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What should Christians tell their kids about Santa?

December 6, 2017


Consider this modern-day parable.


Four devout men debated what Christian parents should tell their kids about Santa.


The first one said, “The Bible’s pretty clear: lying is bad. Lying to your kids is maybe even worse. If they can’t trust you about small matters like Santa, how can you expect them to trust you on big matters, like… oh… the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God!”


“Oh, come on!” the second man said. “Do you really think that when God said, ‘Don’t lie,’ that He had the Santa Claus myth in mind? My parents sold me hard on Santa—we sent letters to the North Pole every year!—and never once did it occur to me, years later, that my parents were liars, or that I couldn’t trust them on spiritual matters. Besides that—”


“Just wait a minute,” chimed in the third man. “It doesn’t have to be either/or. Have you guys ever heard how the legend of Santa originated?”


Neither of them had.


“With my kids,” he continued, “I tell them that Saint Nick was a real person who lived a long time ago in what is now Turkey. He was born into a rich Christian family, but both of his parents died when he was a teenager, leaving him a large inheritance. Rather than spending it on himself, however, his deep love for Jesus motivated him to give it to the poor. He was especially known to give gifts to children. Sometimes he’d even fill kids’ socks with presents and hang them around the house!”


The first man was interested, but unconvinced. “That’s all nice and good, but ‘Santa Claus’ is a far cry from the historical Saint Nick. Saint Nick was a godly man, but Santa is a God-Replacement… a lie that’s been marketed to us by godless retailers to drown out the true meaning of Christmas and pad their bottom line—”


“Well just hold on, and let me finish.” The third man said. “We don’t lie to our kids. We tell them that some parts of “Santa” are true—the parts about Saint Nick—and some parts are make-believe—you know, the reindeer, the North Pole, the elves, and all that. So our kids know the full truth, but not in such a way that we ‘demonize’ Santa. A little make-believe never hurt anyone. God is the one who created our imagination in the first place!”


At this point, the second man re-entered the conversation. “Okay, so everyone’s had their chance to speak up.” And then he turned to the fourth man. “Except you—you’ve been silent this whole time. What do you have to say?”


The fourth man paused for about ten seconds, and when he opened his mouth, he spoke with authority.


“In some ways, all of you are right.” Then he paused again as everyone wondered how that statement could even be true.


He continued, “I only ask that you hold your convictions sincerely, and don’t judge others for theirs. If you do judge others, you’ve abandoned the very Christmas spirit that you’re trying so passionately to defend.”


The fourth man never introduced himself, but that’s because he didn’t have to. Despite their different convictions, they all knew him well.


The fourth man was Jesus.

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