Should You Frequent Restaurants on the Sabbath?

  Those of you who have read our book, Biblical Holy Days, know that we believe that a general practice of eating out on the Sabbath and Holy Days is not right. I have found it very difficult to convince other Sabbath-keepers of this understanding, especially those who are former Worldwide Church of God members.

When I attended the Worldwide Church of God, it was a custom to go to restaurants on the Sabbath, and to buy food in the grocery store on the Sabbath. Indeed, going to a restaurant on the Sabbath, and especially on the Holy Days, was a major custom in the church when I attended in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Now, however, I have come to believe that restaurant-going is improper Sabbath conduct, for three reasons: (1) Exodus 16:23 says that heavy baking and cooking is to be done on the day before the Sabbath. This means ourselves and anyone that fixes meals for us, our servants. (2) The fourth commandment (Exodus 20:10) says that we and our servants must rest on the Sabbath. By going to a restaurant on the Sabbath, one is actively hiring servants to work for him. They would not be employed if people were not in the restaurant. (3) Nehemiah shows that we must not buy food or produce on the Sabbath days, Nehemiah 13:15-22.

Arguments have been raised against our position. One man said that Exodus 16:23 was only a requirement of Israel in the wilderness. When dining out, he says, he is doing no cooking at all, and the cooks and waiters are hired by the restaurant owner. Ronald Dart says Nehemiahís rules were only applicable to Nehemiahís day, not ours. He wrote, "it is not wrong for you to benefit directly or indirectly from the work of others" on the Sabbath, pointing to the example of electricity.

Use of electricity and restaurant-going on the Sabbath are tied together by those who say it is not wrong to go to a restaurant on the Sabbath. Certainly the human need of food and warmth from the cold, at times requires us to use electricity in this modern age, although our forefathers got along just fine without electrical power. Electric power companies could switch to a low maintenance power supply mode on the Sabbath, which would require few if any personnel. We Sabbath-keepers should limit our usage of electric power on the Sabbath. In the millennium, there will not be huge, polluting, power plants and miles of distribution lines. The energy system for the world tomorrow will be vastly different than what we have today.

Food service is one of the largest businesses in the western world. As people become more affluent, they cook less and less at home and eat out more often. The life of the true Bible believer is at variance with such worldly trends. We should cook natural foods at home, and prepare Sabbath meals before the Sabbath begins. A Sabbath-keeper regularly going to a restaurant on the Sabbath, or any other day, is demonstrating his disregard for the Eternalís laws of health. As Ron Dart correctly says, "The commandment forbids you to require work of anyone who is under your control." You can control whether or not restaurant cook and servers, "strangers" to you, prepare and serve YOUR food on the Sabbath day.

Samuele Bacchiocchi states: "The Fourth Commandment enjoins us to grant freedom to all on the Sabbath, including the stranger. Any attempt to enjoy the freedom and joy of the Sabbath at the expense of others represents a denial of the values of the Sabbath." He goes on to show that a Sabbath-keeper who buys goods and services on the Sabbath sanctions these business transactions, which the scriptures in Jeremiah 17:21-23 and Nehemiah 13:19-22 clearly condemn. "Purchasing goods or services on the Sabbath, such as eating out in restaurants, will turn the mind of the believer away from the sacredness of the Sabbath to the secularism and materialism of the world." Yes, there may be situations where one must buy food on the Sabbath. With proper planning, this situation should rarely occur. (See The Sabbath of the New Testament, pages 242-243, available for $15.00 from The Bible Sabbath Association, 3316 Alberta Drive, Gillette, WY 82718.)

Randy Rondeau of the Winnipeg Church of God, Manitoba, CANADA, has produced a booklet, "Should Christians Frequent Restaurants on the Sabbath?" †Full text of this booklet is on our website, Should You Frequent Restaurants on the Sabbath?† I hope that many more will see the wisdom of generally NOT eating out on the Sabbath day.