Birthday celebrations and customs - Are they for Christians?

by AlmostAtheist 173 Replies latest jw friends

  • sweetscholar

    because I know that some people may misunderstand what I said at the end about "Korah, Dathan, and Abiram", and they might think that I was trying to say that they thought birthday celebrations were ok and then got electrocuted. no, that's not specifically what I was saying. I meant that "Korah" and his apostate crew "thought they were right" and had "no doubts" that their position was "ok". I meant that as a general principle. the point that people can think they're not doing wrong or questionable or rebellious or vain or empty or silly things, and be totally in the "I never knew you" camp that Christ discussed. many examples in Scripture of people thinking they were worshipping God correctly or that their behavior was no problem (hello, those who rejected Noah's message). Korah thought he was "right" too. but got a very rude surprise. reality can be harsh. and human nature is el stinko. "bad from youth up" Genesis 5,6. and the Devil running around planting corrupt seeds of rebellion and independent thinking. that was the reason for my Korah mention and tying it in with "birthday celebrations". doing what's right or "feels ok" in your own mind.

  • LittleToe

    Do you mean a "secret weakness" like oral sex or masturbation? I don't think anyone here was recommending you masturbate eleven times a day, although there's medical evidence that suggests taht masturbation reduces the risk of prostrate cancer. You are totally inconsistent, like the WTS!

    Regarding eye paint and hair-styles, are you ignoring Paul's counsel at 1Tim.2:9, or Peter's at 1Pet.3:3, which would also include wearing gold or pearl necklaces... counsel, which is crystal clear, unlike the spurious view on birthdays.

    I have to say that only someone with a "desperate heart" (Jeremiah 17:9) seeking to justify his questionable and emotional things would say something like that.

    And only a judgemental pr^ck would reply like that - you're not an Elder are you?

  • DanTheMan
    and to the other dude who mentioned that you would get disfellowshipped if "openly displaying it" well yeah, if there's blatant flaunting of what's discouraged by the Slave and by the Bible. it DEPENDS. if it's done by someone more discreetly, and done with the view of trying to not stumble others, but secretly, like a secret weakness and whatnot, then there would be no DFing.

    This sounds so arbitrary. One group of three elders could decide to DF, and a different three from the same cong presented with the same evidence could decide to reprove or do nothing at all.

    As far as masturbating 11 times a day goes, it doesn't take a BibleGod to figure out that that might not be a good idea.

  • sweetscholar

    I didn't mean to upset you by that "desperate heart" thing I said, but you over-reacted. the way you came off to me was not really called for. feeling convicted and indicted, are we? I can't help that. you chose to make a silly comparison of "applauding speeches" which is not even hinted at in the Holy Bible as questionable, with something that IS questionable and unfavorable, in both "Testaments". that's what my point was with that.

    and oral sex within marriage is not a sin, by the way. yeah, I know that certain uptight elders would impose there nonsense on other people, like side-burns in America, depending on what state you're in. but oral sex in marriage is not mentioned at all in Leviticus, though everything else you could imagine, like no sex with cows, no sex with your mother, nudity issues, and the only prohibition in the area of sex inside marriage, in the Law of Moses, was not to have sex with your wife while she's menstruating. that was it. though so many other weird things were mentioned. obviouly oral sex play is irrelevant to God, as long as it's mutually done in marriage. Song of Solomon encourages forms of it actually when it talks about "slickness of tongue" and "palate" and "lips and teeth" in very erotic and sexual contexts and manners. (Song of Solomon 7:9; 6:6; 4:11; 10:12) and of coursing sucking your wife's breasts, in a sexual context. oral mouth, breasts erogenous. (sorry for sounding so graphic, but if carefully looked at, so is the Bible in many ways. the Bible is not as prudish as people think.) so that's a preference and conscience matter. but masturbation is an assault on yourself, and a subtle form of homosexuality. DON'T HAVE A FIT PLEASE THAT I SAID THAT. don't misunderstand. masturbation is NOT "homosexuality" per se. got that? I said it's a SUBTLE form of it in a sense, because look at what's happening. a man is stimulating a man's sex organ for sexual pleasure and fulfillment, EVEN IF IT'S HIS OWN SEX ORGAN. only a female hand has any natural ideal business being on a man's penis. for sexual things. his wife. not a man's or his own hand. that's all I meant. lol. really though.

