(Not) Celebrating Christmas

xmas-iconEphesians 4:1-3 urges us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

In the spirit of that urging, above all else I wish to patiently maintain gentle, loving, humble unity. What follows is, above all else, humbly addressed to anyone wanting to understand why I do not celebrate the Christmas Holiday Season.

Why I Do Not Celebrate Christmas

I acknowledge and celebrate the miraculous birth of the Christ every day. Several songs that are popularly dubbed “Christmas Songs” deeply touch me and bring tears to my eyes. Many of these songs, I believe, should be sung year round. But I decline to participate in the customs & traditions that “man” has built up around and upon this event. It saddens me when my brothers & sisters in Christ are offended or saddened by my position on this.

My reasoning for not celebrating Christmas was arrived at after deep and lengthy study. I still come back to ‘re-study’ this often. Key points that I arrived at are:

  • Christ never emphasized his birth. His words, in fact, brought emphasis to is death, burial and resurrection on several occasions.
  • The Bible links celebrations of birth with pagans, not with God’s true worshipers.—Matthew 14:6-10. Yes, I celebrate the birthdays of others and myself. I don’t see these as anything like a spiritual celebration.  Yet, I hope and do not expect anyone to celebrate MY birth after I am gone from this life.
  • The number of adopted (spiritual) pagan rituals that have become “commonly accepted” traditions of the Holy Day. I Cor 10:14 & 19-20; I Thess 1:8-10; 5:22; I John 5:21; III John 11. What is not from God, and is of a spiritual nature, is from the domain of Satan (Ephesians 6:12; Revelation 12:9; John 8:44).
  • The English word Christmas “is derived from the medieval Christes Masse, the Mass of Christ.” I do not participate in catholic mass, so is this a Catholic or Christian derived name/label? Please don’t discount this point just because it’s “only a name” The name IS IMPORTANT, see God’s word.
  • Many scholars believe that the so-called ‘wise men’ were actually astrologers and no note is given as to how many there were.
  • Regarding the date for Christmas celebrations: “The reason that the Roman [Catholic] Church decided to assign this date to the festival seems to be its tendency to replace pagan festivals with Christian ones… We know that in Rome at that time, the pagans consecrated December 25 as the celebration of ‘Sol Invictus’ or ‘natalis invicti’, the birth of the ‘invincible sun.’” How did the Romans celebrate the rise of the sun in the winter sky? By feasting, revelry, and the exchanging of presents.

Scripture does not call having a family banquet or meal (feasting) wrong. John 2:1-10; Luke 15:21-25; Genesis 18:6-8; Ecclesiastes 3:13; 8:15.

Scripture does not call “celebrating” wrong. See Matt 26:18; and Luke 15.

Scripture does not call it wrong that I give my family gifts throughout the year. But, why must gift giving (exchanging gifts) be restricted to a day I do not find supported by God’s word? God gives, so do I. James 1:17; Luke 11:11-13; Job 42:11; Not from specific days but all from the heart, II Cor 9:7.

In his book ‘The Trouble With Christmas’, author Tom Flynn set out conclusions reached after years spent researching Christmas:

“An enormous number of traditions we now associate with Christmas have their roots in pre-Christian pagan religious traditions. Some of these have social, sexual, or cosmological connotations that might lead educated, culturally sensitive moderns to discard the traditions once they have understood their roots more clearly.”—Page 19.

After presenting a mass of supporting information, Flynn returns to the basic point:

“One of the great ironies of Christmas is how little of its content is truly Christian. Once we dispose of the pre-Christian elements, most of what remains is post-Christian, rather than authentically Christian, in origin.”—Page 155.

Supporters of the Christmas tradition may say:
What’s wrong with celebrating Christmas just simply and solely as a celebration of Christ’s birth?

The error comes to light and is seen when we realize that a celebration of Christ’s birth is a form of worship. Everything surrounding Christmas is not from God’s Word. And when it comes to worship, God has said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”-John 4:24 In other words “in spiritual purity”

“Jesus was so humble there’s no way he would have asked us to celebrate his birth!”

I agree that he is humble. Humble enough to obey his Father and come to earth to die for you and me. Did He not also say “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. Statements like these are matter-of-fact, not humble. No, I believe, IF He had wanted us to celebrate His birth, He would have left scripture for us about that celebration.

“But we observe this because we want to, out of love for Him.”

There are many, many scriptures about what to do and how to behave out of love for Him. How many of those describe the day of His birth as a way to behave toward God? If He had wanted this tradition/celebration why didn’t He add it to the scriptures? He described the communion supper to His disciples. He was certainly capable of describing (for all of His followers) a celebration of His birth.

“Certainly we can use the tradition to show the world about Christ?”

