If there’s a Christian film out, then it must have a good message, right? So why, then, would any Christian with their heads screwed on straight not want to see Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas? Well, for some pretty good reasons, as it turns out.
The synopsis of the film is pretty straight forward. In its barely an hour and a half running time, the film is being branded as essentially a series of exchanges between Kirk and his brother-in-law Christian. Christian is convinced that Christmas is a holiday with pagan roots, and so he doesn’t feel okay about celebrating it. Kirk, then, proceeds to explain to him just why he’s wrong and all of these Christmas traditions actually have Christian roots.
This is a problem. It’s a problem first of all because the truth it’s proclaiming isn’t really truth at all. It’s true that some Christmas traditions are based on aspects of Christianity. The December 25th date is based at least partially on a Jewish tradition that prophets die on the same day they were conceived. They trace Jesus’ death to March 25, making that same day the day of his conception, and when you add nine months, you get December 25 (although most scholars say Jesus could not have been born in December, since shepherds wouldn’t have still been in the pasture at that time). Additionally, Santa Clause is based on a real-life monk who, if the legends are to be believed, did some remarkably selfless gift giving.
Other traditions, however, cannot possibly be said to have Christian roots. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe has its origins in Norse mythology. Cutting down evergreen trees and putting them in your home goes back to the feast of Saturnalia, a December pagan holiday that Constantine was attempting to replace when he made Christmas an official holiday in the fourth century A.D., something that many Christians disapproved of at the time. That feast also, coincidentally, included gift exchanges, casting doubt on the claim that gift giving was influenced by the magi visiting baby Jesus.
None of us are worshiping the god Saturn, or worshiping any Norse deity, when we celebrate Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with Christians choosing to participate in Christmas and remember that Christ came on December 25th. But a film that tell us that this man-made holiday has its origins centered squarely in Christianity is propagating a false truth. Not only that, but it runs into an even bigger problem, putting it in direct conflict with Scripture.
“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” – Romans 14:4-5
Where in that do you read that Christians push their personal practices on others, guilt tripping them and telling them they are wrong for being uncomfortable with the pagan origins of certain Christmas traditions? We are never told to remember Christ’s birth. It’s your freedom to do so, but it is not commanded. So why do we get all inflamed about the supposed “War on Christmas” and proclaiming it a Christian holiday?
I can find no grounds for supporting a film that proclaims a false truth and encourages a false idea that has so pervaded Christian culture that it makes me sick: the idea that observing Christmas is a necessary part of being a Christian, or that it somehow makes you a more devout Christian, as if only Christians that aren’t really committed choose to refrain from observing.
Let’s take an honest look at Scripture. I will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow, but I firmly believe that will not make me a better or more dedicated Christian than any Christian who chooses not to. When it comes to the holidays, respect each other’s choices.