How to counter the Christmas controversy

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Christmas controversy vs. merry Christmas

christmas controversy

Are you tired of hearing comments like: “Isn’t Christmas a pagan holiday?” “Many people are offended by Christmas” “Was Jesus really born on December 25th?” “Are Christmas trees biblical?” “Should Christians celebrate Christmas?”

Don’t you hate it when people just can’t have a Merry Christmas and feel compelled to attack the holiday for some reason? Is there hope for a solution for all the animosity that seems to hound our Christmas joy? While I have no solution to the world-wide lack of peace, I do have a solution for lack of peace, in your world, where you would like to just enjoy a simple and joyous Christmas season.

With respect to the Christmas controversy and the Christmas holiday there are four basic positions.

  • The Christian traditionalists, those who celebrate and defend the celebration of Christmas as a legitimate motive for commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • The secular traditionalists, those who both practice and celebrate Christmas for giving gifts and getting together with family and friends. For the secularist the meaning of Christmas is not necessarily tied to the birth of Christ whether they believe the story of the birth of Christ or not, they are content to celebrate the Christmas season and enjoy all of the secular trappings of the season i.e. Christmas trees, Santa Claus, reindeer, giving of presents the colors green, red and white etc.
  • The Christian purists, of whom some do not celebrate Christmas and believe that no true Christian should celebrate this holiday with pagan origins. Others of this position, while they recognize that historically Christmas was an adaptation of a pagan festivity that during the time of Constantine was adapted to the Christian calendar, they still feel the freedom to celebrate the occasion and consecrate the season to their Lord.
  • The anti-Christian zealots composed of people of other faiths who find Christianity offensive, atheists, and people who for various reasons simply decided that they do not want anything to do with Christmas.

Is there a biblical solution for such varied positions as those just cited? I believe there is a mature and biblical based position that both believers and unbelievers alike can embrace to end all of the unhealthy and unproductive conflict concerning this season.

Basic principles to overcome Christmas controversy

Understand the historical context of Christmas

For those who grew up in a family that always celebrated Christmas through the years, the true history of the Christmas holiday may be quite depressing. Historians almost universally understand that Christ was not born on December 25th. I don’t want to go into too many details but the trappings of the original Roman holiday formerly called Saturnalia was as anti-Christian as you can imagine. If you insist on knowing the details, you can easily research them on the Internet. My purpose in this piece is not to decry the immorality of this sordid Roman tradition. It is enough to know that there was absolutely nothing Christian about the origin of the Christmas season.

Often the truth is undesirable, and the truth of the historic origin and context of the holiday season that so many of us affectionately call Christmas is a prime example of this fact. The world is full of people who would prefer not to know the truth. That was the original problem from the beginning of this controversy. In an effort to make Christianity more palatable, the 4th century Christian leaders foisted the lie that pagans could continue celebrating their licentious and idolatrous festivals and still be Christians. Thus, the lie became part of Christian history and although the traditions for the celebration of the holiday have been greatly refined and adapted to the biblical narrative, the truth remains that the biblical narrative of Christmas does not exist.

This admission is by no means an attack on the biblical narrative. Everything concerning the birth of Jesus remains valid. However, the idea that the biblical account of the birth and infancy of Jesus can be legitimately associated with the Christmas holiday is completely man-made and has no basis or support in Scripture. The truth is, that nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Christ, or for that matter the birth of any person. What began as a lie to deceive pagans into believing that there was no need for them to change their lifestyle in order to become a Christian, has morphed into the lie that the same holiday is supported by the Scriptures and should be incorporated into the biblical Christian calendar. While it is true that men, including many Christians, prefer to believe a lie, the Bible teaches that by knowing the truth, the truth will set us free.

My motivation in writing this piece is that we all be set free from the Christmas controversy. Allow me to explain.

Christians should understand the biblical attitude towards special days or holy days

The apostle Paul writing to the very church where this controversy began exhorted the Roman brothers by saying:

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. (Romans 14:5, 6)

According to the principle taught by this passage, it does not matter what the origin of the Christmas holiday is. It does not matter if it is a lie, or at least, it does not have to matter. While as a Christian, I am not free to celebrate the Christian season as the Roman pagans celebrated it (under another name) in the first few centuries of the last millennium, I am free to take advantage of the occasion and apply it to the celebration of Jesus’s birth. As I said before, nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Christ. However, in the same manner, nowhere in the Scriptures are we prohibited from celebrating the birth of Christ as God’s physical entrance on the human scene. I do not have to affirm that Christ was born on December 25th in order to celebrate his birth. Not knowing the real date of his birth does not preclude my celebration of it. Under the principle of the above inspired words of the apostle Paul I am free to esteem any day above the others, whether it is December 25th or October 31st. The whole calendar belongs to God and I am free to consecrate any day for any biblical purpose that I choose.

