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Is it a Sin to Celebrate Christmas?

by Kelly Crawford

A great article by R.C. Sproul, Jr.:

“What though, if we mean something else by “celebrating Christmas?” What if we ask the question this way- is it wrong to remember the incarnation? Is it a sin to devote some time to rejoicing over the coming of the Messiah? Can we in our celebration feast with our loved ones, even giving them gifts? Can we sing of that little town of Bethlehem? Can we preach on the glorious gospel truth that God took on flesh and dwelt among us?” Read the rest

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Natalie December 20, 2012 - 1:30 pm

Interesting article…but as a Roman Catholic I find it a touch offensive. If he actually took time to study the mass and Catholicism he would be going to mass every Sunday. Remember Jesus said,”I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6:51 As well as during the Last Supper he told us to “do this in memory of me”. Pick up a copy of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and read it. You may be surprised by what you find!!!

wordwarrior December 20, 2012 - 2:10 pm

Natalie I probably don’t know enough about that topic to answer your question but I can tell you are seat for take the Lord’s Supper each week.

wordwarrior December 20, 2012 - 2:13 pm

I’m using voice command so that is
supposed to say RC not “are seat” : )

Jennifer December 20, 2012 - 2:16 pm

I can’t believe this is even a question for anyone other than the ridiculous ACLU-minded people.

Keri December 20, 2012 - 7:06 pm

Jennifer..or Reformed Presbyterians!

Jennifer December 20, 2012 - 7:39 pm

Why would it be a question for them?

Word Warrior December 20, 2012 - 8:19 pm


Some Christians have thoughtfully made the decision to not celebrate Christmas–among them some of my friends. While I don’t agree with their reasons, neither do I judge them as wrong (reasons span different areas including pagan roots, the Bible not giving us a precedent for such a celebration, not wanting to participate in the commercialization, etc.)

Jennifer December 21, 2012 - 1:55 pm

I still find it rather unnecessary and strange, since it’s supposed to be a time for joy. Maybe it’s partly because of my own miserable confusion and desperate need for it.

Jennifer December 21, 2012 - 2:08 pm

Easter though has “pagan” roots too. Would they rather the world not celebrate either? Would it be better for the world not to be reminded of Christ hugely in these two events? Just give the solstices back to the pagans, who mostly don’t care?

J in VA December 23, 2012 - 11:20 pm

Several years ago, after prayer and tears, we chose to stop decorating our house, and exchanging gifts with family. We do Christmas carol and do remember Jesus birth in our worship and family devotions. we feel that many traditions do have pagan roots and are uncomfortable continuing them. We do not criticize other’s choices.

We found that gifts were taking too much energy and that, as we had no needs, we wanted instead to focus our giving on widows and orphans in foreign countries and giving to groups doing evalngelism in foreign lands. As our extended families were not willing to join us in that sort of giving, we just asked to opt out. It was grudgingly recieved.

We have found that purchasing things when wanted or needed prevents the whole “wait until Dec 25th” song and dance that we grew up with. If it’s needed or wanted and the funds are there, then go ahead get it and go on with life. It saves, scheming, wrapping, hiding, traveling with, etc… just to buy things that someone else has requested or just exchanging $20 gift cards which was what most of our adult exchanges had evolved into.

Word Warrior December 24, 2012 - 10:16 am

J–I’m sure that was hard but that is something, deep down, I really struggle with. I do love giving gifts to those I love; but the hassle is huge and like you, we really don’t have many physical needs. I always feel burdened to just give to others. And then there’s the reality that we’re still only half way built and need to be saving money for that, etc….the whole thing keeps my head spinning. I would love if we could come to definitive decision.

Jennifer December 24, 2012 - 2:53 pm

No longer giving gifts can be a very relieving decision, especially if you have a very large immediate family (I do not). But I don’t consider things like decoration pagan, and if it was, I wouldn’t mind adopting it (I don’t mind acknowledging the change of seasons either).

