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Seventh-day Adventist Rules: My Perspective

Categories: Religion

September 25, 2010

Today, I was reading on the Web some questions people had about Seventh-day Adventist "rules".  Some of the answers, I thought, were ridiculous.  One person wrote that Adventists can't celebrate a child's birthday on the sabbath.  Another wrote that Adventists aren't allowed to follow professional sports.  Another said that Adventists he knew had to program their lights to turn on and off on Friday night and Saturday because they weren't allowed to use such technological devices on the sabbath.  Unbelievable!

I'm a rookie Adventist, but let me see if I can shed some of my humble light on this subject.

God gave everyone, including Seventh-day Adventists, the free will to think for themselves.  We are all allowed to make our own decisions.  Even though God gave us Ten Commandments, no one is "required" to obey any of them.  We have the free will to choose, to believe what we want, to do what we want.  Whether we make it into "the kingdom" is an entirely different matter.  That will not be based on our good deeds, but is to be granted by the grace of God.

The fourth commandment tells us to "Remember the sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8).  This is the factor that, more than any other, seems to separate Adventists from other Christians.  For whatever reason, you may believe we are no longer obligated to follow that particular commandment.  Seventh-day Adventists believe we are for two basic reasons: 1) It is one of God's Ten Commandments (as Leo Schreven says, they aren't the ten suggestions, or the ten recommendations, or the ten good ideas; they are the Ten Commandments), and 2) the commandment is simple and crystal clear, i.e., it requires virtually no interpretation.

Seventh-day Adventists (and virtually everyone on the planet, for that matter) choose to follow certain commandments, rules, guidelines, principles, etc.  If a Seventh-day Adventist chooses to spend his/her sabbath doing certain things that most people don't do (e.g., worshipping, fellowshipping), and/or not doing certain things that most people do (shopping), that is the decision of that individual based on his/her belief.  The Bible doesn't specifically say we can't shop on the sabbath, for example.  But most Adventists plan their weekend so that they don't have to shop on the sabbath.  Shopping is simply not an Adventist's way of remembering and observing the sabbath.  Whatever an Adventist does on the sabbath, he/she will typically consider carefully whether that activity is a part of honoring God.  If it isn't, the Adventist will probably decline to participate in that activity.

Not long ago, I was invited to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants to celebrate my best friend's birthday.  The invitation came from another close friend, and involved about a dozen people, all from the same Adventist church.  The invitation was extended on the sabbath morning, and the lunch was to be that afternoon, on the sabbath.  The Bible says "On [the sabbath,] you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates" (Exodus 20:10).  I felt uncomfortable going to a restaurant on the sabbath since it would require others to work.  But I accepted, and we all had a nice lunch and birthday celebration.  Will God frown on us, a group of Christians, for having lunch together on the sabbath at a restaurant?  Even if we celebrated this birthday with God at the forefront of the celebration, the "violation", if there was one, would be that we asked others to work for us on the sabbath.  Were we wrong?

A few years ago, my daughter was preparing for the upcoming school year and needed to buy new clothes.  J.C. Penney, one of our favorite stores, was having a huge sale, and we desperately needed to save money wherever we could.  Unfortunately, it was a "One Day Only" sale, and that one day was, you guessed it, a Saturday.  I would have preferred to pay more and shop the following Sunday, Monday, or any other day of the week.  But my daughter, who was raised in the Orthodox church, felt that the best selections would be gone by the end of the sale day.  Rather than refuse to bend, I gave my daughter money and dropped her off at the mall, angry that she was forcing me to violate one of God's commandments (that was my feeling at the time, although I recognize that she doesn't "force" me to do anything; I make, and am responsible for, my own decisions).  After the agreed upon time had passed, I went back and picked her up.  That was a dilemma I struggle with to this day.  I can't force my beliefs on others, but I am expected to raise my family with Christian values and beliefs, including the Ten Commandments and, specifically, the fourth commandment.

The point is this: The first commandment is translated as "You shall..." (Exodus 20:3).  Seven other commandments begin with "You shall not..." (Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 5:8; Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11; Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17; Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18; Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19; Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20; Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21).  Despite the language used, God gave us the freedom to choose which commandment(s), if any, we obey.  It would have been too easy for God to make it impossible for us to murder, impossible to take His name in vain, impossible to steal, impossible to commit adultery, etc.  He gave us the commandments, and then stepped back allowing us to make our own decisions.

