“Seventeen centuries after religious leaders had made the Sabbath a day of legalism, the hair-splitting pharisaical interpretation of the Sabbath washed ashore in New England. In the Code of Connecticut we read: ‘No one shall run on the Sabbath Day, or walk in his garden, or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting. No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave on the Sabbath. If any man shall kiss his wife, or wife her husband on the Lord’s Day, the party in fault shall be punished at the discretion of the court of magistrates.’
Paradoxically, what intrudes between God and human beings is our fastidious morality and pseudopiety. It is not the prostitutes and tax collectors who find it most difficult to repent; it is the devout who feel they have no need to repent, secure in not having broken rules on the Sabbath.
-Brennan Manning, from “Reflections for Ragamuffins”