Should Christians promote or oppose Santa? Or is it possible the biblical answer lies somewhere in the middle? Join AMBrewster as he shares his opinions on Santa and explains from the Bible why he does what he does.
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Welcome to December!
For some of you, you’re bursting inside and are thoroughly loving everything about this time of year, and for others, we’ve entered a season of torrential onslaught by a charming man in a red suit.
Well, today I hope to offer some encouragement, and by the time we’re done I pray God will be glorified by the way we choose to handle Santa Claus in our families.
And — for those of you listening who already think you know what I’m going to say — you’re probably wrong!
There are two main positions when it comes to the Claus, and — as you should have been able to guess — I’m not going to side with either. And I’m not going to with them because I don’t think either of the main positions truly appreciates what the Scriptures have to say about the issue.
And — before I continue — I’d like to welcome everyone here who hasn’t listened to an episode of Truth.Love.Parent. before. I’d like to tell you that this show is truly evergreen. Like the beautiful trees that remain colorful all year long, our episodes never grow old. Even our first episode has value for your family if you’ve never heard it.
I warmly invite you to listen to as many episodes as you can. Please don’t neglect the previous shows just because they’re lower on the list. I try my best to remind you of other episodes we’ve done that compliment our newer talks, provide more information on the subject, or those that remain oldies and goodies. But, honestly, I think they’re all very helpful.
So, welcome to TLP, and we pray that we can serve your family by helping you become an intentional, premeditated, disciple-making parent.
And, also if you’re new, please check out TruthLovePrarent.com where you’ll learn of our other parenting resources, be able to connect with us on social media, and learn about The TLP Family. We hope to see you there.
Alright, so what do we do with the big guy?
A couple weeks ago I made the observation that “Should My Kids Go Trick-Or-Treating? Is Not the Best Question.” There’s a lot in that study which applies to our discussion today, and I’ll let you check that out on your own. It was episode 102.
But I do want to share a thought that runs parallel with that study. Honestly, there was this specific passage I wanted to deal with, but I was completely incapable of locating it while I put together the Halloween study. Well, I recently stumbled across it and couldn’t believe I missed it.
So, I want to discuss it in relationship to this study, but then I want to hit on what I believe are the unbiblical conclusions to which the two main Santa Philosophies come.
So, number one: Let’s consider Romans 14:1-12.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
I read that whole passage with no commentary because it clearly speaks for itself. In areas that are genuinely amoral, it is sinful for us to pass judgment on people for living differently than we do.
And notice with me the kinds of things God enumerates: eating all foods versus being a vegetarian or vegan, one person celebrating a day or participating in a certain event while another person abstains or celebrates a different day.
These two issues are pretty big deals to us and have been the fodder for numerous online debates.
Now, before I continue, I do have to make the observation that Paul is not saying it’s okay for us to eat food that will kill us or participate in Satanic rituals just because that’s our opinion. No, Paul is clearly referring to amoral issues — things that are not inherently sinful. And, may I say, that you’d better be very careful saying something is sinful without clear biblical evidence.
That’s what we hope to do today. I don’t want to merely share my opinion — though I will and will do so without reservation — but more importantly I want to share God’s opinion where it touches our discussion.
So, please be wise in your application of this passage. I was very straightforward in our Rock, Bread, and Donut series about how we will be accountable to God for the destructive foods we allow our children to consume — especially when they do so to their physical or spiritual detriment. Our bodies are the temple of God and we do need to care for them. But this passage makes it clear (as does the book of Daniel) that you can be healthy and eat meat, and you can be healthy and glorify God by not eating meat.
Okay, I need to move on from this, but one more observation from the passage. The whole point of the Romans 14 speech is to draw us to this understanding: “‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Our discussion today is not to equip you with ammunition to attempt to decimate people who disagree with you. Our discussion is to help you so that when you stand before the God of the universe and say, “This is how our family chose to glorify You in our response to Santa Claus,” you will hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Alright, so here are the two main positions that Christians generally take in regard to Santa.
On one side we have those who see nothing wrong in incorporating the fictional character, Santa Claus into their holiday celebrations. Now, each of these families works him in to one degree or another, but generally speaking they have no issue telling their kids that Santa is real.
The other side believe that Santa has no place whatsoever in the life of a Christian and so — consequently — they reject him entirely.
Let me start with a critique of these positions, and then present my own position. Of course, I believe my position is grounded on Scripture, and no doubt you or others will disagree with me because you believe your position is founded on Scripture.
So, the whole point of this discussion is two-fold: First, don’t make any decisions about Santa Claus without consulting the Scriptures.
And second, make certain your interaction with Santa is — in fact — rooted in a correctly interpreted and applied understanding of God’s Word. We should be able to do that with absolutely everything in our lives. There’s no room for finding our own paths, feeling our way through life, or searching for answers from some hilltop guru. We need to ground our every action, word, feeling, desire, and belief on God’s Word.
Alright, critique numero uno. I believe many of the Santa-embracers are embracing more than Santa.
