Dear friend, I would love to hear your opinion about Christians decorating Christmas trees and displaying them in their homes. Is this a form of idolatry? Could it be considered tree worship? Is is a good tradition to put Christmas presents under Christmas trees?
I do not understand why some people so vehemently oppose the Christmas tree as a Christian tradition. There are those who claim that having a Christmas tree is idolatry and they even quote from the book of Jeremiah to “prove” their arguments.
2 Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; 3 For the customs of the peoples are delusion ; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. 4 “They decorate it with silver and with gold ; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. 8 But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion -their idol is wood! (Jeremiah 10)
Let’s take a look at this text in context so we can understand the essence of the message.
1 Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the LORD, “Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; 3 For the customs of the peoples are delusion ; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. 4 “They decorate it with silver and with gold ; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. 5 “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak ; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk ! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.” 6 There is none like You, O LORD ; You are great, and great is Your name in might. 7 Who would not fear You, O King of the nations ? Indeed it is Your due ! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You. 8 But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion -their idol is wood ! 9 Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith ; Violet and purple are their clothing ; They are all the work of skilled men. 10 But the LORD is the true God ; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. (Jeremiah 10)
It is clear from the context that this text refers to a specific idol made out of wood that was taken from a tree that was cut from the forest which people worship and call their “god”. Yes, that is the pure definition of idolatry and it is condemned by God and should be avoided by all people.
The passage from Jeremiah has nothing to do with a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree is decorated for a celebration, for a holiday, and no one, neither the believer nor the nonbeliever considers the Christmas tree an idol or a god. It is simply a holiday tradition.
Wikipedia says “The earliest accounts of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas were recorded in Livonia (modern-day Estonia and Latvia) in the 15th century.”
I have had the opportunity to visit places where the major religion is Hinduism and I have seen with my own eyes how people take a tree and claim that it is a god and worship it. They consider the tree a living thing and they make offerings to it. In fact, along with my students from the Inductive Bible Study Institute, I had the privilege of of sharing about the One and only true God, Jesus Christ with those very people who were worshiping trees. The people listened very carefully and then they asked many questions. Some of them were opposed to the Gospel while others were open to the message and in fact, they repented of their idolatry and became true children of God.
If there is a person who is against having and decorating the Christmas tree as a form of holiday decoration, then that same person must also be against any form of decoration in a house or office, etc.
My opinion is that it is better to spend our time sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people instead of worrying about who decorates and how a tree is decorated. May God help us do so.
Translation by: Erik Brewer