Birthday celebrations are forbidden to Jehovah’s Witnesses. The rationale: Only Pharaoh and Herod are mentioned in Scripture as having such celebrations, and they killed someone at that time. What the “witnesses” forget is that these evil men killed at other times, too!
Below, Q= A questioner. JWA= The Jehovah’s Witness Answer. CA= the Christian Answer.
What does the Word say? Job 1:4, 3:1-3. “His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day… Job opened his mouth and cursed the day… let the day perish on which I was born.”
Q. Is it really true that birthday celebrations are forbidden to Jehovah’s Witnesses?
JWA. That is correct. Birthdays are only mentioned twice in the Bible, and always with an evil connotation among evil men of this world. Pharaoh, of Joseph’s story, killed people on his birthday. Herod in the New Testament did the same, murdering John the Baptist. Only worldly people observe the practices of the world.
Q. What do you think of the man Job?
JWA. He was a good and righteous man.
Q. Yes he was. Did he not observe birthdays?
JWA. Did he?
CA:Yes, we are told that he very specifically prayed for his children’s birthday celebrations, that they would not over-do it. But the celebration itself seems to have met with great favor from righteous Job. He only got down on his own birthday when tragedy struck. Is there any reason for us to cancel the natural joys of men, even believing men? Did not Jesus appear at a wedding while his fellow-Jews were celebrating? Did He not even furnish the wine?
More Word: Luke 1:14. “… many will rejoice at his birth… ” (spoken of John the Baptist)
Q. Is it acceptable to Jehovah’s Witnesses to celebrate birthdays?
JWA. We want to be separate from the world and worldly practices. No, it is not acceptable to us, but we do not judge others.
Q. That’s nice. But in the text before us, there seems to be a bit of a celebration.
JWA. This was an exceptional case. John the Baptist was born of a woman who was far past the age of childbirth. His birth was prophesied of God. God was in this matter and therefore God’s people rejoiced.
JWA. If you like.
Q. I do. Is the word celebration a stumbling-block? Are you assuming that people are celebrating in the wrong ways, and to extremes in terms of food and drink intake?
JWA. I have not analyzed it in this way. I am simply trying to be obedient to the Society, and they have said that birthdays are off-limits.
CA: So when there are “exceptions” in the Word, the Witness may yield a bit. What is unsaid above is that every birth of a child is an exceptionally wonderful moment. And to remember that moment throughout the person’s life seems so appropriate. We see Jesus at the celebration of a wedding. We see the Father giving to His people times to celebrate throughout the Jewish year. Is it possible that He is not present at our times of celebration?