Christmas allows us to carve out unique time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It’s clear from the whole of Scripture that special days and feasts are extremely appropriate. The choice to celebrate God’s greatest gift to man on December the 25th is totally fine. And — if you choose to celebrate it on a different day — you go right ahead.
But Santa Claus is not real. If Christmas time becomes all about Santa, then we run the very real risk of embracing distraction and temptation into our children’s lives. Especially, if the 25th is our main time dedicated to celebrating the incarnation.
In our Four Children study we talked about how the Hard-Hearted Child doesn’t believe the things of God because he doesn’t understand them. And we also learned that Satan is desperately trying to steal the Truth away from our minds by distracting us from it. Santa was not imagined-up to help draw people close to the Lord. The original St. Nick may have had the desire, but the contemporary money-machine that is Santa Claus is not trying to glorify God.
I believe too many Christians put stumbling blocks in front of their little kids. They try to give due attention to Jesus while simultaneously propagating the belief the Santa Claus is real. Which would you rather celebrate, an historical figure you barely understand, Whose Word you care little for, Who did a whole lot of stuff a long time ago, and Who wants you to be good so that when you’re old and dead He will invite you to this place called Heaven, or . . . a seemingly real magical sprite that’s going to give you presents that you can play with right now if you’re good, and who dominates the entire span of time between Halloween and Christmas?
One more thing I need to throw in here . . . if you’re going to tell your kids that Santa is real, you’re going to have to acknowledge the fact that at some point in the future your children are going to know you lied to them.
Why is it we have no compunction against lying to our kids about Santa and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny and whatever else?
“Oh, Aaron, it’s not a lie.”
Really, ask your kids that. In fact, let’s reverse it. Let’s say your child convinces you that he has this friend who’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a friend for your child. But you find out later he didn’t exist. He was merely an excuse for your kid to hang out with someone with whom you wouldn’t want him hanging out. Are you okay with that?
No. It’s a lie. Plain and simple.
In fact, atheists try to use this point against Christians. I’ve seen plenty of memes that say, “One day you’re going to find out that everything your parents told you about Santa was a lie. When that day comes, remember what they said about Jesus.”
I think you see where I’m going here, but I want to say right now that I don’t believe the answer has to be to jettison Santa completely. That’s a pendulum response that’s potentially not grounded in Scripture. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Here’s my critique of the other side.
Listen, my friends, there’s nothing wrong with fiction if that fiction does not teach us to sin or distract us from serving God and others.
I’m very thankful for C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and the milieu of ancient and modern authors who write fiction that aligns with God’s revealed Truth whether deliberately or not. I mention Lewis and Tolkien because Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia to be a decidedly Christian piece of literature. However, Tolkien — the man who was integral in Lewis’ conversion — wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings not to preach anything about Christianity, but to be an enjoyable story that exists within the broader philosophy of the Bible.
And lest you think my position unbiblical, I must point you to our Lord, Himself. Jesus frequently used fictional stories to teach spiritual truths. They’re called parables. Now, that’s not to say that every illustration He gave was fictional, but some of them were.
I love our Lord’s proclivity to storytelling. According to the Gospels, He lectured far less often then He told stories. The reality is that fiction is a biblically legitimate vehicle of truth.
Now, there are many books that’ve been written that tastefully and carefully weave the story of Santa into the redemptive narrative of the Gospel. Works like “Kringle” flirt with the deeper truths of good versus evil. In the story, the boy who would become Santa must rely on a power far greater than he could ever possess as he fights to vanquish evil.
But I also remember this little picture book because it left an indelible impression on me when I was a child. It’s called “Santa’s Favorite Story,” and in the story a bunch of forest animals find Santa in the woods and ask him about Christmas, and he sets forth to tell them about the First Christmas, its implications, and the fact that he is here to do what everyone has been called to do — serve God and love others.
So — my point is — rejecting the fiction of Santa simply because he’s fiction or because other people wrongly use him to replace Christ, is not a good argument. People wrongly use the Bible to promote their own false religions all the time, but I’m going to suggest we continue using the Bible despite that fact.
Though I will not say it’s wrong or foolish to ignore Santa in your holiday celebration — in fact, I just suggested there may be wisdom in it — I will say that treating the Santa stories with vitriol and bitterness is just downright foolish. I’ve seen professing Christians become so angry at the idea of Santa. Listen, if you have to sin for your philosophy to thrive, you have a Failure Philosophy. You can learn more about the common Failure Philosophies we find in our homes in episode 61.
It’s true that Santa doesn’t exist. And you may feel free to be saddened that people find more joy in the Claus than the Christ, but don’t be mad because blind people do blind things. Pray for them. Don’t hate the fantasy.
Okay, so here’s my opinion and the biblical principles off which I base it.
Number one, I do not mind songs and movies and stories about Santa. As long as the movie doesn’t contain sinful elements, my family and I will watch them around the holidays. Of course, the most destructive thing about any movie is generally not what you’d think. And since the holidays are definitely a time of increased moving watching, I’d highly encourage you to listen to episode 14, “Kids and Movies: Parenting Your Kids to Success.” In that episode I detail the most destructive element of secular storytelling whether the story be about Santa or not.