Kelly, I’m sure no one would blame you for stopping gift-exchange at least this year!

natasha December 25, 2012 - 10:40 pm

we don’t give gifts that are needed at xmas, like socks etc. we think of special gifts that could really only be given to that particular person. There’s something wonderful about buying or making a gift for someone and when they open it they know it was just for them, it’s not generic, it was made/bought with love, it’s sincere. I think in order for children to love being generous, they must first receive it. My children love to think of gifts for each other and our family, and they think of the perfect thing that that person would love, and they get so excited about it. Also, I think children need to see that not everything is “owed” to them, they need to understand what a gift is. It’s something that they don’t earn by good behavior or by working. It’s not payment or a bribe. it is given to them because that person loves them. Gift comes from the word charis, which means grace or undeserved gift.

Gifts do take a lot of time and effort, and that’s what makes them great. It’s a labor of love.

I learned a lot from gary Chapman when he wrote about gifts as an expression of love in his love languages books.

natasha December 20, 2012 - 11:47 pm

I too found it offensive. I am a Catholic. I love this article by reb bradley http://www.familyministries.com/ It’s under the free tab on the left, and then scroll down to the “Culture and Politics” section, click on “Christianizing Secular Customs”

It’s very informative.

Lisa December 21, 2012 - 12:22 pm

Loved this article, Kelly! Always count on Sproul to bring sound, biblical convictions!

Jennifer December 21, 2012 - 2:05 pm

Not my assessment.

Janalin December 23, 2012 - 2:59 pm

Sproul’s description of the Catholic faith is uninformed and childish. He and others that do not know the faith would be astounded at the links and roots that their own Christianity has back to the Catholic Church. I find it strange that he would use his one and only time going to Mass as an example in this way.

This time of year is sacred. Exchanges of gifts are ways of sharing love with others. America’s commercialization of this time of year and others obviously have greatly taken this astray of it’s true purpose. At home we teach our children to give more deeply during this season and to do it with a joyful heart. And above all we celebrate the birth of our Savior! What a joyous time!

Word Warrior December 23, 2012 - 5:08 pm


I don’t know enough myself (ashamedly) about Catholicism to personally chime in. But I CAN tell you that RC is quite informed (http://www.ligonier.org/store/are-we-together-hardcover/) and that the Reformed faith (of which he is a part) is one of the few denominations that DOES understand the links and roots that our faith has in Catholicism (it’s in our creed…”We believe in the Holy Catholic church”).

Amanda December 23, 2012 - 6:26 pm

I was raised Presbyterian and grew up reciting that creed. However, when it says “the Holy Catholic church” it does not mean the Roman Catholic church. Catholic, in this case, means the church universal, in other words, believers everywhere.

What R.C. knows about the Catholic church would be all the areas that the Reformed faith disagrees with the Catholic church.

Word Warrior December 23, 2012 - 6:46 pm

Yes, you are right. Thank you…I should have clarified that. I was trying to communicate to Janalin that we do know about the roots (that is, we broke away from the church due to its error, but we do share the same roots–as do most Protestants, but the Reformed faith are probably more aware of this).

Sue M. December 26, 2012 - 2:15 am


I’m an Anglican and I expected the Rev. Sproul’s remarks about the Roman Catholic Church would have more well-informed.

I don’t believe everything your denomination teaches, but it seems to be that it’s impossible to forget that the RCC was the first Christian denomination. As I see it, your denomination is like the trunk of a large tree. The Anglicans, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, and so on, are distinct branches of the tree. None are inferior or superior to each other — each branch or the trunk — but the branches wouldn’t exist without the trunk.

natasha December 23, 2012 - 7:36 pm

and yet the Roman Catholic Church does not waiver when it comes to traditional marriage, the purpose of marriage, birth control,abortion and the importance of the vocation of motherhood and fatherhood. There are PLENTY of evangelicals and protestants who are all for birth control, homosexual marriage and even abortion. There are other books like by John salza and stephen k ray that explain how far away protestants have strayed from the original intentions of martin luther.

Word Warrior December 23, 2012 - 8:10 pm

I agree whole-heartedly. Outside of the formally-named “reformed” denominations, there seems to be a huge disconnect in today’s church and what our reformed fathers believed in. I highly respect the Catholic church’s purity regarding these matters.