The fourth commandment reminds us to "remember" (Exodus 20:8) and "observe" (Deuteronomy 5:12) the sabbath, and keep it holy.  Exactly how we do that, as individuals, remains open to some interpretation.  But it is not fair to say that an Adventist cannot go shopping on the sabbath.  We can.  We just choose not to.  Some Adventists may choose not to celebrate birthdays on the sabbath.  Some may choose not to follow professional sports.  Others may choose not to take advantage of certain technologies (although I personally believe that would be extremely rare).

As Adventists, our choices on the sabbath are to try to honor and respect God as much as we can.  To us, that's what remembering and observing the sabbath means.  Sadly, that's a strange concept for most Christians, simply because it has become our society's tradition to do whatever we want whenever we want.

Obeying all the commandments will not guarantee a ticket to the ultimate party.  God will issue those VIP passes at His discretion.  But obeying all the commandments, at least as much as we humanly can, is a way for Adventists to acknowledge that we are nothing without God, and that we are willing to do the things He has instructed us to do simply because it was He that instructed us to do them.

Finally, maybe I should respond specifically to the first paragraph.

  1. I believe God would be stoked if we celebrate birthdays on the sabbath, as long as He is invited and we recognize that He is responsible for the birth and the day of celebration.  But that doesn't open the door for an "anything goes" type of celebration.
  2. Adventists can certainly follow professional sports.  Does that mean we should actually attend sporting events on the sabbath?  Since a professional sporting event probably involves commerce and would clearly involve lots of work (players, concessioners, ushers, attendants, cleaning crew, etc.), I don't believe it would be an appropriate way to observe the sabbath.  If you are focused on the game, you cannot be focused on God.  I would like to know how many Adventists sit at home on Saturdays and watch sports on television.  Probably more than we are willing to admit.
  3. I'm confident we can turn lights on and off any day of the week.  Did Jesus ever light a candle or a lamp on the sabbath?  Probably.  Hopefully as Christians, and especially on the sabbath, we'll shed the most light on the word of God.

Your life is your choice.  But the consequences are not yours to choose.  Believe what you want.  Do what you want.  I believe in the Bible and in the commandments of God, and I'll do whatever I can to honor and obey them.

All Bible verses are New International Version (NIV).


User Comments:
GA  - Sep 30, 2010 12:01:01 — Would love to see more people realize the each of us are RESPONSIBLE for OUR OWN CHOICES and that there are CONSEQUENCES of those choices!!!! Also liked your statement that no one "forced" you to drive to the mall that day. You made your choice even though you were unhappy with it. You d ...more
Jonas - Sep 30, 2010 12:31:01 — Thanks for your feedback, GA!
constance - Jan 17, 2011 03:58:13 — THANKS FOR THE ADVICE,BUT I MAY NEEDSOME CLARIFICATIONS ON THAT.IF I AM NOT SABBATH, THEN I WORK IN ORGANISATION WHERE ITS MISSION AND SABBATH,THE MANAGEMENT FORCES ME NOT TO USE JEWELLERY ESP EARRINGS BUT I PREFER EARRINGS, WHAT CAN I DO?
Jonas - Jan 17, 2011 05:56:09 — Hi Constance, and thanks for visiting my site.

I'm probably the last person you should be seeking advice from.  But since you asked, here I go: I spent the first 50 years of my life asking the same question as you have asked.  Not specifically about earring ...more

jeffrey joslin - Feb 13, 2011 08:39:07 —  my wife likes her ear rings and the few rings she has, but the sda church we go to don't, is it ok for her to just were them when not in church
Jonas - Feb 13, 2011 10:13:46 — One of the many great things about God is that he gives us the freedom to make our own decisions.  So when we do the right thing, it is because we choose to, not because we are forced to, at least not by God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 says specifically about wives, "Yo ...more

tommy - Apr 9, 2011 02:35:26 — I certainly agree with your conclusions. I'd like to add that the fourth commandment enjoins us to keep it holy. Secular activities are not holy, and cannot contribute to a closer walk with God. I believe that Sabbath ought to be regarded as a pre-arranged meeting with the Ruler of the Universe. He  ...more
Jonas - Apr 10, 2011 01:26:48 — Sadly, the human race has ignored the scriptural "no-brainers" over and over again for thousands of years.  It's just not convenient.  When will we learn?

