November 26, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

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Gloria in excelsis Deo!

“And the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” (Ezekiel 36:23)

As children of God, our greatest goal should be that our Father’s name is hallowed in us before the eyes of the world. “Glorify God and enjoy Him forever!” One of the amazing things that happens when a country is “Christianized” is that its culture begins to reflect biblical principles, even among the heathen in their midst.

Many feminists complain about the “oppression” of women caused by biblical teaching; but, Christianity is indeed what freed us from oppression! Read The Real Women’s Liberation Movement. Christian culture demands that women and children be protected and treated with value and dignity.

Historically, when a heathen nation was overcome by the Gospel, distinct changes inevitably took place in the culture. For instance, the coming of Christ provided the world with a more complete and beautiful picture of marriage. “Marriage is honorableamong all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

“By rejecting polygamy, adultery, fornication, public nudity, and the artistic portrayal of sexual acts, either openly on stage or graphically portrayed on household items, the Christians instituted an entirely new sexual morality. As secular historian Edward Gibbon declared: ‘The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.’” Dr. Peter Hammond

As Christians, our presence should impact the culture around us. We mustn’t hide from the culture; we are to confront it—transform it by the power of Jesus in us. Living our lives to the glory of God burns a bright and conspicuous light in a dark and hollow world.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

Recently, I heard a beautiful version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, sung by the secular group, “Straight No Chaser.” What struck me was the fact that a group of secular singers was doing a beautiful job of proclaiming the miracle of the incarnation of Christ!

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

This group’s Christmas CDs, Holiday Cheers and Holiday Spirits, contain both secular and spiritual songs and have been wildly popular on the secular market. They have appeared on the Today show, ABC World News Tonight, and CNN Headline News, to name a few. Because of the influence of Christianity on society, those who don’t worship our God, are willing to enjoy, and even join us unaware, in proclaiming the story of the coming of our King. His story is being told. For this we should rejoice!

I realize there are many well-meaning Christians who are opposed to the celebration of Christ’s birth. I can appreciate many of their reasons and agree with some of them. The worldliness, the materialism, the “cheapening” of the original purpose for the celebration is enough to earn a hearty, “Bah Humbug” from any Christian.

There are Christians who believe that celebrating Christmas is a violation of the Regulative Principle of Worship. Some make the point that many of the Protestant Reformers rejected the idea of recognizing “special days” on the church calendar.

However, when we celebrate Christmas, we are not recognizing a special day on the calendar, as if it were holy or biblically set apart. We are simply setting aside an occasion of remembrance—a time when we recall the miracle of the incarnation and teach it to our children. The day itself is not special, but the day we’re remembering is glorious—the day when God became flesh and dwelt among us!

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night, divine!

Oh night when Christ was born.

Also, as a family, we use the advent candle during our family worship time. It is a great way to teach the children and pull them into the Scriptures. Though these are not commands of God, there are examples in Scripture where God told His people to use tangible means to teach future generations:

“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What mean ye by these stones?’ Then ye shall answer them, ‘That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.’” (Joshua 4:5-7)

From God, our heavenly father,
A blessed angel came.

And unto certain shepherds,
Brought tidings of the same.
How that in Bethlehem was born,
The son of God by name.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

Remember Christ our savior
was born on Christmas day.
To save us all from Satan’s power
when we were gone astray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy…

At what other time of year do even the lost proclaim aloud Christ’s purpose for coming? What a wonderful opportunity God has given us. While emotions are stirred, hearts are tender, and “family” once again becomes important to many, we are able to speak and sew into the lives of those who may normally be opposed to the Truths of Scripture.

[We] Didn’t know you’d come to save us Lord
To take our sins away
Our eyes were blind,
we could not see

We didn’t know who you were.

It’s amazing to hear these words sung by those whose eyes are still blinded. Pray with me today that God would open the eyes of those who sing this song in ignorance. Pray that he who memorizes the notes and practices the harmony to such carols this year would indeed come to know You as Lord and Savior!

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new born King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

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27 Responses to “Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?”

  1. debbra hunt says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you… you have written very nicely what my husband have said over and over again.. it is not the date but what you do with it…

  2. Deanna says:

    Amen!

    Merriest of Christmases to you and your precious family!

