For Mormons, choosing to work on the Sabbath fails to keep that day holy. What about students that do homework on that day?
As a student with a scholarship in a difficult course of study at BYU, studying on Sundays was a burning question to me. I avoided studying on the Sabbath, but I wondered about it.
One Saturday I was studying in the Joseph Knight building and could hear the voice of Elder Bruce R. McConkie a few doors down the hallway as he met in a leadership meeting with bishops and stake presidents from the BYU stakes. I was not invited as a student, but they left the doors wide open, so I strategically seated myself outside where I could glean a bit of inspiration from what was said.
At one point he said he would give his opinion about the timing of the second coming and he added “and you may quote me, because you will.“ I say this to defend my quoting him here on the subject of homework on Sundays.
Suddenly, his voice rang out, “and now I would like to say a few words about homework on Sundays.“ THAT got my full attention. I dropped my pencil and ran as fast as I could down the hallway and poked my head in the doors, only two dozen feet front the front of the room where he stood.
Elder McConkie paused and then he said, as near as I can recall: “Bishops and Stake Presidents, let’s remember that the purpose of this university is to help students get an education. When I was a student in college, I did homework on Sundays. When Elder J. Thomas Fyans was in college, he did homework on Sundays.“ He pointed to Elder Fyans, who accompanied him on this assignment and who was seated in a chair next to the freestanding podium. Elder Fyans nodded in agreement. “Let’s not increase the burdens on our students by telling them that they should not do homework on Sundays.“
That said, I have always since considered that there are good, better, and best things to be doing on the Sabbath. Doing homework may be good and necessary at times, but when possible I believe there are better and best things to do that don’t include homework.
P. S. Elder McConkie went on to give some other very useful (and common-sense) advice and insights that day, which I intend to keep in mind anytime I’m in a position where I need to counsel Church members.