(This note is primarily written around Christmas, but it also applies to other holidays such as Easter/Resurrection Day. Yes, I know the name origins and the stories behind them. I just call them how they’re recognized.)
So, this topic has been on my mind and heart for quite some time now. By “some time,” I mean this has been bothering me for a few years…probably starting back in 2007. I’ve gone through the periods of loving Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving (well, I actually liked that one for days out of school and seeing cousins) as a child (not just for gifts because I’ve never been materialistic) to enjoying time as an adult and parent, to liking it less when a sister began talking about trees, to swinging to the opposite end of the spectrum and not even wanting to turn on my tv or drive past anything with a wreath, to being plain uncomfortable watching siblings-in-Christ try to figure out how to interact with each other around certain days, to where I am now.
This isn’t about spending time trying to persuade you one way or another. I’m aware of the intensely strong feelings people have about this subject, especially Christmas and Easter, which are really the only ones that caused me the most discomfort. I’m aware because I’ve engaged in those conversations, mostly as one opposed. There are a number of things that actually occurred, or that I considered in light of Scripture, that allowed me to free myself of the inner conflict.
Right off the bat, I know many want to direct me to Jeremiah 10 regarding decorating tress with silver and gold and making them idols.
- There are plenty of sermons on both sides you can hear both for and against the holiday. I’ve heard quite a number over almost 10 years, so this argument isn’t new.
- The majority of people who were making idols did not leave them unshaped. You may have some “nature worshipers,” but most were actually “carving” them into something to be worshiped. That’s why we have Scriptures talking about people worshiping their false gods who cannot hear, cannot see, and cannot speak. Carving a face onto a wooden statue does not bring it to life. Christians don’t bring in trees to carve into wooden people for future worship.
- If I actually consider this with other similar passages that talk about making idols out of materials (since you can commit idolatry by making people or yourself an idol), I see there are specific activities people are doing with the specific intent of worshiping this inanimate object.“12 The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house. 14 He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. 15 Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. 16 He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire: 17 And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god. 18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. 19 And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?” – Isa 44:12-19- Does this next passage sound like the familiar passage of Jer 10 with bringing a tree to deck with silver and gold and fastening it so it doesn’t move? Notice this passage adds the part that is understood by Jeremiah’s listeners – that there is a graven image, which is forbidden under the Mosaic Law and, specifically, in the NT in Acts17:29
“18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? 19 The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver 20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.” – Isa 40:18-20
- Jeremiah talks about the graven images for the people’s idols in several places, but let’s look at Jer 10 again.- Verses 2 – 4 This is the most quoted section of this passage against a Christmas tree. What is the purpose of the person going to get a tree? Is it actually to be a seasonal decoration or to be made for worship? A decorated tree is just that to me, so I truly don’t care. I haven’t had one for many years, but it’s not a permanent fixture in any home I’ve ever visited.
“2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.”- Verse 5 I don’t have a fear of trees, so I don’t understand why Christians are afraid other Christians would bring a tree into their homes and then be afraid. If the “tree” and its decorations make you fearful, the sensible thing to do would be to leave it outside, right? No, there’s no fear of decoration. People would be afraid of the god they believe is the idol they’ve made.
“5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.”- Verse 14 – Yes, I’m going to jump down further in the chapter since most sermons and arguments seem to stop at verse 10. Notice that I haven’t left the “argument against the tree and learning ways of the heathen” chapter though.
“14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”
- So, looking at just some of the similar verses about decorating idols and reading further in the chapter, we can see that the people in Jeremiah 10 aren’t just dragging trees into their homes and hanging ornaments. They have brought them into their homes with the intention of claiming that tree as their idol. They fashion it, give it a face, decorate it, and secure it so that the new god doesn’t leave the home – unlike trees tossed even a day after Christmas.
Another piece I confronted was “Christmas” (Easter, whatever) is not Biblical.
