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Pacific Pondering: Put a Difference Between the Holy and Profane

President Tanner | University Relations |
Friday, 6 October 2017

 

“...they have put no difference between the holy and profane...and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them" (Ezek. 22:26).

I was pleased in Conference that Elder Bednar called attention to the deep connection between the Sabbath and the temple. It was a masterful talk. I, too, have long felt that there is a close connection between the Sabbath and the temple. Both demarcate the sacred from the profane, one temporally and the other spatially. The Sabbath is to time what the temple is to space.

The very word “temple” literally means a place “set apart.” God gives us temples as places set apart from the world. He gives us the Sabbath for the same purpose. The Sabbath is a time set apart from the daily cares of the week, just as the temple is a place set apart from the impurities, profanities, and sinfulness of the world. Through both we keep ourselves unspotted from the world and offer up our sacraments.

Tellingly, what lies outside the temple is literally the profane, which comes from pro (outside) fanus (temple or shrine). Anciently, the Lord gave his people temples, the Sabbath, and even dietary laws to help them learn to “put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean” (Leviticus 10:10) and commanded prophets to “teach my people the difference between the holy and profane” (Ezek. 44:23).

We live in a world which has largely leveled the distinction between the sacred and the profane. In our world, quite literally nothing is sacred. Temples are regarded as mere brick and mortar. Flags are only cloth. Married love is just sex. Profanity is just words. And holy days, like the Sabbath, are merely holidays or weekends.

It is both more difficult and more important today than ever to put a difference between weekdays and the Sabbath. For we live in a 24/7 world. A 24/7 world is fundamentally anti-Sabbath. It conspires to level time, to treat it as undifferentiated flow. It says that every hour of every day should be equally available for work and play. In such a world, no time is sacrosanct. No time is set apart “to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:10).

I am concerned that as a student body, we need to heed the teaching of ancient and modern prophets to put a difference between the sacred and the profane in our Sabbath observance. It concerns me when I see students walking to and from the beach on Sunday dressed in swimming attire—looking for all the world as if Sunday is just like any other day of the week. Now I do not presume to prescribe specific rules for your Sabbath worship, but I do want to strongly reaffirm the gospel principle that the Sabbath should be different. We should all have some “thou shalt not’s” for the Sabbath. It should be a time set apart, as the temple is a space set apart.

I urge you to re-examine your Sabbath worship in light of prophetic guidance such as that in Ezekiel cited in the beginning of this essay. May the Lord not say of us that “...they have put no difference between the holy and the profane...and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.”