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A typical question we receive often receive in Good Morning Lord! letters:
"Is there anything wrong with Christians allowing their children to think Santa Claus is real?"
Typical answers by Christians:
"Give me a break, children are usually so young when they are doing Santa that it could hardly matter!"
"My parents played the Santa game and it didn't hurt me, so what's the big deal?"
"When my children ask if Santa is real, then I will tell them the truth. But until they ask, I enjoy watching their little eyes light up on Christmas morning."
A pastor with a large national following once said:
"I find it impossible to believe God will be eclipsed by the silhouette of Santa's sleigh rising in the Christmas sky." (http://www.livingway.org/articles/SANTA2.html)
A recent MSNBC article said this:
"Fully 86 percent in the poll believed in Santa as a child. And despite the multiethnic nature of the country, more than 60 percent of those with children at home consider Santa important in their holiday celebrations now." AP-AOL News poll <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16329025/>
So, with so many Christians intertwining Christmas with Santa, at least when their kids are at an early age, could anything really be wrong with it? I think there's a strong case it's VERY wrong. Here's why.
Let's start with a simple question, "Should Christians lie?"
"Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment." Proverbs 12:19
The Bible says we have a sinful nature:
"Transgressing and denying the LORD, and turning away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words." Isaiah 59:12,13
And the sinful nature doesn't go away when we trust Jesus shed blood and are born again:
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." Rom. 7:18
The Bible says this about lying:
"There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue..." Proverbs 6:16,17
Based on the Word of God, God hates lying - all lying about anything, anytime. He hates it so much that lying will be non-existent in the New Heaven and Earth (Revelation 21:27, 22:15).
So the next question is: "Is allowing your kids to believe that "Santa" is real the same as lying to them?" Yes it is. And once your kids realize that you misled/lied to them about Santa, no matter how good your intentions, you have a credibility problem when you tell them about the things of God. They can't see Santa, they only believe what you say about him. Neither can they see God.
Websters' definition of "lie" includes this phrase:
" . . . a situation involving deception or founded on a mistaken impression."
So it seems pretty clear that Christians who mislead their kids about Santa are lying to them and that's clearly not what God wants.
What's even more remarkable is that the truth is so much better. What in the world is wrong with teaching our kids that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior?
I realize that debunking Santa in your home, especially if you have kids, is not easy. We took the "no Santa tack" as we raised our two girls. It caused several awkward moments because there were so many kids and adults into Santa Claus.
We simply taught our kids that Christmas was Jesus' birthday and Santa was a lie. We also taught them that they were sinners and needed a Savior. You can imagine what happened when well-meaning adults would come up and say,
"Is Santa coming to see you?"
They would say emphatically, "Nooooo!"
That invariably brought on the next question,
"Well, have you been bad?"
And the kids would respond,
By the time they explained their limited understanding of "He who says he has no sin deceives himself," that Santa was for non-Christians, and they thought it was wrong to pray to the Jesus substitute "Santa Claus," the adult was usually red-faced with embarrassment.
But the upside was that our Christmas celebrations have been, and still are, full of joy. There are gifts, and surprises, and wonderment - but it's always centered around Jesus, not a fictional character who mimics the omniscience and omnipresence of God. Santa Claus is nothing more than a poor Jesus substitute promoting an ungodly works doctrine ("He knows if you've been bad or good . . .").
Susie and I are the first to admit we made a lot of mistakes with our kids! So please don't think for a moment that we're saying "do what we do." I'm just pointing out that it can be done - by the graciousness of God - and a lot of prayer! So our hope is that you ask the Lord to give you wisdom and confidence in this tricky area. Because Santa Claus may very well be Satan's Claws in disguise!
May you have an incredible celebration of Jesus' birthday!
Bill Perkins is the founder and Executive Director of Compass International, Inc.
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