I can’t tell you how long I’ve been putting off writing this post. All year, actually. But with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can’t put it off any longer.
This is gonna be one of those posts. The kind that gets people all hot and bothered. The kind that just begs for criticism and heated rebuttals. And often I like to stir up a nice debate. But this isn’t one of those times.
If you’ve read any number of my posts, you know that I always ask for feedback. But this time… for the first time… I’m going to keep the comments closed. I’m not writing this to hear any opinions or to seek advice. I simply want to share where our faith has led us. And in all honesty, this is mostly for my family to read, to explain why we won’t be joining them in celebrating this year. Although, I do want to share our thoughts with you all, for the few people who will actually pray about this, too.
Please understand that although I may speak very passionately about our convictions, we do NOT judge anyone who disagrees with our beliefs. Who are we to judge?! Every year of our lives, Jerry and I have celebrated Christmas. We are in no position to judge those who do so. So, please, don’t feel like you have to defend yourself. I do not expect most people to agree with what I’m about to share.
Having said all that, here I go…
I have always loved Christmas. Our extended family is very close, and it is always a joy to be in the company of my loved ones. Every year on the night of Christmas Eve and again on Christmas morning, my entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins, sister, nephews, dad, grandparents, etc.) all get together to enjoy a potluck meal, and open gifts.
It’s a big deal. Like, really big.
And I love it.
So, the decision to stop celebrating Christmas has not come easily. It is not something taken lightly, or without much studying and prayer. This is a really big decision to make, especially as parents. We have to make sure that our convictions are sound before telling the children why we are choosing a different path.
When Jerry and I first got married (at 19 years old), Jerry was a new Christian. Anyone who remembers when they first got saved probably recalls going through a period of fascination with the book of Revelations. Well, that study also led us into the study of the occult.
And in our studying we came across some interesting stuff about the origins of some of the so-called “Christian” holidays that we all celebrate. We learned that many of the traditions that we keep actually have their roots in paganism (those worshiping false gods and nature itself). Concerned, we sought council with our pastor regarding what we had discovered.
We were confused when he brushed it all off as being “too legalistic” to not celebrate these holidays because of their pagan roots. And although his answer did not sit right with us, we surely didn’t want to be bound by legalism… and so, we followed our pastor’s advice and continued with what we had always done, but with our new-found knowledge always in the back of our minds.
If you’ve never researched where our Christmas traditions come from, look into it. I started to share them here, but it would take me FOR.EV.ER. to go through all of the names, dates, traditions, etc. But look into where Dec. 25th came from. And the Yule log, the Christmas tree and its ornaments and lights, holly, mistletoe, wreaths, the Christmas ham… look up Winter Solstice and Saturnalia. If you are really interested in knowing where your traditions come from and what they mean… do some studying.
Suffice it to say, what we are doing when we partake of the traditions of Christmas is nothing more than imitating the pagan’s worship of the sun god. And we no longer can stand to have any part of spitting in the face of God. (Sorry, I know that sounds harsh, but this is how it makes us feel.)
For a long time I tried to rationalize that it was okay to continue enjoying the festivities. After all, we weren’t doing it to worship a sun god, we were honoring the birth of Christ!
Well, after much prayer and studying God’s word, one day the Lord revealed this analogy to me.
Let’s just say that your spouse has cheated on you. After all, the Lord does call his people an “adulterous bride” after they went chasing pagan gods.
And let’s say that your cheating spouse has come back to you, and asked your forgiveness. All has been made right again.
Now, let’s say it’s your birthday. And your spouse wants to honor you on this day. (Although, in an appropriate analogy the celebration wouldn’t even be on your actual birthday!)
But instead of giving you gifts that you have clearly expressed a desire for, your spouse gives you things that his lover enjoyed! He made her favorite foods, wanted to enjoy her favorite activities with you, lavished you with things that would have delighted her!
Now, would this honor you? Would you feel loved and esteemed in this situation? Of course not! You’d be livid!!
Is this not what we do to Christ, when we say that we are honoring Him by means of pagan traditions?
Being me, I wanted to find something in Scripture to solidify my convictions. Would God see the intentions of my heart, and understand that I’m just trying to please Him? Or would He be angry as I know I would be in this situation?
YHWH brought me to Exodus 32, the story of the Golden Calf. Remember that one? Moses had gone up onto the mountain to speak with God (and bring down the 10 commandments), but he took so long in coming that the people began to wonder what had happened to him. They asked Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship, and he did so.
