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The Christmas Problem
Good News Magazine
October-November 1965
Volume: Vol XIV, No. 10-11
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The Christmas Problem
William F Dankenbring   
Church of God

Member Since: 1957
Ambassador College: 1963
Office: ACE

Master of Arts Degree from Ambassador.

Looming right around the corner is the world's chief holiday Christmas! Do you know HOW to face the trials and handle the problems imposed by this pagan holiday? Here are helpful hints on how YOU can avoid the usual Christmas chaos and confusion!

   THE WHOLE world is beginning to prepare for the BIGGEST holiday of the year the Christmas season! Christmas presents are being stashed away, Christmas trees with their fire hazards are looming up in innumerable living rooms. To the world, the season of "good cheer" is fast approaching!
   But, at the same time, you can almost hear the inaudible groan of many, "Oh no, not again! When will it all be over!"
   This is the time of year when millions begin thinking about a little "babe in a manger." Other millions begin thinking about office parties, days of vacation, and whooping it up! Still others eagerly await the midnight call of Santa Claus and his reindeer! To some few, Christmas reminds them of Christ but to the vast, overwhelming majority, it merely means the biggest HOLIDAY of the entire year!

Season of Crime and Death

   Strange, isn't it, that on the world's chief religious holiday, supposedly in memory of the birthday of Christ, crime sky-rockets. Theft, burglary, adultery, murder and drunkenness crescendo to staggering proportions! Strange, that at this time of year there is more marital unfaithfulness, drunkenness, and debauchery than at any other time!
   Strange, too, that at Christmas time, death haunts the highways, more traffic accidents occur, and motor mayhem rules the roads!
   But it is not really so strange when you understand the REAL ORIGIN of Christmas when you realize that Christmas stems from the ancient pagan Saturnalia, a time of wild carousing and drunken orgies, when the pagans celebrated the winter solstice in honor of the waning sun-god's rebirth! Not so strange, after all, when you know that Christmas is actually an ancient HEATHEN festival which has donned the disguise of "Christian" garb, and modernly masquerades itself as "Christian"!
   No longer is the true character of Christmas so surprising, or so difficult to understand!

A Blind World

   Christmas observance is SO widespread today, however, that many people will frown if they learn you don't observe it. Some devout people will even consider you a rank religious fanatic. The world is BLINDED to the truth of God, and cannot see.
   Yet, Almighty God plainly commands His people, in regard to the pagan celebrations and customs of this world, "Come OUT of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her PLAGUES"! (Rev. 18:4.) God says, "Learn NOT the way of the heathen" (Jer. 10:2). True Christians are not to fellowship with the darkened ways of the world, or participate in the world's pagan customs and traditions (II Cor. 6:14-17).
   Yet, how SHOULD a true Christian handle the Christmas problem? HOW should a Christian act toward unconverted people who do not understand God's truth about Christmas? How should he act toward unconverted friends and relatives?
   What about receiving Christmas gifts, bonuses? And what about the myriad other problems presented by the Christmas holidays?
   What about YOU, and YOUR family? Are you going to handle the Christmas problem with WISDOM, this year? Or are you going to cause resentment, hard feelings, and hostility; by your lack of wisdom and tactfulness?
   Here are some guidelines to help YOU overcome the Christmas problem, God's way!

Don't Be Afraid!

   Often, the person who has just recently learned the truth about Christmas finds himself "trapped." It seems strange, not observing Christmas any more. Fears, doubts creep in, and he wonders, "What will my friends and relatives think?"
   But DON'T allow Satan to implant fear and worry in your heart! First, realize to most people, Christmas is NOT such a big thing, after all. In fact, the world is FULL of people who, like yourself, don't care for the frantic pace and gift-giving of Christmas. MANY worldly people see that Christmas has been GREATLY commercialized!
   Therefore, you are not alone. The problems you will meet will NOT really be as "big" or "monstrous" as they may at first appear! If you use wisdom and tact, most of the problems will simply evaporate and disappear!
   Pray to God for the help you need; and then step out on FAITH, sincerely determined to follow God and obey Him. He will GIVE you divine help, confidence, and WISDOM so you can handle every situation that arises!