- I know it’s not in the Bible. Then again, neither is Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, roller skating, radio, elbow noodles, etc. There are many traditions and things unlisted that are permitted because they aren’t “against” God or His message. If I am still expected to honor my parents because this is the first commandment with a promise (NT reference), then taking a day out to honor a parent, even though it’s a man-made tradition is okay. I can honor God and honor my mother on a day recognized for her on that day and any other day. Just because a non-Christian started it and it’s not a Biblical “holy” day doesn’t make it anti-Christ. I can’t thank my relatives for their service or allow them a day to receive a discount because they’ve been in war zones because they wanted to make sure I (and others) were safe? Taking time to recognize someone for service is not necessarily against God. Are you sinning in the process or placing this person above Him? If so, then adjust yourself. The “item” or “day” is not the sin, the action taken with it determines whether or not it is sin.
“Christmas is a man-made holiday, and we should only celebrate ‘holy days’ ordered by God.”
- Most of the holy days people reference fall under the Law of Moses. Pentecost is the primary God-decreed holy day/event, and most of the ones insisting on following all holy days don’t try to recreate or do anything major on this day anyway. These specific holy days have a messianic purpose and foreshadowed Christ and what was to come. These instructions were also specific to Israel and those who came to the Lord under the Law of Moses. Believers are never given a command to adhere to the traditions, rules, behaviors, customs of these days. There really aren’t “holy days” we’re commanded to observe. Ordinances, yes. That perpetual annual celebration was ended when Christ fulfilled the Law.
- Are you familiar with the Feast of Purim celebrated annually on the 14th and 15th of Adar by Jews? Holy Days such as Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and Atonement were established in the Law of Moses. However, Purim did not exist as a day/days made holy to the Lord until it was decreed in Esther 9.“17 On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 18 But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. 19 Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another.20 And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, 21 To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, 22 As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. 23 And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; 24 Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; 25 But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. 26 Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, 27 The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; 28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. 29 Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. 30 And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, 31 To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. 32 And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.” – Esther 9:17-32
So, according to the Bible, the people declared a holy celebration for the Lord. The decree was sent by Queen Esther, who had support from her husband, King Ahasuerus of Persia, to send this throughout the kingdom to all of her people. The purpose was to thank the Lord for saving all of His people (since they were to be annihilated and eliminated through Haman’s plan). This was not looked upon as sin. See any similarities?
A) A man-made tradition was established.
B) The king/queen made the decree to mark the day/s as holy/holiday.
C) The people gather together to feast, enjoy themselves, exchange gifts, and look out for those less fortunate/poor.
D) They are celebrating in response to how God sent salvation to them/the world.
E) The day was to be observed annually so the people never forget how God guided the events that led them from almost total destruction to total deliverance.
F) People may even perform plays/pageants or have carnival-like events during the celebration. link
G) If you look at most of the holy days, there is gathering together, feasting, and getting together while remembering what God did. Even tithing was the people coming to eat before the Lord together.
- So, while modern holidays aren’t commanded by God and written in the Bible, they aren’t forbidden either as we see the Feast of Purim came after the holy days were established by Moses.
“We aren’t supposed to celebrate birthdays, especially not Christ’s! If God had wanted us to celebrate or remember His birthday, we would know when it was, and He would have said something about it. We’re only supposed to remember His death (which actually discounts what He did during His life on earth, too). The only time birthdays are mentioned are with Pharaoh and Herod, and they had people executed on their birthdays!”
– So, those of us who believe this learn to dislike our birthdays or try to act like they aren’t a big deal for anyone because we’re told Job (suffering, in immense pain, depressed about losing everything including all his children) and Jeremiah (prophet who wept for his people, had to continually warn the land that they would be taken into captivity for disobedience, jailed for speaking truth) cursed the day they were born…during low points in their lives.
- Is His birthday important?The date is not a salvation issue, but His birth most certainly is. The whole world waited for 4000+ years for this day. You’d better believe it was important!
- “God would tell people to celebrate Christ’s birth if it was important to Him…”“6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isa 9:6“8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.(An angel of God was sent to shepherds who were working. Out of the ordinary? Yep!)
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to ALL PEOPLE. 11 For unto you is born THIS day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
(A formal birth announcement has just been made with the specific day.)
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
(The angel then tells the shepherds what to look for so that they can go visit see Jesus on His day of birth.)
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(The angels, from Heaven as Jesus was, were a MULTITUDE/untold extremely large number praised God for the birth that had happened…on that specific day. Sounds like all of Heaven rejoiced on this birthday.)
