I remember growing up with the expectations of Christmas. Well, I remember knowing that we “had” to go to the Christmas eve candlelight service. And then I remember knowing that we could not open any presents on Christmas eve. I also remember that I was supposed to stay in my room so Santa would bring presents and put them under the tree.
In reality, I never cared if Christmas or the trees were legitimately Christian. I understood about the birth of Christ, but that wasn’t what all this Christmas stuff was about – it was about the presents!
Don’t judge me – if I were a betting man I would bet money that you thought this way when you were a kid as well. Maybe that’s why Paul makes the following statement: When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). Well, his point was a little bit larger than realizing there is more to Christmas than gifts and believing in Santa Claus, but hey, let’s go with the concept.
You grew up. You realized there is no Santa Claus. You realized that it was not all about the gifts.
Then, maybe you started to question things. Is this whole Christmas gig something I should do as a Christian? Santa is not real, and the presents seem to have nothing to do with Jesus. And what about the tree? So you go back to the Bible, as you should to start to find answers, and you ask: “Are Christmas trees forbidden in the Bible?”
Here’s what you might find…
Learn not the way of the nations,
nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens
because the nations are dismayed at them,
for the customs of the peoples are vanity.
A tree from the forest is cut down
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
- Jer. 10:2-4 ESV
And instantly you think, “Aha! I knew it! Christmas is a hoax. It’s a pagan holiday, and we shouldn’t have anything like it. We cut down trees and bring them inside. We decorate Christmas trees with silver and gold tinsel. We put it on the base and secure it so that it won’t come crashing down in the living room on top of the flat screen TV.”
While your efforts are grand, your understanding is all wrong. You are commended to looking into God’s Word for guidance on this subject. But the truth is this: the Bible does not forbid Christmas trees. Here’s what was being communicated in this passage from the book of Jeremiah, we have to read on to adequately understand what God was saying to these people:
Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.”
- Jer. 10:5 ESV
Putting everything together, this is what God was communicating to the people:
You have a problem. You’ve cut the foreskin of the genitals of all males to keep the covenant. However, your hearts are still untrimmed. You haven’t cleaned your heart of the unrighteous things as you’ve cleaned and marked the outside of your penis. (God explained this in Jer 9:25-26.) Therefore, clean up your hearts.
Therefore, clean up your hearts. Stop fearing what the other nations say is going to happen. I am all powerful; I am the King of the Universe, not their puny little fake god. Their ideas are empty, useless, stupid. Here’s why…
The chop down a tree. They trim the branches off. They make a wooden statue. They dress up and honor this piece of wood, and make sure their fake god won’t fall over (because that would be embarrassing). Open your eyes and see the truth!
The wooden statue never walks anywhere itself. It never opens its mouth and speaks. It’s because the statues are pieces of wood. They can’t do anything, much less bring evil or good. These people are stupid, dumb, ding dongs.
People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
The things they worship are made of wood!
- Jer 10:8 NLT
So, all being said, no – Christmas trees are not forbidden in the Bible. But here’s the kicker – our God is the God who speaks. And He may be speaking to your heart, saying you have a problem. Maybe, Christmas has become an idol in your life. Maybe, you need to circumcise your heart as the nation of Israel needed to cleanse their hearts.
Therefore, you’ve felt the conviction of God’s Holy Spirit and are searching to clarify His voice. Maybe, God is speaking to you to skip Christmas this year. And seriously, maybe, He wants you to get back to the origins of Christmas – the birth of Christ. We celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. Not because it was the exact day Christ was born (you don’t always celebrate your birthday on the exact day you were born). But because it is a day set apart to celebrate the arrival of the King of the Universe.
I’m not telling you to break your conscience with the living God. What I am saying is that Christmas trees are not forbidden in the Bible, because they simply aren’t. However, again, if God is speaking to you about doing something radical: like calling off all the trees, the presents, the stuff, and asking you to get back to the origins of the celebration, then do it! Just don’t use the explanation that the Bible says so, because it doesn’t. Mature in your faith and explain that God is speaking specifically to you about avoiding the culturalized Christmas this year.