It's OK, I meant well

How much does one's real motive -- his heartfelt belief on the matter -- influence whether an act is moral or immoral?

If a man murders another, but his heart believed it was done for good, is it still evil? If the man truly believed his action was done out of righteousness or human ethical behavior, does it make the otherwise unethical act more ethical?

I encounter this argument from many gentile Christians who, after being confronted about the very un-Christian backgrounds of supposedly Christian holidays like Easter or Christmas, respond with the quip, "All that may be true, but I'm honoring God in my heart."

It's the religious version of "it's the thought that counts".

It's a good point. I know there are many folks, filled with God's spirit, doing their best to walk a righteous life before God and relying on God for their righteousness, who are trying to honor God in celebrating Christmas, Easter, Lent and other so-called Christian holidays, as well as now non-Christian holidays such as All Hallow's Eve (Halloween). Gentile Christians have told me many times, "I'm not worshipping my Christmas tree, and these other pagan symbols mean nothing to me, they're harmless decorations!"

Where does that leave us? What's the truth here? Well, let's summarize what we know:

  1. The Christian holidays of Easter, Christmas, and Lent were formed from pagan rituals. These were chosen over God's holidays largely because of the hatred of Jews and all things Jewish in the early gentile Church. (See Church: Behold Your Founder) For example, man's Easter was chosen over God's Passover because Roman Emperor and founder of the Roman Catholic Church, Constantine, decreed in the 325 CE,
    "We ought not therefore to have anything in common with the Jew. It would be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communication with such wicked people (the Jews). It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of festivals, to follow the customs (the calculation) of the Jews who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter. You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews."

  2. These holidays have largely been scrubbed of their former pagan symbolism and racist past, although some forms still exist. Easter eggs, Easter rabbits, yule tide, mistletoe, Christmas trees, silver testicles of the Egyptian god Ra (excuse me, silver balls on Christmas trees), candles on Christmas trees, and the mythical St. Nick who knows when you're sleeping or when you're awake and whether you've been bad or good, are a few examples.

  3. Most Christians are unaware of the pagan and anti-Jewish, anti-Torah backgrounds of these holidays.

  4. The few Christians who have knowledge of this and continue to celebrate have justified their doing so by saying they are honoring God in their heart.

  5. It is true that most Christians who are truly desiring to walk with God are, in fact, trying to honor God through these holidays, despite their pagan and racist backgrounds.

So, are Christians right in saying, "These holidays are what I make them to be, the pagan & anti-Jewish backgrounds don't mean anything to me"?

I'd like to look at Scripture and see. Is there anything in Scripture that would indicate either way? Let's look.

From the Torah

One thing that immediately comes to mind is something found back in the Torah. When Moses ascended the mountain to receive the commandments, the people of Israel became weary and, in their impatience, melted down their gold and from it, formed an undoubtedly beautiful golden statue of a calf, and worshiped it. To us, this sounds like pretty straightforward idolatry, doesn't it?

But a crux most Christians miss in this story is something that Jewish tradition holds: the golden calf they molded wasn't a new god; after all, the Lord was doing all kinds of miracles right before their eyes -- the splitting of the Red Sea, the leading pillar of cloud by day, the leading pillar of fire by night, the closing of the sea on the Egyptians, the giving of manna and water in the middle of the Negev desert -- the Israelites weren't in the market for a new god.

This golden calf was not a new god, no, Jewish tradition holds the calf was molded for the "unseen God", the Lord, who rode invisibly on the back of this calf. The Egyptian tradition of creating idols of their gods riding triumphantly on the backs of cattle was borrowed by the Israelites, and now the Israelites were making an idol for the Lord, the invisible god, riding on the back of a golden calf.

Still with me?

If this tradition holds water, the Israelites meant well. In fact, they were worshipping the Lord.

But this was something God didn't approve of, despite Israel's good intentions. Why? They were mixing holy and profane: a tradition of the world mixed with an otherwise holy people and holy God.

From the B'rit Chadasha (New Testament)

When Messiah went to the Temple in Jerusalem, he encountered folks who were selling the necessities for offerings in the Temple -- grain offerings, sin offerings, praise offerings -- as commanded by the Torah.

