If the views my wife and I have about television, public schools, vaccinations, and Easter wasn’t enough to drive friends and family crazy, our latest decision certainly will. (I also suspect that this will ruffle a few feathers on DefCon as well.)
After thoughtful deliberation we have decided to forego celebrating Christmas this year (and every year hereafter) for two main reasons, one being obvious and the other not so obvious.
No, my wife and I have not lost our minds.
No, we have not become Jehovah’s Witnesses.
No, we aren’t trying to take fun away from our children.
I have always loved Christmas. I could often be heard singing Christmas carols all year long. Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year with all the decorations, food, family, memories, and nostalgia. So my decision to essentially cancel Christmas was not an easy one.
Please hear me out before coming to any conclusions or casting dispersions upon our decision. In the end you may still not agree with us, but at least you’ll understand our reasoning.
II. How it began:
This all started last year when I was reading the comment thread on this post. All of those leaving comments for and against celebrating Christmas made some really good points and it prompted me to really ponder the subject.
My conclusion to forego Christmas stemmed from those comments and became reason number one. Reason number two has been brewing in my mind for the past several years.
III. A little back story:
I am a Christian; a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. One who trusts in Him and the grace God displayed in the shed blood of His Son who willingly offered Himself as a propitiatory sacrifice on my behalf to absorb the wrath of the Father that I justly deserved, not only for the sins I’ve committed, but also for the sins I inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12-14).
Because of this, I desire to please my Master, my Lord, my God, and my Savior with how I live my life (John 14:15) because I’m no longer mine, but I’ve been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Do I always please Him in my life? Absolutely not. In fact, I’m ashamed to admit it, but in my everyday life I probably bring Him far more disgrace and dishonor than I do glory. However, I strive to follow His commands, I hate my sin, and I want to be more like Him—not in the hopes of gaining His approval or meriting His favor (Christ already met those requirements on my behalf since I never could)—but it’s because I love Him for dying for me while I was yet a miserable, wretched sinner (Romans 5:6-8).
So, when I discover things in my life that may not be honoring to the One I seek to honor, obey, and glorify (John 15:14), then I must make a decision of whom I will serve (Joshua 24:15). I will decide to serve either myself or the One who bought me with a price and owns me (1 Corinthians 7:23). Choosing the latter is rarely easy, usually difficult, often agonizing, but always wise, prudent, and right.
It’s for this reason—that I desire to please the One who purchased me with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19) and not because of legalism—that I feel I can no longer, in good conscience, celebrate the holiday known as Christmas. And what follows are my two reasons why.
IV. Reason 1 – The Origins:
There’s no debating that Roman Catholic traditions and pagan practices are rife throughout the holiday of Christmas. Everything from the name of the holiday to the Yule log, for instance, has more to do with false religions than with Christianity. Romanism and paganism are rampant in this supposedly Christian holiday.
Now I’m not unrealistic. I understand that we cannot escape the presence of false religion in our daily lives; even the planets in our solar system and days of the week are named after pagan gods. As long as we live in a fallen world there will be pagan influences all around us. It’s when we intentionally infuse false religions with Christianity and attempt to call it “good” that a problem arises. We’re no longer living in the world while not being a part of it, we’re now mixing light and dark; a practice strictly forbidden by Scripture.
The Bible permits us to eat food sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8:1-13) but would not permit us to partake in pagan practices and incorporate them into the Christian’s life and practice (Ephesians 5:11).
My coming to terms with the origins of Christmas was a jagged pill for me to swallow and left me at a loss as to how I—with this knowledge—could justify partaking in such a celebration, regardless of how much my flesh yearns to once again welcome the warmth, fun, nostalgia, and sentimentalism that comes with the season.
Although many people who refrain from celebrating Christmas do so because of its pagan and Romanist origins, my wife and I have an additional concern. This second reason for saying “no” to Christmas is not so obvious nor is it discussed much when debating this issue. In fact, in the post I referred to above, this second reason was never mentioned by any of those leaving comments.
