A cartoon has circulated depicting three children sitting outside their school principal's office. The first child says, "I said the 'S-H' word." The second, "I said the 'F' word." And then the third, "I said 'Christmas.'"
While some may sigh and shake their heads at this cartoon, the reality is even worse, says religion and culture expert Alex McFarland.
"The truth is that our culture has become so accustomed to profanity that we hardly blink anymore when we hear the 'f' word," McFarland said. "But say the word 'Christmas', and suddenly you're an anomaly. Americans should not have to muster the courage to freely say, 'Merry Christmas.'"
McFarland points to the fact that the recognition of Christmas, not merely the 'holiday season', has long been woven into the fabric of our nation's history since the beginning.
"Since 1789, Christmas has been a congressionally sanctioned national holiday," he said. "And when Chief Justice Warren Burger argued for the legitimacy of one city's nativity scene display in 1984, he wrote, 'There is an unbroken history of official acknowledgement by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life. The Constitution does not require a complete separation of church and state. It affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility towards any.'
McFarland continued, "And yet today, we see open hostility not simply to the true meaning of Christmas but to the very word, 'Christmas.'"
McFarland provides the example of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who, on Christmas Eve, 1944, during the dark days of World War II, stated, "Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will."
"How is it that we've gone from the words of Roosevelt in 1944 and Burger in 1984 to a society in 2014 in which media and merchandisers bend over backwards to avoid saying 'Christmas' and instead speak only of the 'holiday season'?" McFarland continued. "And drawing on the growing lexicon of 'inclusive language,' school administrators no longer give students 'Christmas vacation' but 'winter holidays'? The truth is that many love everything about Christmas except Christ."
But, McFarland says, America cannot truly enjoy the benefits of Christmas without acknowledging the baby of Christmas.
"Christmas refers both to an individual and to an event," he continued. "The individual was Jesus Christ, and the event was his entrance into human history. We sing about goodwill and peace on earth, but the only one who ever brought ether of these was Jesus Christ. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, and we must remind ourselves that Christ's birthday is the object of and reason for our celebration. That manger in Bethlehem held not just another baby but God Himself, clothed in a body of human flesh. This was no accidental occurrence. A real Messiah came into actual time, space and history to resolve a real condition. The condition is sin, and the remedy is the one whom Scripture calls 'Savior,' Jesus Christ.
"That our culture has become more comfortable with profanity laced conversation than with the person and purpose of Christmas is all the more evidence that we desperately need the person of Christmas, the Savior."
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