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Lieberman and the Sabbath: A Quaint Commandment?

We live in a day when many want to post the Ten Commandments. Now, the prospect of a candidate taking the Fourth Commandment seriously, wanting to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Ex 20:8), has pundits questioning his commitment to the national interest.

So far, the pressing question among the “talking heads” seems to be, “What’s he gonna do on the Sabbath?”

It’s revealing that someone’s alleged commitment to worship and rest on the Sabbath can create such a stir.

We live in a day when many want to post the Ten Commandments. Now, the prospect of a candidate taking the Fourth Commandment seriously, wanting to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Ex 20:8), has pundits questioning his commitment to the national interest.

Amidst the outcry, I saw Senator Lieberman’s rabbi on one of the news shows. He took a rather enlightened view of the Torah’s prohibitions of work on the Sabbath.

Basically, the rabbi argued the Law allowed one to break such prohibitions against work when human life and welfare were at stake. For example, voting on a key piece of legislation would pass this test.

Such counsel by Lieberman’s spiritual advisor reminds me of another rabbi I know. When faced with similar questions, Jesus said, “If one of you has a child or an ox that has fallen into a well, will you not immediately pull it out on a Sabbath day?” (Lk 14:5).

Personally, I think the four candidates from the two major parties should give us, politics and themselves a rest one day a week. Such a Sabbath rest would probably make for a more reasoned, measured and civil campaign.

Probably, the only people who would miss a day’s political campaigning are the news junkies and the commentators.

The hue and cry from such folks reminds me of a comment made by a zealous football fan when his city lost its NFL franchise. Wiping away a tear, he said, “Now, what are me [sic] and my friends supposed to do on Sundays?”

Well, there is an alternative. It is counter-cultural and out of vogue, but it has long belonged to the rhythm of life with God. It’s called the Sabbath: a day of worship, rest and reflection.

Here’s hoping Lieberman doesn’t cave to a culture that finds such a commitment quaint, if not scandalous.

Bob Setzer Jr. is pastor of First Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.