References to: Christmas
Some Christians believe that Christians should not observe Christmas. Some object to the commercialism of the holiday; others object to its origins. In order to understand this subject, it is helpful to trace some of the history of Christmas avoidance, particularly its roots in Puritanism.
In Luke 2:10-11, an angel of God describes the birth of Jesus as “good tidings of great joy for all the people.” Since it was appropriate for angels to rejoice at the birth of Jesus (verses 13-14), we believe it is certainly in keeping with the message of Scripture for Christians to do so.
Christians opposed to Christmas have often argued that Jeremiah condemns Christmas trees. They believe that Jeremiah 10:2-4 is quite plain — Christmas trees are sinful. But are these Christmas critics correct? Does Jeremiah 10:2-4 actually condemn the setting up of Christmas trees?
Paganism is a controversial subject. Can we use pagan customs in the church of God? We already do. Simply because something has a pagan origin does not mean that it is sinful to use it, even for a religious use.
Wedding rings were and are a pagan custom, and there is no biblical command for them, but we use them in church-sanctioned ceremonies. Wedding ceremonies themselves were also a pagan custom, and are not commanded in Scripture.
'You must not worship God in their way'
Some people claim that Deuteronomy 12:30-31 commands us not to borrow any custom of any kind from pagan religious practices. Nothing once used in idol worship is to be used in worshiping the true God. Absolutely nothing. Some Christians have therefore argued that all attempts to transform pagan customs into Christian customs are wrong. Those who think this way allow for no exceptions. “Once pagan, always pagan,” they reason.
In December 1996, the headquarters congregation of our denomination first sang hymns about the birth of Christ. It was an emotional moment. We were Christians, but in years past, we had understood it to be sinful to celebrate the birth of Jesus in December. Even to sing about his birth evoked pangs of conscience. As a church, we had been taught, and had believed, that any celebration of Jesus’ birth was a pagan invention dating from the early centuries of Christian history, and as such, it would be wrong to participate in any way, at any time.
Jesus’ birth involves more humiliation than glory. The Son of God was in glory, but he saw us living in the slimepit of sin, and he loved us so much that he came into this slimepit to save us. He gave up his glory and he lived in humble circumstances. When Jesus was born, people were not amazed by his glory. There was no glory in putting a baby in an animal’s feed trough.
Many Christians acknowledge that no one knows the exact day Jesus was born. The precise date of Jesus’ birth is not critical, and speculation and controversy about this topic can cause Christians to lose focus.
“Can you read that?” The tourist asked me, pointing to a large silver star bearing a Latin inscription: “Hic de virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est.”
“I’ll try,” I answered, and bringing to bear the full force of my meager Latin, attempted a translation: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”
“Well, what do you think?” the man then asked. “Do you believe it?”