Birthday celebrations and customs - Are they for Christians?

by AlmostAtheist 173 Replies latest jw friends

  • carla

    When jw's use the 'people got killed on those days' they forget that pharaoh also let the cup bearer live on that day. I'll bet that guy thought it was a good day! Was pharaoh evil or was the day?

    I do think the story of Job was a birthday. Can jw's name a day in which something bad did not happen? Are they putting more superstion on certain days than the rest of us? should they look back on history to see if their wedding date coincides with anything 'bad'? They like to pick and choose, anniversaries, baby showers, even retirement parties are ok from what I hear. The whole birthday thing to me, makes them look as superstitious as those who feel Friday the 13th has any real significance.

    What do jw''s think of the following scripts? Romans 14:5 man esteems one day a better than another,.....let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind.

    and Col 2:16 ..let no one pass judgement on you in question of food or drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath.

    (even a new moon?)

  • AlmostAtheist
    Col 2:16 ..let no one pass judgement on you in question of food or drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath.

    (even a new moon?)

    Tell the elders you're hosting a "new moon" festival at your house this weekend, ask them if they'd like to come!

    Actually, that's when they'd pull the lowest-common-denominator rule on you -- "it might stumble someone". (i.e. You are at the mercy of the stupidest person in your congregation)


  • AlmostAtheist
    JWS are not the only Religion that does not celebrate Birthdays. Look at this site. It is interesting and I agree with it whole souled.

    Interesting, Derrick. Did you happen to read any of the other articles on that site?

    Here's the site's take on makeup:

    Here's a quote (near the end of the VERY long article):

    Wearing makeup is an addiction. Billions of dollars are spent because the world is addicted to vanity. A small amount of drugs will not help an addict recover from his addiction.

    Likewise, wearing makeup in moderation is to say that one can sin in moderation. This is the same as saying that one can be pregnant in moderation or dead in moderation. Impossible!

    A little blush or mascara is still sin! There is absolutely nowhere in the Bible where God allows for even a little bit of sin. And sin always spreads and grows worse: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).

    Notice how the author makes an accusation about makeup, comparing it to drugs. He is able to link the two, but only in the most vague of ways. Then he leans on his earlier stated position that wearing makeup is sin, and changes the question from "is a little makeup ok?" to "is a little SIN ok?" Then he uses two illustrations to show how ludicrous the "little sin" idea is. Immediately after making this change, he quotes a scripture to show that a little sin is bad, thus leading the reader to conclude that he has just backed up his claims about makeup from the Bible.

    Naturally, you've rejected the author's claims. You see through his attempts to link makeup and drug addiction. You know makeup isn't a sin, and therefore his scripture doesn't apply.

    But what if the EXACT SAME wording appeared in a Watchtower? In effect, it already has. Substitute "birthday" or "smoking" for "makeup" and you'd have the Watchtower's position.

    The kneejerk reaction would be to say, "No, those are three different things". But think about it. Are they? No, seriously, think first. Are they?


  • Finally-Free

    I guess I should stop eating Chinese food because it's not mentioned in the bible, and it originates in a predominently non-Christian nation.


  • AlmostAtheist

    Derrick, I read the birthday article from the site you listed. (Did you read the one I listed at the top of this thread? Many of the author's arguments are refuted there.)

    While I'm sure you agree with the overall point of the article -- birthday celebrations are condemned by God -- do you truly agree with the arguments he puts forth for it? You have a unique opportunity here. This is an article that you essentially agree with, but that was not written by the Faithful Slave. That means you can read it with a critical eye! You can pick it apart, and NOT agree with all of it, without compromising your beliefs. The chance is yours, take it.

    Note that you are able to agree with the overall point, but still recognize some of the fallacies in the defense of it.

    For instance, he points out that there are only three birthdays mentioned in the Bible (he counts Job's children's "day" as a birthday). All three saw bad things happen. He concludes that God only provided three examples of birthdays and something bad happened at each, so He must be trying to tell us something. Do you agree with that?

    By that reasoning, dog ownership and wearing makeup should also be condemned, since they also are presented in a negative light. Do you think dogs and makeup are bad? If not, why not? (Note that makeup has pagan origins, rooted in protecting the wearer from evil spirits.)

    The author says that none of the birth dates of the servants of God are known, God saw no need to record them. Why would He leave them out, unless they were unimportant? We also have no record of Noah wearing shoes, Jesus telling his mother "I love you", or the Apostle Paul paying for food. Would all of these activities be similarly condemned? If not, why not?

    The author mentions that several Bible writers spoke ill of the day of their birth, similar to the way people might say, "I wish I'd never been born!" If God's word presents the day of one's birth so badly, he reasons, why would it be a time for celebration? On that basis, do you think baby showers should also be condemned? If not, why not?

