Does The Bible prohibit Christmas Trees?

I saw this demotivational poster online. I don't know why, but I read through Jeremiah a few months ago and I don't remember seeing this verse at all. Of course, that's why it's always good to read The Bible over and over. You usually end up running across things you missed when reading it the last time around. In fact, that's why I read all the books I own multiple times because I've found that's true with just about all of them. Reading through them a second or third time ends up bringing me to some information I forgot or unintentionally skipped over the last time around. But back to the question, does this Bible verse mean Christians are sinning whenever they decorate a Christmas tree?

I don't think so. I did some internet research. Once again, this appears to be a case of someone taking a couple of Bible verses a ripping them out of context. An author from a website and ministry called "Grace Communion International" had this to say in an article he or she wrote on the subject:

An important key to understanding any passage is to pay careful attention to its context. Verses 2 through 4 of Jeremiah 10 are part of a larger context. That larger context is verses 1 through 16. In these verses Jeremiah proclaims the Lord as the only God. "No one is like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Who should not revere you, O King of the nations? This is your due.... The Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.... God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding" (verses 6-7, 10, 12, NIV).

The gods that pagans worship are nothing compared to the Lord. "These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens" (verse 11). They are mere images made by men and women. "Every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them. They are worthless, the objects of mockery" (verses 14-15).

Gold is not the only substance used to make idols. Verses 8 and 9 speak of "worthless wooden idols" on which workmen place hammered silver and gold, and rich apparel. When we consider that these verses condemn idolatry, we can understand what Jeremiah meant when he said "the customs of the peoples are worthless" (verse 3). No wonder he tells us not to "learn the way of the nations" (verse 2).

Turning to translations other than the King James also helps our understanding. Where the King James reads "one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe" (verse 3), the New International Version says "they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel." The tool referred to in the passage is not a woodsman's tool, but that of a wood carver. Most modern English translations agree with the NIV.

Jeremiah is not condemning Christmas trees. He is condemning idolatry. The trees in Jeremiah 10 are cut down to carve them into worthless idols that will later be decorated with gold and silver. Jeremiah says nothing about Christmas trees. That custom originated in northern Europe, not in ancient Judea.

The ways of the nations that God was referring to was Pagan idolatry. Our culture has secularized the Christmas tree (although the star at the top symbolizes the star that lead the wise men to the baby Jesus). There's nothing sinful about the Christmas tree because the Christmas tree is not decorated in order to honor a pagan deity. It's all about intentions of the heart. To better understand this; think of this; a statue of a cow is not intrinsically sinful. However, treating the cow statue as a god and worshiping it IS sinful. God cares about what goes on in the human heart. A cow statue is only an abomination to the Lord if people worship it. I should think that the Christmas tree is be the same way. One might have a cow statue simply because they're fond of cows. Cow statues, like decorated trees, are only sinful if you worship them or make them to bring glory to a false god. All the people I know of who celebrate Christmas don't decorate their trees to honor pagan gods.

John MacArthur said "It is believed that Boniface, English missionary to Germany in the eighth century, instituted the first Christmas tree. He supposedly replaced sacrifices to the god Odin's sacred oak with a fir tree adorned in tribute to Christ. But certain other accounts claim that Martin Luther introduced the Christmas tree lighted with candles. Based on that information you could say the Christmas tree has a distinguished Christian pedigree." To see MacArthur's entire article, click here. 

If these historical accounts MacArthur mentioned are correct, then Christians took a practice, hijacked it, and used it instead to bring glory to Christ. It wouldn't be the first time God took something used for evil and instead brought good from it (Genesis 50:20, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28).

Regarding the Jeremiah passage, GotQuestions.org had this to say: "Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1-16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9-18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees."