a letter to the church regarding Santa – part 1

In 2004, I took my then 12 year-old daughter to see the just released movie, ‘The Polar Express’.  As a result of that movie’s overwhelming emphasis on children’s ‘need to believe in Santa’ and the presentation of an expansive North Pole, my position on Santa Claus as a father and a grandfather was forever changed … this was no longer an innocent game of pretend.  I truly believe this conviction came and comes from the Holy Spirit.

At the time, admittedly I had no scriptural basis for that conviction.  For nearly ten years, I have been extremely sensitive to Scripture that seems to be aligned with my conviction.

The most obvious passage is the ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  I think it’s safe to consider our children and grandchildren neighbors.  And while it seems like this so-deceptively-called “game of pretend” is really a betrayal of trust between parent and child, it would seem the more grievous sin is when the church … especially leaders … participate in the deception.

Sunday school teachers have asked my children and grandchildren if they were excited about Santa coming … right after teaching them about Jesus.

At a family Christmas eve service many years ago, the senior pastor got up and told the kids that Santa’s sled had already been spotted on radar south of Atlanta so this would be a fairly quick service.

I could go on … but I won’t.

Just to recap …

Why would Christian parents intentionally deceive their children into believing in Santa Claus on the day of celebration of the birth of Jesus?

Why would a church on mission to teach and help children trust and believe IN Christ Jesus want to be complicit in “turning away their ears from the truth” to “turn aside to a myth”?

At Christmas time or anytime, why would the church … the body of Christ … seek to encourage belief in anyone or anything other than Christ Jesus?

If there is a good reason, please tell me why.

As a 60 year-old man, i really don’t have any memories of the “magic” of Santa Claus I experienced as a child.

But I can tell you exactly where I was when my Mom and Dad told me that game of “pretend” had come to an end … Santa is not real.

“But don’t tell your sister.”

In but a moment, I transitioned from the deceived to the deceiver … a deception I willingly propagated on my own children until I was 50 years-old … “the tradition of men” impacting three generations.

Paul once wrote, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.”

So in raising our grandson, we have broke with the Santa tradition.  Instead of encouraging him to believe in Santa as a young child, we taught him to believe IN Jesus … a teaching he has embraced.

While I expected we would be at odds with family, the culture and the world, what has shocked me is how Santa is both entrenched and accepted in the church …

Being at odds with the church because I teach my child that Santa Claus is a lie that steals from the glory of Christ Jesus … well, that’s a conundrum demanding resolution.

(to be continued)

Bernie

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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4 Responses to a letter to the church regarding Santa – part 1

  1. I, too, have never understood why we would purposely deceive our children. The Christmas mythology of Santa Claus isn’t harmless, like a fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel or Shrek. It is a subtle counterfeit (which is always the most effective kind) to the Christ of Christmas. And shamefully, “yes, Bernie, there is a Santa Claus” perpetuated by Christians that seeks to rob our Saviour of His glory. We even hear the song of “believe in Christmas.” Phooey! Believe, but believe on the only name under heaven by which men must be saved.

    I love the painting of the newborn Babe in the manger, surrounded by Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and Santa Claus kneeling before the Saviour.

    • bwebbjr says:

      Richard,

      If it was but a story we read to our children each year, I probably would not have any concern regarding Santa Claus … as you revealed in your post re Saint Nicholas, there are some excellent life lessons to be learned from the life of the real Saint Nicholas.

      While I think I get your point about Santa Claus kneeling before the manger, I am also conflicted about that as we attempt to merge the story of Santa Claus (not Saint Nick) with the truth of Jesus. Absolutely no doubt that Saint Nicholas was an extremely passionate follower and disciple of Jesus … I don’t know … for me, the ornament (and I have not seen the painting) serves as a validation of Santa Claus and also suggests that Santa existed before the baby Jesus was born.

      Appreciate your insights brother … you make me stop and consider!

      Bernie

  2. Glenda says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with you. I really don’t see the harm. I wish I could’ve believed as a child, but my childhood prevented me from enjoying that innocent, magic time. I’ve never heard if any kid feeling betrayed when they figured it out on they’re own.
    I have a dear friend with kids the same age as mine. I still remember when her son casually announced to my daughter, as if she were stupid, that there’s no Santa.
    I respect any parent’s right to make that decision for their OWN child (or a child they’re raising, as you seem to be). I would just ask that you have the courtesy to teach them not to inform other kids. I believe small children have plenty of room for Jesus and Santa. They just need to be shown that Jesus is more important.

    • bwebbjr says:

      Glenda, I so appreciate you posting your disagreement. In 9+ years of blogging, the posts that generate the most disagreement are my posts on the issue of creationism and regarding Santa Claus. So believe me when I say you are not alone in your disagreement.

      Our grandson is taught not to initiate the conversation with other children but also not to be a party to the deception … if silence is an option use it. Interestingly enough the people who quite frankly get enraged with my wife and i are the adults who come up to Noah (and don’t know him) in the store and ask him if he’s excited about Santa … you would not believe how angry they get with us when he then proceeds to tell them Santa is not real and that Jesus is the reason for the season.

      We are in complete agreement that Jesus is indeed the most important reason for the season.

      May you and yours have a truly blessed Christmas Glenda!

      Bernie

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