Bemoaning the bemoaning of the secularization of Christmas.

It’s that wonderful time of the year again–the Christmas season. But unfortunately, along with the fresh snow, smell of baked goods, time spent with family and friends, and joyous holiday memories in the making, this time of the year also comes with an unavoidable annoyance. No, not fruitcake. I’m referring to all the keep Christ in Christmas campaigns with their bumper stickers and yard signs, and it’s Ok to wish me a Merry Christmas car magnets and buttons.

Do I have a problem with Christ being remembered as the reason Christians celebrate Christmas? Absolutely not. Am I happy with the removal of Christ from the very holiday that’s supposed to be celebrating His birth? No way. Do I think the secularization of Christmas is a positive trend? Certainly not. Am I pleased with the mass consumerism that Christmas has become? Never. Is this post about whether or not Christians should even celebrate Christmas? Nope.

This post is about my issue with the yearly keep Christ in Christmas campaigns accompanied with all their recommended boycotts of stores that choose “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.” My issue with these campaigns, however, is not in the substance of their arguments (stopping the expunging of Jesus Christ from Christmas), but my issue is in their misapplied efforts to correct what they deem as a sin almost equivalent to Judas’ betrayal of Christ. These folks with the best of intentions have grossly misdiagnosed the problem: It’s not them (the world), it’s us (the church).

Before I continue I want to acknowledge that it’s true, Christmas’ origins aren’t even Christian and most of the Christmas traditions we cherish today (Christmas trees, candy canes, tinsel, bulbs, stockings, mistletoe, yule logs, eggnog, etc.) cannot be supported by Scripture. Although I understand that there are many who want to argue against Christmas on those points, this is not what this post is about. The basis of this post can be summed up by these two points:

1. – Many of the most vocal opponents of the secularization of Christmas make nary a peep all year long to the secularization taking place within the church itself.

2. – These same folks fail to recognize that the true source of the removal of Christ from Christmas is only a result of the removal of Christ from our culture due to the removal of Christ from our churches; something that began a long time ago (long before secular retailers opted for “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”).

The secularization of Christmas is just a visible sore caused by the underlying affects of a cancer that’s ravaging the church. Trying to “save Christmas” while the bigger issue looms over us is like baling out a sinking boat with a thimble or putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. Your efforts may make you look busy and cause you to feel that you’re doing some good, but in reality they’re both just a waste of time against the tidal wave of the inevitable. Additionally, your efforts also adversely serve as a diversion from the real problem.

I am convinced that the efforts of these social-conscious Christians is not only futile, but distracting. You only hear from these Christians around the Christmas season bemoaning the secularization of the holiday while they remain passive to the secularization that’s crept into their churches all year long with its deadly poisons of lukewarmness and rank heresy.

So what’s my solution? Am I complaining just to complain and be a Scrooge? Not this time.

My recommendation is that first, these seasonal activists recognize that the world is acting like the world. We wouldn’t expect a goldfish to act like a tiger, so why do we expect unregenerate sinners to act like Christians during Christmas time, or at any other time for that matter?

Those of the flesh are hostile toward God. Forcing them to keep Christ in Christmas accomplishes nothing but provides them with a false sense of religious security: “But God, I went to church every Christmas.”

Secondly, stop holding Target, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and  GAP responsible for the spiritual stagnation of your community, church, and family, and start holding your pastors responsible! When your pastor preaches cutesy little candy-coated, Osteenesque-type, esteem-building, Christ-less lectures about your best life now, protest that!

Finally, teach your children the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. Emphasize the real reason Christ stepped from Heaven to be born among men. Be faithful to your calling as parents to teach your children the faith, and don’t abdicate that responsibility to some biblically illiterate youth pastor.

Never let your kids for one moment think that the real story of Christ’s incarnation is about anything other than Christ and Him crucified. The whole point of Christ’s birth was not for gift exchanges and office parties, it was about God making Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

So here’s my question: If these proponents of keeping Christ in Christmas prevailed today, and everybody put Christ back in Christmas tomorrow, in the realm of eternity, what will they have actually accomplished? Would they have not successfully created a throng of hypocrites who honor God with their lips but whose hearts are far from Him?

Continuing to bemoan the absence of Christ from Christmas while remaining quiet on the absence of Christ in our pulpits is like complaining about the smoke burning your eyes while your house is burning down with your family trapped inside.

Have a Merry Christmas.


28 thoughts on “Bemoaning the bemoaning of the secularization of Christmas.

  1. Amen Brother Amen! I agree with you, why should we expect the world to act like Christians, corporations like Target are not Christian companies. Our fight is not to boycott these companies but to preach the Gospel to the world.

