Does Jeremiah 10 Prohibit Christmas Trees? (And Other Good Questions)

Basic Theology

This question comes up a lot at Christmas: Is Jeremiah 10 a prohibition of Christmas trees?
Let’s look at what it says.
Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.
 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.
 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
    their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
    because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
    they can do no harm
    nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:1-5)
As we continue through this passage, we see a repeated condemnation of those who craft idols – goldsmiths, silversmiths, woodcutters who shaped images specifically used for worship. Notice that the tree taken out of the forest (verse 3) is then shaped with a chisel and adorned with silver and gold as an idol.
Christmas trees are not an object of worship – not in our culture and not in Christian homes! If we are to correctly interpret Jeremiah 10, we must derive the theological principle Jeremiah was speaking to Israel in that day. That principle is the condemnation of idolatry and a challenge to fear God rightly. If you are worshiping your Christmas tree – then yes, Jeremiah’s condemnation applies to you. If you’re not, well, enjoy the lights and decorations! (More on the history of Christmas, trees, and Santa in the Seasonal Celebration guide)
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I had some other great questions come through in a similar vein, so I’ll answer them both: How to be a mentor to younger women? and How did you find FIVE godly older women mentors? Really struggling to find one. 
I want to say a few things about this.
  • First—and I discussed this in earlier posts—insecurity makes young women un-mentorable AND unqualified to be mentors. When we live in a state of insecurity, refusing to embrace the grace and favor of God and consequently living in a state of judgment and self-focus, we are unable to learn from other women. We also can’t effectively pour into other women because we’re spending our time comparing ourselves to them. Insecurity destroys healthy relationship and the ability to pour out and be poured into.
  • Secondly, mentorship is rarely formal! If you’re wondering how to pour into younger women, ask yourself – when was the last time you had them over to your house? When was the last time you just asked a girl out for coffee and learned about her life? When was the last time you invited your single friends to a movie night? It’s in these contexts that trust and relationship is built. Then, when they have a deep question or need, you’re there to help.
  • Piggybacking on that second point, finding a mentor doesn’t have to be formal either. Of the 5-6 older women I consider mentors, many would simply call themselves my friends. And they are! But they are also a great source of wisdom I can draw on when I have questions about parenting, marriage, faith, or suffering. They are a variety of ages and from all kinds of families and backgrounds. Sometimes my relationship with them began because I reached out to them with a question. Other times it began because they reached out to me with an opportunity or invitation. From there, it was a volley of back and forth. For example:
    • I recently asked my friend Chels a parenting question about the little years.
    • I talked to my friend Lisa about her perspective on boundaries.
    • I went to coffee with my friend Jodie to talk about history and faith.
    • I asked my friend Karen for her thoughts on Christianity and platform.
    • When I was 18, my friend Barb led a small bible study and included me so I could learn along with the older women.
    • When I was 22, my table leader Grace invited me to her home.
  • Be sure that your standard for a mentor isn’t unrealistic. If you’re looking for the perfect woman… you won’t find her. If you’ll only be mentored by someone you agree with about EVERYTHING… you’ll be waiting a long time. If you’re waiting for someone to come to YOU instead of opening your home and life… that could be the problem too! If you feel like you can’t find this woman in your church, have you asked around for recommendations or connections? Have you looked in Christian communities outside your church for women you admire and would like to spend time with? My criteria is Titus 2: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” I am looking for women whose lives, marriages, and parenting I admire and want to emulate. I want to know more about how they cultivated their family culture, their friendships, their work, and their character. Think about who you know that meets the above criteria, and just – have her over!
The last question in this post is about work life balance: How do you determine what speaking events you say yes to? 
In the past, I took whatever events were 1) Closest 2) Able to pay my travel expenses 3) Worked with my home schedule. I also limited myself to one west coast engagement per spring or fall.
Even though my ministry influence and “demand” for speaking is now bigger than it has ever been, I have decided to cut my speaking back more every year. In 2022, for example, I only took Michigan engagements with a select few out of state and several personal trips. In 2023, I am speaking only three times: once in Houston (February), at our Italy writers/marriage retreats, and once in May at the Michigan state homeschool convention.
Several of my mentors are themselves speakers and writers (and their counsel) at this stage of my life has been invaluable as I made the decision to pull back and prioritize my children’s childhoods over the visibility of a stage. The stage will always be there. My children will not.
Blessings to you!
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