    Much of his argument is based on what the Bible DOESN'T say. The Bible never mentions a servant of God celebrating his birthday. But he fails to mention that the Jews simply didn't celebrate birthdays, it wasn't part of their culture. Canadians celebrate "Boxing Day" -- Americans don't. Should someone conclude then that Americans are opposed to Boxing Day, that we have a religious objection to it? No, it's simply not a part of our culture. What basis is there for concluding that the Bible characters avoided birthdays for religious reasons?

    Lastly, be careful not to let him get away with stacking up arguments and trying to win on the basis of having lots of them. People do this at times, especially if their position is weak. They make many poorly supported arguments, then when you shoot one of them down they say, "Well, you may not agree with that point, but I've made 10 points here." Since you can't simultaneously argue all 10 points, they can always lean on the 9 you aren't shooting down at the moment. The trick is to take one point, decide if it's reasonable and supported or not, then move on. When you're done, you only consider the well-supported points. If none of them are supported, then there is no argument at all.

    In the spirit of 1 Peter 3:16, your responses would be appreciated.


  • NeonMadman
    What do jw''s think of the following scripts? Romans 14:5 man esteems one day a better than another,.....let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind.

    As far as I know, they restrict that text to the Jewish feast days. They say that some Jewish Christians had retained the celebration of the Sabbath or the annual Feasts, and that Paul was saying not to judge them for that, nor should those who celebrated judge those who (properly) chose not to. There are a coule of flaws in this interpretation, though:

    1. Nothing in the context indicates that Paul was restricting his remarks to Jewish feast days. Also mentioned in the same context as a similar "conscience matter" was the eating of meat sacrificed to pagan idols. So the context does not allow for pagan things being excluded from the discussion. The fact that a certain festival may have some pagan roots would not preclude it from being celebrated "to the Lord" (verse 6).

    2. The JW interpretation is also inconsistent with their own practice. Any JW today who decided to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles or keep the Sabbath on Saturday, for example, would quickly find himself hauled into the back room for a chat.

  • BluesBrother

    I like your example and illustration

    but are attributed only to bad people, we should condemn them, too. So this should forbid the use of eye makeup and dog ownership, to name only two.

    i was thinking of this question, following a birthday collection at work.. Why should the WT come out so strong against birthdays, using such flimsy scriptural reasoning.?

    i) The policy and doctrines all come from Brooklyn . We know that they used to celebrate birthdays and Christmas, at one time. In a closed world such as that, I wonder if it was all getting a bit out of hand, ie, always somebody's birthday, always the feeling that you had to give and not leave anybody out?

    2) Perhaps one or two congregations reported the same thing, perhaps some people were stumbled because they felt overlooked?

    That could be enough to make them start thinking that this is not a good idea, lets ban it completely so they can give their time and energy to the almighty preaching work. A little Bible research may find the scriptures re. Job and Herod - Presto ! a doctrine is born , and they never have to buy another birthday card again...

  • BluesBrother

    I took a look at defd's link. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery . I dont know who copied who?

  • hideme

    Another thing that might be the case:

    everything that is forbidden by Brooklyn, is very easy to find out if someone breaks the rule:

    It's easy to find out if someone's smoking. It's easy to see someone celebrating christmas or birthdays. Because it's all on the outside.

    So in my opinion it has to do (again!) with control.

    They can't tell you what to think (okay, they try!) , at least they can't controil everything you think. If they can't SEE it. they can't punish you.

    All those parties are very easy way to find out if someone is a REAL JW or not.

    I remember reading this experience on the net about elders checking on a family on christmas - and yes...there were wrapped, now they could finally disfellowship them!!

  • AlmostAtheist
    I remember reading this experience on the net about elders checking on a family on christmas - and yes...there were wrapped, now they could finally disfellowship them!!

    That's precisely what happened to me, though of course I wasn't hiding it too well, what with all the lights strung all over the yard... :-) This year we have an 8-foot inflatable Santa waving at passers-by. Enjoy, elders!

    On the "why" of the birthday doctrine, I think BluesBrother raises a good point about it just being another thing for their little weak members to stumble over. So rather than strengthen their members, they eliminate the potential stumbling block. Don't tell the kids NO, just put it on a higher shelf. Good parenting, Brooklyn.

    Another motive might be to maintain the distance between JW and non-JW family members. Birthdays and holidays are traditional times to get families together. Forbid those, and you make it much more likely that your mind-controlled robots won't get their chips pulled by unbelieving family members.

    Pure speculation of course. Maybe they even believe it's truly wrong.


Share this