  2. Great post. I agree with your premise here. We cannot hold these worldly companies responsible for doing exactly what the world does by nature. The bigger issue is the gospel.

    There are a couple of statements, however, that may weaken your argument. First, you say “these Chrstians” (referring to those who are pushing to get Christmas recognized as a Christian holiday) only come out this time of year just for this issue. There is no way of knowing this, and, in fact, I hear arguments year round on other issues that are very similar to this one. So that argument really distracts from what you have to say as you are throwing out a statement that cannot be proven one way or another.

    And secondly, you make the assertion that these people come from Osteen-type churches. This is not always true. I know solid, born-again people who have pastors who preach truth week in and week out, yet still get tangled up with this kind of activism on the side.

    I guess what I am warning against is making blanket statements that distract from your argument, which I agree with.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. DavidW says:

    The Pilgrim:
    Very well said! Personally, I never could figure out how “Christ – mas” was any better than “X – mas”. Adding the name of Christ to something is somehow supposed to sanctify it? That’s no different than preachers who throw the name of “Jesus” around a lot, but also preach perversity, immorality, blasphemies and false doctrine. Thus I particularly liked the reference to Matt. 7:22. And you gave us a lot to contemplate. Again, well done.

  4. Irony of ironies; one of the largest groups of the “Keep Christ in Christmas” movement is the Knights of Columbus – a Catholic men’s organization. The irony is that they want to keep Christ in a secular holiday based on a pagan tradition, but not in His rightful place as our sole Mediator before God.

    Oh, well, those crazy Catholics! Putting Christ back into Christmas will have no effect on their (and the world’s) travel plans to their ultimate destination. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can do that, but the Catholics ensure that the true gospel is never heard from their pulpits.

  5. Truther says:

    We are not to take the LORD’s name in vain, and by placing the name of Christ before a tree, card, present, whatever; could be classified as doing that. I often hear God’s name used as an exclamation point, curse word, or just an adjective, and it breaks my heart. But the person saying it does not care about God, and for me to make a big deal about it most probably will only cause conflict. Instead, I need to somehow let them know of my love for God and share the Gospel with them. Often, if I let them know, they try to be more careful around me, and thus they think about revering God at least around me. As Pilgrim states we need to concentrate on training our children on the real celebration and using this commercialized holiday as a chance to spread the wonderful truth of Jesus Christ.

  6. Most excellent post! I’ve written to Wal-mart and McDonald’s and Home Depot telling them all the same thing: I do not expect them to act like Christian companies and, therefore, do not take offense when they market products to homosexual groups – in the same vein as they market products to other demographics. I do draw the line when companies fund aggressive anti-christ groups whose mission is to destroy the fabric of our culture. So when Wal-Mart gave a percentage of its profits to a D.C. homosex lobby group, I boycotted them and told them why. When they quit, so did my boycott.

    I agree that we need to actively work within our churches to keep them rightly focused and grounded. This is the biggest and most right way we can influence society, being humbly obedient in our own walk with the Lord. Pagan companies are not the “secret” to “saving” this country.

  7. Reminds me of the dozens of emails I get from people panicking because they are supposedly going to take “In God We Trust” off American currency. Or people who want to have a rally about prayer in public schools – said rally made up mostly of people who don’t bother to pray in their own homes.

  8. Michael says:

    Excellent thoughts and very well written. If we want to know what’s wrong with the world, we should start by looking in our own families. If Christ isn’t the center, failure is inevitable.

  9. “1. – Many of the most vocal opponents of the secularization of Christmas make nary a peep all year long to the secularization taking place within the church itself.

    2. – These same folks fail to recognize that the true source of the removal of Christ from Christmas is only a result of the removal of Christ from our culture due to the removal of Christ from our churches; something that began a long time ago (long before secular retailers opted for “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”).”

    ~While I agree with your solutions to the lack of reverence for Christ, I have to say that it is really untrue to generalize like this. I myself and several Christians I know personally and others who I know only through their work do fight hard to wake churches to their loss of priority for the Gospel, and many of these also speak out about the ongoing removal of any references to Christ at Christmastime.

    I know a lot of Christians have problems with other Christians, but when the complaint becomes so generalized, it sounds like the whole Church is being accused of corruption, and that just ain’t the case.

    I’m NOT saying you have made this accusation, because I don’t think that you necessarily are, but if you were, you wouldn’t have to change a word.

