Presidential Perspectives

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Can a doctor or nurse work on Sabbath?

Q: I’ve heard that if you work as a doctor or nurse, then it’s OK to work on the Sabbath as long as you donate your earnings as an offering to the church. If an individual works as a doctor or nurse in a non-Adventist institution, are they allowed to work on Sabbath and donate their earnings to the church for the work on that day? What are your thoughts on this? — Jose

A: Jose, as we know, the Sabbath is a special gift in time that God gives to us each week — a time to set aside the cares of the world and come to worship Him on the day that He has blessed and made holy (Gen 2:3). It is also a day to do good (Matt. 12:12). Many times while on Earth, Jesus healed people on the Sabbath.

Of course, we know that sickness and medical emergencies happen at all hours every day of the week, including during the Sabbath hours. God calls us to be compassionate, and medical personnel are certainly needed to care for the sick and others needing emergency care. However, all routine medical care and procedures should be performed on days other than the Sabbath. In addition, health care personnel should seek to rotate their duties in such a way that health care duty on Sabbath will be periodic and not constant thus giving opportunity for medical workers to meet with others to worship on Sabbath.

The decision as to whether or not medical workers donate their Sabbath earnings to the church is entirely up to the individual.

An excellent document addressing the issue of medical work on the Sabbath and other issues of Sabbath-keeping was prepared by a special taskforce of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and is available at: bit.ly/SabbathGuidelines.