Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas: Should We or Shouldn't We?

Should Christians celebrate Christmas? That's a question most Christians would find nonsensical, if they thought about it at all. Of course Christians should celebrate Christmas. What would their faith be without the celebration of it's founder's birth?

From a cultural standpoint, I support Christmas. Christmas is the single, most visible evidence of our Judeo-Christian heritage, and there are people in our increasingly secular nation who hate that heritage. They are waging a "war on Christmas" as part of their efforts to eradicate all knowledge of America's Judeo-Christian roots. It is an act of rank anti-Christian bigotry. For that reason I support the celebration of the "mass of Christ" as a declaration of committment to what it is perceived to be evidence of: our Judeo-Christian heritage. That is my view of Christmas from a cultural perspective, but from a spiritual perspective I'm beginning to feel very differently.

I've known for years that Christmas isn't Biblical but originated in pagan religious festivals celebrating the winter soltice and/or the birth of various pagan gods such as Mithras. I've also known for years that in the Bible God tells His people NOT to worship Him the way the heathens worship their gods. I'm increasingly convinced that that's exactly what we're doing when we use pagan festivals to celebrate Christ's birth. And I'm increasingly uncomfortable with that.

I understand that Christmas is deeply engrained in Christian culture and most Christians see nothing wrong with it. They might think I'm being legalistic in questioning the correctness of celebrating Christmas. Some Christians might remind me that, in his epistle to the Galatians, Paul told believers not to let anyone judge them with respect to days they observe. Others might remind me that Christ freed us from the strictures of the Mosaic Law. I get that, but I also know that the Bible in the New Testament says we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. How can we worship the Lord in truth if we're using the festivals, practices, and traditions of false religions?

I'm not telling anyone to stop celebrating Christmas. I don't condemn the overwhelming majority of Christians who observe the holiday. In fact, I still observe Christmas, though not primarily as a religious holiday. Christmas, for me, has become more about gratitude and reflection rather than about celebrating Christ's birth. It's about giving thanks to God for His blessings and for the strength and comfort He bestowed on me to sustain me during my trials. And it's about reflecting on what I did during the year, honestly confronting my sins, and asking God to help me do better in the new year. That's what Christmas is mostly about for me now.

So, should Christians celebrate Christmas? I think the answer to that question should be left to each believer. I don't think congregations should require all their members to believe one way or the other. The question of Christmas is not, I don't think, a salvation issue. Believers with polar opposite views can be equally saved. Therefore, both sides should treat each other with respect. They should not make the other side's opinion into a character flaw. Both sides should strive to be Christlike in this debate. And that's what Christianity is really all about, isn't it? Becoming Christlike, not getting too concerned about which days your neighbors observe. That's the essence of Christianity.

Merry Christmas.

2 comments: said...

I celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ. What I object to, is like the new song that is out now, called Where is the line for Jesus? It asks the question showing all kinds of people lining up for Santa, or for Shopping or other things of the holidays. Christmas has become too materialistic. I agree with the point that giving of gifts is a good thing, but when you give, only to expect something in return is not the reason for giving. The main part that has been lost in this whole thing, is this one line. JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

Great post my friend.

Player_1 said...

I don't see a problem with celebrating Christmas, but it has different meaning for me because I don't believe in a higher power, Although I do believe that Jesus existed as a nice young Jewish man who tried to repair the religion and restore the faith that the descendents of Mattathias all but destroyed, and was killed for it.

For me and my Dad's family (the majority who are Anglican), Christmas is our time to gather en masse and celebrate being a family. I can do without the gifts, though.

Being that Christianity is about the teachings of Christ, I have to wonder how much of the Old Testament is even valid. Obviously you can blame the Nycean council for mucking up your religion by combining it with Judaism and Paganism (which REALLY upset the Jews because they actually knew about it), and unfortunately there is a lot that you have to take at face value.

I think you're right, you should just take it as you, a Christian, understands it.

I am actually offended by the groups that impose "Happy Holidays" and all of the politicaly correct bull. No one gets upset when I wish them a Happy Channukah; so why is another culture's gesture of good will legitimate? That isn't right. Faith is one of those things that is your own, and I find it unnecessarily cruel that the world demands that Christians be more tolerant but then refuses to be tolerant from their side. Especially when it concerns a gesture of goodwill. That's just petty.