Is it Wrong to Celebrate Christmas?

Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas?

It's been a long time since my last post. But in my defense, wow, a lot has been happening in my life! In the past few months, I moved to a new country, got married to my fiancée, done some travelling, and got my wife's immigration clearance to move back home completed. Meanwhile, I've been studying and praying about my next blog series which I've learned a lot from and can't wait to share it soon. It's going to be good!!! But before that, here we are with the Christmas season already upon us. It got me wondering, is it wrong to celebrate Christmas? For what it's worth, I thought I would share my personal view on this increasingly controversial topic.

My Facebook feed is filled with Christmas messages -- some rejoicing in Jesus' birth; others saying it's wrong because Satan is celebrating its pagan origins. I fall somewhere in the middle of these two views. Or, to be more accurate, I disagree with both sides. Let me tell you why.

Pagan influence is everywhere. Every planet in our solar system is named after a Greek god, as are countless constellations, and many other heavenly bodies. Heck, even our planet is named after a goddess. Within our world, almost every culture was pagan before Jesus took over. Western society is no exception. Amazon, Nike, Hermes, and the Tennessee Titans are just a few examples of companies named after characters in Greek mythology. Every Starbucks cup is famously donned by a Siren. Many government buildings were inspired by or modeled after the Pantheon, originally built as a Greek temple, and now ironically transformed into a Catholic Church building. Our symbol of Lady Justice is based on a Greek and Roman god. If you've ever "knocked on wood" or said "bless you" after someone sneezed, you've participated in pagan tradition.

But the interesting thing is, I don't read posts on Facebook discussing the evils of solar system diagrams on their kids' walls, lambasting Nike shoes, promoting a boycott of Amazon, or discouraging participation in the US justice system -- at least not for religious reasons. The truth is, we can't really avoid paganism. You're living on a planet named after it! If we refuse to associate with evil things, we must refuse to associate with the whole world, because the world is fallen. But that's not what we're called to do. Jesus dined with sinners. Paul ate meat sacrificed to idols. And you can buy Bibles on a website named after Greek mythology. But it's Christmas that some people seem to be particularly concerned about. Why is that?

Of all these pagan traditions that influence our daily lives, there is one unique thing about Christmas that makes it more disagreeable. Christmas is the only thing on this pagan list that is also about Jesus. If you have no problem with the pagan symbol for justice right outside your local courthouse but disagree with the pagan symbols of Christmas, I might suggest it's not the pagan aspect of Christmas that bothers you. Rather it's the Christian aspect of Christmas that bothers you. Pagan symbols are fine, but when they're mixed with Christianity, trouble begins.

If Christmas started as a pagan celebration, it was to incorporate Christianity into a pagan culture. I don't think anyone celebrates Christmas in worship of mythical gods anymore because we no longer live in a pagan culture. But we do live in a commercial culture and so that's what Christmas has become. Merchants make a fortune off of nativity scenes, the economy is boosted with generosity, the poor get support they wouldn't get otherwise, and churches put on special programs to reach out to the unbelieving Christmas/Easter crowd to boost their numbers and shore up their finances for the end of the year. Christmas isn't pagan, but it's purpose hasn't changed much. It's still about incorporating religion into culture. It's a holiday invented by people, not by God.

I don't think there's anything wrong with mixing Jesus into our cultural celebrations. The fact that Jesus is such a big part of our society shows how powerful his Kingdom is. But really, Christmas is a celebration of Jesus by people who don't know him. It misses the point of the Gospel and misrepresents Jesus. It's really not a story about Jesus, it's a story about his mother, Mary. Why would we celebrate our savior as he was for a moment, a helpless, crying baby, rather than as he is now and forevermore, a powerful, exalted, enthroned king ruling over his Kingdom? Could you imagine if we celebrated Presidents' Day with scenes of George Washington's birth? At least it doesn't get the date wrong like Christmas does with Jesus. The very idea of picking a day to celebrate Jesus more implies that we're celebrating him less on other days. Jesus should be getting all the glory on every single day. If he gets all the glory on December 25th, I'm going to give him even more glory on December 26th, and even more glory every day after!

To me, Christmas isn't about Christianity or paganism. I celebrate Christmas the same way I would a birthday, Mother's Day, or any other secular holiday. To me, Christmas is about family and friends, romance, the Coca-Cola Santa Claus, singing songs that give you goosebumps, enjoying a cup of rich hot chocolate, increased generosity, paying a buck extra for eggnog in your latte, and looking back on the year's highlights. It's all good, and I love it! But it falls far short of the true gospel.
"One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind." - Romans 14:5
Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas? Make up your own mind whether it's right or wrong. I share this not to get you to agree with me, but so that you can use it to form your own opinion. What God cares about far more than whether you celebrate Christmas or not is whether you judge others who feel differently, whether you violate others' conscience, and whether you love. That is good advice for Christmas, and it's good advice everyday.


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