So, based off the fact that Santa is a fictional character that does not directly attack the reality of Christ’s birth, and since there are versions of the story that actually promote the Truth of Emmanuel, I don’t reject it.
Of course, we don’t celebrate him either, and that leads me to number two.
I don’t lie to my kids.
When our son lost his first tooth, my initial reaction was, “We have to put that under your pillow!” And I remember him looking at me like, “What on earth is wrong with you?” Thankfully, I gave him an intelligent response. I said, “Okay, so many parents tell their kids there’s this creature called the Tooth Fairy. And they say that if you put your tooth under your pillow that the Toothy Fairy will come in the middle of the night, take your tooth, and leave some money in its place. It’s just a silly story people tell their kids.”
And my son looked at me like it was a decent premise but he thought the main character was a little underdeveloped.
I don’t know what to tell you . . . he’s precocious.
Anyway, I told him, “If you want to pretend like the Tooth Fairy’s real, we can, but if you would just like me to give you a quarter for your tooth, we can do that too.”
And you know what, both of my kids have thought it was fun to pretend the Tooth Fairy’s real. The most fun they’ve had — actually — is when mom and dad have totally forgotten about the tooth and they wake up and find the tooth still there. Mom’s explanations as to what happened to the Tooth Fairy are quite entertaining.
My point is, you don’t tell your kids that Narnia is a real place. You don’t tell them that Tinker-bell exists. You enjoy the stories, you may pretend or allow your children to pretend within the universe created by the story, but you’ve likely never tried to delude your children into believing the fairy tale was reality.
Why do we do that with Santa?
To be honest, I think that unbelievers like to encourage their kids to believe in Santa because their children incarnate faith, and — as an unbelieving adult — there’s something wondrous in their simple faith. God made us with a God-sized hole, and even unbelievers are trying to fill that hole with something. Santa is a pathetic and incapable substitute, but they try.
Anyway, I find no value in deliberately deceiving my kids just to potentially distract them from a much deeper and more significant reality.
So, number one, I don’t reject the idea of Santa Claus as long as the stories are valuable within our biblical worldview and teach important lessons. Number two, I don’t want to lie to my kids, and that leads me to number three.
I don’t want anything to distract my children from the purpose of the celebration.
I love the Christmas lights and trees and decorations and cookies and meals and family gatherings and traditions and music . . . but if any of those things take away from the worship our Lord deserves, then I don’t believe He’s glorified.
Now, I was much more interested in my kids pretending the Tooth Fairy was real than pretending Santa was real. My wife and I explained to them what Santa was and how many children believe in him, but we didn’t really give them an option to pretend he existed on Christmas morning. We wanted our kids to know from whom their gifts came and we wanted to allow the presents to be a metaphor for God’s greatest gift without confusing the picture even more with Santa Claus.
And number four, we were very serious with our kids about not unkindly disenfranchising children who had been lead to believe in Santa Claus. I’ve met some parents who send their children out as little missionaries of their anti-Santa campaign. They target toy stores and school cafeterias, find as many kids as they can, and proceed to tell them their parents were lying to them all their lives.
Listen, I’m not your kid’s parent. You are. And even I disagree with your choices, I don’t believe the Lord’s pleased with me turning your kids against you simply because you lead them to believe that Santa was real.
If you tell them God isn’t real, I’ll politely disagree and share the Gospel regardless of what you think, but I’m not about to die on some hill in the North Pole.
Now, I didn’t make any episode notes today because these are my opinions, but I hope you see how I’ve tried to ground those opinions in Bible.
If you disagree and can provide some biblical principles for why it’s okay to convince your kids that Santa exists, or you have some solid biblical evidence to suggest that we wage a war on Santa, I’d love to hear it. Maybe next year we’ll put all the opinions out there or have a debate!
Our next episode is called “Are Messy Kids Okay?” I’ve encountered many parents who make excuses for their children’s mess making because they believe that children are inherently incapable of not making messes and consequently, cleaning up after themselves.
But is that true?
Next time we’ll see what the Bible says about whether or not our kids should be messy and how we can help them glorify God in the way they interact with the world.
We pray your Christmas celebration pleases the Lord and our TLP Counselors would love to serve your family if you have a unique situation or question.
Also, don’t forget that you can email TeamTLP@TruthLoveParent.com to suggest a shoe topic.
And will you please share this episode on social media? Apple Podcasts makes it super easy to do so, and we’d greatly appreciate it.
Santa Claus is infinitely incapable of saving us and having a relationship with us and spending eternity with us, but Jesus can do all three.
Enjoy Santa if you so choose, but don’t confuse your kids. Remove Santa from your celebration if you so choose, but don’t lose your sanctification or be unkind.
Use the fiction to point to the fact, and make certain that whether you eat or drink or interact with Santa that you do all to the glory of God.
See you next time.
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