I came to learn over the past few months that all the churches of God that splintered from Herbert Armstrong's church violate the Sabbath day by eating out. Some even do their garden work and enter grocery stores on that day, I was shocked to learn during fellowship. I had come across the knowledge that some pastors in the churches were teaching it was ok to eat out on the Sabbath and to fly on commercial airplanes to get to services, over the last several years, but I thought they were isolated incidents. I would stop listening to such teachers once I learned that, because what they push the most to everyone to prove they are the true church of God is that they keep the Sabbath.
Once I realized all these people in the United Church of God, which for years I've thought was much better than all the other big groups since they don't have a one-man-on-top heirarchy, were eating out on the holy days together and ordering pizza to be brought after services on the Sabbath, I looked for their teaching on their website, which is found here.
While some of the things in that article are all fine and good, I am going to share the part about eating out on the Sabbath here and then comment. The parts of that article will be in lavender.
Eating Out on the Sabbath
The question of eating out on the Sabbath sometimes comes up. We have a paper, "Principles of Sabbath Observance, Eating Out on the Sabbath." It is on the Web site at www.ucg.org/papers if you wish to get a copy. It goes through all of the scriptures and all of the principles that have to do with eating out on the Sabbath. The Church has never taught that it was wrong or a violation of the Sabbath to eat in a restaurant on the Sabbath. Clearly Christianity involves an individual choice as to what you do. It is a judgment that individuals have to make.
Paul took certain positions about not eating meat if it made someone stumble. But the act itself of going out to eat is not a matter of sin. It is the view of the Church that it is not a violation of the Scriptures if one chooses to eat out.
Those who object to purchasing a meal on the Sabbath usually base their argument from two principles—causing someone else to work on the Sabbath or exchanging money on the Sabbath. There are two scriptures they use, one in Nehemiah 13, and the other in Amos.
If you look at these two scriptures with this particular paper, I think you will see why the Church teaches what it teaches. The prohibition that you find in both places is against setting up a market on the Sabbath or a Holy Day. The Jews had become a people that made the Sabbath a secular day where it was acceptable to go to a market. The principle expressed in these scriptures is, don't make the Sabbath a market day or a day to do your weekly shopping.
Nehemiah 13 has nothing to do with eating out in a restaurant. After you look at the scriptures on the subject, if you as an individual feel compelled not to eat out at a restaurant on the Sabbath, so be it. No one should look down, no one should criticize, no one should judge.
First of all, it's a big red flag whenever you see that they are upholding a man-made religion, namely Christianity. I absolutely hate to be associated with that word. But that is indeed what they are walking, just one of the many variants of a man-led religion.
I agree it's an individual choice, just as it's an individual choice for anything. The problem is not with an individual's choices. The problem is with the corporate group UCG claiming it's the true church of God (which it's not, because the true Church is a spiritual entity) and leading thousands of people into Sabbath-breaking, because they are taught that they are walking the right path not by making individual choices, but rather by following UCG's corporate board members' decisions on doctrine.
They teach that eating out on the Sabbath is not a sin, but since it is a sin, they are in huge error. They are dividing Christ.
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17-18)
Yes! They are deceiving the hearts of the simple! The ones who are being deceived are the ones who have just been brainwashed for years and years and who have lost their nerve to say, "No, uh-huh, that's not what the scriptures teach, and if we're going to use the scriptures to decide, this corporation is lying and leading people astray and profiting from them."
What Paul said about eating meat has nothing to do with eating out on the Sabbath. It dealt with people offering meat to idols, and the law of Moses forbade Israelites to eat meat that had been offered to idols, but under the new covenant we are to be led spiritually and know that the idols to which meat have been offered are nothing, so it doesn't truly affect the meat (at least Paul didn't believe so, and I don't know what science would actually prove).
Okay, now to the real BIG DEBUNK.
The author claims that those who "object to purchasing a meal on the Sabbath" use two main scriptures for an argument. He claims that they are scriptures in Nehemiah and Amos. Well, I'll get to those shortly, but first, let me say, "Uhhhh, NOPE. Really if you just read the commandment, there is nothing to argue."
So let's do that! Let's set these abusive "ministers" straight. And yes, they love to abuse and play mind tricks. And the worst thing is that those who have been hurt and abused and have become frustrated with this organization and others like it, is that too often they stay in it to be abused more and more!
The commandment in Exodus 20:9-11 makes clear that you shall do no work, nor make your servants work for you. Check out the Deuteronomy 5 version, too, because it talks about Israel being brought out as servants to Egypt.
So what is it that these people think they're doing when they failed to prepare their meal ahead of time and so sit in a restaurant and hire servants to cook their food and serve/wait on them? Are they not your servants? Didn't Salvation say that the Sabbath was made for man?
The argument that those people would choose to work there that day, anyway, because they do not keep the Sabbath, is pathetic. Is it okay, too, to engage in sex with a whore, because she's going to do that, anyway, if you don't do it with her? That somehow makes it right?
