The Controversy of Christmas
by Sheldon Bass
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Every year as December 25th approaches, there are increasingly controversial views of Christmas being bantered about. Some say its origins are birthed from paganism and heathen practices. Others say no, it is the celebration of our blessed Savior coming into the world. So who is right? More importantly, “Is it wrong for a Christian to celebrate at this time of year?”
The answer to both of these questions is rather obvious if we take the time to consider Jesus’ most elementary teachings on the motives of the heart.
The short answer for the 1st question is BOTH! This is explained in context of the answer to our vital, second question.
There are many fond memories associated with Christmas from my childhood. The bright colorful lights with lovingly wrapped presents around the beautifully glittering tree. Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen. The warmth of a fire in the hearth while the pure white snow banks up on the sides of the house. Family and friends all sharing the spirit of love and togetherness. We had some wonderful celebrations. It was a time of giving and sharing and unity and great joy.
My family attended church regularly, though we had a few relatives who did not. In fact two distant cousins were rather opposed to religion of any form. While my immediate family was attending Sunday services, those two would be launching their second day of a hell raising weekend party. There were times they’d be arrested on Sunday and thrown in jail for breaking the law. That’s certainly not what Jesus would have us do. For we are to obey civil authorities.
Sunday was their favorite day. A day influenced by the alcohol and drugs they’d abused beginning on Friday night. It was great fun for them to carouse and fight, drink and drive, do drugs, curse and have free sex. They loved the party life. It was their god. True pagan practices.
Did what they choose to do on Sunday make my family’s church attendance a pagan activity because it was on the same day? Of course not! Associating a Christian’s celebration of the birth of Christ with pagan worship is ridiculous. Worship is in Spirit and from the heart. And so is our celebrations.
I could choose ANY day and decide to celebrate my salvation in Christ on that particular day. Certainly, somewhere in history that same day will hold some significance by being associated with sinful practices, which are done across the globe year round. The world is filled with such things, and has been since the fall of man in the garden. But my celebration has nothing to do with that.
Yes, I’ve done extensive research on the origins of Christmas. I’m aware of how the date was set. Yet I find that its origins do not matter. The important thing is what is in our hearts and the reason we are celebrating.
Nowhere in the bible are we commanded to celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth. Yet the bible does not forbid it either. It is true that December 25th may not be the actual day of our Savior’s birth. But what difference does that make? We choose a day to commemorate that event and celebrate, just as the angels of heaven celebrated in song and heralded His coming. Out of convenience, there have been years I celebrated my own birthday on a different day than my actual birth.
One thing I’ve learned rather well during my life as a Christian, is that those activities which are against God’s will for me to participate in, will invariably come between me and my Lord, rather than draw me closer to Him. Over the years, my love for Christ has truly deepened and I have a greater appreciation for my redeemer as I celebrate His human birth, God’s incarnation. Hmmm. It appears that my celebration of Christmas has deepened my faith, rather than hindered it. That alone is evidence enough for me.
I don’t care at all for the fairy tale aspects of Christmas, with Santa and his mythical flying reindeer. I do not participate in those widespread fantasies. It competes with my Lord. And as a child I felt betrayed when I learned that I’d been deceived about such things. There is nothing mystical about Christmas. Miraculous yes! We serve an omnipotent, all wise God. There is no need to make up stories to fascinate children, or to create magical moments based on lies. The truth is exciting enough. And the love, unity, peace and joy associated with the virgin birth of Christ is even more real! A cause for true celebration!
What does Christmas mean to you? And what are you celebrating? Are you celebrating paganism, Satanism and wickedness? Or are you joyfully praising God for the birth of the redeemer of mankind? Are you celebrating that awesome event some 2000 years ago, when in Bethlehem of Judea, the Son of God was born of the virgin Mary?
When you prayerfully consider these questions, you will know if it is right “for you” to continue your Christmas traditions.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
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This is my 3rd attempt at brevity on the subject matter of your article. Maybe I can do it this time. Your article is good. It is timely. It touched a vital nerve. I used to hate Christmas because of the pagan problem. Now I love Christmas because of its scriptural foundation and how it unfolds truth of Jesus' incarnation. The days of hating Christmas and all it implies about our long held, now past, belief system need redemption. Like 30 locust years, those times wait for total healing. There is only One who can do that, the same One who lifted a veil so the dazzling beauty and grace of a God who stooped might appear.
Really great article Sheldon. You are correct about the controversy! We should always seek to unify rather than divide over such non issues.