Christmas: To celebrate or not to celebrate?

When it comes to Christmas, there are 2 main differing views in Christendom.

One group supports celebrating it and the other group opposes its celebration. Some have asked or debated on this topic, whether it is sin to celebrate it or not.

After much research on this controversial topic, the answer here may surprise both parties on this issue.

Proverbs 18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Let’s start with the origin of Christmas.

It’s true that it has pagan origins in Saturnalia that involved occult symbols and child sacrifice. The evil of the practice of Saturnalia was staggering and Christians in the opposing group are not wrong to mention about the pagan origins of Christmas, or some of its unbiblical practices (scroll below to see what they are). And yes, 25th December is NOT the actual birthday of Christ. We should be remembering the birth of Christ not just on Christmas, and the beautiful bible story should remain in our memories at all times.

HOWEVER,

Is Christmas celebration like this today?

While it is largely commercial now, Christmas over the history was changed from its pagan practices to Christian-themed ones due to the intention to divert the disturbing pagan-themed event to a Christian-themed one. We know in our time now, Christmas is considered a time of giving and sharing, spend time with family and friends, a time to exchange and bless those with gifts, a time many non-Christians esteem and find it as a day for noble causes.

It is also a time where many Christians all over the world celebrate with lovely godly Christmas carols and songs of the birth of our Saviour that many non-Christians love to listen to. And it is a day where people are more curious about the birth of Christ, and Christians taking this opportunity to evangelise to the lost, using the birth of Christ, as a starting point for conversation.

On this topic, both groups must consider what the Bible says concerning these “grey areas” as we call it:

1 Corinthians 8:4-13 – As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Romans 14:1-23 – 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.

We ask those who are vehemently oppose to Christians who celebrate Christmas [take note: we are talking specifically to those who are putting a stumbling block to other Christians who celebrate Christmas day]:

Acts 20:16 – For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.

In other words, Paul planned to attend a Jewish feast day and not to his missions. Would he be in sin for doing that? He was a Jew, but don’t forget Paul was a Christian too. As a Christian, no where are we told to keep the Jewish feast days, including in the Pauline epistles. So would what Paul did be considered sinful by forgoing his missions for this day?

Jeremiah 10:1-6 is argued as a case against the Christmas tree. However, by reading the verses in context:

vs 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.”

We all know that a tree has no eyes or feet to run. It is understood in this context that the tree was cut to be fashioned into an idol for worship (see Isaiah 44:12-28). In today’s Christmas, we do not see anyone worshipping a Christmas tree, but purely using it as decoration. Similarly, would it idolatrous of anyone to decorate their door or table made from a tree?

How about consider Acts 5:30 – “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” – We know in this context Jesus hung on the cross, made from a tree.

Gal 3:13 – “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:”

This comes from Deut 21:23 – “His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”

So will having trees be “evil”? Can the symbol of the tree be used for good instead of for bad? After all, what is a Christmas tree? It’s just a tree that the Lord made, way before Saturnalia was invented and used it for worship. Trees can be used for practical reasons, medical reasons, for evil purposes and for good purposes (and we agree with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the opposing camp not to hang pagan or Catholic ornaments onto the trees).

What is 25 December before Saturnalia or Sol Invictus or the Gregorian calendar was started? A day that the Lord made.

Gen 1:3-5, 31 – [3-5] And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day [31] And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…

What of the days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc. which are named after pagan gods? Is it just as evil to breathe, live or celebrate on those days? Or how about birthdays or celebrations that fall on Sept 11? Will celebrating an event on that day mean that we have sinned and disregard those who lost their lives on Sept 11 2001? Or the celebration of national independence in many countries, some of the origins of these nation founding were founded on massacre and bloodshed of former natives in those lands? And what of the feasts that the Lord ordained to the Jews in the OT, including the passover which not only commemorates how the Lord passed over those who applied lamb’s blood on their doorpost, while those who did not will have their first born killed? The fact that people die and babies get aborted EVERY day – will celebrating something otherwise on one of those days be offensive and thus sin?

Even if the New Testament church did not celebrate Christmas, it’s not forbidden by the Bible either to celebrate Christ’s birth. The evil lies with how the person, the individual uses or interprets this day or the tree, whether it be to the Lord or to sin, not the day or the tree itself (Rom 14:14). After all, what is a day but that which the Lord creates and that we should give thanks for another day to live, another day to enjoy and another day of mercy:

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Matthew 6:33-34 – But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Would it be wrong for Christians to use that day to commemorate our Saviour’s birth, one of the the most significant events in the world after His death and resurrection, now that Christian themes are being attacked and censored by the world on Christmas day?