If you do that, well and good. But I accomplish the same by NOT observing Christmas. I have a lot of discussions that start because I don’t. And those long conversations take us deep into scripture. In the end, I tell people I meet to discover for themselves how they should observe Christmas.

“But we have such a long tradition in Christmas, surely it can’t be wrong?”

That’s like saying but my mother, my grandmother and many generations back were Buddhist. I can’t abandon them. It would be like condemning them.

The word tradition occurs only 14 times in the whole New Testament and in the Old Testament not once. We find 8 references are from Jesus himself, all of which are derogatory of traditions. Not once does he insinuate they are useful or scriptural. Using a tradition to support a spiritual activity just doesn’t wash. See Matthew 15:3 ESV ‘He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Paul explains in Gal 1:14And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.” Paul understood the importance of the differences between ‘tradition’ and ‘God’s word’.

God’s word commands all to carefully follow His commands: Deuteronomy 5:32-33 ESV “You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

“What’s wrong with celebrating Christmas just simply and solely as a celebration of Christ’s birth?”

The error comes to light and is seen when we realize that today’s celebration of Christ’s birth is likely a form of pagan worship. Everything surrounding Christmas is not from God’s Word. Much of it is inspired by or stolen from paganism. And when it comes to worship, God has said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.“-John 4:24

The Bottom Line.

There are many topics that God’s Word is silent about. Few of them are spiritual. As Christians we have the choice to decide whether to celebrate Christmas or not. I do not think ill or persecute anyone for celebrating Christmas. I believe it is reasonable to expect the same treatment.

I have not lost any love, nor do I lack or have less love for those who continue to celebrate Christmas. I encourage each person to honestly and diligently research it for yourselves, to find out the mind of Christ (to the best of your ability) concerning your participation in Christmas. Then, which ever way you have decided for yourself, encourage others to also find the answer for themselves.

Above all, hold precious your faith in God and continue to love your brothers and sisters as you love yourself. Peace and blessings from God to you my fellow Christians.

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About Kerry Townsend

I do the best I can humanly do to follow Jesus Christ. I am not perfect. But the perfection described by God, is what I seek. I build websites to help others and earn my food & lodging.
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4 Responses to (Not) Celebrating Christmas

  1. redrider6612 says:

    Thank you for posting this, dear brother. I accepted your stance regarding celebrating Christmas a long time ago, but I know there are a lot of friends and family who don’t understand. I hope this gentle, eloquent explanation will help to ease the heartache and tension that this has caused over the years.

    One question regarding this point:

    ■The Bible links the celebration of birthdays with pagans, not with God’s true worshipers.

    Why then do you celebrate birthdays? Not that I want you to stop, I’m just trying to understand.

    Also, I know you sometimes attend Christmas parties thrown by friends, but you won’t attend family Christmas celebrations. Why the double standard?

    Love ya, bro!

    • sonfisher says:

      I wrestle (a little) with the birthday/pagan thing to this day. But, I see the birthday tradition being so much less a spiritual celebration than the Christmas holiday is to most Christians.

      As for attending Christmas events with family vs. (for example) Fran’s boss’ come-and-go party… Again I am torn (a lot) between going to the family event and seeing Mom so obviously feeling hurt that we are not participating and everyone wondering why we don’t bring gifts too.

      In the end, it’s that I find it difficult to cleanly resolve how I feel about the above points. Yet they are in no way enough to pull me away from my beliefs.

      Love ya sis!

  2. Kerry,

    I definitely respect you putting your beliefs out there like this. I wanted to bring up a few counter points to your above comment. Not trying to start an argument, but feel they are pertinent to consider.

    You mentioned “I see the birthday tradition being so much less a spiritual celebration than the Christmas holiday is to most Christians”. The bible regularly suggests to not aim to appease other Christians, but to work to please God (Galatians 1:10). Why are you using the actions of other Christians as a benchmark for celebrating birthdays? I only ask because it’s obvious you’ve put a lot of religious study into why you don’t celebrate Christmas, but your answer for celebrating Birthdays is ‘it’s less spiritual to others’. Colossians 2:16-17 says “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day”.

    I’m not saying this to stop you from celebrating your birthday, or to encourage you to do so. I just hope that decision is based on your own beliefs & your relationship with God, not due to what any ‘other Christians’ believe. 1st Corinthians 8:4-8 also helped me when considering this very question myself.

    • @Brandon, As you have quoted me, “I see the birthday tradition being so much less a spiritual celebration than the Christmas holiday is to most Christians” I’ll read between the lines for both of us by saying I believe and agree with what I perceive from Christians in general, that birthday celebrations are without or have less of a spiritual aspect to them than say Thanksgiving or Christmas.

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