November 04, 2007 Q & A

Restaurants on the Sabbath


Does one break the Sabbath if you go out to eat in a restaurant after church, and will that person be disciplined in the OPC?


Yours is a tough question. It is primarily a matter of conscience. With some the Sabbath restaurant customer is causing someone else to break the Sabbath. They emphasize that Scripture says, "... you, your son or your daughter, your man-servant or your maid-servant, or the stranger within your gates." Others argue that there are those traveling who must eat out since they're away from home and this becomes a necessity.

I have been in situations where I have been away from home and have been invited as guest to eat at a restaurant. My own personal response lately has been to refrain from "eating out," feeling in conscience that it's displeasing to the Lord, but most people in the OPC see it as a matter of conscience, one way or the other.

As to your second question, I know of no one who has been disciplined for eating out on the Lord's Day. Some have stood discipline (or been threatened with it) for working on Sunday at a regular job. It's a complex matter. It is generally recognized that deeds of necessity and mercy—such as those performed by firemen, police, and health care workers—are exempt from the prohibition against laboring on the Sabbath. These services are required as you can see. Emergencies are never scheduled or planned.

I wish I could be clearer in this answer. But there is some divergence in the OPC regarding Sabbath keeping, and I would be less than honest were I to tell you otherwise.



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