Thursday, December 12, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas?

Once again, the "holiday" season is in full swing; and, once again, certain of my fellow Christians are beating their breasts about "the war on Christmas."  Nonsense, say I: if there really is a war on Christmas, Christians shouldn't be fighting on either side.  We should ignore it.  In fact, we should ignore Christmas itself, for the most part.

At least, I should.  I have no right to lay down rules for my fellow believers:  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:5). If my brothers and sisters in Christ want to participate in this ghastly heathen ritual, they have that right.  But count me out, please.

Because, really, what does "Christmas" have to do with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Christians are commanded, in the Bible, to remember His crucifixion and resurrection: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. We're given the wonderful details of His nativity, of course, as part of His scriptural "biography," in Luke 2 and elsewhere. But we're never, ever commanded to commemorate this glorious event, and the early Christians didn't.  It's wonderful and personally meaningful to remember Jesus' birth; that's why I did a little post on "Christmas in July."  But what does that have to do with the annual orgy of obligation and debt and hysteria that rolls around every December 25th?  Where is the "sweet little Jesus Boy," much less the crucified Saviour, in the following?

I'm not just grousing, however, about "the commercialization of Christmas."  That's old news.  I'm talking about the Christmas "holiday" itself.  It's not a Christian observance, and has never been a Christian observance, except in the hearts of many sincere believers.  But those believers, for all their devotion to Christ, are a bit ignorant of history.

The Incarnation of Christ at Bethlehem was, of course, the most earth-shattering event in history.   The words of the traditional hymns, such as "Joy to the World," are true, and wonderful to contemplate.  But they're not the center of the Christian faith.  According to the Bible, the Resurrection is the center of the faith: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

Any historian knows that "Christmas" is a purely human invention, created by the Roman Catholic Church to co-opt the genuine orgy that was the Roman Saturnalia.  The Saturnalia was the Roman Empire's celebration of the winter solstice, called the Natalis Solis Invicti, "the birthday of the unconquered sun," and it fell on Dec. 25th. It was a time of drunkenness, sexual debauchery, and ... of course ... the exchanging of gifts.  It was so popular that the Catholic Church simply had to appropriate it, and "Christianize" it, as they have historically done, and are doing today, with pagan rituals around the world.  But it was a hideous, anarchic horror. Think of Mardi Gras, writ large.

It wasn't even celebrated as a "Christian holiday" until the late 4th century AD.  And when it was, it was merely a power grab, a play for acceptance and popularity by the Roman Church.  Those facts may not be palatable or pleasant, but they are facts, and facts are stubborn things.  And we won't even mention Santa Claus!

This is not to say, of course, that the Roman Catholic Church is entirely responsible for the pagan monstrosity that "Christmas" has become.  Even during the Reformation, Martin Luther probably swigged his egg nog, or his beer, as he admired his "Christmas tree."  All Christians love Jesus, and many think that remembering His birth is a good idea - - - which it is.  But what does it have to do with the winter solstice, or the heathen orgies of ancient Rome?

For that matter, it's not even Jesus' birthday.  He was probably born in September; this can be determined by a number of factors.  For one thing, the shepherds who keep watch over their flocks don't stay in the fields at night in December: it gets cold, even in the Middle East.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Christians are committing some egregious sin by celebrating December 25th.  I'm not a Jehovah's Witness: I don't believe that the observation of birthdays and holidays is inherently wicked.  I certainly don't believe in depriving children of the fleeting joy that Christmas affords them.  If families can get together and enjoy one another's fellowship, and entertain the children, without forced, artificial familiarity and the incurring of horrendous debt, I'm all for it.  But I'd be all for it in March or July or September, too.  It has nothing to do with December 25th, and it most assuredly has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
Why, I don't even dislike Christmas trees, although Jeremiah 10:2-5 makes for interesting reading at this time of year.  If you like having lighted trees in your home, more power to you.  I'm fond of pretty lights myself.  But why not have them year round?  Why claim that they have anything to do with Christianity?

So, it's a bit hard for me to get very agitated about what certain commentators, like those on Fox News, call "the war on Christmas." In fact, when I hear such stories in the media, I wonder: are they really upset about Jesus being obscured, or are they afraid that secularists like the ACLU will somehow interfere with the economic explosion that Christmas provides?

If people who don't really know Jesus Christ, who have never received Him as their Saviour and Lord according to John 1:12, want to engage in this yearly frenzy of debt and false jollity, then by all means let them do it.  Happy Holidays, everybody!  Do your thing!

Just leave my Saviour out of it, okay?  He deserves better than that.  He's more important than that.  And, by the way, He's not a cute baby in a manger any more: He's the Lord of the Universe, Who grew up and was tortured to death for your sins and mine on the cross.  But that's not the Jesus we think of in December, is it?  We think of the baby.  And who doesn't love a baby?  A baby doesn't present any threat.  A baby doesn't demand a changed life, or even a bent knee.  But that bloody Man of Sorrows on the cross is a different image!

It gives me no great joy, but on this matter, I must break ranks with so many of my fellow believers, as much as I love them.  My brethren say, "Jesus is the reason for the season!"  That's true in their hearts, God bless them, but not in the real-world sense.  And, of course, they say, "Keep Christ in Christmas!"

I say it's time to give the holiday back to the pagans.  It was theirs to begin with, and it's still theirs.  I say we should take Christ out of Christmas, and worship and adore Him year-round.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely take Christ out of Christmas. It's the most contrived occasion and encourages the indulgence in all kinds of sin while at the same time claiming to be about the Baby Jesus. It magnifies peoples' pain, grief and heartache, whatever the cause; it's most acutely felt at the "most wonderful time of the year."

    Conversely, take the bunny out of Easter. That is the holiday in which Christ's name should be magnified above all else for His victory over sin, death and Hell and His gift of salvation