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PRESBYTERY STATEMENT AGAINST SUNDAY FOOTBALL, Lord’s Day 7 September 2008.
It is with considerable dismay that the Free Presbyterian Church has learned of plans to stage the first Irish League football match on a Sunday between Glentoran and Bangor this Lord’s Day (7 September 2008).
While some have stated that, to prevent a potential fixture pile-up, it has been necessary to play this match on a Sunday, and others have hailed it as a progressive step, we are convinced that this is a retrograde and wholly unnecessary action.
The Fourth Commandment, issued in Old Testament times (Exodus 20:8-11), and endorsed by our Lord Jesus Christ in this New Testament era (Matthew 12:1-14; Mark 2:23-3:6), reveals that all mankind has a duty to properly observe the sabbath day.
This is by no means a crushing stricture. In establishing one day in seven as a work-free zone, God is granting us a gift by which the needs of the human body for rest and of the human soul for worship may be fulfilled.
Interestingly, this is the only Commandment to begin with a reminder: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God ... .”
Evidently this reminder is appropriate, for it is the requirement that men most quickly forget.
After adopting a principled stand against the staging of football matches on the Lord’s Day for a period of more than 60 years, it is distressing to note that the Irish FA has turned its back on its moral obligations to both God and man.
A famous American evangelist who conducted meetings in our own country, Dwight L. Moody, once stated, “You show me a nation that has given up the sabbath and I will show you a nation that has got the seed of decay.”
We appeal to the Irish League, and especially the clubs involved in today’s fixture, to reconsider their decision to intrude on this sacred Day, paying respect to the fact that only the proper observance of the Lord’s Day, under God, can save families, churches, schools and governments from total moral collapse, and bring real blessing to our nation.
Rev. Dr. Ian Brown Clerk of Presbytery of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster; Chairman, Government and Morals Committee