  10. Linda says:

    Everytime I read about these “battles” Christians fight, I want to say “so what?!?” Whether the cashier at Target says “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” whether or not there is a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, or whether a high school concert is called a “winter festival”–none of these incidents affect our faith. Yes, it’s annoying to have Christ minimized; however, if we depend on others’ expressions to define our faith, then we are on a very shaky foundation.

    Traditions are nice, fun, and important to a culture. Just don’t confuse tradition with “God hath said.”

  11. What an excellent, thought-provoking article!!!!

    I see the same people complaining to me about the lack of Christ in Christmas as also being the same ones who will say nothing to the so-called Christian bookstores full of heresy, aberrations and apostasy. They think having the likes of Beth Moore being taught in their churches is fine. And don’t forget the, “how dare you criticize teachings of anyone – you apologists only stir up trouble and cause division.”

    Protect the church? No. Complain about stores not promoting Christ at Christmas? Yes. I’d say priorities are horribly askew.

    As Brannon Howse has said, we’ve already lost the culture war – now let’s reclaim the church for Christ.

  12. bereangal16 says:

    Isn’t it amazing how “religious” everyone gets around this time of year?
    Starting with forced thankfulness on or around the first of November. Then continuing on into December with all these people worried about Christ being left out of Christmas! Boo-hoo!
    This is not what the Reformers died for!
    Christ is such a “generic” term anyway!
    If I went through a check out line at a store and said, “The Lord Jesus Christ bless you”, I’d be branded a fanatic!

    And the true church of the living God does not need to be “reclaimed”, it is NOT lost!

  13. bereangal16, I have to disagree with your last statement; much of the true church is indeed lost in much deception. There are many true believers among even Roman Catholics and liberal denominations, let alone who sit in the pew next to you who may be wrapped up with Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Bill Gothard, charismania, deliverance ministry, strategic level spiritual warfare, and a host of other deceptions which keep them bound in legalism, fear, distractions – you name it. We need to reclaim the Church away from all this junk and clean peoples’ minds of all the tripe they’ve been fed. And that includes the tripe which says they can have a love affair with the world.

  14. bereangal16 says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you!
    With the exception that the “true” church, the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, will “come out” of such places to worship the true God in Spirit and Truth.

  15. Glen, while I completely agree with your premise, which was well said! — I still struggle with the word ‘Christmas’ or rather the overlooked root in the Roman Catholic Church, ‘Christ’s Mass’. I would take your arguement one step further — let the secularists have Christ’s Mass — it is not my holiday nor tradition. Leave ‘Christ’ and get rid of the ‘Mass’.

    Just an aside, using ‘X’ as substitution for ‘Christ’ is not as heretical as many may think. I believe that ‘X’ is the Greek letter representing Chi which is the first ‘letter’ in Christ. The second letter is Rho which is represented by a subscript symbol which looks like a ‘p’. These were both commonly used in biblical times. Blessings to your ministry! Judy

  16. Hi Judy!

    Well, the Pilgrim made a good point about the origins of all our Christmas stuff being of pagan origin and debated much because of that, but since the origin is essentially irrelevant anymore because the average Christian has no knowledge of it, I don’t have a problem with the term Christmas, especially since that word brings recognition to the whole world that it is a day of celebrating the birth of our Savior. (Of course, then there are the endless arguments about it not really being when Christ was born….).

    And you are certainly correct about the “X” being a perfectly good abbreviation for Christ. I’ve always been amused at the Christians who have been upset at X-mas, not realizing X is chi!

  17. Dear JT,

    You said:

    There are a couple of statements, however, that may weaken your argument. First, you say “these Chrstians” (referring to those who are pushing to get Christmas recognized as a Christian holiday) only come out this time of year just for this issue. There is no way of knowing this, and, in fact, I hear arguments year round on other issues that are very similar to this one. So that argument really distracts from what you have to say as you are throwing out a statement that cannot be proven one way or another.

    The post was not intended to be all inclusive of every single person who aligns themselves with these campaigns. They were generalizations that I do not believe detract from the point of this post. I also recognize that many of these same people are very vocal every couple years around election time too, but that’s another whole story.

    You also said:

    And secondly, you make the assertion that these people come from Osteen-type churches. This is not always true. I know solid, born-again people who have pastors who preach truth week in and week out, yet still get tangled up with this kind of activism on the side.


    No, actually I was making the generalization again that many probably do attend these types of churches and that’s based on mere numbers. Whether they personally attend these types of churches or not, the majority of churches in America are lukewarm at best, in full apostasy at worst. Don’t believe me? Try going to a different church in your community every Sunday for the next year. You’ll see exactly what I mean.

    True believers have always been the minority, in the Old Testament, in Christ’s own ministry, and even so today. The path is narrow and few find it.

