by Matt Slick
Is a Christian free to celebrate Christmas, a holiday that not only has pagan origins but also is used by the unbelieving world as a promotion of commercialism? In my opinion, it depends on the person and his convictions before God. First of all, we are to hold our standards of righteousness and devotion to God above everything else. We must seek to please God according to what we believe is consistent with Scripture. But, when we look at Scripture we don't find any place that says to celebrate Christ's birth. But, on the other hand, the Bible says all things are lawful though not all things are profitable (1 Corinthians 6:12). In addition, we should be fully convinced in our own minds about days of worship and eating (Romans 14:1-12). This last reference supports the position that Christians have liberty and freedom to interpret Scripture and to celebrate Christmas.
The Old Testament says that we are to worship God in truth according to the dictates that He has established (Exodus 20:1-4; 24:12-31:18). But, Christmas was not established by God. In addition, there are no records at all of the early church celebrating the birth of Christ. Yet, there is no biblical prohibition about celebrating the birth of Christ. So, since it doesn't say that we can't do it, does it mean it's okay to go ahead and do it? This issue deals with the Regulative Principle. One version of it says that we can only do what the Scriptures expressly commands. The other says we can do everything except with the Scriptures forbid. So, which is the right position? When we turn to Scripture we find that it says that we are "not to exceed what is written," (1 Corinthians 4:6). Obviously, the Scriptures are our guide. But when we look to the verses above about all things being lawful (1 Corinthians 6:12) and that Christians are to be convinced in their own minds (Romans 14:5), then celebrating Christmas becomes more of personal preference.
Also, consider this.
In the Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, Paul speaks about meat sacrificed to idols that was then later sold in the meat market place. The question arose, "Should a Christian each such meat?" Paul answers the question in verse 25 when he says, "Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience' sake." Paul said that it was okay to eat the meat.
Then in verses 28-29 he says, "But if anyone should say to you, 'This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience' sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's; for why is my freedom judged by another's conscience?" Paul is saying that if you are with someone who might be negatively affected by your eating meat that was sacrificed to idols, then don't eat it -- not because of you, but because of the other person. In other words, eating that meat won't affect you. The false gods are not real (Galatians 4:8-9). They have no power.
1 Corinthians 8:7-9 echoes this idea. It says, "However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9 But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." Though this passage requires a bit more examination, it still carries the sense of freedom. And, Jesus has definitely set us free, (John 8:32).
So, celebrating Christmas is up to the conviction of the Christian. He is free to celebrate it. He is also free not to celebrate it. But, do not judge other Christians who celebrate it or don't celebrate it since they are free to act according to their conscience in this matter.
The Lord, through His sacrifice, has cleansed us of our sins. He sanctifies what he touches. When we came in contact with Him, it is we who were cleansed. It is not Him who is defiled. The woman with the issue of blood who touched Jesus (Mark 5:25-34) was made clean. It was not Jesus who was defiled. Likewise, Jesus touched the unclean lepers and cleansed them (Matt. 8:3). Jesus came in contact with many people, and it was never He who was defiled. It was they who were cleansed.
I think this principle can be applied to Christmas. Yes, Christmas has pagan origins. Yes, it is a highly commercial time. Yes, many do not have their eyes on Jesus. But for the Christian, it is a time to reflect upon the birth of our Lord and to celebrate His coming into the world to die for our sins.