And suppose that person engaged in a conversation with you and mentioned them going to church the next day, and they invited you. Suppose they are one of the many who truly keep the first day of the week holy by not eating out in restaurants, shopping, etc. There flies out any true opportunity for you to properly share the truth!
Another foolish argument I've heard made over the years claims that the commandment says no one within "your gates," and that ancient Israel had to keep that commandment, but since we can't make our whole nation keep the Sabbath, that law doesn't apply to us, and we can have servants work for us in restaurants or at airports and in airplanes. Hmmm...
Two main points, and I'll move on. So, suppose an Israelite was on a journey to other lands. Was he free to break the Sabbath and treat it as an ordinary day when he was elsewhere? And even if he did live by that carnal mindset, is it any way to live out our walk under the new spiritual covenant where the Nation of God is a spiritual entity not marked by physical borders? Also again, how did one expect to broaden the borders of God's Kingdom to cover the earth when not setting the right example for others?
Now on to Nehemiah 13 and to Amos, since the author thinks that is where the main argument is.
The author claims the scriptures say that the Sabbath shouldn't be a market day and that one shouldn't do shopping. And indeed that's so true (even though at least one person in the congregation I attended did shop on the Sabbath and also worked in her garden).
Yes, if you go to Nehemiah 13 and read, Nehemiah claimed that it was an evil thing to profane the Sabbath day by buying and selling (conducting business, marketing). Let us reason together, shall we? It's a marketplace. They were selling and buying produce, wine, grain, fish, and probably all sorts of clothing and dishes and no telling what all. There were probably people selling freshly baked bread and other foods. Regardless of whether there were tables where people could eat their freshly-made foods (people have done this throughout the ages, not just today), there's no doubt that there was food being sold, because Nehemiah named foods. Does it matter whether you went to sit at a table provided by that particular merchant or whether you took it home? Isn't that asinine thinking, that somehow the lack of a table outside the merchant's booth or permanent shop makes it wrong to buy food in the marketplace?
Why didn't Nehemiah just tell the marketers to bring tables for the people to sit so that they could eat their purchased food? Then it wouldn't be sin!
Seriously, isn't it a problem when people like Fred Coulter, Roy Holladay, and others, just because they're gray and wrinkled, can lead the masses astray, because the people fail to do the thinking and working themselves?
Why are so many profaning the sabbath? Why are so many walking their walks according to what some corporate group tells them? Why are they calling them "Mr." this and "Mr." that if Salvation taught we're all brothers and sisters? Why are they eating just as poorly as the mainstream and depending just as much on conventional medical care as the mainstream? Why are the honoring the late self-exalting prideful Herbert Armstrong rather than striving not to live as Armstrong did? Why are they shutting themselves in some veteran's building or something else for numerous hours at a time to conduct close-minded services on the memorial of creation each week?
Continuing, the UCG author wrote:
We simply ask that individuals keep that as a personal decision and not make efforts to persuade others, because this is a teaching of the Church. We must understand that attempts to persuade others is divisive, and that behavior simply cannot be tolerated in the Church of God. We call that sowing discord.
Yep, you got that right on the "we." "We call that sowing discord." It sounds like he's addressing a five-year-old. "Little Timmy, we call that sowing discord."
No. Sowing discord is when you stir up strife among friends or brothers, getting one to be mad at another. It has absolutely nothing to do with standing up for the truth, opening your mouth and saying, "Hey, this is wrong!"
This is why we are to separate from groups with false teachings and false teachers that teach them, who are deceiving and being deceived. I could not stay and put up with the ever-mounting feelings of imprisonment, because they are a subtle cult, yet still controlling and abusive.
It's no wonder so many have left those groups and have gone back into the world. I for one have gone back to living in my own temple reigned over by the loving and wise guidance given by my Creator, and I know many other souls out there doing the same thing. We are scattered! But we are free, and we are one. There may be little differences, but we know we are being guided individually, and we don't judge each other, because we all know that is our Creator's job, NOT the job of some corporate entity that sets itself up as the "true church."
They are divisive. They are the ones who have caused division. Armstrong caused division. There were already people walking the right path, being guided spiritually. He divided Christ and did many evils. And the people in those groups are still under that power.
And for anyone who is wondering, no, I didn't "try to convince" anyone. It was known what I believed, because I failed to take part in their sins. My example was enough. But it would be nice, wouldn't it, if they would also not try to persuade people the other way around? Because that is what they have tried to do, and apparently a lot of people are persuaded.
What about you? I'll leave you with some more of the article author's very own words:
Ezekiel wrote about the severe consequences when the people defiled God's Sabbaths (Ezekiel:20:11-13). God was very serious about the Sabbath being a test commandment. How we keep God's Sabbath tells God something about how much we really want to be in His family.