To oppose other Christians for celebrating Christmas and use it as a base for judging their spiritual growth or salvation is way off and unbiblical (for salvation is by grace alone thru faith (eph 2:8-9) & spiritual growth is based on feeding the Word, bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 2:15, Gal 5:22-23)), as all have freedom and liberty in Christ (Gal 5:1, Rom 14:13-14). This is not an issue of sin or doctrine, but a grey area of whether celebrating the birth of Christ is wrong or not. Consider non-Christians who see this discord among the members, won’t it reflect badly on us? Won’t it be a shameful thing in which while the world is expressing goodwill, the opposing members are militant against such intention and not using this day to evangelise or even share about the historical birth of Christ and why He came? Won’t it be restricting a brethren who esteems such day with gladness (Rom 14:3,6) and therefore sinning against Christ who also gave such brethren the liberty?

As for Halloween, we believe it is a day of heightened evil and witchcraft (and proven to be so) and therefore in our personal conviction, we do not celebrate it, though we believe liberty should be extended to those who use this day to spread the gospel via “trick or treat” and to be gracious to those young in faith who celebrate it out of ignorance and lack of knowledge in the heightened evil on that day (we should graciously educate them, Rom 15:1-2).

To those who celebrate Christmas, as fellow Christmas celebrators ourselves, let’s not promote Santa Claus but Jesus, esp. to our children. We do not encourage parents and adults to trick a young child into believing that Santa is real and that children can wish for any thing they want if they behave, even though you may think it’s “innocent” make believe. This is equivalent to praying to Santa (idol) and using morals to “earn” their desire. Children are vulnerable and should not be robbed of the trust they have towards us. Rather, children should be taught the free gift of Jesus Christ and how they can receive salvation not through works, but through grace. They should be taught how the Messiah, who was once a child Himself, is a much better friend and comforter than a non-existence Santa.

Matthew 18:6 – But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

If you believe in celebrating Christmas, go ahead and do not forget to esteem the Lord, not Santa, on that day and spend precious time with your family.

If you don’t believe in it, then don’t celebrate it as what’s not done in faith is sin (Rom 14:23), and that is fine.

Colossians 2:16-17 – 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: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Other Christmas practices that should be avoided as Christians include:
– Kissing a random stranger other than your spouse under a mistletoe (1 Cor 7)
– Getting drunk (Gal 5:21, Proverbs 20:1, Isaiah 28:7, Eph 5:18)
– Depicting an image of Christ, even in the form of a baby (Acts 17:29, Exo 20:4, Isaiah 42:8)
– Compromising truth with unbiblical ecumenical practices (2 Cor 6:14-17)
– Getting in debt by overspending (Proverbs 22:7, 1 Timothy 6:17, Romans 13:8)
– Purchase of Catholic or pagan ornaments used for worship as decoration eg. winged or female angels or angels of all kinds (angels have no wings according to the Bible, except cherubims and seraphims), nativity statues, Santa Claus etc.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 – Abstain from all appearance of evil.

To both parties, Romans 14 is clear that we are not to judge or condemn one another in regards to these grey areas for we both have liberty in Christ. We should not destroy or grieve our brethren in regards to the liberty of what he or she does and be a stumbling block to him or her. These cases can go extreme and result in legalism and division.Our Christian brothers and sisters have the liberty to celebrate or oppose this day, according to their convictions and most do so to the Lord, with the intent to glorify God. It will be helpful if those on the side of Christmas can read up and understand why the opposing camp are not into believing in celebrating Christmas, so as not to be insensitive to their convictions likewise.

Be sure to use this day to spread the gospel and do not use your liberty to cause another to stumble. Be gracious, be kind, be loving and respectfully agree to disagree on matters not pertaining to sin or doctrine. Avoid viscous tirades on social media aimed at each other. The same applies for Thanksgiving and Easter.

For the sake of those who feel convicted not to celebrate Christmas, Ex-Charismatics will keep posts on Christmas very minimal, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 8 that we do not want to cause our sibling in Christ to stumble if our stance for celebrating it does offend him/her conscience.

Thank you and have a blessed day.

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