and there is no suggestion that it can be changed numerous times of that individuals can change as they see fit for themselves. I would imagine any who put forward such an excuse for not observing Sunday as the sabbath are likely observing no day at all.

  8. The FPC are to be commended for the stand they take on the Sabbath.

    Andrew what is your view of FP politicians who work Sundays, appearing on political TV shows etc.

    Should they cease? Do they undermine the witness of the FPC? Should they be disciplined?

  9. Christian politicians (FPC or otherwise) should not be working on Sunday any more than anyone else should. I accept that there may be occassions where those at the very top end of politics (e.g. government ministers etc) may be required to do some work, for example on occasion of a national emergency/crisis. This however should be very rare, activities such as normal constituency work, campaigning or TV/radio interviews should not be done on the Lord's day.

    It would be my opinion that if politicians who were members of the FPC were doing work on the Lord's day then this would indeed hinder the stand of the church on the matter. Any consideration of discipline would depend on exactly what they were doing, just the same as with any other church member.