Should Christians Observe Lent?

Lent season is upon us. It seems as though many Christians are participating. Their intentions are good – to give something up for 40 days in order to focus more closely on God. What could possibly be wrong with that? If you look deeper, however, I believe you may discover that it’s not quite so innocent as that.

Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means Spring. That right there should be the first clue. Pagan holidays are often centered around the seasons and various harvests. They worshipped the seasons as much as they worshipped the sun and moon. Believe it or not, Lent actually pre-dates Christianity by thousands of years.

In the time of the original Babylon, there were rulers by the name of Nimrod and Semiramis. They were worshipped as gods by their people. Semiramis became pregnant with an illegitimate child. Nimrod was angry at her infidelity and threatened to expose her publicly. Nimrod then mysteriously died. A short time later, Semiramis gave birth to a son by the name of Tammuz. The story was put out that Tammuz was Nimrod reincarnated and born of immaculate conception. Semiramis presented her son as the seed of the woman referred to in Genesis chapter 3, better known as the Messiah, thereby making Tammuz the first antichrist. These three Babylonian rulers formed the unholy Trinity, the counterfeit of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Many religious scholars believe that all pagan religions can be traced back to these three as the birth of polytheism.)

When Tammuz was killed, the priests commanded the people to mourn and fast for forty days – one day for each year of Tammuz’s life. They were instructed by the priests to place ash on their foreheads in the shape of an X in honor of their lost king. (Does this sound familiar? On Ash Wednesday, which precedes Lent, Catholics place ash on their foreheads in the shape of a cross.) The origins of Ash Wednesday and Lent can be traced back to the death of Tammuz.

Fast forward to the fifth century and the formation of Catholicism. The people of that time were so immersed in their occultism and all the traditions that came with it that they were not the least bit interested in giving it all up for Christ. The Catholic leaders of the time realized that it would be easier to convert the pagans if they were permitted to keep their celebrations, but instructed the people to celebrated their holidays in Jesus’ name instead of their pagan gods. Paganism was not abolished, but rather absorbed into Christianity. This is when all our modern “Christian” holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc.) were introduced. All their beloved feasts, traditions and rituals were permitted to continue under the facade of Christianity. Lent is among the holidays of counterfeit origin that were absorbed into Christianity. If you believe we should model ourselves after the early Christians, those who knew Jesus personally and most closely followed his teachings, then it’s important to realize that the early church did not observe any of these holidays. After Christ’s resurrection, centuries passed where no true Christians (as in, non-Catholics) partook in holidays we now consider “Christian.” Jesus Himself told the apostles after his resurrection in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Emphasis mine.) Participation in pagan rituals was never among Christ’s teachings. 

The point of this history lesson is to help you realize that Lent, like most other Christian holidays that are widely accepted today, was not born of Christianity, but paganism. Many would argue that my entire point is moot since they’re doing it for Jesus. If God knows our hearts and knows we’re doing it for Him and not in the name of pagan gods, then does it really matter? I can assure you that it most certainly does matter. Nowhere in the Bible are we given permission to participate in pagan holidays, nor are we permitted to “redeem” holidays for the Lord’s sake. To the contrary, God tells his people time and time again that we are NOT to worship Him in the ways the pagans worship their gods (Deuteronomy 12:4, Deuteronomy 12:31, Jeremiah 10:2-4). If that’s how God instructed us, then that brings into question holidays such as Lent. If the pagans fasted for forty days for their god, and we know that the root of the Lent can be traced back to that tradition, then we are in direct defiance of God’s commands by worshipping Him in the same way the pagans honored Tammuz.

I encourage you to reflect on the words of Paul, and seek the Lord’s guidance through prayerful study and consideration.

But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Galatians 4:8-11)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)