The Shining Christian LIGHT

   Jesus said, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house."
   He added, "Let your LIGHT so SHINE before men, that they may see your GOOD WORKS, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 5:14-16).
   This is the basic KEY to follow to remember and to use! It is USELESS to argue. It is folly to wrangle, quarrel, or get into a heated argument about observing Christmas! If you try to talk your friends or relatives into refraining from Christmas observance, you will very likely only succeed in MAKING ENEMIES, causing contention and alienating friends! Often the quickest, easiest way to turn friends against you is to PREACH to them about God's truth. Cramming your beliefs or convictions down someone else's throat. The force-feeding method simply does not work, as sad experience proves.
   Therefore, when you learn about God's way, you should NOT immediately go to friends and "preach a sermon" about the paganism and evil of Christmas. Just LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE in good works and kindly deeds. Remember, a light glows, silently, effectively. It doesn't make a sound. It doesn't argue, scold, berate, preach, or blast forth like a foghorn or blaring trumpet! Yet, it is a very illuminating, effective witness!
   That is the WAY you should handle the Christmas problem! Let your light shine by being friendly, kind, considerate. Be positive when you approach your relatives. Be smiling, congenial. Do not be upset, nervous. Do not tremble for fear of what others may think.
   Pray to God that He will grant you wisdom, grace and favour in the sight of others and that He will guide you in handling the problem. It will not then be so difficult as you might think!

How to AVOID Trouble

   Now let's deal with some specific problems which often arise. What should you do about relatives or friends sending GIFTS? Almost everyone newly converted faces this problem,
   The first step, in this situation, is to contact the friends or relatives who might send gifts AHEAD OF TIME. Before Christmas arrives, get in touch with them, and casually, politely explain that you no longer keep Christmas and would prefer that they not send you any Christmas gifts. After talking about general topics of conversation, you might casually bring the subject around to Christmas and just mention that you see how overly commercialized Christmas is, and therefore you are not going to bother keeping it any more. In many cases, a short explanation of this kind would be all you need and no feelings would be hurt.
   In cases where out-of-town friends or relatives might send you gifts, you could simply notify them by a short note or letter, and include the same information.
   That is all there is to it. No big problem, no big "fuss" at all! Just be friendly, be casual, and when you steer the subject around to Christmas, just mention that you are not going to bother with it any more, and you are not going to send any more gifts. Don't make a mountain out of a mole-hill! In this way, you can AVOID trouble, before it starts!
   In some other cases, of course, the friends or relatives will probably wonder why the sudden change. They may press for a fuller explanation. What should you do in THIS case?
   First, here's what NOT to do: Above all, DON'T mention RELIGION! Doing so would be the quickest way to arouse suspicion and antagonism. People don't want to hear about your new "religious" interests. If you mention religion, you are very likely to arouse a hornet's nest of trouble!
   Don't bring religion into the picture at all. First, just let them know in a friendly way that you are not interested in keeping up with all the Christmas bother any more. You and your family are going to avoid all the hectic Christmas buying and all the frantic gift-exchanging.
   If your friends or relatives probe a little more deeply, and some even insist that you keep Christmas along with "everyone else," you might simply mention, "No, I've thought it over carefully, and I've decided. Yes, I've made up my mind. There is too much commercialism connected with Christmas, and it is just too much bother. My family and I are going to have peace and quiet, this year."
   Be PERSONAL when you explain. Make it a personal matter not a religious matter. Speak from the basis of your own personal convictions! This approach will help smooth over a lot of potential difficulties.
   In some cases, the people might really be interested in why you no longer observe Christmas. In these cases, still using the personal approach, it would be all right to say, "You know, I've been doing a little research, lately, and was I surprised. I looked Christmas up in the encyclopedia, and I found that it was observed a long time before Jesus Christ was even born. In fact, I found out that nobody really knows when Jesus was born, but all indications show that it could not have been on December 25. Therefore, I've decided to stop keeping Christmas. It's not really Christian anyway. The encyclopedia even showed that the ancient pagan Romans observed it in honor of the sun-god!"
   This kind of simple, PERSONAL explanation will go a long way in avoiding offence or kindling strife. Even when mentioning these things, however, emphasize that it is a personal decision. DON'T try to give the listeners the impression that THEY should not observe Christmas! DON'T try to preach a sermon to them!
   If your acquaintances are really interested in learning more, you could even mention that you read a booklet explaining all about Christmas and where it came from. You might loan them your copy of The Plain Truth about Christmas, if they would like to read it.
   But what should you do if some people send Christmas gifts to you, anyway?
   Frankly, you should consider the attitude of the sender. If the gifts were merely sent out of affection, love, and esteem, it would be best to simply accept them with a polite thank-you. If you tried to return them, you could cause offence or antagonism. It would be best not to make a big issue of the matter by refusing to accept the gifts, lest you cause resentment.
   On the other hand, if a particular individual sends a gift in order to TEST the sincerity of your convictions, it would be best to return the gift with a thank-you and a brief explanation that you really don't keep Christmas any longer.

