March 14, 2005
Should Christians Celebrate Pagan Holidays?
This topic was bound to come up sooner or later: religion.
Every Sunday morning at 9:00, everyone grabs their bibles and gathers in the living room. We watch "Free Indeed," classes taught by John Schoenheit with the Christian Educational Services. We don't attend "church." We don't believe in church because we feel the messages taught in church are incorrect or the motivation behind the teachings are selfish.
Going to "church" is a good thing; we should get together with other Christians and praise God. But we feel we don't have to step into a building to do that. If anyone is confused about religion, I strongly urge them to check out the Christian Education Services website. They are a ministry who focuses on understanding the bible. We really like them because often times, they refer back to the original Greek and Arabic text to help us understand the true translations and what that means in the context of the bible. They don't pluck a verse here and there from the bible, take it out of context and preach a totally different message from it.
The reason I'm bringing up religion is because of Easter. Should Christians celebrate pagan holidays? It's an interesting question. In some ways, by celebrating the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus I feel hypocritical. As long as we teach our children the true meaning behind these holidays, what's the harm in following our customs? It's all in good fun.
The following article was printed on the Truth or Tradition website - a sister site to Christian Educational Services. This is only part of the article. To read the whole article, please click here.
As modern Christians, we must decide how to engage a world that has lost interest in the true origins of our faith. Should we condemn modern holidays as pagan abominations? Or should we wholeheartedly accept our culture with an attitude of concession? As with so much in our modern world, we are to find a balance that allows us to exercise true spirituality and yet still engage the culture in which we find ourselves.
Imagine telling your loved ones at Christmas, “I’m sorry, I don’t give gifts because I’m a Christian.” Or on Easter, “I don’t celebrate the resurrection of the Lord on Easter because I’m not a pagan.” Clearly, there is some level of absurdity that can be reached by trying to avoid all the non-Christian elements of our culture. For example, in an article published by The Restored Church of God titled “The True Origin of Easter,” the author correctly identifies the pagan elements of the modern Easter celebration, but we believe he goes too far in his zeal to avoid them. Concerning sunrise services, he states, “Observing sunrise services is serious to God! He so hates this vile practice that he will ultimately destroy all who persist in it (Ezek. 9)!”  Can this be the same God who inspired the following scripture?
1 Corinthians 8:7 and 8 (NIV)“…Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
God has revealed that it is not an outward demonstration that He requires, but the inward dedication of the heart. We know that God did not raise Jesus from the dead on Sunday morning (it was actually Saturday between 3pm and sunset), but does God not honor the hearts of people who trouble themselves to get up in the dark on Easter Sunday, get dressed, and go to a gathering place to pray, sing, and affirm the resurrection of the Lord? We believe He does.
The Bible uses an interesting word to refer to our ability to relate to things it does not specifically mention—FREEDOM (1 Cor. 8:9)! Remember, with freedom comes responsibility. It is not a sin to have a Christmas tree, or to hide some eggs out in the back yard for the children to find. Please understand, we are not saying that knowing the truth is not valuable, but we feel you can know the truth and still celebrate many modern customs. For example, a Christian can know that Christ was not born in December and that no early Christians had Christmas trees, and still have a Christmas tree of his own. He can know that Christ was crucified on the Jewish Passover but still show his devotion to the Lord in a Sunrise Service. What we as Christians must do is to teach ourselves and others the true freedom that Christ has given us. Many Christians are very blessed to take the opportunity that Easter provides to honor the Lord and his resurrection, and we think that is just fine with God (and the Lord Jesus).
As we consider what honoring the Lord will look like this season, it may be helpful to remember the words of Paul in Romans.
Romans 14:5 and 6 (NIV)One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.
God has given us freedom from all kinds of bondage. Do not let the true meaning of this Easter season be lost to you in a secular sea of eggs and rabbits (and chocolate—which early Christians did not have), but remember that much of the true meaning of the death and resurrection of the Lord is about the freedom we now have to celebrate that from our hearts, and pray and sing to bless and honor him, even if we do it on a day that is not actually “Passover.” May we praise the Lord every day, forever and ever.