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
(The shepherds wasted no time and hurried to see Jesus. Mary, like most mothers do no forget the day they gave birth, especially as they had to count days for specific Jewish ceremonies. Joseph would not forget as he was stepfather to the Messiah. The shepherds had been graced by the Lord to be part of this celebration of birth and would not forget.)
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” – Luke 2:8-17
(The shepherds made it a point to tell what they had been told about Jesus. They likely told the exact day they went to see Jesus as it is hard to forget a face-to-face encounter with God’s angel.)
Simeon and Anna praised God for infant Jesus when He was dedicated to the Lord. It’s not that hard to count backwards less than 6 weeks to figure out when He was born.
No, the date is not recorded for us, but that does not mean God wanted no one to know on what day Jesus was born.
- I wonder if anyone has considered that the change of the calendar during His early years and the destruction of the temple and surroundings in 70AD would likely have something to do with that missing detail. Considering there is a sliding time frame of years that could have been the birth of Christ (6BC – 4AD) and massive family records burned along with other scrolls when areas were set ablaze, it could have been destroyed. Maybe it’s somewhere in an old census file. Who knows?
- Most parents, especially mothers, reflect on time before children, during pregnancy, and day of birth. Such life-changing events are hardly dates or times one would forget. I don’t believe Abraham forgot the day he became a father at 100, especially since a year prior, the Lord had personally visited Abraham. All the barren women given children…I guess we’re supposed to assume dates weren’t kept, people just guessed when they became a year older, and people only knew specific dates on certain feast days.
- Again, there’s no specific prohibition against acknowledging birthdays, so we’re really just restricting people for what they “might” do by telling people they can’t celebrate the birth of Christ instead of permitting them freedom to conduct their own walks with the Lord.
“Christmas is really just celebrating the birth of Nimrod, so Christians are actually worshiping Nimrod.”
- Do you accidentally worship the wrong god when you’re praising the Lord, or are you actively concentrating on the Lord? Have you ever accidentally called out the name of Nimrod, Tammuz, Baal, Osiris, Molech, Bubba, Lil’ Man, or anybody else while you were praying, singing hymns, reading Scripture, teaching or talking about Christ? No? What makes you think others are even giving those false gods a second thought?
- You’d be hard-pressed to prove that Nimrod or any other false god was actually born on December 25th. Consider you have several calendars to figure out – Babylonian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Roman, Gregorian…figure out their seasons…calculate day difference, etc. Really what you actually have is someone who had an agenda to tell you a story and then have enough people to believe it. You don’t find it the least bit odd that the majority of famous historical figures from millennia ago are only dated from year of birth to year of death, but we somehow managed to hold onto exact days of birth and death for false gods? Remember that this is all supposed to be occurring during winter solstice, which typically occurs December 20 – 22. How often does December 25th fall on winter solstice? It was made to be solstice when the Julian calendar came into play in 46 B.C. and only last a little more than 100 years due to being off several minutes each year, which means that this date had not been celebrated for centuries prior to and after Christ formed the Church. December was actually the 10th month of the year for a long time (Deci/dec meaning 10, sept – 7, etc.) while the winter months of January & February didn’t exist. Winter just happened with no dates tracking them. link (under Three Big Problems: To reiterate. However, you should read the whole article to get a clearer understanding. It’s worth the read. I just stumbled onto this page yesterday, so I found the information about the months really interesting.)
- Let’s pretend one or all of the false gods, or people called gods, actually had a birthday on December 25, does that mean that I need to acknowledge them? If there are 365 days in a year, according to our calendar, and about 7 BILLION people in the world not including the countless number of people who died since Creation, do you think that it just “might” be possible that people I don’t like share a birthday with people I like. Pretty much, yeah. Additionally, I don’t even recognize Nimrod, Tammuz, or whoever as a god anyway. Why should I care to go out of my way to learn details about legends that aren’t going to help me spiritually?