Problems With Children

   What about the children, who may be accustomed to keeping Christmas and receiving gifts? The best way to handle THIS problem is to sit down with the children, ahead of time, and begin explaining the TRUTH about Christmas, and where it comes from. You could have a family study about the matter, or even include the subject of Christmas in your family Bible study. It might be helpful to use the Christmas booklet as a guideline in the study, simply pointing out the important facts about Christmas.
   You could also explain how Satan the devil has deceived the whole world, and that is why so many people keep Christmas (Rev. 12:9). You could then mention that since God has had mercy on you, and revealed His truth to you, your family is going to obey God and not keep Christmas any longer.
   As you teach your children God's truth, they will soon come to understand. Christmas will no longer be a problem with them!
   Then, at other times during the year, you should demonstrate your love and affection for your children by surprising them with gifts. Such surprises will mean much more to them than "compulsory gifts" given at Christmas time.

The School Problem

   Younger children may at first feel "left out," when Christmas comes at school. Positive teaching at home should take care of most of the problem, however. Even though other children may be involved in Christmas activities at school, if you POSITIVELY teach your children about God's ABUNDANT WAY of life, they should not really miss Christmas. However, you should be careful to instruct your children to use tact when discussing Christmas with other children, lest trouble arise due to some brash, blunt and foolish statement!
   What should parents do if certain teachers want their children to take part in some kind of Christmas program or activity? In some cases the children might be excused merely by means of a short, polite note. Sometimes, however, it might be good to have a friendly visit with the teacher, and explain your personal feelings about Christmas. Explain that you do not want your children participating in Christmas activities, since you don't observe Christmas. Usually, a friendly visit of this kind would be all that's needed.
   But, from time to time persecution might come from some teachers. In this case, it might be wise to take the matter to the principal of the school and explain your personal convictions to him. In this way, the problem can often be resolved, with a minimum of trouble.
   The school problem should not be too difficult if handled wisely. If you properly educate and train your children at home, and teach them to be friendly and outgoing in personality, the problem presented by Christmas in school should be greatly lessened!