  3. Tammy says:

    Thank you for this post, dear sister, and I appreciate your wonderful blog which inspires me in so many ways!

    You said, “Historically, when a heathen nation was overcome by the Gospel, distinct changes inevitably took place in the culture.”

    Very true. But those changes (for the good) did not come about because the followers of the True and Living God adopted certain aspects of that culture, but because the people of that culture adopted God’s ways, His instructions, found in His Word. The Biblical precedents all prove that God is not pleased when His people adopt heathen culture. There is no example where God told His people to adopt the customs of the heathen in order to honor Him. On the contrary, we find passages like these:

    Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
    Jer 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain…

    Eze 11:12 And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.

    2Ki 17:15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.

    2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
    2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

    It is time for True Believers to rise up and acknowledge that we have inherited lies and vain practices from our fathers, and return to the true “OLD PATHS”.

    Blessings on you and yours!

  4. Dana Adams says:

    We love straight no chaser!!
    Thank you for your article:) I was a little sad this year that some dear friends have chosen to not celebrate Christmas…they like the unbelievers will not say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Kinda weird how two opposing sides end up dong the same thing!
    We just continue in love and grace to all, remembering what grace and mercy has been shown to us by others and most of all the Lord Himself.
    Often times the pendulum swings in our lives and I think perhaps people are just trying to honor the Lord….
    Christams is such a huge celebration for us !
    God bless you!

  5. Well said; I completely agree with you! As Christians, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to our world what a Christ-honoring Christmas looks like!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Stacy,
    I don’t judge anyone who celebrates or does not celebrate Christmas. But just wanted to share that my church celebrates Jesus’ birthday during the Biblical feast of Sukkot. We also celebrate Hannukah as Jesus did (John 10:22). I think it’s really cool for Christians to get back to our Judeo roots and see how Jesus is magnified in all the Biblical feasts (just as he is in Passover). Anyway, I’m not here to get in a big discussion about Biblical feasts and Pagan traditions, etc. I just wanted to share what my family’s traditions are.
    Peace to you and yours and my God bless you!!

  7. DonnaJ says:

    Wow~ Isn’t it amazing what different ideas and conclusions Christians can come too? We are “changing” our celebrations to more Christ & family focused and less commercialism. To some that won’t be enough of a change and to some that is way too much. But, we are feel the Lord has led us too. I posted a link to your blog today on my post about Celebrations. Blessings to your family~

  8. Jennifer says:

    Not celebrate Christmas? Hah; I’m never surrendering it to the secular.

  9. Tara says:

    My family used to celebrate all the usual christian holidays. Two years ago we did a study on the history of all american holidays and their roots. Well, our consciences were really pricked with the roots of christmas. To “reclaim” something that was never claimed christian seemed very foolish. Considering this was the time the Greeks paid homage to their god Saturnius, decking the halls with boughs of holly and all the other typical traditions that are kept today. Thanks to Abraham Caiper and his philosophy of claiming these and other things for “christian culture”. Well, Jesus said THIS IS NOT MY KINGDOM.
    The word sanctify means to make holy, and practices and vain traditions cannot be made holy. WE are eternal and are being made holy. You can make your feasts, bake your cookies, fellowship with family, but proclaiming this is for Jesus? Well, He wants our obedience to Him everyday. Fighting the heathen for their “holy days” is fruitless. Christian is to be Christ like, these things cannot and never will be. Man is the only being/thing that can be called Christian.
    I have so much appreciated the encouragment for being a wife and mother on your blog. God put a hunger in me for a more righteous life than the one I had been living, so my husband bought me the book “Passionate Housewives Desperate For God” four years ago. As a family we started to search for answers for why we were doing what we were doing. My husband started having family worship every morning. He teaches us all from God’s word which is truth. The birth, life, death, and ressurection of Christ ought to be taught in the home of every christian everyday.
    It’s sad that the members of Christ’s body have so much dissension. We are divided with a vast array of denominations or church governments with everyone interpreting differently or doing what’s right in their own eyes. Perhaps the way we love other christians would shine a much brighter light to the heathen than taking their feasts, festivals, and proclaiming their kingdom for our own.
    Until then,
    1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 “BUT AS TOUCHING BROTHERLY LOVE YE NEED NOT THAT I WRITE UNTO YOU: FOR YE YOURSELVES ARE TAUGHT OF GOD TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AND INDEED YE DO IT TOWARD ALL THE BRETHREN WHICH ARE IN ALL MACEDONIA: BUT WE BESEECH YOU, BRETHREN, THAT YE INCREASE MORE AND MORE; AND THAT YE STUDY TO BE QUIET, AND TO DO YOUR OWN BUSINESS, AND TO WORK WITH YOUR OWN HANDS, AS WE COMMANDED YOU; THAT YE MAY WALK HONESTLY TOWARD THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT, AND THAT YE MAY HAVE LACK OF NOTHING”

