Catholicism and the Appearance of Evil
A Difficult Question
That was a very interesting question. I had to sit back and really think about that. When I did, I realized that I was allowing myself to rationalize myself into a “gray area” of Holy Scripture. I was trying to apply my own interpretation of what the Word of God was referring to, instead of simply distancing myself from something that could be considered questionable.
Why would I do that? I should have taken the Holy Scripture just as it was written and said to myself: “Well, certainly there is no reason, other than tradition, to put up this tree in my house. So why am I trying to talk myself into it?” Instead, I tried to convince myself that there was nothing wrong with what I did. So what if I was skirting the edges of Scripture in doing so? And then I found an answer in the Holy Scripture that should have made sense:
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:22
But come on, a Christmas tree is traditional! It’s nothing more than an old tradition. How harmful could such a simple old tradition really be? And then I read the Words of Jesus Christ Himself to the pharisees…
“Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”
– Matthew 15:6
Ok, let’s step back for a moment. Christ Himself is saying that a tradition (like my christmas tree) could render God’s own commandment “of none effect”? How is that possible? It is PRECISELY possible because of my exact attitude toward Jeremiah 10. I was completely disregarding the Word of God and therefore it was without effect ON ME because I chose not to adhere to it. I, by my actions and by convincing myself that there was nothing wrong with erecting such a symbol, was essentially NULLIFYING the Word of God. Not for everyone, but for myself.
Further, in Mark’s account, Jesus says:
“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.”
– Mark 7:13
But not only was my being immersed in this tradition harmful to myself, rendering God’s Word of “none effect” for me, but it was also very harmful to my family. As the leader of our household, allowing this tradition to persist in our home — despite Jeremiah 10 — I was rendering God’s Word of none effect for the rest of my family as well. Like the pharisees were rendering God’s Word useless to the people, I was doing the same to my family.
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