Depending on your social/church circle, it’s possible you’ve heard the phrase, “We don’t go to restaurants;” or even use it yourselves. Usually there are one of three underlying convictions at work behind the statement:
- a sort of righteousness associated staying away from those places; which presupposes that every Waffle House is a seedy sports bar
- a financial decision based on good money management, and rigid budget, or a distinct savings goal like a new car or new house
- a stewardship decision which is spiritual at its root, but is coupled with a personal assessment of what constitutes a poor use of funds
There’s no denying it, there’s little in a restaurant you can’t make at home much cheaper, and there are some categories where the restaurant makes huge profits, such as appetizers, side orders, and drinks both soft and hard. Of course, there are also things that you can’t make at home at all, and the wisdom of ordering something that’s too labor intensive, involves esoteric ingredients, or involves the use of techniques or cooking appliances you don’t own is often your best use of the time and money spent eating out.
Stewardship and wise financial management are both good goals, but in the first category, sometimes people over-spiritualize their passing on both fast food and slow food and do so in a way that leaves other feeling somewhat judged. The usually not verbalized response would be, “What, you go to Applebee’s? And you call yourselves Christians?”
It’s an almost Puritanical approach that usually also involves not going to movies or sporting events, ether; but can run to things like not purchasing a book or CD or treating yourself to a wall-hanging for the front hall. In the extreme, it leaves no room for hobbies, recreation, or just plain fun; it denies the possibility of fun or even smiling, let alone laughing.
Let me be really clear, the financial reasons for staying away from fast food at lunchtime are valid, and the consequential behaviors resulting from stewardship are not to be condemned. You do better at the grocery store, and you do best shopping the outside aisles of the grocery store. However even there, I think people deserve a treat every now and then, and treat can be defined differently; like the couple we met at the burger joint who were there to celebrate their first anniversary.
So where does your household land the plane on this one?
Image: The Atlantic (click to link)