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Friday the 20th was my birthday and as usual, I'll just have a quiet time thanking God for my life. I don't fellowship with JWs anymore but my conscience will not allow me as to why at all I should hold this 'special' day for merry making. I couldn't devalue their view of this as ungodly.

As far as I know, there are 3 instances of birthday celebrations which all ended in killing of people. 1st account is when Pharaoh puts his chief baker to death.

And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants...But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.(Genesis 40:20-22).

2nd account is at Job who lost his children during their birthday feast. However and whenever they celebrated, Job knew it didn't please God.

And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. (Job 1:4-5).

While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: (Job 1:18).

From Job 3 we note that "their day" denotes birthdays.

3rd instance is where Herod beheaded John the Baptist on his birthday only to please his daughter.

But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask..."And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. (Matthew 14:6-10)

I personally think that God has shown us how to celebrate our lives keeping the true purpose in mind. ( John 10:10, John 17:17, II Tim. 3:16-17).

Today, people may not lose their lives at the celebrations and nowhere does the bible directly stop us from this activity but indirectly, what does it seem to be telling us, perhaps about the origin? All posts and counter-claims from any denomination will be helpful.

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closed as off-topic by Nathaniel, curiousdannii, ThaddeusB, Mr. Bultitude, Flimzy Oct 12 at 18:03

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@Marc I stand to be corrected but what do you make of this? "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived." (Job 3:1-3).NKJV. How does it appear in your version and others? – Nok Apr 23 '12 at 11:29
Ah; I was looking for "their day" ; my bad - will remove – Marc Gravell Apr 23 '12 at 11:32
depends who's birthday it is... – Greg McNulty Apr 25 '12 at 16:30
@Nok. I'm an ex-JW, and don't recall them mentioning Job in their discussions of birthdays. They do, though, mention Christmas. "If we shouldn't celebrate Jesus' birthday, surely we shouldn't celebrate our own either." My birthday was last week. I went on an adventure weekend at Killary Harbour. Great fun. – TRiG May 4 '12 at 19:55
@Trig From any angle, the tag just shows my source of question. Any answer, as long as it's got biblical explanation, is welcome. – Nok May 15 '12 at 18:46

5 Answers 5

First to address a couple fuzzy or incorrect conclusions drawn in the question:

The book of Job does NOT say, "However and whenever they celebrated, Job knew it didn't please God." As you quoted, Job is being proactive to show God he cares about his children, and that on the off chance they have sinned, an atonement can be made.

Also, the beheading of John the Baptist coincided with Herod's birthday, but was not done for his birthday: it was done to please Herodias' daughter (who asked for her mother) after she apparently did some pretty exciting "dancing" for the guests at the party.

To the question itself. Firstly, a "birthday" is amoral - it is a day like any other. Days do not have morality associated with them (though the actions of celebrants/observers will have moral implications).

Secondly, @Marc's answer is a start. Hannah celebrated Samuel's birth (though perhaps not the "day") annually:

Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, as a boy wearing a linen ephod. And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” And they went to their own home.

Paul writes in Romans 14 a generally-applicable commentary on celebrations:

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

There is no condemnation of celebrating certain amoral days on their own - any commentary made about varied celebrations is always about what the participant(s) may be doing (or not doing). It is not about the day itself.

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Well I wish you could make your point clearer for me regarding Hannah's celebration. The way I see it, she made a new robe for her son at the annual sacrifice to God, not a birthday celebration. – Nok Apr 23 '12 at 16:44
@Nok - her son was also born at the time of the annual sacrifice. This may be more of a coincidental occurrence, but it is most certainly a celebration of his birth, too (and a annual gift to him at least through childhood) – warren Apr 23 '12 at 17:11
"she apparently did some pretty exciting "dancing" for the guests at the party." Ok, I never saw it that way. My mind: O.O... What did she do??? – Phonics The Hedgehog Apr 24 '12 at 4:55
@Sonic The Hedgehog : I don't know, but I'm guessing it wasn't the "hokey pokey" .. most kings wouldn't offer up to half their kingdom for a quiet waltz, either – warren Apr 24 '12 at 13:05
@warren ...ok, time to stop thinking... – Phonics The Hedgehog Apr 24 '12 at 21:10

Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

Seriously, have some fun in life.

