I had a telephone Bible
study with a new Christian about Christmas, and want
to share a few thoughts pertaining to Christmas in
Why not put a Christmas
tree in the church building? We use plants and trees
to give it color anyway, what's wrong with a Christmas
The Church Obeys Jesus
Christ has all authority in the church. Therefore,
the church is subject to Him in everything.
- "For the husband is the head of the wife, as
Christ also is the head of the church, He
Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the
church is subject to Christ, so also the
wives ought to be to their husbands in everything"
As a congregation of Christ's church, we obey Him
and don't go beyond what He's authorized (Heb. 5:9;
Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:6).
Christmas is a Man-Made Holiday
The date of Christmas has varied throughout history,
since we don't know the date of Christ's birth. Finally
in A.D. 440, it was set as December 25th to replace
the pagan worship of sun gods during winter solstice
At first, the Catholic Church observed Christmas
solely in religious church services. But as the observance
spread, pagan practices originating from sun worship
were mixed with Christmas traditions -- trees, lights,
decorations, mistletoe, giving presents, yule logs,
Ironically, many Christmas traditions predate Christianity
and the birth of Christ, having roots in pagan observances.
When we consider whether we can observe Christmas
in the church, we must realize it's a man-made holiday.
The Church Isn't Authorized To Observe Man-Made
Since the church is limited to the things Christ authorized,
and since Christ hasn't authorized the church to observe
man-made holidays, we can't observe Christmas in the
If we do anything Christ hasn't authorized, such
as observing man-made holidays, our worship is vain,
since we neglect God's commands to keep the traditions
- "And He said to them, 'Rightly did Isaiah prophesy
of you hypocrites, as it is written: "This people
honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far
away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to
the tradition of men.' He was also saying to
them, 'You are experts at setting aside the commandment
of God in order to keep your tradition'" (Mk.
We don't observe Christmas as a church because it's
a man-made religious holiday. If we did, our worship
would be vain.
A Christmas Tree as Decoration?
But why can't we use a Christmas tree to decorate
the church building, just like the other plants we
Well, for the same reason people don't put Christmas
trees up in June.
The Christmas tree is not a generic decoration,
for which we have liberty to employ in the church.
It's a symbol of a man-made holy day (holiday).
We can't take "Christmas" out of the "Christmas
tree." If we put a Christmas tree in the church building,
we're observing Christmas in some sense, and our worship
But, I Can Put One in My House!
It's true, we have liberty to observe Christmas individually,
but not in the Lord's church. We can put a Christmas
tree in our house, but not in the church building.
In Romans 14, Paul gives instructions regarding
the observance of special days (Rom. 14:2, 5). Concerning
this liberty, he says:
- We shouldn't judge others (vs. 1).
- We should be fully convinced in our own minds
before observing the day (vs. 5, 23).
- It should be done for the Lord, as with all things
- We should observe it in a way that wouldn't be
a stumbling block for other Christians (vs. 19-22).
For example, Paul observed secular religious days
on a personal basis, but not as a work of the church
or matter of salvation.
Near the end of his third missionary journey, Paul
hurried to Jerusalem so he would be there for Pentecost
(Acts 20:16). The Greek text indicates that he wanted
to be in Jerusalem for the "whole day" of Pentecost
(Robertson). There's only one reasonable explanation
as to why Paul desired to be in Jerusalem for the
"whole day" -- he wanted to observe the day.
Corresponding to his personal observance of Pentecost,
Paul personally kept the traditions of the Mosaic
Law, but not as a work of the church or matter of
salvation (Acts 21:23-24; Gal. 1:6-9; 5:4). He wrote:
- "To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might
win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under
the Law though not being myself under the Law, so
that I might win those who are under the Law" (1
We can't put Christmas trees in the church building
because we're not authorized to observe Christmas
in the church. But, we have the liberty to put them
in our homes, as long as we observe the Lord's commands
pertaining to personal liberty.