There is no prohibition against a Christian celebrating birthdays in Scripture, nor is there anything to indicate we are required to celebrate them. Scripturally speaking, a Christian’s celebrating a birthday is a non-issue. The Bible does mention two individuals celebrating birthdays: the Egyptian Pharaoh in Joseph’s time (Genesis 40:20) and King Herod in Jesus’ time (Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21). Some point to these references as evidence that celebrating birthdays is wrong; since both men were non-believing individuals, their birthday celebrations are seen as some form of pagan ritual. However, that conclusion is not readily drawn from either passage. The Bible does not even hint that it was wrong for Pharaoh or Herod to celebrate his birthday. Neither does Scripture anywhere discourage a Christian from celebrating a birthday.
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul addresses the issue of which day should be the day of worship, but perhaps we could also apply this to Christian birthday celebrations: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord” (Romans 14:5–6). If a Christian celebrates a birthday as a special day, that’s all right; if a believer does not celebrate birthdays, that’s all right, too. Let each be “fully convinced in his own mind.”
Of greater importance than whether or not a Christian celebrates birthdays is how he or she glorifies the Lord in all activities (1 Corinthians 10:31). If a Christian throws a birthday party, the party should glorify the Lord; sinful behavior should not be part of a birthday celebration. If a Christian skips birthdays, he or she should fill his time with things that glorify the Lord.
Whether or not a Christian celebrates a birthday, he should strive for a clear conscience and love of his brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who celebrate birthdays should not despise those who don’t, and those who don’t celebrate birthdays should not look down on those who do. As with all issues not specifically addressed in Scripture, we have the freedom to celebrate or not celebrate birthdays, according to personal preference.