  10. Heather says:

    It isn’t for secular reasons that we do not celebrate Christmas. Yes we hate the commercialism – about everything really. It isn’t surrendering to the secular, that’s disgusting to us as well.

    It has something to do with not celebrating a holiday that has it’s roots in pagan rituals that the Catholic church (in general, not every monk or bishop did this) tried to convert ppl to their religion by saying that “we’re really not that different, look we have a similar holiday.” But there’s more to it.

    For our family, not celebrating has mostly to do with the regulative principle. What can be better than a Christ instituted holiday? Can we improve upon His holiday? We came to the conclusion that we could not a few years ago when Christmas fell on The Lord’s Day. We could not do anything to try to improve upon His day and the fact that we tried to celebrate Christmas on Saturday or Monday just cheapened that holiday – it wasn’t a real holiday anymore. A little history: as a family we had gotten into the habit of celebrating the Lord’s Day as if it was better than Christmas and Easter altogether. We had special fun activities, we talked about the Gospel, we read special books together, did special ministry things together, we even prepared special food and gathered as many folks as would come around our table to come and celebrate this wonderful holiday with us. We still celebrate the Lord’s Day like this. We don’t put up a tree or hunt for eggs (both Pagan in origin) but we try to have a most joyful day full of Lord’s Day appropriate holiday fun full of the Gospel and the wonder of Christ and His coming to earth to die for the sins of those who trust in Him. Simply amazing. We do it every week. And for those who would argue, it doesn’t get cheapened by weekly observance. It gets beloved, looked forward to by all. A real day of rest and gladness, deep soul rest and gladness.

  11. Loved this clear and truthful explanation, Stacy! We too have brethren that don’t celebrate Christmas, and respect their reasons why. But after praying and researching the issue, we have come to the same conclusions as you.

  12. Bri says:

    I understand your sentiment and agree with most of what you said. But I think you ignore one VERY important fact. Our Christmas celebration is a modification of a pagan holiday. Yes, most of us recognize (even non-believers) that this is the time to celebrate the birth of Christ, but that is not what this time of year/holiday started out as. By ignoring that fact, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors. My family does celebrate Christmas, though most of our money goes to helping other nations as well as giving to others in our own community. But in order to have a true dialog with people about why we do what we do, we need to understand the reasons for the holiday.

    It was a pagan holiday. When pagans began to trust in Jesus’s message the holiday became about celebrating those truths. It is most likely very inaccurate to assume that this was the time of year Jesus was actually born, but we use this time as a way to reflect on His birth and celebrate what he has done for our sins.

  13. Kathleen says:

    I think Tammy made some very good points. I offer my own thoughts humbly and with the kindest intentions – to point others to Christ. My main objection to celebrating Christmas is not that the there is nothing in the Bible specifically commanding Christians to remember the day, or that other Christians in the past have chosen not to honor the holiday, or because it has become overly secularized and commercialized. No, I object solely because the holiday is a syncretization of paganism and biblical Christianity. Christmas originated in the 4th century as a way to mix the pagan holiday of Saturnalia with the “new” Christian religion. God has strictly forbidden this kind of mixing. All through the OT, God warned His people NOT to do that – not to mix with the heathen. I used to be flabbergasted at the passages in the OT that spoke of the Hebrew people disobeying God and turning to the false gods of their neighbors. But each Christmas season I gain more understanding of how very difficult it must’ve been for them not to yield to the pressure of the pagan society around them. It gives me more compassion for them, but it does not make me agree with their choices.

    God never changes. He has not changed in regards to His people mixing with the heathen society around them and adopting their religion or mixing true religion with pagan religion.

