Q. I was discussing the matter of Ishtar vs Resurrection Sunday with a pastor, and he suggested I stop worrying about something that God isn’t concerned with, and he cited Romans 14: 5-10. Does this passage apply to my concern? I covet your counsel.
A. I guess I don’t feel as comfortable speaking for God as this pastor does. One thing I do know is that when the Lord returns one of the criticisms He will have for us has to do with mankind’s inability to separate the Holy from the common. One of the principle duties of the priests in the Millennium will be to teach His people that again. (Ezek. 44:23)
But for me it’s simpler than that. It’s a matter of respect. If you loved someone very much and wanted to express your gratitude to to him for saving your life, would you choose to commemorate his act of kindness by incorporating it into a celebration of things that you knew he detested? And then would you expect him to join in the celebration of these things with you? Even if you had done all this in ignorance, would you continue to do it after you learned the truth, even if He said He didn’t mind?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the two most important days in Christianity were folded into the two most boisterously excessive pagan feasts, or that the pagan traditions of those days have become so much more important to many Christians than the holy observance. True, we no longer color eggs with the blood of sacrificed babies and we no longer run around having sex with everyone we can find (although some office Christmas parties I’ve been to have made me wonder). But can we honestly say that the pagan traditions of these celebrations don’t distract us from their real purpose?
I’m in agreement with Romans 14:5-10, and there is a sense in which it applies here. We aren’t to judge people who differ with us on Holy days.
But it also says that each of us should be fully convinced in his own mind, and that implies that we have a responsibility to become knowledgeable enough to make a decision for ourselves instead of blindly following tradition.
Personally, I think that we’d all be better off spiritually if we called these pagan feasts what they really are, and celebrated the Lord’s birth and Resurrection as near to the anniversary of their occurrence as we could, without being distracted by anything that prevents us from expressing the gratitude and respect we owe to the Lord for what He’s done for us.