These folks meant well, they were even helping those who were giving to God. But when Messiah saw them, he did something rather unexpected and violent,

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers.'"
Despite the good intentions of those selling offerings for the Temple, Messiah rebuked them and sent them away. Why? Mixing holy and profane, mixing God's house with man's market.

What about when Messiah related to his followers all the things that must happen to him and how the Messiah must suffer and die? Kefa (Peter) responded, "Never!"

Certainly Peter had good intentions and meant well; he was stating he'd never let harm come to Yeshua. But did Peter's good intentions spare him?

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the Torah, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Master!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Wow. Why did Messiah himself come against Peter so harshly, especially when his intentions were good? Because he was mixing holy and profane; God's plan mixed with man's ideas. Peter meant well, even meant to glorify God, but that didn't make it right.

From logic and reason

If heart-felt motive is the only thing that determines whether an act is moral, anarchy exists and morality is relative.

Taken to an extreme end, the thinking of "It's OK because I mean well" results in any act being defensible. I could steal from you justly because I was fully convinced in my own mind that stealing from people wealthier than myself is morally good; a modern Robin Hood, if you will.

A more reasonable position, some might say, is that because you are fully convinced that a mother has a right to choose whether to let her developing child live or die, and because the mother's intention isn't evil -- she just doesn't want to have kids -- it is morally acceptable and agreeable that she kill her child abort the fetus if she so chooses.

When led to it's ultimate end, any crime is a non-crime, every sin is a non-sin, if we define morality or righteousness as "whatever I want it to be" or "whatever the purpose of my heart is", we're left with a humanist's utopia: relative moralism, no real rights or wrongs, nothing truly righteous, nothing truly evil.


Indeed, such thinking will lead one to a kind of washy unitarianism: for if the intent of one's heart is what matters, who's to say Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and other world religions have it wrong? They all believe in their heart they're following God, in some form or another, so why bother them?

If believers in Messiah can justify observing the world's holidays in good conscience, with all the pagan and anti-Jewish paraphernalia associated with Easter, Christmas, and Lent, we cancel out a gospel that insists on itself as the only way to God, we cancel out absolute morality, we remove the very idea of righteousness. We relegate absolute morality to the backseat, placing a greater importance on the intent of one's heart, allowing for wiggle room.

We've discovered in Scripture that one can try to please God and still do something unpleasing to God. We've seen that intent of the heart isn't the only thing that matters. While God does look on the heart, it can't be the only scale of right and wrong.

Your celebrating Easter is no better than putting a cross on a Buddha; we're mixing holy and profane. One must ask Christians, would you feel comfortable with celebrating such things if Messiah was visiting your home tonight? Would you talk to him how beautiful your adorned tree looks? How much fun the kids had at the Easter egg hunt? And then tell Him how you're doing these things in His name and for His sake? I can only imagine his response!

No matter how much we convince ourselves otherwise, seemingly harmless things like this do not honor God. God is not honored by your Christmas tree, God is not honored by your Easter eggs. Let's stop pretending otherwise.


  1. Why can't people just do what YHVH has already told us to do? Why do people have to make up new holidays and try to put YHVH in them? People need to do what YHVH has already given us.

    "Now is the time to walk away from the traditions of men and turn back to the ways of YHVH"

  2. Rick,

    Thanks for posting that insight. I agree wholeheartedly.

    Say Rick, I noticed your Powered By HaDavar blog doesn't have any posts. You still planning on using that? I enjoyed your posts there previously.

  3. Yes I think so, it's just I have so much on my mind right now that I am not sure what to post or say. After going through the Torah and the prophets last year, I have just now realized that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the ways of YHVH. There is so much we have been indoctrinated with that it sickens me to see how far off I am.

  4. Rick

    I have also come to the realization that I have a lot to change about my life to walk in His commands. He leads if we try to follow.

    Shalom, Rick, and be encouraged in Messiah, be filled with his spirit day by day, that you'll be an example of right-living for those around you. Be blessed!

  5. Amen.

    All glory and thanks and praise be to God and to the Lamb.