Thanks for visiting, and for your contribution!

larry - Jul 20, 2011 09:00:36 — Thank God for His Love and all that He is.
Jonas - Jul 21, 2011 12:21:19 — Amen!!  (Thanks for visiting!)
Nathan - Aug 20, 2011 09:43:30 — Greetings brothers and sisters! The Sabbath means different things to different people because we interpret Scripture differently. Unfortunately, we often and selfishly think that the Sabbath is a day that we can spend any way that we want. I call this thinking selfish, because the Sabbath should n ...more
Jonas - Aug 20, 2011 10:47:10 — Thanks, Nathan!  Let's hope more people take your advice.
gobsmacked - Jul 31, 2012 03:10:58 — get a life you silly people...
Jonas - Jul 31, 2012 03:15:11 — Thanks for sharing a sliver of yours!
Meg - Aug 27, 2012 06:52:54 — I was raised in a non Adventist church. I had gone to church on Sunday all my life. I began Bible studies with the Seventh Day Adventist Church at age 21. Some of it was easy for me to accept and follow. But the issue of the "Seventh Day" worship was just a bit much for me. I mean....wh ...more
Jonas - Aug 28, 2012 12:20:31 — Amen! Thanks, Meg, for visiting my site, and taking the time to share!
Franz - Sep 17, 2012 02:44:25 — I respectfully disagree with your conclusions expressed near the beginning of your blog. You state "God gave everyone, including Seventh-day Adventists, the free will to think for themselves. We are all allowed to make our own decisions. Even though God gave us Ten Commandments, no one is &qu ...more
Jonas - Sep 17, 2012 05:23:39 — I don't think we disagree, Franz. My point is that we DO have a choice. We can either be obedient, thereby increasing our chances of eternal life, or we can be disobedient and jeopardize our chances. But I'm not convinced that we can behave a certain way and be absolutely 100% guaranteed a place  ...more
DeblovesTheLord - Mar 4, 2013 04:16:04 — Thank you for this information. It is very helpful. I have been reading up on sda and watching videos on bible prophecy. I was raised Baptist. My mother was a Methodist, now Lutheran, and in my adult life I've spent most of my time visiting non-denominational churches. I think I never knew the doctr ...more
Jonas - Mar 4, 2013 11:51:42 — Thanks for writing, DeblovesTheLord!  "It's like the bible has opened up to me now in a language I understand, if that makes sense."  Yes, it makes total sense.  We hear that a lot.  I feel the same way.  And you'll be happy to learn that, no, we don't play with sn ...more
jean - Mar 25, 2013 01:57:45 — Question: What day is the Bible Sabbath, and who made it? The Bible says: "On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it" (Genesis 2:2, 3). "The sev ...more
Jonas - Mar 25, 2013 11:02:46 — When I receive that email notifying me that there's a new comment on my site, my first thought is, "Great...who's out to cut my throat today, and why?"  It's such a relief to find such a supportive message.  Thank you so much, Jean, and God bless you!  Let's pray you reach s ...more
Bob - Apr 30, 2013 04:23:50 — The Sabbath is only a shadow of what was to come

Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Col 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them ope ...more
Jonas - May 2, 2013 02:51:59 — "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:" - Col 2:16

Of the five elements in this particular verse - meat, drink, holyday, new moon, sabbath days - which are included among the Ten Commandments ...more
Joanna Jankowski - Jul 6, 2013 08:39:08 — Well said thank you
Tim - Sep 3, 2013 08:49:05 — There is a text in the Bible that basically goes like this,"every man was doing right in his own eyes". This seems to be the general conclusion in your article on Sabbath-keeping. The story behind that verse I just gave was that men had become so polluted that righteousness was based on ho ...more
Anna.K - Aug 4, 2014 06:45:56 — celebrating parties are against God, even though you remember God gave ur life u will be violating the sabbath coz on Sabbath, we should attend church services.... and we should not eat the service time for any other worldly things other than it is an unavoidable, urgent and very very important thin ...more
Jonas - Aug 4, 2014 12:00:34 — Thanks, Anna.K.  "celebrating parties are against God"  Can you share the Bible verses with us?  "by inviting your friends for b'day parties you are making them to break the sabbath law."  Verses?  What happened to fellowship?
Jonas - Aug 4, 2014 12:17:01 — "So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest." —Leviticus 23:39.