    but there have been some studies (covered up studies I might add) that masturabation increases the chance of prostate cancer. especially chronic excessive masturbation. the muscles react differently (said Masters and Johnsons) with masturbation than with natural two person copulation. but we digress a bit. I'm making the point that other things are not exactly spelled out so clearly in Scripture, but principles need to applied. The Bible says nothing specific about dumping your garbabe on your neighbor's lawn. against your neighbor's wishes, does it? yet we know that would violate PRINCIPLES in the Holy Scriptures. like "love your neighbor" and other things. again, I agree that masturbation or birthday celebrations are NOT to be equated with murder, stealing, or lying, or defrauding, or whatever. but that does NOT mean that it's the sanest, wisest, purest, most Biblical or most Christ-like thing to do either.

    only the sinners, not the saints, ever celebrated their day of their own birth, with all those pagan trappings to boot, tied in with it. throughout Biblical history. and that's NOT something to fluff off as of no account. because we personally might like blowing out candles or having formal little empty "look at me" ceremonies for it. again, though, applauding a talk is a lame comparison. and I'm not the foul word you called me just for saying that. if so "then the goads or pricks" those thorny stubborn and principles are that way too. Check this out "the words of the wise are as GOADS (spikey pricky things used to move stubborn donkeys), and as NAILS fastened by the masters." (Ecclesiastes 12:11) and "it is Jesus whom you are persecuting, TO KICK AGAINST THE PRICKS MAKES IT HARDER FOR YOU." (Acts 9:5; 26:14) but again, I meant no horrible insult or offense to you. I just meant that matter of factly and straightforwardly. understand that YOU made the comments and brought those comparisons and things up. I only responded to them. and yes, sorry to say, human nature and the human "heart" is "desperate" for self-justification, and is "treacherous" and the Devil IS out there, fooling people with vain crap. those things are TRUE. Biblically and logically. take care.

  • LittleToe

    Look at the emoticons. I meant nothing from that last line but a tongue in cheek comment

    So what about an individual who masturbates while their partner looks on, in an attempt to educate them about what they enjoy? Simply stated, the bible doesn't say anything against masturbation, especially within a marriage union, period (Prov.12:24; 31:19; Song.5:5). For all the fact that I'm British, I'm no prude, either

    You're going to have to watch out for that inconsistency thing again. If the bible says something, feel free to state it, but to "go beyond the thing written" and impose a view that is debatable is surely sinful?

    That is what I have against the WTS stance against birthdays. Personally I couldn't care less about them. I spent well over the first 30 years of my life not celebrating them, and they have little meaning to me. In retrospect I think that's sad, because I see how much my little nephews love them. However the fact that the WTS has made a rule about it that cannot be found in the bible is downright wrong.

    The wearing of eye-makeup, pearls, certain elaborate hairstyles, and clapping hands (Prov.11:21; 22:26) have more evidence regarding Divine censure, but for some reason these aren't an issue. Inconsistent, inconsistent, inconsistent!

  • ballistic

    god, I just want to celebrate something now. Or have another drink. or shag. or something. arrgghhh zzzzZZZZ.

  • ellderwho

    Hey Ross,

    I see you've met the resident apologist. My daughter said a few years back, "hey dad I guess you dont know how old you are, since you never celebrated your birthday" at the time I thought that was sad and very funny.


