Should we say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?
Now that the Christmas season is in full swing for 2013, let me open my letter by offering my favorite Holiday Greeting: “Merry Christmas”! May the Joy of the Season of our Saviour’s birth fill you and your loved ones.
Do you notice that it feels uncomfortable to say “Merry Christmas”? Have you conceded to “Happy Holidays” instead to avoid offending anyone? This Christmas season, I see fellow Christians grappling with the question: Is it ok for Christians to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? To answer this question it is first important to understand two perspectives:
The first are those people who are not celebrating Christmas. These people are the overwhelming minority including Atheists, or people of other faiths that do not celebrate Christmas. These people may choose not to offer a Christmas greeting because it would be irrelevant to them to greet a person for a Holiday they don’t celebrate themselves. If you are one of the first group, then I have no problem with you saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.
The second perspective we must understand are those who celebrate Christmas but still say “Happy Holidays”. Within this group of people are two subgroups: Christians and non-Christians who still celebrate the holiday. My message is for Christians. Today’s reason to say “Merry Christmas” was seen with particular clarity through two Supreme court decisions: Everson vs. Board of Education 1947 which established the separation of Church and state & Engel vs. Vitale 1962 which banned prayer in public schools. These two decisions were landmark in their impact because they shifted the course of America away from it’s Christian roots. The same Justice wrote both opinions: Hugo Black.
The rising tide of secularism has evolved into a restriction on our First Amendment rights: Namely free speech and freedom of religious expression. Much of the action to diminish our first amendment rights has been enacted legislatively by Judges like Hugo black and followed by legal bodies like the ACLU who use intimidation tactics like lawsuits to remove expressions of faith from any public square such as Nativity scenes at Christmastime. The posting of a Nativity at Christmas constitutes a free expression of faith which is a first amendment right. Silence of speech and religious freedom is the fruit of both the Supreme Court actions and those of the ACLU and similar organizations who have sued to remove symbols of Christ from Christmas. The fear or discomfort many feel to suppress “Merry Christmas” is the unintended consequence of misguided legal action.
So now, let’s talk about why we should say “Merry Christmas”
We must use our freedoms to protect our freedoms lest we lose our freedoms. In the case of Christmas, our first amendment rights are at stake. As Christians we should remember 2 Cor. 3:17 where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. With this said, here’s why Christians need to say “Merry Christmas”:
To say “Merry Christmas” is an expression of our religious faith consistent with the great commission of Christ. When we acquiesce to “Happy Holidays” we are veiling our faith. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says “Don’t quench the Spirit”. This short passage reminds us to follow the subtle urgings of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Sharing your faith in Christ is central to our relationship with him.
Not saying “Merry Christmas” is an abdication of our Patriotic responsibility. I have established that our freedoms are under a subtle attack through court action. Many of us are like a “frog in a Kettle” who thinks he can simply jump out before being boiled. If we fail to speak up while resistance is simply uncomfortable, we may be forced to speak up when resistance is fatal. Edmund Burke put it well: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Fear is an unChristian motivation. 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God did not give us a Spirit of Fear but of Power and Love and Self-Determination. Still many Christians withhold their Christmas greeting due to fear of offending someone else. This is the moment when Christians need to fight by overcoming that urge and gently & genuinely sharing Christmas cheer. If you find yourself fearful, perhaps you can overcome that fear by simply asking “what holiday are you celebrating this time of year?”. You will be encouraged by how comfortable it is to follow that question with happy conversation about Christmas and your Savior.
The words I have written are a small offering against the force of political correctness that many feel in today’s society. However, the conviction of heart that you feel has now been provided with the clarity to do right. May God’s strength propel you and may His Word light your path.
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