Avoid a Shattered Home

   Perhaps the most serious problem concerning Christmas is the problem of a divided home. If one mate desires to obey God, but the other wants to observe Christmas, the sparks can fly, tempers can be aroused, and disaster can result if wisdom and understanding are not used.
   Many wives who wish to obey God and cease observing Christmas have husbands who are not at all interested in God's truth. And many husbands whose minds God is opening to receive His truth have unconverted wives who want to keep Christmas.
   What is to be done?
   In far too many cases, when Christmas has come around the battle lines are drawn. Each stands opposed to the other, adamantly refusing to give an inch. Tempers flare, wild words are loosed, emotions are vented. Misery! Frustration! Discord!
   And sadly, in some cases where wisdom and understanding were not used, a family EXPLOSION occurred, shattering the home and leaving it a broken, torn-up shambles!
   But WHY? With a little human understanding, a little compassion and willingness to be considerate of the other, the whole problem could have been solved with PEACE reigning, not strife and warfare in the home!
   The home is the very foundation of society. The family relationship is a GOD-PLANE relationship. The union of husband and wife is a type of the union of Christ and the Church, His bride (Eph. 5:23-32). It should be a union of LOVE not bitterness!
   When the home is threatened is no time to lose control of the emotions or become upset. That is when real calm, soundmindedness, and self-control are needed! Remember both husbands and wives are FREE MORAL AGENTS in God's sight. One should NOT try to cram his religion down the throat of the other! Strive to maintain PLACE in the home (Rom. 12:18).

You Wives

   You wives need to use wisdom when Christmas comes. If your husband wants to keep Christmas, don't hinder him. Don't nag at him to change, or argue with him. Don't show him disrespect or contempt because he doesn't accept the truth about Christmas.
   Rather, you should STRIVE to show him all honor and respect, regardless of his convictions. Remember, God placed the husband as the HEAD of the home (Eph. 5:22-24). God commands wives to be submissive to their husbands. If you wives will strive to be the BEST helpmates you possibly can, at ALL times during the year, you will find the Christmas problem vanishing out of sight. If, through your helpfulness and consideration, and by your conduct, you SERVE and assist your husbands as you SHOULD), you will find that they, in return, will be more considerate (I Pet. 3:1-4).
   Then, when Christmas comes, your husbands will be more concerned about YOUR feelings and convictions! And trouble will be avoided.
   Sometimes, though, some husbands may want their wives to participate in Christmas. In the case where your husband commands you to do something contrary to God's Word, the Biblical example is that we "obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Even then, however, wives should be respectful and use wisdom when explaining to their husbands that they simply cannot engage in any Christmas festivities. Pray for wisdom! And use it, with understanding.

You Husbands, Too

   What should you do, if your WIFE insists on having a Christmas tree? Should you adamantly REFUSE to let her have it even if your home is gravely threatened?
   The answer to this problem will depend bow well you are in control of your home. If you ARE in control of your home, and your wife respects your authority then you should gently, firmly explain your convictions, and explain that you are not celebrating Christmas this year.
   Don't make it sound "religious." Remember, you should AVOID mention of religion, in order to avoid trouble and unnecessary hostility. If you are really in charge of your home and family, there should be no serious problem.
   However, if you are not yet the real leader and ruler of your own family, and your wife is not submissive to your authority, then rather than break up your home you should tread very lightly, the first year.
   If your wife insists on having her Christmas tree, let her have one. Be kind and friendly. Let her know that you would rather she did not have a tree, but if she insists, she may go ahead and purchase one. And if she wishes to send gifts to others, that is up to her.
   Although you should permit your wife to keep Christmas, if she insists, you should not let her take over the whole house in order to do it. Rather, it might be best to simply let her have a certain room or part of the house, where she can do her decorating, put up her tree, or whatever.
   Be gentle. Be understanding. But meanwhile, during the coming year you should begin taking steps to become the real leader and wise ruler in your family. Learn to be the HEAD of your home, as God intended you to be. Learn to RULE, with wisdom, compassion, gentleness and firmness. Work toward bringing your wife and family into proper subjection to the authority God gives you as father and husband.
   As you GROW in Christian character and leadership, Christmas should really become a thing of the past in your home.
   As the head of the home, God holds YOU responsible for the proper education of your children (Eph. 6:4). Therefore, you should teach them the truth about Christmas. If your wife wants to give presents to the children, that would be up to her. But you should not neglect teaching them the truth about Christmas. Don't ridicule their mother's beliefs, or explain how she is wrong. Explain how Christmas itself IS wrong! Avoid unnecessary strife and argument. Use discretion!

