We are on Christmas Eve and the same question arises among many Christians, are Christians allowed to decorate a Christmas tree in their homes? Isn’t this an idolatrous practice? In this article I will address this topic by answering the question of a reader of the moldovacrestina.md portal:
Dear friends, I want to know your opinion about decorating a Christmas tree in the homes of Christians. Is this idolatry? Is it worship of trees? Is it a beautiful Christmas custom when gifts are placed under the Christmas tree?
I don’t know why some people are so vehemently opposed to the practice of decorating a Christmas tree. An argument of those who stand on this position is that this Christmas tree would be an idol, and they even refer to the text in the book of the prophet Jeremiah which says:
„Thus says the Lord: Do not learn the ways of the nations, and have no fear of the signs in the heavens, even though the nations fear them. For the carvings of the nations are nonentities, wood cut from the forest, fashioned by artisans with the adze, adorned with silver and gold. With nails and hammers they are fastened, so they do not fall. One and all they are stupid and senseless, the instruction from nonentities—only wood! (Jeremiah 10:2-4, 8)( NASB)
But let’s take a closer look at this text, which in its context says the following:
Hear the word the Lord speaks to you, house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: do not learn the ways of the nations, and have no fear of the signs in the heavens, even though the nations fear them. For the carvings of the nations are nonentities, wood cut from the forest, fashioned by artisans with the adze, adorned with silver and gold. With nails and hammers they are fastened, so they do not fall. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, they cannot speak, they must be carried about, for they cannot walk. Do not fear them, they can do no harm, neither can they do good. No one is like you, Lord, you are great, great and mighty is your name. Who would not fear you, King of the nations, for it is your due! Among all the wisest of the nations, and in all their domains, there is none like you. One and all they are stupid and senseless, the instruction from nonentities—only wood! Silver plates brought from Tarshish, and gold from Ophir, the work of the artisan and the handiwork of the smelter, clothed with violet and purple— all of them the work of skilled workers. The Lord is truly God, he is the living God, the eternal King, before whose anger the earth quakes, whose wrath the nations cannot endure. (Jeremiah 10:1-10)( NASB)
It is absolutely obvious that here we are talking about the idol from its woodworking to the stage when people worship it and call it “god.” This, yes, is pure idolatry which is condemned by God and which every man must beware of.
This is far from the case with the Christmas tree. This is a holiday decoration and no one, neither believers nor unbelievers, consider it an idol, or a god, or whatever, and no one worships it or bows down to it. It is simply a traditional Christmas decoration.
Wikipedia says that “The first evidence of fir decoration is from Livonia (Estonia and Latvia today) in the 15th century. Later, the tradition entered the culture of other peoples. In the Middle Ages, houses decorated with Christmas trees appeared in the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, but not on the occasion of Christmas but on the occasion of the New Year. From here, the tradition spread throughout France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.
I have had the opportunity to travel several times in countries where the majority religion is Hinduism and have seen how people worship trees, and I can tell you with certainty that those who worship in this way consider the tree as a living being, a god, a spirit and worship it by offering sacrifices. I even had the opportunity to go with my students from the Inductive Bible Study Institute to those tree temples and tell about the true God and the Lord Jesus Christ to all who came to worship the tree.
People listened, asked questions, some opposed the gospel message, but others received it and became Christians by repenting of their idolatry and coming to the true God.
If someone is still saying that the Christmas tree is an idol, then they should have the same approach to any other kind of decoration that they use in their house, or in the yard, or at work, and so on.
My opinion is that rather than indulging in unnecessary discussions about the Christmas tree, it is better to tell people about the Lord Jesus Christ and how they can enter into the New Covenant with Him to be saved. May God help us to do so.
Translated by Liza Bîrlădeanu