Advice for a Non-Celebrator of Christmas

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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
For those on the board who do not celebrate Christmas and other man-made holy days,

My wife and I have been married for about nine months, so this is the first time the "Christmas" issue has come up for us as a married couple. Happily, we are agreed on the issue, and we will not be celebrating it.

However, there is the problem of how we deal with the celebrations of other family members. Both of our families celebrate Christmas (protestant families, mind you), and we don't want to offend.

For those who have been in similar circumstances, how did you manage this time of year?

Thanks,
Tyler
 

Leslie

Puritan Board Junior
Can you clarify? What are you expected to do? Give and receive presents? It seems kind of ugly to accept Christmas gifts without reciprocating. But if you do reciprocate, you're being roped into de facto celebration. Certainly you need to explain your stance to the relatives, which you probably already did. How about throwing a non-Christmas party? Think of something fun, that your families will enjoy, some theme other than Christmas. Perhaps then they will realize that it is Christmas you are rejecting, not them. They might even join you in your stance next year.
 

au5t1n

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Can you clarify? What are you expected to do?

Many extended families gather together only a few times a year at the most, and often this is on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A family that does not celebrate Christmas may wish to see everyone because they love their family and they don't often get to see everyone, so they have to decide whether they can attend a "Christmas Eve Dinner" without it being perceived as approval or celebration of Christmas. Furthermore, if they decide they may attend, they have to decide how to be clear that they are not celebrating Jesus' birthday without being rude.

There is also the question of how strongly to refuse Christmas gifts. Even if a stance against Christmas is made clear and is apparently understood and respected, some family members will insist on getting Christmas presents for them because they'll feel bad if they don't. So another question is whether it is okay just to accept presents from these well-meaning people as opposed to pressing the matter.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I turn down invitations and ask people not to give me gifts because I don't celebrate. However, my bride does and she knows not to insist that I attend any parties or caroling events. At work, I don't return "merry x" greetings, but merely tell people to enjoy the time off. It has brought up a few conversations about how I choose to honor Christ and not play pretend, one or two days a year, as American pop-culture does. Bottom line is this: I really don't care if people call me Scrooge or Grinch. If they are offended that I don't send them a card or gift, it merely proves that they didn't listen to what I had to say on the subject last time it was discussed.
 

irresistible_grace

Puritan Board Junior
For those on the board who do not celebrate Christmas and other man-made holy days,

My wife and I have been married for about nine months, so this is the first time the "Christmas" issue has come up for us as a married couple. Happily, we are agreed on the issue, and we will not be celebrating it.

However, there is the problem of how we deal with the celebrations of other family members. Both of our families celebrate Christmas (protestant families, mind you), and we don't want to offend.

For those who have been in similar circumstances, how did you manage this time of year?

Thanks,
Tyler

What ever you do ... STICK WITH IT!

When our convictions changed concerning the ChristMass, we were very inconsistent and we are still paying for those inconsistencies.
We took the "As for me and my house" approach but still attended family gatherings at/for Christmas and now that we don't...
Our inconsistencies in the past are held against us.

We DO NOT celebrate the day (no ChristMass decorations as in trees & lights etc., no ChristMass gatherings, no ChristMass carols, nothing).
And, we have communicated that we do not want our family to buy things they can't afford & things our children don't need just because they feel they have a cultural obligation to give them gifts on this particular holiday. They still buy/give gifts but we don't allow them to give them to them on the 25th and we do not make a huge deal about it. They are slowly getting the point that it is our genuine desire to glorify God in all things and we do not believe that He is glorified by the observation of any un-appointed Holy Days especially the ChristMass.

I have transcribed a sermon by Pastor McCurley called A Holy God and Holy Days that I will share with them "IF" they are sincerely interested. However, for the most part they could honestly care less why we are so weird!!! You can listen to that sermon here

This year we are going to spend the evening of the 24th in another state and spend time on the morning of the 25th with dear friends who share the same convictions about the ChristMass. We will head home that afternoon.
Next year we plan to have another Brother-in-Christ over to our house on that day just for a time of fellowship & maybe a Psalm-Sing.
What ever we do on that day, we don't try to make a big deal out of NOT celebrating the ChristMass if that makes any sense.

Our family tries to get together with "the family" when there is no Holy Day associated with our gathering.
We will all get together sometime next month for example.

:pray2:ing for wisdom
 

Brian R.

Puritan Board Freshman
Tyler,

It's tough. Especially for me, having to juggle my total dislike of X-Mas with my children's desire to celebrate it fully. And my wife is somewhere in the middle. I shared my views with Mom this year, and I think she's still bewildered. Great comments here from Rich and Jessica. Thanks for sharing. I, too, am still searching for the most peaceful solution.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
I agree with Jessica that consistency is important especially since everyone already thinks you are a wacko for not celebrating.

I am limiting my answer to situations outside of worship. As someone who does not celebrate, my advice is as follows:

- If someone tells you Merry Christmas, say thank you. They are trying to be nice. Saying thanks doesn't mean that you have celebrated in any way.
- If someone gives you a gift even though they know that you don't do gifts or someone who doesn't know gives you a gift, accept the gift, tell them thank you and that you appreciate them thinking of you.
- If your family invites you over to their house filled with a Christmas tree, lights, reindeer, Santa Clauses, etc., go and spend time with your family. They won't be around forever. The porcelain Santa won't give you a disease or anything.
-If your family or friends want to talk about Jesus because they think it is His birthday, talk about Jesus. They probably need to know more about Him and you should desire to tell them. Most will even admit that they know He was not born on the 25th of December when you bring it up.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Thank you all for your advice. My wife thanks you as well. I can see that some of these issues we will have to work out for ourselves as a family (like, Will we go to family Christmas parties?). It will be pretty shocking for some of our family members when they hear our conviction. I imagine it will get easier as the years pass by, though.
 

