Should Christian’s Display Nativity Scenes?
Another listener named John asked Mohler whether he thought nativity scenes depicting Jesus, Mary, and Joseph violate the second commandment, which says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:4)
Mohler called himself a “Puritan” regarding this question, saying that “this is not the point at which I draw any really hard line,” but that he doesn’t display artistic depictions of Christ around his study or library. Rather, he has depictions of Christians, Christian theologians, church history figures, and figures from biblical history like the apostles. But not Jesus.
Explaining his reasoning behind not displaying images of Christ, Mohler said that it “is advisable and wise. And I think the logic of the second commandment is that we avoid having depictions of God…And when it comes to the history of Western representations of Christ, let’s just face the obvious: they have not been very accurate.”
Mohler shared that out of all the depictions of Christ, baby Jesus is the safest, because drawing a baby is easier (and more vague) than a drawing of an adult man.
Mohler also explained that most nativity scenes get it wrong by having the wise men present at the time of Jesus’ birth, given that it is most likely that they did not meet Christ until he was about two years old. Nevertheless, Mohler said, “I’ll simply say I do not believe that having a nativity scene in your home obscures the truth of Christmas.”
Mohler further explained that the nativity scene should be used as an opportunity to tell the truth about Christmas. He suggested gathering the family to read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth.
Mohler concluded his answer by saying that he recently preached at a church were they announced they needed more adult shepherds for their live nativity scene. The announcement made Mohler think, “That’s pretty much true of every church, every day, we need more adult shepherds.”