Many Christians have become involved in bitter disputes about certain elements and traditions associated with Christmas. My previous post introduced readers to a series of articles I have been working on for Answers in Genesis. In this post and the next few, I would like to cover some issues that have caused confusion and, in some cases, animosity between believers. Hopefully, these brief articles will help you view these issues in a proper perspective.
Claim: The Bible Forbids the Use of Christmas Trees
No it doesn’t. People who make this argument almost always go right to Jeremiah 10. The first five verses of this chapter state:
Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord:
Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.
If you take just a moment to examine the context of this passage, it becomes painfully obvious that these verses have nothing to do with Christmas trees. The prophet is in the process of warning the Israelites to not make idols like the Gentiles often did. The trees were cut down and made into idols by craftsmen. This just simply is not about Christmas trees.
Now, Christmas trees can become problematic if one focuses more on the tree than on the real reason for the season. We need to keep Christ first at all times, including Christmas. If anything comes between our relationship with Him, such as focusing on a Christmas tree or other traditions, then these things become idols and would then be sinful. But the Bible does not forbid the use of Christmas trees.
Claim: X-mas Stands for Christmas
Well, sort of. It is true that since the mid-sixteenth century, some people have used an x as an abbreviation for Christ. This was done to reduce the cost of printed materials during the days of the printing press. “Xians” (Christians) would abbreviate Christmas as xmas; however, they still pronounced the word as Christmas—not x-mas.
There is no doubt that many people in our society today use the x just so they don’t have to mention Christ. Some businesses use it so they don’t offend certain non-Christians who don’t like to be reminded about Christ (after all, He is their Judge, and they don’t want to be held accountable by anyone).
So is it wrong for a Christian to use the x in place of Christ? Since the Bible does not offer an explicit command or teaching on this, I believe this comes down to a decision that each person must make for himself or herself, guided by conscience and the Holy Spirit. It is not sinful to use abbreviations, but if a professing believer does it because he or she is ashamed of Christ, then that is sinful. As for me, don’t expect to ever see me using the abbreviation, except for in the example above.
Have a Merry Christmas!