- As far as these false gods being born December 25th, there is no evidence, particularly because December didn’t exist. These claims are used to support the lies that Christianity borrows from pagan religions (I’ll have to address those at another time. I currently have about 15 pages of notes I started several months ago and just got tired after trying to share with associates how they’ve been grossly misled.) The Egyptian gods neither were born nor died in winter. Their myth states the calendar is 360 days a year with 5 additional non-calendar years given to give birth to Osirus, Horus, and Isis, which means none of their birthdays have a calendar date until assigned one. same with Babylonian and other gods. If they were not “born” in winter, then that means that the myth of someone springing forth from an evergreen tree didn’t even happen according to their belief. That means that the pine trees used during Christmas aren’t even linked to the story we’ve been told and therefore is not an idol pictured to pay homage to a false god. If you are using that explanation as a reason to condemn Christians having a tree and celebrating Christmas, then you’ve been misled and cannot use that to prevent others from doing something they aren’t doing. This link has more detailed explanation and resources for you to do your own calendar math guesstimations. link
“Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th.”
- Newsflash: That isn’t news! This information is taught to children who aren’t in school yet. I’m pretty sure I’ve never met a Christian who believes it’s His actual birthday.
- People who have birthdays on Feb 29th usually celebrate on the 28th (or 30th) during a non-leap year. Do we make them wait 4 years at a time before they can be a year older or just walk up to them during their celebrations and disrupt the activities to announce they’re frauds and actually celebrating the birth of someone else because it’s actually “not” their birthday?
- I believe the Hebrew calendar is 10 – 11 days shorter than our calendar. If you really want to be difficult, we’ve made up multiple days that don’t even exist and have the nerve to tell people they’re not being true to the real calendar. HA!!! (Pot, meet Kettle.)
“Well, saturnalia and all sorts of pagan festivities were going on during that time. This was just an attempt by Constantine to try to get people to convert and combine paganism.”
- Maybe he wasn’t a true convert. Here’s what I’ve noticed. People who change their beliefs are initially really excited about their new faith and want others to join them If you believe you have the truth, then you want everyone else to have it, too. If your new belief is outlawed, and you have the power to change it, you likely would. Constantine is said to have converted shortly before he died, which means that, if anything, he was a baby Believer. It’s very easy to examine the ramifications of Constantine’s choices through the eyes of a more mature Believer 1700 years after the fact. He didn’t have that lens. Plus, you have to consider who was influencing him regarding Christ. He was doing a balancing act that was not done before – he was a pagan turning to God, controlling an empire built on dominance and bloodshed, overturning decades of legalized persecution of Christians, and trying to lead his empire to God. Turning a nation to sin is much easier than turning a nation to God. He may have been a grown man, but he would be a babe in Christ.
- Rulers have long been known to decide what religions would be practiced or permitted in their empires. Egypt said pharaoh is god on earth. Nations had statues of Molech, Baal, and other gods in high places. Nebuchadnezzar had Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship the statue he’d had built. You can still visit countries today where there is a religion so primary that the country is identified as having that belief. Other beliefs openly practiced might get the person killed.
- Another thing I’ve noticed is that people who have participated in an action for a really long time tend to have difficulty for a while when they are in similar environments or are reminded of former activities. Often, they will replace a negative activity with a positive one for them. I think it is possible that the emperor decided that he would exchange worship of one god for worship of the true God, partially due to his new excitement, maybe partially due to feeling like he could take his mind off the other activities by concentrating on God, and maybe partially due to thinking Christians needed holidays since they hadn’t been permitted to have any. I don’t know, but I think it’s possible based on the way we tend to act.
“It’s Christ’s – ‘mass’ day.”
- I’m not Catholic, and I don’t do “mass.” I’m not even sure what goes on except for what I’ve been told.
- There are a lot of words that could use a name change, but I don’t see this, or another holiday, changing anytime soon.
“But they’re PAGAN days.”
- No, they’re GOD’S days!!! Pagans (term for anyone who doesn’t worship the one God) are merely renting them and using them for their own purposes. None of us knows the number of our days, and we can’t add or subtract any, so we’d better make the best of them.
Based on the logic that pagans celebrate certain days, so we shouldn’t “counter” days with our own celebration, you could have us hating the entire year. I’ve already gone through that time where I began frowning at the coming of certain days just counting down until those days were past. If I’m supposed to base my worship of when and how I celebrate MY Lord & Savior to fit not falling on non-Christian days of worship, I then need to eliminate MONTHS, if not the whole year, from my calendar to account for all the different events people celebrate. Are we supposed to hang up a calendar and blacken out days on which other people honor their gods? That’s both crazy and backward.
