Posts Tagged ‘blue laws’

Having an honorable witness & positive difference

February 26, 2016

Since our nation’s origins Christianity has played a major role in the public square and the marketplace. When I lived in New England it was plainly evident in the design of their towns. Thinking of America as the new Promised Land they laid out their streets and property in a similar manner of the Israelite camp around the Tabernacle. Instead of a Tabernacle in the center, the central town square was home to the Meetinghouse which was the government building during the week and where the church worshipped on Sunday.
The Puritan worldview also produced laws concerning morality and prohibited certain activities on Sundays, later known as Blue Laws. After a while these laws waned until the suffrage and prohibition movements in the 19th century. Even today in PA certain blue laws remain including no hunting or purchasing vehicles on Sundays. Some of the older generation may remember a time when restaurants and stores were also closed.
The laws’ intentions were to create an opportunity to witness to non-Christians about our care and concern for their body and soul. The ordinances were based upon the Sabbath law of the Ten Commandments requiring a day off from work for everyone including slaves and beasts of burden. Sadly, what began as a blessing became a burden as the intent became lost in the enforcement. So instead of a way to say thank you to unbelievers and a enter into dialogue about why we care it became a prejudicial demarcation of, “us vs. them.” People were turned off by the restrictions and the religious rhetoric of condemnation along with the public disgrace and fines for breaking the laws. The law was meant to give grace but it was received as a punishment.When restaurants were closed it was so that the employees could attend church but they didn’t want to go because the church was so legalistic. So in time the laws changed and now restaurants happily serve on Sundays.

But is it better? The Blue Laws were meant to put God and the church in a good light and failed because we focused on the breaking of it rather than on the blessing of it. The lifting of the Blue Laws gave the church a chance to be a blessing. However, I wonder if you ask restaurant workers if they feel serving Christians on Sunday is a blessing.

As Christians when in the public eye we should be an honorable witness that leaves a positive difference. 1 Peter 2:12 says our behavior should be excellent among those different than us, “that they see your good deeds and glorify God.” I hope that when we visit a restaurant or store en mass Sunday afternoons that those employees are glad they waited on us because we tip better, complain less, are more gracious when the place is busy, and ask how we might brighten their stressful day. Philippians 2:14f encourages us to, “do everything without grumbling and arguing… shining like stars in the sky.”

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