When I was a little girl my parents went above and beyond to make sure I believed in Santa Claus. I’d go running to school after Christmas break and tell all my friends that “Santa” left his glasses at my house or a glove. I’d let them in on my secret about the reindeer food that Dasher and Vincent ate in my front yard. I truly believed that Santa Claus had dropped his belongings at my house and that his magical reindeers sat and waited in my front yard as he delivered me lots of presents (totally not because I was an only child and spoiled rotten as a kid!) because of my good behavior.
When I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real I was around 8/9 and I was crushed. I felt like everything was a lie and couldn’t believed my parents had managed to keep it up so long and made it so easy for me to believe. Around this same time I was involved in my local church. Obviously at the age of 8,9 and 10 I didn’t have many of my theological questions answered. I felt a sense of doubt wash over me at the same time I found out that Santa wasn’t real. I was still a young child but was learning more how to critically think and on the pathway to maturity. I though what if God was just like Santa Claus – was He even real? Was it one big joke that my parents and the rest of my church was in on? That He wasn’t real but we all participated in church anyways?
I was 12 years old when I told people I was not a Christian but was “raised” Christian, many atheists and lukewarm Christians favorite line. Looking back, it probably seems extreme that a 12 year old raised in the faith was able to easily declare themselves an atheist when they probably just needed some theological questions answered. What exactly led me to hold such a significant position? By the lack of discipleship I was getting at home, the shock I felt after my parents easily lied to me, and the pure confusion I had because Santa’s character and God’s character completely contradict each other – I was puzzled.
Santa Replaces God With A False Gospel
“He sees you when you’re sleeping”
“He knows when you’re awake.”
“He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sakes.”
Santa is not the judge. If Santa was the judge he would sound like a legalistic judge based on “good works” which can really misguide young minds on what is the true gospel.
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout I’m telling you why.”
You better “be good” even though none of us are inherently good and that’s why we have our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
Santa completely contradicts the discipleship parents (should) are doing at home. When you’re teaching your children that Santa is watching them at all times, knows absolutely everything even if they try to hide it, you are teaching them that Santa has the same attributes as God. When you teach them that they get lots of gifts (much like the gift of salvation) based on how “good” they are (we are not saved by works!) – this is bound to confuse young minds who look up to their parents to nurture, navigate, and disciple them.
Thou Shall Not Lie
We teach our children the ten commandments and model Christ-like behavior in our home as we’re our children’s number one role models. What happens when we start making exceptions to lying? Not a “little white lie” but rather a serious lie that our children take with all the legitimacy that their little brains and emotions can handle because they want to be “good” so they can receive presents. They want to have as many or more than their friends get. They want to get more than their siblings. They eagerly want presents and will believe in Santa Claus because their parents are telling them he will give them these things (but only if they’re good and not naughty!)
What happens when they grow up and eventually realize the truth? Will they look at you differently? Hopefully not. Will the two people who are suppose to never lie to their children cause their children to easily doubt other things that their parents might be telling them? Very possible. I have yet to find one good case to lie to your child and be the stumbling block to your children’s faith. Their doubt and curiosity about Christianity should come from either themselves or the world – not a seed planted into their minds by their parents. As parents, you are commanded the ones to answer your children’s questions and not cause them.
The Best Of Both Worlds?
“Well we believe in Santa and put an emphasis on Jesus because Christmas isn’t about the presents!” The amount of times I’ve heard this line from Christian parents is astonishing. Many Christian parents believe that you can get the best of both worlds during Christmas time. That you can have both the belief of Santa and also the emphasis on Jesus. Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ should not be shared with a fake character who we teach our children to believe in with a false gospel. Talk about idolization and blasphemous!
Why do we need a fake character with a false gospel for our children to believe in when we have a real and Holy Lord who died for our sins and gave us a beautiful gospel?
We should encourage our children to have a longing, awe, and desire for gifts from the real, true, and living God who is sovereign over all things.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”James 1:17
We encourage our children to wait for, ask from, and anticipate Santa who isn’t real and doing anything for them. We could direct the yearning, patience, curiosity, and querying to God who wants all of those things directed to Him for His glory.
Instead of sitting and writing your lists to Santa with all the gifts your kids are demanding this season, sit and write a prayer with your children. Instead of buying your children toys they will lose interest in after the holiday season is over donate old or unused toys to children who don’t have “Santa.” Bake Christmas cookies and deliver them to people at your church or school. Go drive around and look at your local Christmas lights. Spend time together as a family reading one chapter from the book of Luke every day to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Teach your children about gratitude and why we thank God. There are so many other Christ-centered ways to celebrate the Christmas season rather than opt out for the typical secular approaches that completely contradict your faith.