Free Presbyterian Church: Our dismay at decision to hold marathon on Lord’s Day

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

The Government and Morals Committee of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster views with dismay the decision by the Marathon Office Board to run the 2019 event on the Lord’s Day.

As a Protestant and Reformed church, we oppose all forms of Sunday sport as it is a violation of the 4th commandment which states, in Exodus 20 8-10 “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: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it”.

The fourth commandment is a creation ordinance and establishes the principle of one day in seven set aside for worship and rest. This is a universal commandment binding on all people, in all ages and is necessary for people’s spiritual, physical and mental wellbeing.

The Free Presbyterian church would remind organisers of the great example of Eric Liddell who refused to run in the 1924 Summer Olympics on the Sabbath. We prayerfully point out that the running of the marathon on a Sunday, is a violation of the fourth commandment.

This is our main concern. We believe in God and therefore believe His commandments should be kept.

This will be the first time the marathon will be held in Belfast on a Sunday, and it marks another watershed moment in modern Ulster’s increasing rejection of the Lord’s Day. Far too many sporting events are now organised on Sundays with an apparent, scant regard for the rights of evangelicals who, because of their faith, are unable to be involved.

Some evangelical Christians are ardent supporters of the marathon and would dearly love to be participants on this occasion, but their love for the Day and the Word of God trumps their love for sport and prevents them from doing so.

The Free Presbyterian Church fully accepts that we may be out of step with the majority of public opinion on this matter, and we suspect that many who claim to be ‘Christians’ will be present as spectators or entrants on the day.

However, we would rather be out of step with public opinion than with the teaching of the only Head and King of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ taught, “if ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).

What an individual professes to believe must be evidenced by their behaviour. It’s a true maxim, that right living is the result of right believing.

We view with deep concern the part that the Marathon Board have played in this. By accommodating and sponsoring the marathon on the Sabbath, the Board will not only cause inconvenience to many church goers and positively practice inequality and discrimination to a

section of the evangelical community, but have dared to ignore God and his Word. 2nd Chronicles 35: 21.

That is our major concern.

It is our prayer that people everywhere will be granted repentance and turned from a life of sin and be brought to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has said, “come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11 verse 28.

Government and Morals Committee, (Convener: Rev R Robinson, Secretary: Rev D McLaughlin)