But, and I thought this was fascinating, in verse 5 of that same chapter Scripture says, “And when Aaron saw it (the golden calf), he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.”
Do you see what he was doing? The people had fallen back into pagan practices, and were worshiping an idol, yet saying it was to honor God!!
The next verse goes on to say,
“And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”
Wow. Sounds like they were having a very fun celebration, huh?! Did the Lord look at the rejoicing of their hearts and feel honored? Let’s find out…
In verses 7-9, YHWH speaks to Moses and tells him what the people are doing. He says that they have “corrupted themselves”, and “turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them”.
Then in verse 10, YHWH says, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them…”.
He was SO ANGRY! He was ready to destroy them all! Evidently, He was not pleased at the way they were trying to honor Him… mixing worship with pagan traditions. Mixing the holy with the unholy.
Just. Like. Christmas.
As I continued to study, I also came to 1 Samuel 15…
This is where King Saul went out to destroy the Amalekites. But the Lord specifically told him (through Samuel) that he was to “utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” (verse 3)
But if you read on, you’ll find in verse 21 that they did not do as the Lord had commanded, and had in fact brought back with them the best of the sheep and oxen instead of killing them. Of course, when Samuel confronts him about it, Saul rationalizes that they did it “to sacrifice unto the LORD”.
Here again, man is disobeying the Lord’s commands, yet saying he is doing so to try to please God. What does the Lord say?
Verse 22-23, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
God didn’t want the sacrifices. He wanted obedience.
Here’s another in Deuteronomy 12:29-31; He is speaking to the Israelites before they go into the promised land,
“When Yahweh your Elohim cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, `How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’
You shall not worship Yahweh your Elohim in that way; for every abomination to Yahweh which He hates they have done to their gods…”
We are specifically told NOT to worship God with the ways of the pagans!!
Jesus himself said in Matthew 15:7-9, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
I don’t want to worship in vain, forsaking the commandments of God and clinging to the traditions of men. (also in Matt. 15:3)
I don’t want to have anything to do with the unholy.
Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
In fact, the recurring theme all throughout Scripture is for God’s people to NOT follow the way of the pagans (in other words, go along with what the rest of the unbelieving world does), but to be set apart as holy, and to honor YHWH by obeying His commandments!
If we profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, then we cannot ignore the very character of God as repeated to us throughout Scripture. He is a loving God, yes, but He is also a jealous God. He will not share His people with idols.
“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14
But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that Christmas traditions don’t really have pagan roots. Let’s just pretend that’s a bunch of baloney.
Even still, nowhere in Scripture is it commanded to remember the birth of Christ. In fact, what we are commanded to celebrate are the Biblical Feasts of the Lord (given in Lev. 23), including Passover in remembrance of Christ’s death. Yet, far too many Christians have never even heard of the seven Feasts of the Lord, or they think they are “Jewish” celebrations. Scripture doesn’t call these holy days (not holidays) “Jewish feasts”, but the LORD’s Feasts. And everyone who calls himself a child of Elohim is to keep them. Forever.
And so, we have chosen to give the Lord the gifts He has specifically requested, and honor Him through celebrating and remembering the Feasts of the Lord.
And although Hanukkah is not a commanded feast, we will be celebrating it every year instead of Christmas. It is a celebration of the miracle of oil (a story passed down through Jewish tradition), and the military victory of the Jews against the pagans desecrating YHWH’s temple, as told in the book of Maccabees (a historical account from ancient Palestine). This article, The Revolt of the Maccabees, shares the amazing account as it has been recorded.
Loved ones, I know that Christmas is a special time of year, and that people get very caught up in its traditions and festivities. But our hearts yearn to honor the Lord… above all else. And this is something that we feel is non-negotiable.
So, we are saying “No”: to the holiday rush, and fighting over the latest toys for our kids, and inflatable yard decorations, and the lies of a bearded man who claims to have the powers of God (all seeing, all knowing, all present), and the Great Big Toys “R” Us Book, and “Yuletide” carols, and guilt induced credit card spending, and drunken company Christmas parties, and everything else that the world gets so wrapped up in during this time of year.
For us, it really only comes down to one thing:
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
And I think I’ve laid out pretty clearly what we believe the Lord expects from us.