1. I don’t acknowledge their gods as even being real, so I have no reason to take a backseat to an entity that can’t stand before my God.
2. “24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24 That’s an declarative, maybe even imperative, statement. The LORD made this (Christmas, “Easter”/“Resurrection Day,” etc.), and we are going to enjoy it regardless of what you do.
– You know what’s ironic? Most who are against doing a “Christian” activity to replace a “demonic” one do the exact same thing.
1. Person A says he’s going to participate in debauchery or whatever. Person B decides he’s going to go home and pray against the activity. Person A was going to act like an idiot regardless of Person B’s actions. Person B had the choice to participate or not participate and chose to pray for the person.
2. Person A says the city is going to have parties all week at different times with drinks, strippers, parading of idols, etc (basically putting this in your face like a city-wide celebration of old would be). Person B does not want to participate but also wants to be with like-minded people. Person B meets with two other non-partiers to hang out, have Bible study, and talk about their interests to help keep them from having to sit quietly at home alone trying desperately to tune out the revelry happening outside their windows.
“That’s not the point. The point is that we shouldn’t do what pagans do. We shouldn’t follow their ways and learn after them.”
- We’re not supposed to study their religious practices to start following after their gods. Feasting, gathering families together, gift-giving, and looking out for others less fortunate in the community was already established as being part of Bible holy days and practices, so none of that is pagan.
- Unlike Israel in the OT, Christians do not have an individual country with a border that separates us from unbelievers. We are more like Israelites in captivity where we are dispersed among nations because the Gospel is available to everyone. It is impossible to not learn anything from unbelievers, especially since we were all unbelievers once. According to that logic, we shouldn’t decorate our homes with pictures, furniture, or paint our walls because unbelievers do that. The point is to be able to separate things that will cause us to sin from things that will not.
- If I look hard enough, I’m going to find something or someone who does not share my faith attached to everything – a recipe I like might have originally been made for a loved one who died, the chances of working for a company that doesn’t share my faith is pretty high, the people who make my clothes, grow vegetables, repair things, donate things to me, etc. are likely to not share my belief. Where does it stop? Have you checked to see if any of your wooded furniture or flooring wasn’t prayed over by those who believe god is in all nature if not recently, hundreds of years ago when the land had fewer buildings? The Bible tells us not to be afraid of these idols and false gods because we know Who the true God is. We are to have a clear conscience in our activities. No, we do not seek to compromise our faith, pursue other gods, engage in activities we know cause us to sin, or do any activities where we aren’t pursuaded are not against God. I do not engage in activities I know are designed to be against God, but I can engage in activities that are not inherently sinful. This is where individuals have options to choose what is okay with them. What would be wrong would be to go to a brother’s home knowing he does not want any Christmas symbols or want to celebrate and bring decorations, start caroling, and doing all things Christmas. The other end would be to walk into the home of a brother who does celebrate and begin to find fault with everything he does so as to make him uncomfortable in his own home by telling him his way of remembering this blessed event is displeasing to God (See also 1 Cor 8 and 10).
So, after all that, we learn:
- Jeremiah 10 is not about a Christmas or other kind of holiday tree but actually harvesting it to carve into an idol.
- December 25th was not Nimrod’s or an Egyptian god’s “birthday,” so selecting that date was not a way to slide Jesus into another god’s date of origin or trying to repackage an old god with Jesus.
- The tree Tammuz supposedly sprang from was not an evergreen tree associated with Christmas and winter because he was not “born” in the winter.
- God not only allowed for celebrating the birth of Christ, He sent an angel to shepherds (and a sign to wise men by His star) to make a formal birth announcement to tell them how to find Jesus, and the shepherds told the people they encountered. Simeon and Anna at the temple could figure out the date of birth because of the ceremony performed.