    Just because something “works” doesn’t mean it is right thing to do. If anything good comes of it, it is because God is very merciful and gracious, not because He is pleased with our disobedience. I think one’s view of soteriology plays an enormous part in how we deal with Christmas. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and follow me.” If God is calling someone to salvation, if he or she was chosen before the foundation of the world, if God is truly sovereign in salvation and saves those whom He will save, He does not need a man-made invention to accomplish His will.

    I understand that this is a very emotionally charged topic. I get why many Christians think this holiday is useful for spreading the Gospel and certainly sympathize with their thinking. However, I ask that readers prayerfully consider if the ends justifies the means. My pastor often reminds his congregation that our authority, our standard for the choices we make, should first be Revelation, then reason and then experience – in that order. I fear that, for this issue especially, many believers are placing experience (emotions) at the forefront and then reasoning from there to a false conclusion. I urge each reader to re-evaluate and make sure you are not basing your choices in regards to this holiday on experience and reason, but rather on Scripture. Satan loves to play on our emotions in order to distract us from the truth of God’s word and I believe he does so at this time of year more than any other.

  14. Jasmine says:

    Excellent and well said. I completely agree!

  15. Ashlee says:

    I like what Tammy said! I don’t think there are christians that have a problem with celebrating the birth of Christ. It is Christmas that they have a problem with. Two totally different things. The birth of Christ is the only thing that is mentioned in the christmas celebration that is true and worth celebrating. The christmas tree, santa, and pretty much every other tradition that comes along with christmas is an adaptation of a pagan ritual or custom. I am thankful for my savior, and celebrate him and my salvation everyday. I don’t think the “things” of christmas are pleasing to God.

  16. A.C. Koelln says:

    Thank you so very much for this post. Such balance is needed during this time of the year within the church. A blessing.

    @Tammy and Ashlee…I mean no offense but we all adopt pagan ideas/practices whether we realize it or not.

    To name just a few:
    -some of the names of the days of our week come from mythology
    - the months of our year are named after pagan gods
    - the roads/public facilities we use in many states are paid for through gambling and other vice taxation
    -we wear wedding rings on the left hand because the ancient Romans believed the vein in the ring finger led directly to the heart

    Do you not used the names of our calendar, not use certain facilities or roads or not wear a wedding ring…of course not. Are we sinning by participating or using these things? No, it’s part of our culture, just as early Christians ate meat sacrificed to pagan gods.

    I think we definitely need to obey Scripture but sometimes there are things in which the Word doesn’t speak about. That’s where personal convictions come into play. Balance is crucial in these areas and we must try to be mindful that our convictions are just that…ours and not meant for all of Christendom.

  17. Lauren says:

    Mrs. McDonald,
    Thank you so much for sharing your wise thoughts! My family and I do celebrate Christmas with gusto, enjoying setting aside this time of remembrance, as you so clearly explained. I do have friends who do not celebrate, and while I respect their conclusions, I don’t understand them. The roots of Christmas are often hazy, and carry no context into society today.
    Merry Christmas!

  18. angie says:

    Honestly, I believe the Lord made each day, and we choose how we use it. If we want to celebrate His birth on Dec 25, or every day, then go for it! Just because pagans used the day for wrong reasons doesn’t mean it can’t be used for HIS glorification! :)

    I used to be of the mindset of not celebrating Christmas because of pagan origins, but I missed out on so much joy. I find it a wonderful time and perfect opportunity to discuss Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. Instead of Merry Christmas, it’s Happy Birthday Jesus! :)

  19. A sincere thank you to Tammy and others who shared the truth that was on their hearts. It’s not easy to be different and speak out against Christmas. Believe me, I know.

    Once upon a time, my family and I celebrated Christmas…until the Lord opened our eyes to see the truth behind it and how we could no longer partake in it.

    There are many points I could make, but I will simply say that we were never commanded to celebrate His birth, only His death. Nor should we profane that which is Holy, with things that are unholy. I don’t want to get into a debate, but the Lord has put it on my heart to share an article that my family and I wrote on the subject. I will leave you with the link and let the Lord do the rest.

    http://truthseekersministry.com/articles/is-christmas-in-the-bible/

    May He continually guide us all into the fullness of His truth!

  20. Jane says:

    I agree, Angie.

