Although most of us still have leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the fridge, the Christmas season is officially upon us. And along with Christmas music in every store, eggnog, and nonstop shopping, no holiday season would be complete without the culture wars raging over the public observance of Christmas. Jerry Falwell has launched a Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign "to prevent blatant religious discrimination during the Christmas holidays." The American Family Association has a petition targeting stores that "ban Christmas" and instead use more generic terms like "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." And I just roll my eyes at this traditional holiday squabbling that has become as predictable as the December snowfall in my frosty New England town.
It's true that some secular groups have pushed public schools and other entities to bend over backwards in a politically correct effort to downplay religion in the public sphere. But Christians are hardly in a position to cry persecution over the one religious holiday recognized by the federal government, promoted ruthlessly by Hollywood and the retail industry, and celebrated by the vast majority of Americans (heck, even my Jewish college roommate had a Christmas tree).
As Falwell is correct to note: "Celebrating Christmas is constitutional!" But focusing too much on public displays of the holiday can make us lose sight of what's really important at Christmas: Jesus. Do we really need our culture to affirm the miracle of Jesus' birth and our own Christmas traditions? Isn't our faith strong enough to stand on its own? Christmas isn't about public nativity scenes or holiday sales at the mall; it's about Christ who was born in a manger. During this season of Advent, we would be wise to contemplate the Son of God who became a man rather than diverting our attention to these petty culture wars.