Christians must understand the biblical principle of freedom

Aside from having the liberty to celebrate one day above another, we are also free not to celebrate one day above another. If I choose the celebrate Christmas, and put up a Christmas tree, and place candy canes and Christmas ornaments all over it, if I place gifts under the tree, make gingerbread cookies and string colored lights all over my home, what is the problem? Am I not free to do all of this? As long as I don’t break any biblical principles of holiness and morality I am free to do whatever I wish during the season. If on the other hand I decide to reject every Christmas symbol in existence and treat the day as if it were like any other day, I would also free to completely ignore the holiday. If I decide to reject the celebration of Christmas however, I should in no way, make those who do celebrate it, feel as if they are somehow less spiritual than I am. The principle that the Apostle Paul taught was: whatever you do or don’t do, and however you do or don’t do it, do or don’t do it as unto God.

Understand incidental opportunities for practicing biblical values

The Christmas controversy, whether you agree about its history or not, offers unique opportunities for practicing certain biblical values. For example, traditionally families get together during the Christmas season. This is healthy and good and many families never seem able to get together if it was not for the Christmas season. If for no other reason we decide to cherish the Christmas season to get together with our friends and family members, then it is a good thing. An even better example is the tradition of many Christian families of rereading the biblical texts especially from the gospel of Luke, concerning the events leading to and around the birth of Christ and His infancy. If for no other reason the Christmas season serves to remind us of the sacrifice that God the Father and the Son made in order to come on the human scene then this also can be an excellent reason to celebrate the season.

Another example of an opportunity to practice biblical values is gift giving, to give. Again, if for no other reason we take advantage of the Christmas season to give gifts to those we love then that is a positive thing. If however, out of a religious spirit, we condemn those who feel the freedom to celebrate this season, we become an anti-Christian factor in others’ lives, and even worse, in the lives of those who we love the most.

Understanding the biblical principles of mutual respect

The Christmas controversy, also called the war on Christmas, is a classic example of many people’s struggle to respect their fellow-man. Instead of celebrating a season of generosity, consideration and love, even to those whom we do not know, many people out of a sectarian, religious and demonic spirit take morbid pleasure in ruining the experiences of their fellow-man. There is a demonic principle in operation throughout the world that muses: “If I’m miserable, I need to make you miserable also.” There is nothing worse for these people than feeling miserable in the midst of happy people. This is a classic manifestation of lack of respect for our fellow-man. It is the classic Scrooge mentality. Many people use the truth to justify the spirit of Scrooge and many Christians close their eyes to the truth thinking that this is the only way to remain positive about the whole subject. There is however a better way.

Assimilate these principles into a personal application to celebrate Christmas

There is a happy medium replete with truthfulness, maturity, and joy. If we take the biblical inspired principles of love and respect for our fellow-man and formulate a position based on the truth, no matter how negative it may be, and through biblical principles of respect formulate a position that is agreeable to any honest and sane individual, we can preserve our Christmas joy. Each one of us should know how to articulate our position with confidence, wisdom, and tolerance when confronted with the opinions of others. We should be firm, yet gracious. In so doing we can enjoy the freedom produced by knowing and walking in the truth without attacking the opinions of those who differ with us.

A suggestion to overcome the Christmas controversy

I suggest that during this Christmas season, whether you are a Christian or not, that you feel free to decide the basis for how you spend your holiday season. If you choose not to celebrate it, that is fine, however be careful not to spoil the experience of others. Don’t disrespect your fellow human being by imposing your abstinence on their holiday cheer. If you are an atheist, supposedly you believe that God doesn’t exist and therefore the story of Christ is just another human story. If you are an atheist and you have the grace to live and let live, good for you! If however you think that is your duty in life to illuminate the rest of the world then please spare us, keep you misery to yourself, as if you think the world would be a happier place if there was no such thing as Christmas.

The truth is that there is no real meaning to Christmas. Or at least the true and original meaning is something that Christians should reject. However, the modern-day view of Christmas threatens no one. There is no reason why Jews should be threatened by Christmas just as there is no reason why Christians should be threatened by Hanukkah or by Ramadan. There is nothing in the modern concept of Christmas that should offend anyone. To be offended by Christmas is to be offended by the beliefs of others. Such is a hapless hypocritical position. Those who hold such thoughts think it is completely acceptable to impose their beliefs on others while at the same time becoming offended when others hold to their own beliefs even if they do not impose those beliefs on anyone else. For all of those with the Scrooge mentality, do the rest of the world a favor and keep your gloom to yourself. I offer my opinion here not to force it on anyone, but to offer an opportunity, whatever your position concerning the Christmas controversy, to be joyful, thankful and gracious in this holiday season.

God bless you and have a Merry Christmas, without controversy!




5 Responses to “How to counter the Christmas controversy”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Never knew that Christmas was originally a pagan tradition. The Biblical Scripture supporting the view of whether or not to celebrate Christmas was thorough!

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