V. Reason 2 – What we’re teaching our kids:
A breeding ground for coveting, vanity, and materialism.
Christmas—by and far, and above all other holidays—is best defined today by materialism and the mass consumption of stuff. Even non-Christians recognize and often bemoan this fact. It tends to be easier to practice moderation with other gift-giving days (like birthdays), but with Christmas there’s always an ever-present frenzy of vanity and materialism simmering just below the surface of the season that crescendos into an orgy of selfishness like no other holiday.
My wife and I believe that we are responsible for how we raise our children and we’re desperately trying to raise them with as few of the trappings of the world as possible. Since all of us are born with a natural desire to covet the things of this world in order to satisfy the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16), we feel that by celebrating Christmas we’d be contributing to the cultivation of those sinful desires which are uncharacteristic of a Christian.
Children, as well as adults, struggle enough with selfishness, materialism, and coveting that it would be foolish of my wife and I to reinforce this by instilling these sins into the lives of our children from their infancy under the guise of it being a Christian holiday. (In America we don’t “struggle” with coveting so much because we’ve come to embrace this pet sin.)
Christians should always be aware of their duty to not cause offense to or the stumbling of others. If we are responsible for the raising of our children—and we know that they are born with an innate tendency toward coveting, materialism, and the worship and serving of things created (idolatry)—then it would be a grave folly for us as parents to justify, condone, and encourage that sin in their lives.
If our greatest desire for our children is for them to turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sin, and to glorify God through their lives, then why in the world would we want to place the stumbling blocks of selfishness, coveting, vanity, and materialism before them on a silver platter and call it innocent holiday fun?
Open your presents; there are starving kids in India.
Do we expect our children to be able to properly balance the gross consumerism, materialism, and mass consumption that accompanies Christmas with that of the reality of the sufferings of the rest of the world? How do we on one hand try to impart to our kids the understanding of the misfortune of people throughout the world who are suffering with lack of food, water, clothing, and shelter (and with Christians throughout the world who are beaten, imprisoned, and tortured for their faith in Christ), while we’re ripping open piles of presents, most of which will begin collecting dust before the credit cards used to purchase them are paid off?
My wife and I are desperately trying to undo the materialism that we’ve already bred into our own children, and Christmas certainly doesn’t help. How can we really instill in our children the understanding of poverty and suffering elsewhere in the world—and have compassion for those suffering—when we keep burying our kids under stuff?
How are we to instill a compassion in our children for the least of these, as Jesus would have us do, yet engage in gross self-indulgence on December 25th under the guise of celebrating the birth of the One who was poor in this life and instructed us to give up all for Him, including our very lives?
Our hope for our children is to live and die for the cause of Christ in the foreign or domestic mission fields, but can they really have a godly understanding and perspective of the urgency of the plight of the rest of the world when we blur those lines with our gross material consumption under the banner of celebrating our Savior’s birth?
It seems that dying as a martyr for Christ is easier than dying to self for Christ. The latter, however, is what He requires of us.
When we try to instill throughout the year to our children their need to take up their cross, care for the sick, and give to the needy, only to betray everything we’ve said every December by smothering them with presents and cultivating coveting in their little hearts, doesn’t that make us hypocrites?
And last time I checked, “Thou shalt not covet” was still one of the Ten Commandments.
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.
When our children tear off the wrapping of a present to reveal socks and underwear from Aunt Ruth, we’re appalled when they don’t look happy or grateful about it. We expect them to hold up the underwear, and with a big smile for the camera, say, “Oh, thank you so much Aunt Ruth, it’s just what I wanted.” (And we do the same thing when we receive the dreaded fruit roll from Aunt Ruth.)
