Man is a relational being – and deeply so. He thrives when he belongs and wilts when he does not. One day a week, the Sabbath, can do a lot to replenish man. The Sabbath is meant for God and family – for our most important relationships. It is “Relationship Day” or “Replenishment Day”.
A great start is “Off to Worship God at Church” followed by family brunch followed by relaxed times with family and friends in the afternoon and, after family supper, a wind-down together in the evening. If everyone attends to the needs of the others it will be a fantastic time (though the little ones will need much more than they can yet give). Thus are our two great “belongings” replenished each week.
Of the Ten Commandments God only has two in the positive “Thou shalt” as opposed to the eight “Thou shalt not”. The two “shalls” are ‘Keep holy the Sabbath day” and “Honor thy father and thy mother”. God and family are the two big positives. For the rest He gives great freedom — above the floor of the forbidden. He does not tell us what to do but rather what to avoid, leaving us free to go about our unique paths in our own unique ways. But on two issues He insists: the Sabbath and care of parents and family. On Sundays (or Saturdays for a Jews, Muslims and some others) we take care of both.
Just as our physical body gets tired, our relational functioning gets frayed and needs upkeep and replenishment. Hence the Sabbath. And it is powerful in its consequences as every one of the Mapping America charts shows, on all outcomes. Worshipping God a few times a month does not cut it. The results are significantly less. America may think it has become richer over the last few decades but as church attendance has dropped so too has its relational capacity, as anyone over fifty can compare and contrast. No wonder God commands the Sabbath observance. Human nature needs it. Government, business and education all pay a heavy price when it is neglected.
Sound cultures build the Sabbath observance into the rhythm of society. Dying cultures let it fade.
There have been experiments, mainly in totalitarian regimes, to alter the frequency and spacing of what had been the Sabbath. But human nature tends to pull back to the fundamental rhythm of once a week.
Man is free to choose but he is not free to choose the consequences: they are built into his choices. Even his physical DNA side needs the right relational nourishment — The Sabbath with the family. And the social sciences make this so very clear.