Ox in the Mire

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The term Ox in the Mire comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ found in the New Testament.

“And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
“And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
“And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
“And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
“And answered them saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
“And they could not answer him again to these things.”(Luke 14:1–6)

The term is familiar to and used by many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many have interpreted it to mean that under certain circumstances it is permissible to violate the Sabbath (and maybe other covenants).

One of the graphics that appeared in social media after Elder Holland’s talk/Courtesy Meridian Magazine

In the April 2019 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave a talk entitled “Behold the Lamb of God.” He spoke of worshipping the Lord on the Sabbath, and especially making “the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience.”

We are to remember in as personal a way as possible that Christ died from a heart broken by shouldering entirely alone the sins and sorrows of the whole human family.
Inasmuch as we contributed to that fatal burden, such a moment demands our respect. Thus, we are encouraged to come to our services early and reverently, dressed appropriately for participation in a sacred ordinance.”[1]

He then added:

As for punctuality, a late pass will always be lovingly granted to those blessed mothers who, with children and Cheerios and diaper bags trailing in marvelous disarray, are lucky to have made it to church at all. Furthermore, there will be others who unavoidably find their ox in the mire on a Sabbath morning. However, to this latter group we say an occasional tardiness is understandable, but if the ox is in the mire every Sunday, then we strongly recommend that you sell the ox or fill the mire.

The leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ has always encouraged members to keep the Sabbath day holy. In recent years, the Brethren have reemphasized this counsel. President Russell M. Nelson spoke during the April 2015 General Conference about the Sabbath and called it “a delight.” His talk is an example of the Brethren not issuing a list of “don’ts” for Sabbath observance. Rather, he taught principles that would help members consider their own Sabbath activities and make inspired adjustments.

How can you ensure that your behavior on the Sabbath will lead to joy and rejoicing? In addition to your going to church, partaking of the sacrament, and being diligent in your specific call to serve, what other activities would help to make the Sabbath a delight for you? What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?[2]

Elder Quentin L. Cook taught that the Sunday meeting schedule was adjusted beginning in January 2019 with the purpose of achieving a new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church. “What do these adjustments mean for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? We are confident that members will be blessed in extraordinary ways. Sunday can be a day of gospel learning and teaching at church and in the home. As individuals and families engage in family councils, family history, ministering, service, personal worship, and joyful family time, the Sabbath day will truly be a delight.”[3]