Fairly regularly, there are stories that circulate about misguided restaurant patrons who refuse to tip servers for strange reasons. Not long ago, it was someone complaining that he gives God 10 percent, so why should he tip a server 18 percent.
The latest story that’s been going around for the last few days is about the customer of a Carrabba’s in Overland Park, Kan., who refused to tip the server because the server is apparently gay.
When the unidentified server went to pick up the check after the customers left, the patron had written this note on the back: “Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to God. May God have mercy on you.”
Where do we even begin in discussing what’s wrong with this?
The focus of these reports has been the anti-gay bias of the customers, but I think the real issue is far more simple. These folks are perfectly free to believe what they want. They’re perfectly free to believe that God hates the server or that God disapproves of his lifestyle. As long as they simply believe those things, that’s their business.
But this isn’t about people having a “wrong” opinion. It’s about people refusing to pay for services they’ve received.
If you go to a restaurant where you know servers receive their compensation in the form of tips, you are essentially hiring that server for the meal. His or her lifestyle or beliefs have nothing to do with the issue. You’re simply paying the person to do the services that are customarily performed by a server. There’s an expected level of normal payment, but you might make it more — or even less — depending on the job someone does.
But you’re not allowed to refuse to pay simply because you and the person you’ve hired to do that job have differing beliefs. If you do that, you’re not “standing up for what you believe.” You’re stealing. These people stole from that server — and they also show that they have a complete misunderstanding of the God they claim to worship.
The people who do such things — in the name of their Christian beliefs — aren’t mirroring the attitudes or actions of Jesus. Have they even read the Gospels? Do they know the extent to which Jesus went out of His way to spend time with and to love the people who were considered sinners by His contemporaries? (He even hung out with tax collectors. Is there anyone worse than that?)
Instead, they’re simply acting out their own ingrained biases and inventing reasons to pretend that it has something to do with their faith. They’re lying to themselves and they’re misrepresenting the faith they claim to have.
These people dislike gay people, so they need some reason not to pay for what they’ve received. They can’t claim they didn’t get good service — by their own admission — so they go straight to the heart of their bias.
Whenever you do business with any company or individual, some percentage of the money you spend goes to the people you deal with. You have no right to subtract a portion of the sales price because you don’t like someone’s beliefs or how the person lives his life. If it bothers you that much, you don’t need to do business with the person or the company. Just stay home and be alone in your sad, miserable existence.
The server in Kansas didn’t seem upset by the whole thing, although friends and other customers were rallying to his aid. He seems to have handled it with class and dignity.
The people who claim to be representing God, however, don’t have any understanding of the faith they claim to represent. Jesus loved people, not attacked them in this sort of way. And He certainly didn’t steal the money they were owed.