Would the early gentile disciples (God-Fearers) have continued to participate in pagan celebrations with their families after placing their faith in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob? Why would we WANT to celebrate holidays that are not in Scripture? If we have been granted a seat at Our Father’s table why would we want to return to the table of our previous life –– idolatry?
When my children ask why we do not celebrate Christmas, I will explain that Christmas is not one of the appointed feasts of HaShem and, since we have placed our allegiance with Him, we will not look like the world (“Come out from among them and be separate…” 2 Corinthians 2:17). This does not only apply to Christmas but to other holidays that were “baptized” by the early Christian church allowing previously pagan people to not truly cleave to HaShem, His Torah, and His people, but to keep practicing as they always have. This includes Sunday, Easter, and even All Saints Day in place of Halloween (in which nothing is redeemable).
We recently read in Lech Lecha about how Abram had to leave his family, his father’s house, and go to the land HaShem would show him. He had to leave everything behind in order to become the Father of many nations –– Abraham. He left his idols and pagan practices behind. Even the sages comment that Abram took with him people who wanted to follow him to seek his God; Genesis 12:5: “The persons which they had acquired in Haran…” If we are children of Abraham by faith, how much more are we called to leave our family, our father’s house, idols, and pagan holidays to worship God with Abraham’s descendants?
Where do we draw the line? Where does “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3) contain a clause of “except in cases where your family is concerned”? There was a great multitude of Egyptians that left Egypt with the people of Israel when they saw HaShem’s judgements and deliverance. They left their pagan gods, rituals, and holidays behind. They left their families behind.
I was raised without Christmas. This was difficult for my parents as it did cause a divide between my immediate family and extended family for many years. However, I’ve also seen how my extended family has come to accept and admire the fact that we believed something and held fast to that belief. You are right, children will ask questions, but they are also watching their parents to see what they will do. Will their parents stand in their convictions or will they blur the line between what is holy and what is common? Just like in the film “Indiana Jones,” you must take that step into the chasm before you see what a step of faith will do for you.
Ultimately, we may not consider it a sin to spend time with extended family, singing carols, eating turkey, and giving gifts during Christmas. However, would we consider it a sin if your extended family was using the day to worship Saturn, Thor, or another god? Joshua set a clear boundary for the Israelites as they entered a land full of gods that they may have once known and would be enticed by: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) Should we play God by choosing what is sin and what is not?
Even Yeshua, when discussing the cost of discipleship with the rich young man said “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30) The cost of our allegiance to Him is high. It may cost our family; however, he promises that we will receive a greater reward in The Kingdom to come.
I know this may be a differing opinion than others have. However, I feel that it is necessary for us to know what we believe and stand by it, regardless of what our extended family or the world chooses to do. Our days are growing increasingly evil and, I believe, it won’t be long before we see the return to the original roots of many of these holidays en masse. It is better to begin the stand now than after we have already been enticed away from the Torah.
I am also reminded of Solomon’s 700+ wives who turned his heart from Torah and HaShem despite his own confidence that he knew better than God. 1 Kings 11:3-4 is perfectly summarized in a recent lesson of Torah Club from First Fruits of Zion:
“Solomon reasoned that, since the prohibition only intended to keep his heart from turning away from God, he could ignore the rule as long as he kept the spirit of the law [had peace in his heart] by guarding his heart against idolatry… His foreign wives [family] pressured him to capitulate to their religious preferences [celebrations]. They turned his heart away from the LORD, just as the Torah had warned.”(Torah Club: Beginning of Wisdom – Chayaei Sarah, Focus Section 5, © First Fruits of Zion 2022)
In light of this, is celebrating Christmas a sin? Are we justifying our capitulation to our family’s religious preferences by saying we have “peace in our hearts”? If so, then we are no different than Solomon. We are allowing ourselves to be drawn away from Torah, to the practices of other gods: idolatry.
©2022 Jesse Almanrode, Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved. No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.