    Dear Mark La Roi,

    You said:

    ~While I agree with your solutions to the lack of reverence for Christ, I have to say that it is really untrue to generalize like this. I myself and several Christians I know personally and others who I know only through their work do fight hard to wake churches to their loss of priority for the Gospel, and many of these also speak out about the ongoing removal of any references to Christ at Christmastime.

    I don’t see the issue with “generalization.” Many people in the church apply to the point of this post, and I think you’d agree with that.

    So, do I believe that everyone who gets involved in these yearly Christmas campaigns are the subject of this post. No way. I’m sure there are many exceptions. However, I firmly believe the vast majority do fit. In fact, based on the other comments on this thread, I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion

    Thanks.

    – The Pilgrim

  18. Steve B. says:

    Great piece – thank you for sharing! I’m a newer believer and what you have to say really resonates with me as I’ve felt conflicted over this issue in the past. As the father of 3 young ones, I agree that the focus should be explaining to our children – in no uncertain terms – why Christ stepped into this world.

  19. Ace says:

    Is not the actual problem that those who claim to be servants of Jesus the Christ….are not wiling to renounce a satanic holiday because they don’t want to miss out on the perks that comes with it?

    I have talked to a Pastor of a well known church and he admitted he knew this was a satanic holiday, but he said they got the highest attendence on that day. SO WHAT…if the attendence does not continue the next time you did NOTHING!

    The problem is the “church” wants it to be EASY and FUN to follow Jesus and HE PROMISED it it would not be.

    Jesus IS NOT the reason for Christmas. Choose you this day whom you will serve.

    Anyone who runs around spouting off this ridiculous setiment and rebuked others who do not is only showing their ignorance.

    Many Blessings :)
    Ace

  20. Oh, come on Ace – it is NOT a satanic holiday. Just because the origin of the day is Romanist attempts to Christianize pagans, that does not make it a satanic day. There is nothing biblically wrong with choosing a day to celebrate the birth of Christ, and it may as well be Dec 25 as any other day since we don’t know when he was born. It’s not the day, it’s how you celebrate it. If you celebrate it as Saturnalia or as strictly a day to get goodies, then it doesn’t matter when you celebrate it. It’s a heart issue. And yes, Jesus is the reason for Christmas. It was developed as a way to celebrate his birth. There is no other reason to celebrate that day. Don’t be so legalistic.

  21. Ace says:

    Ah Glenn, first off you may want to actually do a bit of research before you make a declaration that something is NOT a satanic holiday. As someone raised by a Mother who was dabbling witchcraft I have done more than my share researching, asessing and discerning. It IS a “sabath” celebrated by witches. Do a google search about yule and you might get your eyes opened.

    Second, I think the ten commandments are pretty legalistic.

    That accusation is a compliment. I BELIEVE God when He says to do or not to do something.

    Many Blessings :)
    Ace

  22. And just how do the 10 Commandments fit in to this?

    Just because people celebrate satanic events on a particular day, that doesn’t mean that day can’t be used for other celebrations by other people who have no connection with that satanic stuff. How do you know that there isn’t some celebration of the occult on every single day of the year? In the past I’ve read about witches/satanic followers who use Sunday for certain celebrations – does that thereby make Sunday a satanic holiday?!

    Legalism is nothing to take as a complement. It means you do one or more of the following:
    1. Keep the law as a means of salvation
    2. Keep the law’s letter but not its spirit
    3. Build a fence of unnecessary extra-biblical requirements around biblical law.
    4. Imposing obsolete O.T. laws on N.T. believers.

    Your idea about Christmas being a satanic holiday falls in item number 3.

    I suggest you read Col. 2:16 and Romans 14:5ff

    You remind me of the SDA people who claim Sunday is a pagan day of worship – yet I can’t find anywhere in Scripture where it says any day was set aside just for pagans to worship, nor can I find in Scripture where it says we can’t worship on all 7 days of the week!

  23. For Ace,

    Do you like to sing Christmas Carols? There are some great ones which are full of doctrinal truth. Do you know where caroling came from? From the magazine, Israel My Glory, we have the following:
    “The word carol comes from the Italian word carolare. It refers to a ‘circle dance’ accompanied by songs of praise and joy. However, these melodies were actually associated with Celtic pagan fertility rites and festivities of medieval Europe. Later, as churches were established, carols – with pagan words and sentiments replaced – were incorporated into Christian liturgy. But by the end of the Middle Ages, the tunes were fused with common folk songs; and traveling singers and shows throughout Europe popularized the carol.”

    It looks like carols are satanic so we shouldn’t be singing them!

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