In other words, we want our children to be fake; to lie. For most Christian parents this is one of the few times we accept (and expect) lies from our children. It’s also one of the few times we feel it’s all right to lie to those same children about Santa Clause, elves, and flying reindeer. Yet we then expect our children to believe what we tell them about the Flood, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the fish, and a risen Savior, and we’re shocked if they don’t. Revelation 21:8 warns us about what happens to liars.
There’s another kind of lying that’s prevalent during Christmas that seems to be taboo to talk about. Do you find it odd that most people ignore the less fortunate until the holidays roll around? This selective compassion is expected from the world but it’s a travesty when it’s the common practice of the church.
Why is it that Christian churches crowd the soup kitchens and convalescent homes to feed the homeless and visit widows during the Christmas season but they can’t be found the rest of the year?
Why is it that so many Christians pat themselves on the backs because every December they send a shoebox of junk to a third world country yet they can’t be bothered to lift a finger the other eleven months of the year for those same people?
For a church, being charitable just once a year is called being fake. It’s no different than how the masses of unbelievers show up to church for Christmas never to be seen again till next Christmas (or the occasional Easter). The unbeliever’s December faith and the church’s December charity fool no one, especially God; it’s simply living a lie. And last time I checked, lying was still an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:16-17).
I know that none of my above assertions will resonate with you if you don’t have the same goals and expectations for your family as my wife and I do. But as for me there are really no outs on this subject. If I say that we celebrate Christmas for what it is today—and not for the pagan and Roman Catholic beginnings—then I can’t escape the fact that the Christmas of today is less about celebration and reflection and more about parties and facades; less about religion and more about self-indulgence; and less about piety and more about me.
I speak to those who strive to take the Bible seriously, and want to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. From one Christian to another Christian, I ask you: Can you really justify celebrating a holiday created by an apostate religious organization, infused with paganism that encourages greed, worldly lusts, and lying, and is nowhere to be found in Scripture by teaching or example for us to follow?
If you can, in good conscience, say “yes,” then peace be with you. I do not judge you but I pray that you will consider these words of mine from time to time. I do not suggest that you are in some way in danger of Hell’s fire because you esteem one holiday over another (Romans 14:5-6), and I apologize if my passion about this has offended you. My intent was not to make enemies with you. (Galatians 4:16, Romans 12:18).
This post was not intended to be an indictment about giving gifts. I’m not against giving gifts. If the act of giving gifts was a sin then gift giving would not have been used as an example of a loving father in Matthew 7:9-11 and Luke 11:11-13. And furthermore, God gave us the ultimate gift of His Son.
This post was a critique of how we as Christians—who strive to abide by God’s commands against mixing light with darkness, coveting, greed, the lust of the eyes and the flesh, causing others to stumble, and lying—will give a pass to all those prohibitions in order to celebrate a holiday Jesus never asked us to commemorate. A holiday that’s supposed to celebrate the birth of the One who gave us those laws, who fulfilled those laws, who never transgressed those laws, and then died a cruel death on a rugged Roman cross to redeem those of us who have spent a lifetime breaking those laws.
This will be the first year we’re foregoing Christmas and I anticipate it’s going to be rough. Trying to explain our decision to friends and family and giving up years of practice and tradition. Yet, in some ways, sitting this holiday out won’t be so bad after all:
This Christmas, many Christians—like the unbelievers around them—will be under great stress for the next month running from Christmas party to Christmas party, torturing themselves over whether or not to get that friend or co-worker a gift (because if they got you one and you didn’t get them one then you’ll feel awful, but if you got them something and they didn’t get you something then you’ll have to endure that awkward moment between the two of you), trying to get cards out on time, getting stuck in traffic jams at mall parking lots, fighting with the obnoxious throngs of shoppers, trying to find the perfect gift for people who you have no idea what they’ll like, fretting over whether or not you forgot someone on your list, working overtime to pay off the Christmas bills, and finally, trying to find room in your home to store the additional junk you’ve accumulated from yet one more Christmas holiday that’s supposed to be celebrating the birth of the One who only commanded us to commemorate His death, burial, and resurrection.