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)