  • sweetscholar

    Little Toe, you missed nothing so great with your nephews. there's that emotionalism thing again. boy if Satan doesn't get people with that kind of thing. stumbling blocks. but as far as makeup and heavy eye paint, the WT rightly condemns the EXCESSIVE use of that stuff too. a slutty type look or whatever. again, I agree that the Bible does not state a specific "rule" in that sense against formal birthday celebrations. but the general applicable PRINCIPLES are there.

    just like the thing (although not exactly the same) with dumping garbage on your neighbor's lawn is not specifically mentioned in Scripture. otherwise the Bible would have to be this 25 volume Rabbinic Talmudic thing, with every minute scenario coming up every minute. that's why a lof ot the Bible (though not exactly a small book) is PRINCIPLES and general guidelines. in other words, what actually goes on with worldly pagan vain "customs of the nations" birthday celebrations? things that are compatible with drift and tenor of Holy Scripture and sound and holy and pure and righteous and Christian living? methinks not. that's the point. and also, one thing about "pinatas", again you don't see anyone in the Scriptures, bad guys or whatever guys, knocking pinatas down, but "birthday celebrations" ARE mentioned, and always in a suspicious and negative and unfavorable light. that's one crucial difference.

    again, consider this Scripture, as far as "testing hearts" Ezekiel 14:4,5:

    "Therefore speak with them and you must say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: "Any man at all of the house of Israel that brings up his dungy idols upon his heart and that places the very stumbling block causing his error in front of his face and that actually comes to the prophet, I, Jehovah, I will let Myself be brought to answer him in the matter according to the multitude of DUNGY IDOLS,

    "FOR THE PURPOSE OF CATCHING THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL (APOSTATE CHRISTENDOM IN "TYPE" AND "FORESHADOW) BY THEIR HEART, because they have withdrawn themselves from Me through their dungy idols--all of them."

    not all the idols are necessarily specifically listed. in minute detail. but general principles are there. you see what's being said though? that God lets this or that TO CATCH the apostates and idolaters, by what's in their HEART, and they have left and WITHDRAWN themselves from the Truth and Purity of Jehovah.

    Understand something. EVERYTHING IN THE HOLY HEBREW SCRIPTURES. what's called the "Old Testament", is written AFORETIME. for our time. and as the Holy Spirit says "for OUR INSTRUCTION". (Romans 15:4) "ALL SCRIPTURE" is profitable and beneficial for DOCTRINE AND REPROOF. and make you "wise for salvation". and be "completely equipped" and "instructed in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:15-17) From Genesis to Revelation. and is necessary for the Christian. "neither let us murmur as some of them (the Israelites) murmured" and "beware the rebellious talk of Korah" and "on Pharaoh's birthday he made a feast" and "when Herod's birthday came, Herodias's daughter danced before the banquet and seduced Herod" and "do not learn the eway of the nations at all,..for their customs are vanity and hot air." (Read Jude 4-12; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Genesis 40:20; Matthew 14:6; Jeremiah 10:2.) interesting exchange. thanks for taking time to consider what I'm saying. please don't write off my words though. as I will never dismiss yours. I considered carefully Almost's thing on "eye paint" and looked into it more. I'm willing to keep open myself. but not to the point of being too wishy washy and tossed about so easily. but a reasonable balance. (James 1:8)

  • bythesea

    OK, so I'm curious....what constitutes an actual CELEBRATION of a birthday??? If I don't have a cake and candles, if there are no prettily wrapped gifts for the person to open...BUT I have made their favorite dinner (per their choice) and we open a nice bottle of wine (not an every night occasion) and give the person an "I love you" THAT celebrating their birthday???

    What makes the difference between acknowledging the date and celebrating it??

    I'm extremely glad that I gave birth to my children and every year as they were growing up I did something special with them on that day, even if just a craft project or a trip into town to stop for ice cream...and I let them know the day was special to me because they were a blessing to me from God....was that wrong, SS???

  • AlmostAtheist
    hi. to AlmostAtheist. I appreciat your responses and points.

    And I yours.

    to your "eye paint" hang up. and your reference to 2 Kings 9:30 and so forth. Jezebel is said to have painted her eyes, and in Jeremiah, it's firguratively said of whorish Israel. but analyze it carefully in 2 Kings 9. it's also said that Jezebel "made up her hair beautifully". are you gonna throw that in as well? obviously that was just narration and reporting of what happened.

    Now THAT is an interesting observation. Your point is that the mention of makeup here was incidental. Like "She grabbed her purse and headed out the door" is not an endorsement of purses, but simply a detail of the story. Do I get your meaning?