SherlockLogic

Puritan Board Freshman
I know I'm a bit late to the party, but I would encourage all to remember the liberty of individual Christians and Church bodies alike to set aside seasons of remembrance. I believe this can be consistently practiced in a manner so as not to violate the Regulative Principle of Worship.

"Moreover, if in Christian liberty the churches religiously celebrate the memory of the Lord's nativity, circumcision, passion, resurrection, and of his ascension into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, we approve of it highly." -The Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter 24
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Again, this is the difference with Westminster vis-à-vis the 2nd Helvetic. Westminster delivers a resounding "no" to religiously observing such times.

"There is no day commanded in Scripture, to bee kept holy under the Gospel, but the Lords Day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly {i.e. commonly} called Holy days, having no warrant in the word {Word of God}, are not to be continued.” Calendar of documents, document 54, “An Appendix touching days & Places for Publique Worship, submitted to both houses of parliament 30 December 1644.” Chad Van Dixhoorn, Minutes of the Westminster Assembly, volume 5, p. 159 (Oxford, 2012).
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
The obvious defect in 2nd Helvetic in this regard is the lack of scriptural justification for the position, e.g., how is "Christian liberty" defined such that liberty is extended to churches supporting the invention of religious holy days?

It should also be pointed out that in some reformed churches (CRCNA, URCNA, RCUS) it's not a confessionally mandated position, but a matter relegated to their Church Order. Church Orders are thus treated like a half-way house for quasi-doctrinal matters that can’t make their way into the Confessions.
 

Ne Oublie

Puritan Board Sophomore
We have always been candid with our family in letting them know. All of them have been offended in some way, and some even thought we were cult-sh. We found out that the real offense was in the gift giving area, so we have allowed gifts but no one in our family associates with Christmas. When asked why we do not, we have said that there are many reasons, and it they would like to sit down and speak with us about it that we would love to explain our reasons. No one has really taken us up on that.
We also do not attend any homes at that time, as it is very confusing for everyone. Thanksgiving and other times we spend with them.

I find that it is harder to deal with among brothers and sisters in Christ, personally I have seen it become a very divisive issue, but so is EP, and just about everything else we believe. Covenanters!
 

SherlockLogic

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not referring to celebrating Christmas in the context of worship, such as singing Christmas songs or preaching "Christmas sermons" on the Lord's Day. I am speaking of the liberty of Churches and individual households to set aside seasons to remember particular instances of our Lord's incarnation, such as his nativity and resurrection. Such can be observed quietly within the heart and privately within individual households.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
I am speaking of the liberty of Churches and individual households to set aside seasons to remember particular instances of our Lord's incarnation, such as his nativity and resurrection. Such can be observed quietly within the heart and privately within individual households.

This assertion would be best defended in another thread. In the present thread, the OP has asked for advice regarding non-celebration.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I am not referring to celebrating Christmas in the context of worship, such as singing Christmas songs or preaching "Christmas sermons" on the Lord's Day. I am speaking of the liberty of Churches and individual households to set aside seasons to remember particular instances of our Lord's incarnation, such as his nativity and resurrection. Such can be observed quietly within the heart and privately within individual households.

Blake, see the sermon that Jessica linked to above for a defense of the classic Westminster position.

Holy days and seasons are appointed by God alone, and are kept in many ways other than in public worship. The Lord's Day is the Lord's Day no matter where we are, and we are to keep it holy (I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know). Similarly, man-made holy days that are sanctified by those other than Christ are kept in many ways, in and out of public worship. In other words, the fourth commandment applies when it comes man-made holy days like Christmas.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
How is it quietly within the heart or private if a church does this? Why do this at the times the superstitious and idolatrous churches do it? This is the Puritan argument I find compelling: that rather than retaining such polluted observances which ever remain as traps and snares to rope the church again back to corruption (and who can dispute this?), that like the brazen serpent (which was appointed by the Lord; which warrant these pretended holy days fall far short of) they must be put aside. If Hezekiah is commended for destroying something actually prescribed by the Lord; how in the world do we argue for a more lax approach to mere appointments of men that have ensnared the church in will worship and idolatry?

I am not referring to celebrating Christmas in the context of worship, such as singing Christmas songs or preaching "Christmas sermons" on the Lord's Day. I am speaking of the liberty of Churches and individual households to set aside seasons to remember particular instances of our Lord's incarnation, such as his nativity and resurrection. Such can be observed quietly within the heart and privately within individual households.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
Blake,

The question still remain wrt churches, where exactly do they derive this supposed liberty to celebrate "Christmas"? You originally quoted 2 Helvetic which claims churches have a liberty in this area. Historically, that has meant they could call special worship services on those days and folks were obliged to attend. It was not about merely singing hymns or preaching a "seasonal sermon." Still looking for how one derives this alleged liberty from Scripture.
 
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