Questions From Readers
● Is it proper to have or attend celebrations of birthday anniversaries?—F. K., Nevada.
Such celebrations have their roots in pagan religions, and not Scriptural grounds. Some Bible commentators suggest that birthday celebrations may have had their origin in the “notion of the immortality of the soul”. Astrologers and stargazers laid great stress on offering sacrifices to the gods each year when the stars and planets were in the same position as when one was born. In Egyptian mythology the “birthdays of the gods” were celebrated on certain days, and in Chinese mythology individuals offered special sacrifices on their birthdays to Shou Hsing, the god of longevity. The ancient Anglo-Saxons celebrated the birthday of the “Lord Moon”, spoken of as meni at Isaiah 65:11 (margin), by making cakes “called Nūr-Cakes, or Birthcakes”; and candles also are of pagan origin.—See Hislop’s Two Babylons, pages 95, 191-196.
After telling us that December 25 was the traditional birthday of Nimrod, and not of Jesus, the new book What Has Religion Done for Mankind? states: “The inspired Scriptures do not give the birth date of Jesus, and it does not matter, for neither Jesus nor God his Father nor the inspired apostles instructed us to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. The only birthday celebrations that the Holy Scriptures mention are those of pagans, those of Egypt’s Pharaoh and of Herod Antipas who marked his birthday by having John the Baptist’s head chopped off. (Gen. 40:20; Matt. 14:6; Mark 6:21) Christ’s disciples of the first century shunned birthday celebrations as being pagan, unchristian!”
Doubtless many things practiced by Christians today were also practiced by pagans; but when these practices are steeped in false worship contrary to Bible principle they become objectionable. The celebration of birthday anniversaries centers the mind on the creature and exalts the creature, giving him and his birth undue importance. Romans 1:25 (NW) warns of those who “venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created”. Birthday celebrations could tend to take on this objectionable quality. If Christians wish to come together occasionally for profitable fellowship and relaxation, they do not have to await a day reminiscent of pagan religion. If they wish to present a brother with a gift, they do not have to await the anniversary of the day of his entry into the world, as though that were such a memorable occasion. If the precise day of Jesus’ birth and its remembrance were of no such noteworthiness, whose are?
● Is it Scriptural to speak of Jehovah as being omnipresent?—A reader in New Zealand.
It is not Scriptural to speak of Jehovah as being omnipresent in the sense that the heathen do, as if he were an all-pervading spirit. He has a throne in heaven on the right hand of which Jesus sat after his ascension, but he can reach any part of his universe and extend his power there and his eyes run to and fro through the whole earth to show his strength in behalf of the perfect-hearted ones. (2 Chron. 16:9) If he were omnipresent the Scriptures would not speak of his coming and visiting the earth; he would be already here.
● When Deuteronomy 22:5 says that a woman should not wear a man’s clothes, does it mean that women should not wear slacks?—J. P., Pennsylvania.
Deuteronomy 22:5 (Da) reads: “There shall not be a man’s apparel on a woman, neither shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever doeth so is an abomination to Jehovah thy God.” This text certainly was not recorded with the thought in mind of preventing modern women from wearing slacks. Men did not wear slacks or trousers when this was recorded, but what we would view as dresses today. In parts of the Orient, in fact, the men wore dresslike robes and the women wore pajamalike trousers of varying styles. So the wearing of slacks or even work pants, such as around a farm, is not forbidden by this text and is an individual matter. The women can use good judgment as to time and place and what is accepted as proper in the section where they reside. In some sections where winters are severe many women wear trousers or ski suits or some similar garment that covers and protects their legs. Such is not Scripturally wrong.
At Deuteronomy 22:5 the Bible is not dealing with fashions or fretting over styles, but apparently it is here forbidding persons of one sex from wearing the clothing of the opposite sex for purposes of deceit, to appear of the opposite sex, to hide the true facts. Men should not try to deceitfully dress like women to hide the fact that they are men, nor should women try to dress in men’s clothes to hide the fact that they are women. Being more specific, the Bible seems to be striking a blow against the sin of sodomy. It was a disgrace for a woman’s hair to be shorn like a man’s, and it was a dishonor for a man’s hair to be allowed to grow long like a woman’s. (1 Cor. 11:6, 14) The woman was not to appear masculine by having short hair like a man’s or by wearing clothes like a man’s. It might suggest to others that she was available for unnatural sex uses. Likewise the man. If he wore long hair like a woman’s or garbed himself in women’s clothes he would certainly appear effeminate and open to propositions from men for unnatural sex use. So it is this deeper meaning with sodomy in view, and not a mere switching of clothes in itself, that brings this practice under prohibition and makes it deserve the severe judgment: “Whoever doeth so is an abomination to Jehovah thy God.”