Ethics: Christmas Tree Vs. Fellowship

What would you do Wednesday!

The following scenario takes place during the first week of December which means Christmas is around the corner. A friend called a wanted to come over to discuss Christmas trees. While reading about Christmas trees online, as a Christian, he became uncomfortable with them.

A week later he stops by your house. Since you last talked he has come to the clear conviction that Christmas trees have some sort of pagan origins; therefore Christians should not put them up to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

On your living room floor he notices a box packed with a Christmas tree you pulled out of storage. You explain that you were about to put up the tree later that day with the family.

Immediately, your friend breaks down and begins his plea, “Brother, I know God is convicting me that Christians should not put up Christmas trees. You’re a good friend of mine so I want to share where God has led me on this issue. It is also very important that you understand that if you put up this tree we will not be able to fellowship like we have in the past.”

He then grabs one of your Bibles, opens it, and reads.

And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:11-13 ESV)

He continues, “In light of the principle of these Scriptures, I’m asking you not to put up your Christmas. I know Christians who have encouraged other Christians to never drink alcohol again so as to not offend or tempt others. So, as a brother in Christ, and as long as we are friends, I ask that you please never put up another Christmas tree.”

What would you do?

  • Not put the tree up and talk with him further explaining we have freedom in this area.
  • Not put the tree up this year and continue the dialogue.
  • Put the tree up pleading with him not to break fellowship.
  • Ask him to forever give something up that offends you.
  • Tell him he can help with the tree or go home for good.
  • Or…
Let's connect!

tagged as , , , in Christianity,Church Issues,Culture

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jacob A. Allee December 19, 2012 at 11:46 am

I would explain to him that the text he is using isn’t merely about offense but causing people to stumble. Stumbling is the idea of falling into an activity that a person considers sin. If a person sees drinking alcohol at all as a sin, and they are tempted to drink and my drinking in front of them leads them to then go ahead and drink too then I have caused them to stumble. The person who would never take a drink but simply thinks no one else should either because that is their conviction is not in danger of stumbling in the sense the passage is talking about. They are trying to enforce legalism, taking an extra-biblical conviction and making it the standard for all other believers. I think if we cave to such legalism we give sin our approval.

I would be willing to listen to his case against Christmas trees and give it consideration, but if my conscience is clear that it is not an act of idolatry then I don’t think I’m bound to submit to his personal conviction sense it is not a clearly taught principle in Scripture. The logical extension of his reasoning is that we should all cease doing something forever if it offends anyone for any reason. If my playing tag with my kids is offensive to someone because they feel like running is not dignified before God, then I can never play tag with my kids again! This is not what the Scripture is teaching.

2 Larry December 19, 2012 at 11:48 am

Ask him to show you where in scripture Christmas trees are specifically forbidden. If (when) he is unable to do so, remind him that we dare not bind the consciences of of other believers where scripture does not. Assure him you will remain his friend and will fellowship with him despite your differences on this disputable area. I would then explain to him that the ‘weaker brother’ is someone who will be tempted to sin because of another’s actions not merely someone who is offended by them or doesn’t like them. Since he is not being tempted to either sin or to violate his conscience because of your actions, there is no need for you to bow to his personal convictions. If he persists, you may have to explain what a Pharisee is. 🙂

3 brig December 19, 2012 at 11:54 am

I would either encourage him to seek counseling for his weakness, or maybe I’d say:
“Brother, I have seen the light. This tradition comes from those 19th century New England Episcopalians, right along with their baby sacrifices to Baal. And because I see that you are weak, and are tempted to worship this tree, I will put a cloth over it whenever you visit. Also, Episcopalians drink wine for the Lord’s Supper, and drinking alcohol is an ancient Egyptian practice, and they celebrate *12* days of Christmas, just like ancient astrologers with their 12 signs of the zodiac. And rainbows, which some Christians say are a sign of a covenant with God, are really from the LBGT groups symbolizing solidarity in their sexual identities. Together we shall protest these affronts to our Savior, in spite of our anachronistic assumptions!”

4 Fletch F. Fletch December 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm

I’d lose this guy like a library book.

5 Mark December 19, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Jacob, thanks for your explanation. I’ve heard of folks who, when dealing with alcohol, believe Christians should never partake for fear of offense, etc. Funny how they stop at one issue though I agree with you. This attitude would bring us to the point that we could do nothing.

Larry, very clear point on the weaker brother. Love the pharisee point. 🙂

brig, hello old friend. LOL

Fletch, but then the library might send you a late fee.

6 Mark December 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Best comment so far from twitter.

7 Ransom December 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm

In light of his misappropriation of 1 Cor. 8, I’d start by making a deal with him: “I’ll keep my Christmas tree un-put-up if you’ll admit that you are a weaker brother.” Then we’ll see if he realizes he’s stuck on the horns of a dilemma: if he can use that passage to pressure me to remove my tree, then he is admitting that he has a lot of “growing up” to do (and that if he weren’t the weaker brother, someone else’s tree would not be on his own conscience).

I would like to hear his biblical argument against Christmas trees. It most likely comes from Jeremiah 10, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to show an open-minded person that the prophet is talking about carved idols representing pagan gods, not ornamental trees that represent only a festive season.

And if that doesn’t work, then my last resort would be to point out that the English language predates the introduction of Christianity to England by a couple of centuries. Instead of speaking to me in the language of the druids, would he please henceforth address me only in Hebrew?

8 John February 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I put up a Christmas tree, but all Santas have been removed from my home because Santa seems to me to be Satan masquerading as a counterfeit Christ in this culture. I find Santa creepy. However, when I go into someone else’s home and see a Santa, I do not feel the need to insist they get rid of it and I am not temped to bring Santas back into my home. I have recently met a brother who says he does not put up a Christmas tree in his home and have wondered if my tree will be a terrible offense to him. Reading the above comments makes me realize that unless he is tempted to “sin” against his conscience and put up a tree, there should be no problem with me putting up a tree, while he does not. I also agree that Jeremiah is not referring to Christmas trees. I also understand Druids worshipped evergreen trees in groves, but I do not worship trees in groves and I do not worship my Christmas tree. I also have stopped putting winged angel ornaments on my tree for various reasons, but again, I would not insist someone remove such things from their home and would not be tempted to bring them back into my home.


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