    See, I read the "birthday" stuff the same way. There are plenty of records of feasts by bad guys on all sorts of occasions, and two of them happened to be birthdays. What basis do you have for calling the makeup references "incidental narration" but the birthday references "implicit condemnation"?

    also, the WT DOES discourage heavy use of makeup. not total use, but HEAVY EXTRAVAGANT WHORISH USE. didn't you ever read that?

    That is true, but it also doesn't impact the question at hand. Jezebel's makeup was not described as excessive, in fact she is described as "beautiful".

    but some Protestant fanatical uptight groups (high Pentecostals) forbid it completely.

    Some would call it uptight and fanatical to ban birthdays. How would you defend your calling the no-makeup group "uptight and fanatical" while still allowing yourself to consider the JW position balanced and reasonable? (It's not rhetorical, I'm genuinely interested.)

    just like the Baptists forbid any drinking of alcohol, saying that Jesus turned water into unfermented grape juice, despite the fact that the caterer at that wedding party said "they would get drunk later." (John 2:10)

    Yeah, that's pretty silly. I can't see how anyone could defend that position scripturally.

    but to compare "eye paint" with blowing out candles and "making a wish" to a Druid demon god (sorry but that IS the root of background of that, people) is a bit of a stretch. though I concede that it is a point to consider. just not a very strong point.

    The pagan origins of various things is no surprise to most folks here, so no worries about bursting any bubbles. As I mentioned before, it's not that these things don't have pagan roots, it's that the "don't do anything with pagan roots" rule isn't applied evenly.

    How do you personally feel about the Watchtower's decision to NOT condemn various other things of pagan origin, like wedding veils, pinatas, wind chimes, and the like? Do you go ahead and avoid these things anyway? What about the calendar with its various pagan god references, January and Wednesday and all that?

    "eye paint" is whatever. adornment. and the WT has discouraged that sort of thing when it's done IMmoderately and sluttishly. so what?

    Put yourself in the mind of a non-JW for a minute and read that quote back. Here's what the average person would think, "'Birthdays' is whatever. a party. And my church discourages parties if they're done outlandishly and to excess. so what?" See, the attempt you make here to dismiss makeup applies equally well to dismissing birthdays. Can you see how an unbiased person might see those two things as basically the same?

    baby showers are never put in a bad light in Scripture. whether you wanna believe it or not, BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS KINDA ARE !!!! and if that's the case, wedding PARTIES, are "glorifying" the couple getting married, but God knows how to carefully distinguish things.

    I was with you... then you lost me. What's that "God knows how to carefully distinguish" stuff meant to say?

    I agree it's not so black and white

    That actually is a HUGE admission for a JW to make. I applaud you for making it.

    to the guy Little Toe who said "birthday celebrations are no more pagan than applauding a speech" I have to say that only someone with a "desperate heart" (Jeremiah 17:9) seeking to justify his questionable and emotional things would say something like that. AlmostAtheist, you'll agree with me on that one right?

    No, actually, I agree with LT. That's because I distinguish between things that ARE pagan and things that have pagan origins. If Satan invented the ballpoint pen to write 666 on his wicked notepad, would you refuse to sign your name with one? I think it is more Watchtower thinking than Bible thinking that leads a person to investigate the ancient origins of something before he does it.

    "God's thoughts are higher than yours" is said for a reason.

    If that's true, how can you be so certain you have his thoughts on birthdays figured out?

    how people in general behave, and all the "vain customs" that they have.

    What makes a custom "vain"? Can you give some examples of vain and non-vain customs?

    but my point was that WHY was it "cultural" for those Jews NOT to celebrate their birthdays? you have to understand that their "culture" was inextricably tied in with their "religion".

    That would be an interesting bit of research, why didn't they celebrate birthdays. However there may be a problem. For instance, what if you wanted to prove WHY no Israelite was named "Brian"? You could reason that it was because it wasn't a name in common use in their culture. But how could you PROVE why they didn't use it?

    the point is that there were reasons that Moses, Jeremiah, Peter, and Jesus, and Paul didn't do that kind of thing.

