Yes, folks, it’s that time of year when some in the Christian community gather around torches and pitchforks again and enter into that old debate: must we celebrate Christmas or must we not?
One side says “absolutely not – it is a sin to celebrate Christmas!” The other side says “absolutely yes – it is a sin to skip Christmas!” The first scoffs and humbugs when their pro-Christmas Christian brethren decorate Christmas trees and sing carols. The second gripes and pouts when their anti-Christmas Christian brethren stick with “happy holidays” and go to work on Dec. 25th. Both sides are wrong.
Both sides are sinning.
Why is this so?
Because, fundamentally, both sides are asking – and, by proxy, answering – the wrong question.
The question “must a Christian celebrate Christmas” or “must he not?” immediately demands that whatever answer is given be binding upon the Christian. If “no, a Christian mustn’t”, then it is a matter of obligation to abstain, and therefore no Christmas trees and you had darn better let those carols die in your throat. If “yes, a Christian must”, then it is a matter of obligation to do so, and therefore no working on Dec. 25th and you had darn better say “Merry Christmas”.
But here’s the thing: the fundamental question is not “must we…”, but “can we?” Nowhere in Scripture is Christmas prohibited; nowhere in Scripture is Christmas demanded. This is an issue of Christian freedom.
Insisting on “must” or “must not” regarding Christmas is to bind the consciences of one another where Scripture is silent. We dare not forget Romans chapter 14, and like arguments by Paul throughout his epistles; we dare not puff ourselves up in pride at our “obedience” (whether in “keeping Christmas” or “abstaining from Christmas”) – as if this were a matter of obedience and not freedom in Christ – and thus look down our noses at our neighbor who is clearly “less spiritual” than us since they have failed to discern the proper answer as we have.
May it never be!
Rather, we need to keep in the front of our minds the reality that the answer to this question of “can we?” is yes, even as the answer to the question of “must we?” is no.
In conclusion, some people, for reasons of conscience all their own, do not want to celebrate Christmas. That’s fine. Really. Do not judge them.
And on the other hand, some people see Christmas as a beautiful time to gather with family and sing hymns to commemorate the miracle of the incarnation at this time of year specifically. That’s totally appropriate. Seriously. Do not judge us.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
– Romans 14:5-6