Pastor Mark Driscoll of Trinity Church in Arizona has offered his thoughts on the debate of whether Christian parents should tell their children the truth about Santa Claus, and suggested that they can celebrate the life and legacy of Saint Nicholas, the man behind the myth.
Driscoll acknowledged in a video message that Christian parents are faced with a difficult choice when it comes to Santa. Some worry that completely avoiding the topic could spoil a part of Christmas, but telling them that Santa is not real, after they had been led to believe otherwise, could also make children doubt whether what their parents told them about Jesus Christ is also true.
Driscoll suggested that an alternative choice could be to tell children the truth about Santa, but focus on celebrating the life of St. Nicholas, the 4th-century Christian saint and former Bishop of Myra.
"We told them the truth, that there really was in history past a guy who we now know as Santa Claus, who did love and serve Jesus, he was a pastor and a godly man," Driscoll said, revealing what he told his own children.
The Trinity Church leader went through some of the history behind St. Nicholas, pointing out that the Christian saint was known for blessing kids, giving them food and toys, and filling up socks with gifts, which could have contributed toward the making of the myth.
Most of all, Nicholas led a "devout, holy life," Driscoll said, and helped plant churches and oversaw ministries, all in the service of Christ.
"We really want to celebrate the man for who he was and what he really did, and some of the extra things — they are interesting, they are fun, not necessarily evil, but are not actually the facts of the story," he added, urging parents not to demonize the Santa myth that has been woven around St. Nicholas.
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"What should you tell the kids about Santa? Tell them about St. Nicholas," he concluded, advising parents to "do a bit of homework and research" and explain to their children why the real saint was so special.
A number of other Christian leaders have also offered advice on how parents should handle the Santa question.
Shane Pruitt, director of Missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said in an op-ed in The Christian Post in 2015 that there are pros and cons for whether parents should engage with the Santa myth, but said that whatever parents decide, they need to make sure that "Jesus remains the number one focus."
"Teach your children that He is the reason for the season, that Jesus was the promised Son of God. He grew into a man to die as a perfect man for mankind. He was buried and came back to life three days later conquering sin, death, and the grave. He showed Himself for 40 days, ascended into Heaven, and one day He is coming back for His people," Pruitt wrote at the time.