So accor ...more
Anna.K - Aug 4, 2014 02:11:10 — celebrating b'day party is extremely different from the festival what you have mentioned above.....coz festival of tabernacle is towards God whereas b'day celebration is towards worldly things...as u hv gone to ur friends party u might hv done many worldly act such as cutting cakes, singing b'day so ...more
Jonas - Aug 4, 2014 11:35:00 — You're right!  This is not an argument.  It's an opportunity for both of us!

"celebrating b'day party is extremely different..."

Yes, I agree.  But that reference does strike down your claim that "celebrating parties are against God& ...more
dave - Aug 16, 2014 12:35:19 — I want to be baptised and am trying to find a church to join Jonas. As you're a recent 7th day Adventist, maybe you can help me with my 2 problems in joining them. Perhaps you shared them too. 1) I don't think Ellen White was a prophet. 2) I want to follow my conscience and not be bullied by c ...more
Jonas - Aug 16, 2014 03:11:35 — Yes, you can join that church!

But I think you might want a more expanded answer.

First of all, I am a Christian, in that I follow the teachings of Christ.  But I am not a very good Christian, and I'm probably the last person who should be giving advice.  But  ...more
dave - Aug 16, 2014 04:41:20 — Thanks for taking the time for such a comprehensive answer Jonas. Incidentally, I have an interest in a deeper understanding of the bible, but following the spirit is my goal. That's what I meant by conscience.
Jan - Sep 5, 2014 11:33:59 — Is it ok to play computer games on Saturday?I want to but my parents don't allow me because they said we need to rest because it is God's day.
Jonas - Sep 6, 2014 01:25:31 — Hey, Jan.  Thanks for asking.

I think one of the greatest decisions God ever made (as if some are good and others are not so good) is to allow us to make choices for ourselves.  He could have easily "programmed" us to follow His commandments, but He didn't.  H ...more
Anna.K - Sep 13, 2014 04:26:25 — sorry for delay...actually i wasn't said that we should not celebrate parties on sabbath i just insisted that you have gone to a restaurant to celebrate that's the issue i felt that thing is wrong whereas you too accepted it thats enough.... celebration is not a matter but how do we celebrate is imp ...more
Anna.K - Sep 13, 2014 04:49:03 — earlier i said celebrating parties on sabbath are against God...yes i agree but i gave it in the sense that if it is party celebration it includes fun like chats, cracking jokes, food, drinks, show off, and some other stuffs that's the thing i mentioned before, it is quiet correct coz now a days cel ...more
Anna.K - Sep 13, 2014 04:51:50 — Jonas can you please tell me how you got converted into seventhday...just this is for friendly reason...if u can only...
Jonas - Sep 13, 2014 01:01:45 — So, Anna.K, our disagreement has come down to what is actually done during a birthday celebration on the sabbath.  I'll stick to my original position: "...as long as He is invited and we recognize that He is responsible for the birth and the day of celebration.  But that doesn't open  ...more
Anna.K - Sep 14, 2014 07:54:34 — oh it sounds so good Jonas...yes actually as you said fellowship and love is more important for the church, as Jesus said "Those who accept you, will accept me" if we show love they'll accept us then only we can putforth our ideas about our beliefs and then they'll accept the truth...thank ...more
Anna.K - Sep 14, 2014 07:59:52 — Thank you that you had responded for me by sharing about you Jonas...
Robin - Nov 24, 2014 09:18:11 — Hi, thanks so much for your post about the Sabbath. I'm having a really hard time accepting my sister who has just converted. We have a chance to spend thanksgiving with family (a 4 hour drive on Thursday) but she does not want to go because she will be with family and will not observe the Sabbath a ...more
Jonas - Nov 24, 2014 12:23:02 — I've been in your sister's shoes.  I chose to visit my family, and I went to church, alone, on the sabbath morning.  I then went back to spend the day with my family.