    It’s all in how you celebrate. We observe with great joy the entrance of God in the flesh into the world. I don’t care one iota how it originated; God knows our hearts on the matter.

    It seems to me that Christ died not only to save us, but to free us from any doubt as to what we should eat or not eat, what to celebrate or not celebrate, etc. as long as it is not leading us into sin.

  21. Great post, Stacey–couldn’t agree more–I just told the kids the other day I think it is wonderful during the Christmas season that God’s glory and His Son permeate the airwaves–what a blessing!

    We also have found that group recently and have enjoyed listening to them–great talent!

  22. Colleen G says:

    God made the tree before the pagans worshipped it. God gave stars long before men used them as symbols of the gods. Gold and silver were made beautiful long before greed consumed them. The pagans corrupted that which God has made. We are free to use or not use His objects as we see fit. Sin has corrupted what God made, Jesus’ coming and family celebrations. We have chosen to take back that which belonged to God and use it for our good.

  23. Crafty Mama says:

    I love this! I decided this year that I don’t want to just celebrate Christmas day and get my kids all excited about the one day; after all, I couldn’t think of some amazing, incredible thing to do on the 25th that would be better than anything else we did in December, something that would be the “finale” of advent. Since a lot of people only look forward to unwrapping presents, I decided that we would be different and try to celebrate advent every day in December, and not just the 25th. Christ’s birth is certainly worthy of a month-long celebration!

  24. Jill says:

    Have you ever wondered why we don’t know anything about our Jewish roots?

    Christmas has bothered me since I was a little girl, yet this year, age 58, is the first year that I’m saying “no” to Christmas. I have children and grandchildren and this decision comes with much heartbreak. I am not forcing my choices on anyone else, not even trying to influence my husband, but I can no longer pretend that Christmas is ok.

    I recently read a book about the miracles that are happening in the Middle East-Jews and Muslims coming to the Messiah in record numbers. The stories are so encouraging and faith building. So, here’s the kicker: They are unable to worship with us because of the paganism in the church. See Romans 11:11

    Also, we are discredited because we embrace these heathen traditions, we have become a mockery due to the similarities of the church and paganism. One example, See “zeitgeist the movie” on youtube. While we all know that the Messiah was not born on the 25th of December etc, the world doesn’t know that we know…why would they?

    I agree with Kathleen’s comments on how difficult it must have been for the Israelites to avoid mixing in with the surrounding culture, but we know how God dealt with that! Now I realize that we have sanitized and rationalized it all, but in our tenacity to hold on to that which is not of God by participating in pagan based ‘holy days’, we are missing out on meaningful, scripture based celebrations… Like Passover, they are all about Jesus.

    God Bless you all.

  25. Jill says:

    edit: Please read Romans 11 entirely. The actual verse I wanted to highlight was 11:18

  26. Jennifer says:

    Passover is not about Jesus, Jill, it’s strictly Jewish. I find the pressure to stop celebrating our Lord’s Birth because pagans used to decorate trees utterly nonsensical.

  27. Stacy McDonald says:

    Christmas is a great opportunity to live out Christ! PURPOSELY stop and allow someone else to go first; ask to help a struggling mom in line with little ones; ask the checker if she’s doing okay or if she would like you to pray for her about anything. You will get the strangest looks, but you will have given them a glimpse of Christ in a me-first world! :-) We should of course do this all year, but when there is an abundance of selfishness, me-first shoppers around you, you have a unique opportunity!

    Personally, I love the opportunity God has orchestrated for us this time of year. It’s a time when even many heathen are open to hearing that there really is hope for them. And whether or not they know what they’re saying, they often sing about it! “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him…Christ the King!”

    When I first became a Christian, I didn’t know any hymns, so I would sing alone in my car at the top of my lungs, “Go Tell it on the Mountain!” LOL It was June. But because of the Christmas carols I had learned as an unregenerate child, I already knew how to sing praises to my King! :-)

    I love that even the heathen sing praises to the King unaware at Christmas time! One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess, but I love seeing a hint of that in December! ;-)

    Even Christmas rituals and traditions are fruitful if they communicate the Gospel to the lost, and the glory of our Lord to the world. As Christians, we should rejoice when His Name is shouted from the roof tops – regardless of whether or not the shouters realize the magnitude of what they are saying!

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