In this phase of his argument, Mr. Pack acknowledges that certain behaviors go contrary to appropriate Sabbath conduct. However, according to this COG leader, dining out at a commercial restaurant it not one of them—provided the restaurant meets certain standards of quality. Here is how he expresses this "Biblical fact."
David C. Pack:
“…God condemns things that detract from or cheapen His Sabbath day. Today, this could include such things as going to sporting events or amusement parks, shopping, or to the beach to swim or sunbathe. It could also include going to a restaurant that provides an inappropriate environment—for example, a congested restaurant that places diners in a rowdy atmosphere of worldly chatter, cigarette smoke or loud, intrusive music. (Of course, there are some restaurants that a Christian should not visit on any day of the week.)
A more acceptable atmosphere would be a restaurant with spacious seating, subdued lighting and quiet, sensible background music.”
Mr. Pack is not the only one to advance this argument. Another prominent COG group offered the following in a letter defending its position in favor of dining out on holy time.
"It is important to consider the atmosphere of the establishment: Is it elegant and uplifting? Is music played and, if so, what kind? Is the air clouded with cigarette smoke? (If the establishment caters to those who smoke, this is something you should consider.) Are there wall-to-wall televisions? Will you be surrounded by loud, boisterous conversation?
If the atmosphere is conducive to a continuance of edifying fellowship with other brethren, in keeping with the intent of the Sabbath day (to rest from our day-to-day activities and to learn more about God and His ways), then it is perfectly fine to plan such a gathering. But if it were to last several hours – due to extenuating circumstances or certain cultural traditions – you would be in danger of breaking the Sabbath."
Putting this in Perspective
Although this argument may appear to reflect good judgment, it omits something critically important to the scriptures and the God who inspired them. It bases its conclusion on the premise that you can determine if a behavior is appropriate simply by employing your physical senses. In other words: what does something look and sound like. The fact of the matter is that appearances can often be deceiving—and when it comes to dining out on the Sabbath they most definitely are. To illustrate this point, consider the following:
Suppose that this elegant restaurant was a gathering place of numerous prostitutes. However, these “ladies of the evening” are not the typical “hookers” one might see on street corners in sleazy parts of town. These particular women are high priced “call girls” with very influential clients. Each of these "ladies" is highly educated. Most have graduate degrees and may speak several languages. They enjoy the opera and are well versed in literature and the arts. They can converse intelligently about politics and philosophy. Additionally, they command as much as $10,000 an evening for their services. To put it mildly they are very sophisticated. But they are prostitutes nonetheless. Furthermore, at this particular restaurant they are everywhere—engaging in their craft, making contacts and networking. Add to that, dining with these very expensive “escorts” are men whose wives are at home with their children totally unaware that tonight their husbands will be spending some “quality time” with someone else.
Now here is our question. Is such a place conducive to honoring God’s Sabbath? Or, would you recommend that God’s people choose another place to dine?
Most would have to admit that such a restaurant is not an appropriate place to dine on the Sabbath or any other day for that matter. After all, regardless of how you want to slice it, God’s law is being trampled on with impunity by its patrons. Furthermore, adultery is a capital crime in the Bible. It attacks the very core of decency.
Now some may argue that such a hypothetical situation doesn’t exist. And even if it did God’s people would be unable to detect such behavior. After all, discretion is the stock and trade of such “ladies.”
This may be true so lets try a different example—one a bit more real.
"A Capital Crime"
Suppose you and your family are at another fine restaurant on the Sabbath and everyone there is desecrating God’s holy day right before your eyes. At every table this sacrilege is taking place. Work is being done. Business is being transacted. The conversations all around you (even if you can’t hear them) relate to the profane world. Even an occasional round of “Happy Birthday” is being sung by attentive servers. Now for our question. Is this a place that is conducive to keeping God’s day holy? Furthermore, should God’s people actually pay to be in such a place? In other words, should they do business with it, on God’s Sabbath no less? Remember that profaning the Sabbath is also a capital crime in the scriptures.
Why do God’s People Dine Out?
The reason most people in God’s Church dine out on the Sabbath is either 1) they never think about what is really taking place all around them or, 2) they don’t regard what is being done as an egregious sin. Tragically, we have become desensitized to what is really occurring at restaurants every Sabbath—and by never questioning what they do on this day, we never have to question what we do.
The bottom line is this. You can no more find a restaurant elegant enough to offset what is taking place in it on God's Sabbath than you could find a cathedral elegant enough to offset what it is doing every Sunday. No matter how fancy it is, no matter how exquisite its atmosphere, it is still POLLUTING what God Himself made HOLY! Here is the question we should HONESTLY ask ourselves. What does God Almighty think of what is taking place at this fine eatery every Sabbath and holy day? Furthermore, what does He think about His people seeking out such places and paying for their services?
A Final Thought
Mr. Pack's belief that the atmosphere at a restaurant on the Sabbath can somehow rehabilitate what God’s people are doing there is born out of human reasoning. It is not close to a "Biblical fact." God commands His people to come out of this world, not seek out a nice spot in it and think they can benefit from its sin.
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