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Are we allowed to celebrate our birthday?

Are we allowed to celebrate birthdays?

There are only two examples of celebrating a birthday in the Bible. Both are of pagan kings. In Genesis 40:20 we read: “On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants“. In Matthew 14:6 it says: “But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company.

However, there is nothing in these stories to suggest that it was wrong for these men to celebrate their birthdays. That a bad man (though it is not clear from the story whether the Pharaoh is bad) does something, is a poor reason for concluding that God forbids it.

That a bad man does something, is not a good enough reason to forbid it. In the same stories, these pagan kings did the following things: get angry; put people in prison; granted mercy; put someone to death; and made a promise. As with actions of all other people, we will have to look at God’s Word to know whether their actions are right or not.

On the subject of birthdays it is very simple: the Bible does not say anything about it. So Christians have complete freedom to celebrate or not celebrate their birthdays. This is determined by culture, not by faith.

It is good to celebrate. Jesus made sure there was enough wine at a wedding (John 2). He told parables about parties (e.g. Luke 14:16-24). He told how to behave at parties (Luke 14:7-11) and how to organise one (Luke 14:12-14). In many cultures, a birthday is as good a reason to throw a party as anything. There is nothing wrong in that, as long as we keep Jesus’ advise from Luke 7 in mind. He basically calls us to not think about our own fun, but to bless others as much as possible. Even in giving and attending parties we should honour God and love our neighbours.

How does this Bible passage speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Also read Where do you find joy?

Marten Visser

Marten Visser

Marten Visser, 1971, experienced a call from the Lord to be a missionary while in Kindergarten, and never had any other job ambition. He received M.Div., Th.M. in Missiology, and M.A. in cultural anthropology degrees from Utrecht University, as well as a Ph.D. degree in Theology from the same university. In 1994 he founded Gave, a mission organisation ministering among refugees in the Netherlands. In 2000 he became a church planting missionary in Thailand with OMF, together with his wife Esther. They planted a church in a lower class neighbourhood in Bangkok. In 2006 they moved to Isaan, the North-east of Thailand. Marten planted two more rural churches and a Burmese factory church, while also building up a team of missionary church planters. In 2015 he returned to the Netherlands where he founded GlobalRize. He continues to serve as GlobalRize’s director of evangelism. Marten is an ordained Reformed pastor, who preaches twice almost every Sunday in churches all over the Netherlands. He and his wife have two children.

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