Jennifer December 24, 2012 - 2:49 pm

That’s true, Natasha, but in order to do this, Catholics have to stay extremely close not only to the original beliefs, but to the purpose of the Bible. And sadly, some don’t; these particular folks are all against the things you mentioned, but since their beliefs in general involve more than the Bible even gives, they interpret other things quite loosely.

natasha December 25, 2012 - 10:22 pm

Jennifer- the RC church has never changed the doctrine of our faith. ever. since 1st century A.D. I wouldn’t call that loose interpretation. You unfortunately see catholics like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden who are very confused about catholic doctrine. No fear, Catholicism is worldwide. There are way more people that follow the churches teaching than not. I never have to worry about the Pope changing biblical doctrine.

Jennifer December 25, 2012 - 10:39 pm

No, Pelosi never even came to mind; I was thinking of majorly conservative people, who swear, recommend certain secular methods, and some of whom have called women ammoral. Since their doctrine already adds to the Bible, they had no problem following suit. No indeed, the Pope; if he were to change the Catholic doctrine though, everyone would follow, ironic considering some of the individual beliefs different members have added to their own religion. I’ve had the “one doctrine for all of us” explained to me; they fear that if you put five people together and have them each pray to God, they’d all claim to have heard different (and allegedly contradictory) things. This is why they all follow one person, whom doctrine has been handed down to.

natasha December 26, 2012 - 11:40 am

I don’t understand what you are saying. who is calling women ammoral? and what secular methods are you talking about? I’m not following you at all.

Jennifer December 26, 2012 - 12:12 pm

Just some individuals, Natasha. I know that’s very unusual, but they claim faith in God and the Bible behind their beliefs, which unsettled me.

natasha December 26, 2012 - 11:21 pm

catholics can’t believe something contrary to our faith and still call it catholicism accurately.

Sue M. December 26, 2012 - 1:56 am

As an aside, a lot of people forget Martin Luther never intended to form a new denomination. He hoped the Roman Catholic Church could be reformed along the lines of what he set out in his 95 Theses. If you read the 95 Theses, it’s pretty apparent to see that.

The new denomination only came to be when the Roman Catholic Church didn’t adopt Luther’s reforms.

Jane December 26, 2012 - 10:50 am

No, it is not a sin to celebrate the birth of the Savior, as it is not a sin to not celebrate it, it is all in HOW you celebrate it. There is nothing in scripture that commands us to celebrate it or forbids us to celebrate it. And everything must be held up to the light of scripture, right? God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.

I have come a long way in the last 10 years on this subject and this year was the first year I did not give any gifts. I don’t consider it a sin to give gifts, it just didn’t make sense to me anymore. It is a celebration of the birth of Christ, it is not anybody else’s birthday. Well, except for my son, who turned 20 years old yesterday and did receive gifts from me! What made more sense was to do any gift giving I would have done to Christ. Giving to brothers and sisters in Christ who were in true need, or give to a reputable gospel-proclaiming ministry.

I still decorate, I consider it as I would consider decorating the house for any other birthday party. All decorations are Christ-centered.

I am the only one in my family who felt this way, so all others bought and gave gifts, in a modest way. I didn’t say that they were wrong in doing so. I still shopped for my husband, as he wanted to get a couple of things for our daughter.

I plan to make a big deal out of her birthday, when it comes, as that is what it is, HER birthday.

Just my 2 cents, and the way I have come to feel about Christmas.

Jennifer December 26, 2012 - 12:13 pm

We exchange gifts to show love, because of the wise men.

Jill November 16, 2015 - 6:28 pm

We don’t celebrate christmas because of Leviticus 23:37…The G-d of the bible has HIS own feast so why would we borrow pagan days to celebrate Him? There are many Christian Churches that don’t celebrate christmas, 7th day Baptist, Messianic…over all I see a huge pulling away from christmas and easter…why celebrate a pagan god when you can Celebrate Passover just as Jesus did? or Hannukah “The feast of Dedication” we see Jesus going to in John 10:22-23.


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