Should we attend Thanksgiving dinner with our unconverted families and friends?
This is a question I have meditated on recently.
In the past, I have always been willing to attend Thanksgiving dinner with my unconverted family. But this year I probably will not. And for those who face similar choices, I will share my thoughts on the subject, for what they are worth.
There is certainly nothing wrong with observing Thanksgiving dinner with members of the Church of God and families in the Church. Thanksgiving does not originate in paganism, but is a tradition started by early Americans to give thanks to their Creator for His blessings and protection. There are no pagan symbols or rituals involved, and the giving of thanks is based on godly principles. There is no prohibition in the Bible in principle or in the letter of the law against having a dinner to observe the giving of thanks to God for His blessings, gifts, and protection, nor is there any prohibition against making it a tradition of the nation.
I also believe there is nothing wrong with having Thanksgiving dinner with unconverted family or friends who do not know the truth, because God has not called them at this time, yet believe in a Creator God and desire to honor Him and give Him thanks on this day. They are not called in this age. They do not know the full truth of the gospel. God has not opened their minds to really understand the truth of God's nature. They may think of God as a trinity. They may keep Christmas, Easter, and Sunday. They may follow and believe and practice the traditions of their church more than God's word.
But they know that God exists. They feel gratitude to God who created them and this universe and desire to give thanks to Him.
And I think there is nothing wrong with joining such people in giving thanks to God at Thanksgiving dinner. When they sometime learn the truth about God in the millennium or white throne judgment, their thankfulness will transfer to their knowledge of the true God, and their heart-felt gratitude will increase. The habit of mind of being grateful to God - the attitude of thanksgiving and appreciation - the attitude they express in this age by observing Thanksgiving - is not something they will have to unlearn. Those who are sincerely thankful to God in this life will have a head start over those who are not thankful, when they live into the millennium or are raised in the white throne judgment, even if their knowledge of God is a mixture of truth and error today. That is because thankfulness is an attitude of mind, an approach, a way of thinking, and it is based on love. Being thankful is a part of character, not just knowledge.
The principle is the same with other points and principles of God's law. Catholics and Protestants are right when they are faithful to their spouses, when they are honest in their dealings with others, when they forgive others, when they do good for others and give to the poor. Those who are not called in this age do not have the full truth of God. But when they obey some of the points of God's law in this life, they will have a head start on learning God's way of life in the millennium or white throne judgment period.
I personally have no problem eating Thanksgiving dinner with people like that who are sincerely trying to give thanks to God the best they know how.
But what about those who have no real desire to thank God but only use the day of Thanksgiving to eat a big meal, socialize with friends and family, and have a good time playing games or watching TV? Should I eat Thanksgiving dinner with those people? I don't think I should. That is just my opinion. Each person must form his or her own judgment, based on the principles God teaches us in the Bible, applying those principles to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
Fundamentally, to celebrate and have a good time but without a desire to thank God, then call it "Thanksgiving" and make use of a tradition started by Americans who were sincerely grateful to God for preserving their lives and blessing them, is plain hypocrisy, and I want no fellowship with hypocrisy.
At one Thanksgiving dinner I observed, there was an atheist in the group. The hostess asked that we go around the table and each person state what he or she is thankful for, but to accommodate the atheist she said something like, "Say what you are thankful for, not necessarily to God, but just thankful for in general".
But what does that mean? How can you be thankful for something without an object for your thankfulness, someone you want to give thanks to? "I give thanks to the random universe for making me by evolution"? That makes no sense. And I do not want to be part of that kind of thing though I may have in the past. Not this year. I am trying to learn my lessons from my past mistakes. If I had already made a commitment to accept a Thanksgiving dinner invitation, I would keep my commitment, but in the future I do not intend to accept an invitation if I know those at the dinner will not be keeping the day in a right spirit.
Some of you may be faced with similar choices. I am not trying to tell you what you should do. I am simply sharing my opinion and thoughts about this in the spirit of "iron sharpens iron" and in the hope it may cause others to think and meditate on the principles of God's way of life on this point. Each person must make his own judgment based on the principles of the Bible.
And certainly there can be additional factors involved in accepting or declining an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner or in inviting individuals to your home for Thanksgiving if you are the host.
As always, we should pray about important or difficult decisions and ask God to guide us by His word, the Bible, and by His Holy Spirit.
Here is a link to a related post:
"Give God Thanks", dated November 27, 2013, link: