Q.What is a proper Christian response to people who claim Christmas and other Christian celebrations are pagan?
A. First, if we are honest, we are forced to acknowledge that aspects of Christmas certainly are pagan: the revelry, drinking and overeating, commercialism, coveting, and immorality that are rife during the season. The holiday atmosphere as represented by these sins surely cannot be considered a part of true Christianity. Also, holly and mistletoe, Santa Claus, and the like are not found in Scripture either, though certain trappings of the season, like Christmas trees, candles, wreaths, and bells, are not necessarily wrong if they classify as decorations rather than gods. Anything can become a god if we lose perspective and don’t put God first. Further, enough eons have elapsed so that any pagan connections with items such as Christmas trees are now truly meaningless.
I believe Christians must part company with those, such as certain cultists, who advocate totally ignoring the celebration of Christ’s birth. We are unsure of the exact date on which our Savior was born. In fact, Dec. 25 is almost certain not to be the day. Does that matter? The precise day of the year should not deter us from designating a day to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Further, there is nothing wrong with having family gatherings, exchanging gifts, sending greeting cards, singing, going to special services at church, and enjoying good food God has provided. We should use Christmas as a special time to witness to unsaved loved ones and acquaintances too. Many people have trusted Christ as Savior through the local church during the holiday season, the only time when some people enter a church.
“Christmas is for children” is quite true. Many of us remember our early childhoods as the time when the account of the Christ Child was especially enthralling. Therefore, we adults can make Christmas a time of unselfish giving toward children (not just material things, by the way), creating great experiences that they will remember all their lives. It is an important part of bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Many of us remember events surrounding our early Christmases better than any other times during our entire childhoods.
These are responses that I believe honor the Lord. Christmas is not going to go away, and critics will always be around. If some Christians cannot in good conscience observe Christmas, or any other Christian celebration, they have the privilege of leaving it alone.
This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin by Norman A. Olson.