Christmas "Dinners"

   What should you do when invited over to a relative's home for Christmas dinner? Should you accept?
   In most cases, sure why not? Frankly, most so-called "Christmas dinners" are merely family reunions and afford an opportunity for the family to get together and fellowship. They are nut held to commemorate or observe Christmas, at all! Therefore, if invited to a friend's or relative's home for dinner, even though it occur on Christmas, it would not necessarily be wrong to accept.
   Of course, you should use wisdom, too. If you know that the dinner would involve Christmas trappings and festivities, then you should avoid attending, simply explaining that you are unable to go.

Christmas at Work

   Some have also wondered about "Christmas bonuses." Such bonuses, given at the end of the year or around Christmas time, are not usually considered as Christmas gifts. They are given in gratitude for work done throughout the preceding year. Often, employers will simply wait till the end of the year before giving bonuses, combining them with Christmas.
   Most large companies are not interested one way or the other in the personal convictions of the employees. It would not be wrong, therefore, to accept a bonus, along with the other employees, even if it is given around Christmas time.
   If you are working for a smaller company, you might simply mention to the employer that you don't bother to keep Christmas and don't celebrate it. If he wants to give the bonus to you regardless, as a simple gift, it would not be wrong to accept it. If he knows your religious convictions and would consider you a hypocrite for accepting the bonus, then it would be best to refuse it, however, lest he misunderstand. But if he wants you to take it as a token of appreciation, it would be all right.
   What about putting up Christmas decorations for an employer?
   In this case, the employer is the one responsible for setting store policy. What he does to his store is his own decision to make. If an employer asks a Christian to put up Christmas decorations for his store, it would generally be all right to do it. Of course, a Christian should NOT have or hold the kind of job where the whole work is concerned with Christmas, or other pagan practices.
   It would be advisable to briefly mention to the employer that you would rather someone else put up the Christmas decorations, explaining that you personally no longer keep Christmas (again, avoiding any mention of religion). If your employer tells you to do it, however, it would not be wrong to do so. The responsibility would be his, not yours.

"Merry Christmas!"??

   What if someone wishes you n "Merry Christmas"? In many cases, it would not be necessary to give an answer. Many clerks will say this as a matter of habit, and no answer is needed. If a reply seems expected, however, you could murmur "Thank you" and leave it at that. Just thank them for the sentiment they express, but don't wish them a "Merry Christmas" in return since God does not approve of Christmas paganism.
   Certainly, you should NOT begin preaching a sermon about the evils of Christmas, or make a foolish scene. Just be friendly, smile, or even nod. Or even a simple "Thank you" would be enough.
   Remember, most people are not even expecting a reply. Saying "Merry Christmas" is merely customary to them. They don't care if you say anything!

Be BALANCED!

   The Christmas season affords the people of God a special opportunity an opportunity to build CHARACTER. If you will use wisdom in handling the problems presented by Christmas, if you will use common sense, and THINK before you speak, you will not only succeed in conquering the problems which arise, but you will also strengthen and build godly, righteous CHARACTER.
   The coming of Satan's chief holiday presents a CHALLENGE! It gives you an opportunity to exercise good judgment and wisdom in dealing with other people.
   Therefore, be POSITIVE in your approach to these problems! Learn to be BALANCED. Where you can, avoid trouble by anticipating it before it occurs. Make it a personal matter not a matter of "religion." On the one hand, you should not become engrossed in celebrating Christmas. But on the other hand, don't stick out like a sore thumb by preaching to others, "Christmas is PAGAN!"
   Use wisdom! Pray about it! Have outgoing concern for the deceived multitudes who do not understand the wonderful truth of God. But don't think of yourself as "spiritually SUPERIOR," in vanity and egotism!
   Be THANKFUL that God has had mercy on YOU, and opened YOUR eyes to grasp, and understand, HIS glorious truth! Be thankful that YOU are no longer swept up in the frantic CHAOS and hectic confusion that surrounds this world's CHIEF holiday the modern Saturnalia, Christmas!

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Good News MagazineOctober-November 1965Vol XIV, No. 10-11
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