Has Traditional Santa Duped Us Into Being Liars?
Nearly every child in the West believes in Santa Claus today - a fictional character slowly transformed over time to appeal to children's imaginations all around the globe. Santa has slowly evolved into a fantasized version of the real deal: Saint Nick, a persecuted Christian in the third century devoted to following Jesus, whose motto was to "sell what you own and give it to the poor", a man with a deep love for children and for the truth." And yet, many of us Christians have largely disregarded the true meaning of Christmas and have convinced our kids that Santa and the made-up stories that come with him are the more important items of focus.
Most of our children, having such precious faith, have been misguided to "believe" in fictional Santa. During this precious window time of their innocence, they have a natural, simple belief in the supernatural. With all the lies that are influencing culture and our vulnerable children who are a part of it year-round, should professing Christians be solely pointing them to God during Christmas or include something that is blatantly untrue?
While parents are certainly not intending to purposefully deceive their children with ill-will, the tradition of how Christmas is celebrated has deceptively - and effectively - whisked away much of our spiritual discernment. Parents and other well-meaning adults are far-too-often negligently withholding the true meaning of Christmas (and other Christian perspectives in light of an unbelieving world), and what ought to be the sole focus of the true and historical figure of Christianity: Jesus Christ.
While the fascination of Santa and tradition of the stories that encompass it can be fun and heartwarming, we who sincerely want to follow Christ should be promoting Truth instead of what we feel as being the "innocent" things we do based on family tradition. From a Biblical perspective, our children should hear nothing but truth from us, especially when it involves spiritual realities. Since it is Christmas season, they especially need this joyous celebration of Jesus' birth to revolve around belief in the prophesied birth of the Savior of the world in the Old Testament:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
To those who vehemently disagree (and sometimes quite firmly), the argument is often made: "What's the harm in Santa?" I could answer, let's face it, a child's childhood won't be ruined because they know Santa isn't
real. But their eternal destiny may be shattered if parents fail to point them to Christ in every situation and in every holiday, especially during the Christmas season. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."
One lie begets another, and to them, they may question what else you may say is "real", including Jesus. So what can be gained by convincing a child to believe in the existence Santa Claus?
It is important to heed Scripture for guidance. Lying to children is one of the worst things you can do. Jesus said, "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). When we lie in any way, we are inadvertently siding with Satan, a relentless enemy of God. Jesus described him: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." (John 8:44).
This holiday season, let's not make our children stumble. Let's speak truthfully to them, and stop deceiving them for the sake of family tradition. Jesus warned: "'You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.' And he continued, 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!'"
Simply put, there is no substitute for Jesus Christ, the god-man who sacrificed himself for us all, the one who offers the ultimate free gift of salvation.
Sure, keep the tree and the dancing Santa and nativity scene, but I challenge you, if you haven't already been practicing this, resolve to speak truthfully to your children by turning Christmas into a celebration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ the newborn King, rather than a fictional character bringing only temporal, vain gifts hidden in a bag stuffed full of untruths. Saint Nick would bid fair to heartily agree!
Greg is a born-again Christian since 2000. He and his wife Francesca have four adopted children and are in process of adopting a fifth from Haiti. Their family story has recently been shared in a recent short documentary, "Committed: An Adoption Story", which explores their family journey with the intent of encouraging the church to make an impact in children's lives through fostering and adoption. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.