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+1 For giving me a reason to enjoy. But MORE SERIOUSLY, are you really considering "...because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink..."? When you continue reading downwards, you'd want to reconsider. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." (Ecclesiastes 11:9). – Nok Apr 23 '12 at 13:29
@Nok in some places I might say "I am not a lawyer" - in this case, "I am not a minister" (far, far from it, indeed). In as much as I have an interpretation for this (not very much, really), I could add "in moderation". Again, my views here are far removed... – Marc Gravell Apr 23 '12 at 13:40
+1 for giving some practical advice from Ecclesiastes! – Jas 3.1 Apr 24 '12 at 3:25
Hakuna Matata... – Phonics The Hedgehog Apr 24 '12 at 4:57
@Nok besides, "When you continue reading downwards, you'd want to reconsider" - if the Bible has inconsistencies... well, that isn't exactly news to me... – Marc Gravell Apr 24 '12 at 16:18

Flawed Logic

  • By that logic, I could easily show that getting married is a sin, because practically every woman in the Bible was a cause of stumbling for her husband... :p Or I could show that God's interactions with Israel in the wilderness were evil, because whenever He tested them, they sinned.

  • We need to stick to what the Bible does say, and be careful about reading into it too much. Safe conclusion: "Bad things sometimes happened on birthdays." Shaky conclusion: "Birthdays are evil."

Could Be Either

  • If I throw a party for my birthday so I can get attention and presents and we can all get together and get drunk and talk about how great I am, then it's probably a safe bet to call this particular birthday party "sinful."

  • If it's my friend's birthday, and I get some of his friends together, and we gather together to share a meal with him and show him how much we value him and care about him, that seems more like "love" than "sin."

Taskmaster or Kinsman?

  • Many people view God as a ruthless taskmaster with His finger on the "death button" waiting for you to mess up so He can judge you.

  • I think His people need to recognize that He is love, and He created life to be pleasant and enjoyable prior to sin messing it all up. If we are walking in His will, it's ok to enjoy life a little in our "down time."

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Birthdays cannot be a sin!! GOD loves celebration, and fellowship, breaking bread, and unity. The sin factor is what we as humans determine as celebration. To celebrate ones heart still beating is not sinful. To not make reference that GOD is the reason for the still beating is sinful.

Example: Wake everyday, and give thanks for air in your lungs. If you do that everyday, celebrating your birthday will become as meaningful as every day you take another breathe.

I believe its sinful to celebrate your birthday, and yet forget about the other 364 days he woke you up.

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I honestly am just answering from the heart. I believe that the heart in which you do things is more important to God than customs. The bible does say worship Him in spirit & in truth but society (Satan's realm) deceives the world from having knowledge of the pagan origin of many customs & other truths that for now are hidden. I celebrate my birthday by giving God thanks for remembering the day I was brought here & what my purpose here is. I'm not celebrating age or anything superficial just a special remembrance to be grateful for life. The bible says it's better to celebrate the day we day we leave than our birth. It doesn't mean you shouldn't, it just means our focus should be more on entering the kingdom instead of entering the world. There is more of a celebration for funerals than birthdays in my family. Christmas origin is pagan too & the focus surrounds giving gifts but if that day were truly about God & to glorify Him than He will accept it. Giving is better than receiving & giving to the poor & those who have nothing is better than to give your kids materials. Christmas is centered around consumerism. The birth of Jesus was not on Dec 25th. This practice doesn't glorify God so I don't celebrate it. I grew up celebrating it but don't agree now. The bible states that not even Jewish custom or rituals were pleasing Him because His people didn't have the right heart. Just fulfilling an obligation. These practices only please God if done in the right spirit. Know the truth & celebrate in the spirit of God.

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