    Well, if there were any reasons beyond simple cultural ones, the Bible is silent on it. It condemns lying outright, and describes the execution of two members of the annointed for lying about a real estate transaction. But this birthday issue is just not covered. Glanced at briefly -- like hundreds of other topics if we bothered to look for them -- but never actually discussed, much less condemned.

    but they did not go out of their way consciously to do questionable and vain things, or "customs of the nations".

    You use a lot of "loaded language", are you aware of that? You used the word "vain" several times in this post and, in context, I can't really tell you what it might mean. Here you've called the very subject we're discussing "questionable". And you've further referred to birthdays as a 'custom of the nations' -- implying their condemnation by god -- without supplying evidence that the phrase applies. In fact the point of this discussion is determine IF birthday celebrations are a 'custom of the nations' to be condemned. (As opposed to the custom of waving in greeting, buying eggs by the dozen, and so forth.)

    now as to your remark about Jeremiah 10 not referring to Christmas. the WT said that in principle Jeremiah 10 does not exactly HELP the case for Christmas trees.

    Nor does it support the use of mustard gas in wartime. SS, it isn't a "bring a tree into your home and decorate it" scripture. The point is that this scripture is misunderstood. It neither supports nor speaks against Christmas trees. It is about one thing -- idolatry.

    it says clearly that "they decked the trees," and "works of their hands" and "vanity" and "hot air" and "learn not the way of the nations at all" and "idolatry."

    Actually it doesn't say "they decked the trees". It says they made it [the tree] pretty with gold and silver, which was the common thing to do with a carved idol. Again, this is not a reference to decorating or Christmas of any kind.

    with Jeremiah 10 in the Bible, why would anyone CLAIMING to be a total Bible-following (principles "aforetime" and all) pure holy double-separated double-sanctified unadulterated untainted un-worldly "Christian" be involved in that??

    More loaded language here. If you have a valid point, it doesn't need such bias.

    not to mention the host of other Verses in both "Testaments" that deal with "mixing the true with the false" and "what does Christ have to do with idols" etc?

    This "mixing true with false" is meaningless until we define "true" and "false", which is the point of this thread. It's encouraging though that we have both been willing to see each other's points of view. Perhaps we'll even reach a concensus?

    and always remember "the heart is deceptive and treacherous" and "there exists a way that seems right to a man, but the ways of death are the ends of it afterward."

    If it's important to you that you only be aligned with an organization that doesn't 'go beyond what is written', it is to your advantage to keep those verses in mind as well.

    my point to is why chance it? when in doubt leave it out, comes into play.

    So why drink caffeinated beverages? Or wear makeup? Those are "in doubt" depending on who you talk to. Don't you really mean, "When the Watchtower doubts, leave it out"? Even if I were a believer, I wouldn't be willing to build my faith on the doubts of other men.

    AlmostAtheist, who I wish would be TOTAL Witness of the Lord again, you mentioned other things that you purport to be "self-glorification" as much or similar to "birthday celebrations" with all their pagan vain trappings. you mentioned "baby showers". again, it has to be all things (like pieces in a puzzle) taken TOGETHER.

    I saved this bit for last because it is a reasoning technique used by JW's and other groups. They present a half-dozen or so weak arguments, and then ask that you accept the point they are trying to make because of the sheer number of arguments. If I shoot down one line of reasoning, the general approach is to point at the others and say, "But there's all this other evidence, too." Even though I can shoot down all the points, I can't shoot them all down at the same time in the same sentence. A weak argument is a weak argument, and it isn't strengthened by putting another weak argument alongside it.

    You can see this is the case when people try to prove the Trinity to you. They present many lines of evidence and you can shoot them all down. But whenever you do, they bring you back to another scripture -- perhaps even one you've already addressed -- and say, "Ah, but what about this?" Their many weak arguments don't make their case. But you can't refute the case, you have to refute each argument individually.

    Of course, if a person has decided to believe something, there is no amount of reasoning that will change their mind.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


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