Standing for Christmas?

Focus on the Family, one of the most well known Evangelical Christian organizations in the country, often tries to be an advocate for Christianity in our larger society. The 2009 Stand for Christmas campaign is one of their latest projects. The accompanying website briefly explains its purpose:

Millions upon millions in our nation deeply value the great truths of Christmas and the holiday’s inspiring place in American life and culture. We hope you will take a moment to “Stand for Christmas” by sharing feedback about your Christmas shopping experiences.

We’re asking YOU to decide which retailers are “Christmas-friendly.” They want your patronage and your gift-shopping dollars, but do they openly recognize Christmas?

Please post your rating and share your comments, which will go directly to retailers and appear on this site. Then, forward them to a friend!

This leads me to a handful of quick thoughts:

1. I’m not exactly thrilled about the larger culture’s increasing tendency to avoid specifically acknowledging Christmas during this season. I certainly recognize the pluralism of our country. But I find it interesting how often pluralism seems to translate to something like “anything other than the predominant beliefs and traditions of our culture.” But that’s another subject.

2. However, I’d look at this trend as more of a symptom rather than a root problem. My guess is that this shift in emphasis only reflects the reality that many who participate in Christmas festivities do so for traditional and cultural reasons, rather than to celebrate and worship in light of Christ’s incarnation.

3. Along these lines, should we expect people who don’t have faith in Christ to behave like Christians? The apostle Paul certainly didn’t. See 1 Corithians 5:9-13, a passage that’s quite instructive regarding this issue.

4. Is expressing an expectation (demand?) that people acknowledge our beliefs—admittedly cherished and true beliefs—the best way to convince their reality and desirability? Similarly, what of consequence do we gain if stores begin to use more specifically Christmas themes? Have we done much to encourage genuine heart change for anyone involved? Or have we merely convinced stores that if they satisfy our preferences, we’ll buy more of their goods?

5. This leads me ask if there is a bit of incongruity in a campaign on behalf of Christmas that focuses on how Christians spend their money at retail outlets. (And no, I’m not at all against Christmas gifts…with perspective).

6. It also points me down the (rather convicting) path of wondering what it looks like commend the truth and deep wonder of the genuine Christmas story more effectively. I can’t help but think it’s often likely to be a bit more costly than evaluating a shopping experience.

Just some things to chew on. Let me add that my intention is not to demonize Focus on the Family. Even if I occasionally disagree with a particular stand or strategy, it’s an organization that has done and continues to do a lot of good in a lot of areas. And I’m convinced that the ultimate goal in this case is admirable. I just don’t know if the method is truly going to do much to accomplish it.

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