Your sister may be interpreting Colossians 1:18 more strictly than she should (notice I wrote "may be& ...more
Robin - Nov 25, 2014 06:34:33 — Jonas thank you for your help. My family is Catholic and we are strong believers. I offered to drive her to her church on Saturday.
Jessica jimenez - Dec 13, 2014 02:37:40 — I loved this article! It explained so nicely, why many of the practices that we adhere to are a choice. Many people, especially Christians will pick adventists apart piece by piece trying to make us think were all wrong, and this article is being linked straight to a friend of mine who does just tha ...more
Jonas - Dec 14, 2014 09:34:02 — Thanks, Jessica!  Happy Sabbath!!
tsitsi - Feb 4, 2015 08:01:55 — thank you Jonas for sharing your experiences with us. this is very much encouraging
Daniel wolfe - Apr 11, 2015 08:20:20 — I just wish every church would worship on the holy day as the word of God says in scripture says. I do not believe in denomination names of churches I just believe in Jesus and he died for all of us and yes Saturday is mans day God set aside to rest and to keep it holy as it reads in scripture. I do ...more
Juddy - May 23, 2015 05:00:16 — If the command is read properly one requirement and one taboo is all thats mentioned. A: Keep it holy. B: No working. So if I go to a shop and do an exchange, just by default I condone the worker and am therefore no different. And like most habits they start small... Ill just pop in for that one day ...more
Mike  - Dec 4, 2015 11:49:57 — The problem with Adventists is the are legalistic. You can worship and remember what god has done for you any and every day of the week. Read the whole bible and wat it says about everything God created is good for consuming. Reference their rules on meat. Jesus came down many times on the Pharisees ...more
Jonas - Dec 5, 2015 09:10:28 — Yes, you can and should worship any day of the week!  Many times, the Bible tells us that Jesus and/or his followers "gathered" on days other than the sabbath.  But there is no evidence that they ever failed to worship and remember the sabbath, as the fourth command ...more
Nathan Morris - Apr 16, 2016 06:23:06 — I've often heard people who worship on Sunday tell me that the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead on sunday. Personally, I think that if God wanted to change His sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, He would have told us so in the Bible. The scripture also says t ...more
Jonas - Apr 17, 2016 11:19:05 — I think you're probably right on every point, Nathan Morris!

The sabbath has never changed.  In many languages around the world, the name for the day we call Saturday is Sabbath.  For example, in Spanish it is Sabado.  The seventh-day sabbath is the seventh day.  T ...more
Caesar Sondakh - Aug 20, 2016 10:00:07 — Hey I just read this but I'm still confused about my own question. My dream is to play professional soccer when I'm older. So if I play pro games on Sabath is that bad? I was thinking of telling them to not pay me during Sabath if I play pro. This is a question that's been in my heart for a long tim ...more
Jonas - Aug 21, 2016 04:49:25 — Which is more important - soccer or God?

The language of the Fourth Commandment is crystal clear: "You shall not work."  It does not say, "You shall not work unless you give God glory while you work."

If you play professionally, you would be worki ...more
Sheldon - Feb 3, 2017 10:17:24 — If we spend time with Jesus every day in his word, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, we will be find truth. The question is not about do's and don'ts but about our Hearts. If u love me, keep my commandments. If I love it will all come naturally. May God continue to reveal himself in our  ...more
laurah  - Feb 17, 2017 06:43:07 — hey, Am protestant dating an Adventist. Does the Adventist church allow inter-religious marriages?
Jonas - Feb 23, 2017 08:16:35 — Adventists are also Protestants, so I think the answer, in your case, would be yes.
Anna B - Jun 5, 2017 10:57:17 — Ah, Jonas, I was both grateful and saddened, reading you blog. First, I was looking for insight on appropriate Sabbath activities and came across your blog (I believe that I was Spirit led). My Community Services department is becoming more involved in "community" activities on the Sabba ...more
Jonas - Jun 9, 2017 12:43:26 — Thanks for visiting, Anna B.

Like most dog owners, I love my dog.  Chipper is a smart little guy, and does his very best to please me.  He follows my commands pretty well, sometimes to perfection.  But other times, he gets excited and gets the commands confused.  I ...more
Bob - Sep 2, 2017 06:34:57 — Why do Seventh-day Adventists believe the 10 Commandments are part of the new covenant Jesus gave in His body. Luke 22:20 There is a New Covenant that the Christian is saved under. Hebrews 8:13 says the 1st or Old Covenant is obsolete. Some of the behavioral standards given by Jesus in the Sermon on ...more

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