- A royal decree had been ordered to be set as a holy day for feasting, gathering of family, giving to the poor, and gift-giving as a way of honoring God for sending salvation to all of His people in Esther by the person wearing the crown. Constantine was not the first king to declare those under his rule should worship the one true God (Darius – Dan 6) or to declare national holiday to be observed in honor of God, and the precedent in Esther, the holy day feasts God established for the nation of Israel, and even bringing of tithes shows us that God does not condemn gathering, eating, sharing, gift-giving, and performing plays on a day in which to remember His gift of salvation. Materialism, self-centeredness, etc. are not to be done as they tend to come from pride. However, the idea behind Christmas is a NT mirror of the Feast of Purim, which was also not a holy day commanded from God to be observed.
So, what actually prompted me to go re-evaluate the above issues?
Anger/Dislike: I found myself missing out on several good sermons because I didn’t want to attend the church that had even recognized the holiday. I found myself really disliking the days in which I was supposed to rejoice regardless of if it was a recognized holiday. I began to be more uncomfortable when people acknowledged my or my children’s birthdays. I did more critiquing of people’s sincerity to Christ because of their excitement about the holiday. I probably confused my co-workers and seemed more irritated than indifferent to the holidays I once loved. I couldn’t understand why those of us who chose not to celebrate seemed sssssooooo adamant about letting everyone else know they shouldn’t celebrate.
What I did notice was that most of the people doing the preaching against Christmas believed that you could lose your salvation or that you needed to do some specific activity to get or keep your salvation. There was always an action that “had” to be done to keep from participating in something that could “cost” you your inheritance. While I wasn’t in that camp, I had started to let their paranoia about “no trees!!!” get to me. (Remember, this started when someone who once taught me, wrongly…but still, told me I’d better not have any trees in my home because the Bible forbid them.)
Depressing – Yes, we can have our down times as part of experiencing emotions, but I was literally being a wet blanket to other Believers. I was not only discouraging them from fully enjoying what God had given us, I told them they didn’t have permission to do it! I don’t remember if I stressed more that worship should be daily or that people were so some-timey that they only appear during holidays. I’m really not sure, but I’m sure it took extra effort to enjoy the holiday around me (although I did try to excuse myself so we wouldn’t all just be looking at each other). That became extra challenging during the times I stayed with relatives over holidays. They’re dancing, singing, and looking forward to the holiday while I’m practically locked in a closet calling backup to help me feel better about not participating in these “pagan” practices. When I heard someone who converted from paganism tell me how much Christmas reminded her of her pagan past, it just solidified it in my mind. The problem was that I didn’t even bother to think about the fact that I don’t know of any group that doesn’t have at least one family feast similar to Christmas. If I could “take or leave” the holiday, why was I always so miserable when it came? Was I actually coming across as saying they had to pick other days to celebrate Christ?
Conflict – It was very, very, very…just extremely difficult for me to tell people that we should only observe Christ’s death and not His birth, especially since He was born to die. The birth was important. Plus, as a parent, I found it impossible to treat my children’s birthdays as if nothing special happened because I always replayed their entrances into the world in my mind all that day. I remember thinking about the difficulties and the times doctors warned us that our child might die. That made their turning another year older more special. When I look at the events surrounding Christ’s birth and what was happening in the world, it makes His entrance and God keeping Him that much more miraculous. Why was I discounting or trying to downplay that as if the death, burial, and resurrection was the only important part? According to 1 Cor 15:1-4, the virgin birth and fulfilled prophecies are fundamental to the faith. If these things aren’t true, then our faith is in vain. These events NEED to be taught.
Matt 12:30 (and Luke 11:23) – “30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
If people are focusing this time on spreading the Gospel of Christ, and I’m continually against, criticizing, or dismissing their efforts, what am I actually doing? Have I helped the cause of Christ, or have I created a stumbling block for my sibling-in-Christ? Worse yet, have I prevented a sinner from hearing the Gospel during a time his heart is open to receive the Word? Is the celebration a “salvation” issue, or should we just let people serve and be convicted as God does since none of us is the Holy Ghost?
