In researching my answer to the question – can Jesus and Santa Coexist I came across many opinions varying from biblical to secular, from legalistic to moralistic to relativistic and everything in between.
Specifically I tried to hone in on what prominent Bible teachers and Christian apologists had to say on the topic and let me tell you that even Christian leaders had opinions on Santa that run the gambit of “Santa is fine, it’s a tradition that started with Saint Nick” all the way to “Santa is only one letter change to Satan and celebrating the man in the red suit is demonic!”
Ever the moderate that I’ve learned I often am, I came to a conclusion somewhere in the middle. So for those that remember a childhood filled with the mystery and majesty of Santa Claus and look back with a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye, don’t worry, I won’t be demonizing Santa. For those of you who do demonize Santa I say lighten up and take a chill pill, because if pretending that a fat man is going to slide down your chimney, land in your fireplace and place a bunch of presents beneath your Christmas tree is a bad thing you may want to pull in the reigns on the rest of your child’s imagination too!
That’s what Santa is, isn’t he? Imagination. Don’t you remember playing on school playground equipment and pretending that the ground was fire and a dragon would get you if you touched it? Should we outlaw this kind of play too?
In all seriousness, I get that teaching your kids that Santa is real is still telling them a lie, but what if we didn’t say he was real? I mean what if we played along and pretended the same things with them and use Santa as a vehicle of play? We could use Christmas time as an opportunity to play with our kids, using our imagination and instead of using the threat of Santa (which I’m totally guilty of) as a means of getting our kids to behave we could pretend and talk about Santa with our kids all within the context of play.
That’s a good question and a reasonable one, but consider this, kids are eventually going to question Jesus anyways. Everyone does, even you. If you haven’t than I would suggest that your faith hasn’t grown much. And no, the fact that they’ll question Jesus anyway does not mean we should automatically accept the teaching of Santa, but it does show the invalidity of such a question. Moreover, I would submit to you that playing Santa with your kids and then teaching them about Jesus can and should be two mutually exclusive things, and when you play, you play! When you teach, you teach. Your kids can’t confuse the two when the context is different.
Aren’t you going to break the trust of your children by lying to them about Santa?
Again, a reasonable question but again you need to ask yourself if you ever tell your kids any other lies. Do you ever tell them they’re heading straight for a punishment if they don’t stop misbehaving and then don’t follow through? You’ve lied to them before and you’ll lie again, that trust you want from them will be broken at some point no matter what. Again this does not mean that you should have Santa in your kids’ lives, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either.
In fact you could use this trust thing as a teaching opportunity, suppose your child finds out that Santa is a myth and confronts you about it. Take that chance to teach them that while it is important to trust people, especially your parents but that trust, in its truest and most honest and raw form belongs in Jesus, not other humans.
Your kids trusted you when you said that Santa was real and you broke it! Suggestion: don’t tell them Santa is real, play along but don’t actually say the words. I know that would be a technicality and it wouldn’t completely appease them but it would give them something to think about.
Letting them believe something is true, when you know it isn’t is still a lie.
True, but you don’t have to throw all your eggs in the Santa sized basket either. You can tell them the story of good ol’ saint Nick and project it in the same way you would a bedtime story. You’re not projecting truth when you read jack and the beanstalk are you? Letting them believe for the few minutes before they fall asleep that beanstalks can actually take you to some village in the clouds where giants live does not mean you’re lying to them.
The long and the short of it is this, if your kids someday ask you about Jesus being real because they now realize that Santa wasn’t, is a great opportunity to share with them the many reasons that Jesus was/is real and if that’s not a question you can answer than perhaps your faith needs strengthening.
For the legalistic folks who won’t touch Santa with a ten foot pole, hey that’s your right and you should do what you feel is best for your kids. But keep in mind the old risk vs reward scale, the risk is your kids believe in Santa for a time and get mad at you for lying (which I’ve never seen happen by the way) the reward is years of Christmases filled with awe and wonder as kids anticipate the arrival of the man who brings them toys.
Santa was fake and you told me he was real, Jesus must be fake too.
Do you really think that anybody ends up losing their faith in Jesus because they falsely believed in Santa as a kid? I don’t think so, if they’re losing their faith it isn’t because of a childhood imagination, it’s because they were never taught about Jesus.
One of the things God gave us among other traits was imagination, I’ve never read my Bible and found a verse that says thou shalt not imagine things. As adults we still use our imaginations when we dream of winning the lottery we never play.
If you’re honestly worried that you won’t be able to answer the question of “does Jesus exist?” then do some research, ask yourself that question and see if you can answer it. If you can’t then there is no time like the present to figure it out. If you can’t answer your own questions, how are you going to answer those of a teen or pre teen?
Here’s my take on the whole thing, we can take the legalistic approach and ban Santa, Halloween and the Easter Bunny from our lives for the sake of Jesus and you wouldn’t be wrong for doing it. Or you can let kids use their God given imaginations and treat those characters the same you would the veggie tales. You don’t have to promote Santa and ever utter the words that he is real, but kids around them will be talking about him, your kids will think about Santa even if you tell them he’s a myth. Do you want your kid to be the weirdo who tells all the other kids that Santa is fake?
Just a thought, did you grow up believing in Santa? Do you believe in Jesus now? Chances are if you’re reading a Christian blog, you do. And I know that parents thirty years ago gave way less thought to the whole Santa vs Jesus thing. To them there never was an either/or thing, it just was.
I don’t know if I’ll get in another post before Christmas, so Merry Christmas friends and thanks for reading.