The other thing that stood out even more is the number of charity organizations that seem to go into overdrive during Thanksgiving and Christmas. While it would be great for people to be just as enthused and contribute throughout the year instead of simply at Christmas, the reality is that it doesn’t happen. People are more willing to donate and look out for those with less during this time. I knew that I would not tell anyone donating that he needed to take his money, food, or clothing back and bring it back during non-holiday season because people need supplies, food, and shelter other days of the year, too. I wasn’t going to be rude like that. I needed to be thankful that others chose to do something they weren’t required to do. I knew that if we were going to make things last, we’d need to ration out what we were given and make good use of resources. One of the things we are to do is to help the poor. If that help only comes from some people during Christmas, “I” would be the one in the wrong for refusing it because it was tied to a “pagan” holiday – not the giver. Some people earn extra during those times and only have something to give at that time and are giving with the heart of Christ. There was no way for me to know, and it wasn’t my business to interrogate them about their religious intentions. Holidays in the winter are hard enough for homeless families. Who would actually be cruel enough to shut down a holiday food line and tell people to come back on a non-holiday? Not that I would even consider it, but I started thinking about how things were intertwined and how everything Christmas related for a Christian would need to be eliminated if it was truly dishonoring to God.
Never truly separated – If I am telling people to completely distance themselves from the holiday and all things pagan, I wasn’t, couldn’t, and didn’t want to do it.
- I, like others, didn’t care if I worked holidays because I’d done it since I first started working. However, if a person isn’t going to participate in anything Christmas, that means not only opting out of potluck and gift exchanges. It means that we should be willing to deny or return that overtime or double time pay. I know of no one who said, “I absolutely refuse to get paid extra for working this holiday. Please, take this back, or give it to someone else.”
- I live in a unbelieving society, under unbelieving rulers, and have unbelievers around me. I buy food, clothes, services, drive by, and pay unbelievers because we are all spread out. Honestly, where could I go on earth where I can be completely free of all pagan influence? I am a citizen of a heavenly kingdom and must live here as Israel did in a foreign land. I do not convert days and calendars and then expect others to know what I am talking about when there’s a standard set that most understand. I have a choice to say the word “Sun”day or first day of the week, but it doesn’t mean I’m paying homage to the sun god anymore than eating a slice of pizza means I’m participating in some ritual involving milk because there’s cheese on the pizza.
Family gatherings – If I am interested in getting together with family from afar, how would I arrange for all of us to hang out?
- National holidays create built-in time in which people are expected to visit family. While not everyone can be off at the same time in every field, multiple holidays allow for this. If several people in the family have a 3-day weekend, we can probably make arrangements to come together.
- If every day is basically a work day, then I now have to ask multiple people to take a pay cut by missing work to get together. Would I be willing to take extra days off to drive hours away just for dinner? I have now complicated something I actually want.
Col 2:16-17 – “16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
- I see Col 2:16 get dismissed a lot, especially with regard to Sabbath observance even though all Sabbaths are listed (high holy days – yearly, new moons – monthly, Sabbaths – weekly), and many don’t read verse 17 as being a foreshadow of things to come and were fulfilled in Christ. So, when I hear law observers insist on only following the holy days listed in the Torah instead of man-made holidays or traditions, I point this out and remember so I don’t feel the need to place myself under that burden of perpetual observance to be perfectly obeyed (ordered to Israel – not Gentiles). This is not to say that people who want want to remember their purpose by observing them and to show honor to God cannot because they are free to do so. It does mean there is no obligation binding us to these days.
- A day a Believer chooses to honor God is just that – a day he has chosen to honor God. It doesn’t mean he loves or honors God less other days. It doesn’t mean he’s practicing undercover idolatry to secretly worship a false god. The other side of that is that by telling Believers that they are not following God’s Word by observing Christmas, we are not following God’s Word by judging them. Irony, much?
Romans 14 – While this does address food a bit, it really addresses our practices and how we interact with siblings-in-Christ. Basically, if I believe your actions reflect a weak faith, I don’t come down on you. I don’t do anything to make your walk in Christ harder than it already is. If you believe you’re forbidden to eat meat, then be a vegetarian in peace. I will not make an all meat meal when you visit. If you feel you should observe or not observe any particular holiday, be fully convicted one way or the other about what you practice; otherwise, it is sin. At the end of the day, we don’t answer to our brothers and sisters, we answer to Christ Who purchased us with His blood.
“1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 16 Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20 For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
My purpose here is to, hopefully, help the person who was experiencing the same conflict or had the same questions I had and to clear up some misunderstandings. Whatever you do, be fully persuaded while not looking for an opportunity to cause your brother to trip in his journey.
So, where am I now on the subject?