Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Santa Religion

1. Something one believes in and follows devotedly

Santa Claus is a religion… yep, I’m going there. This is such a taboo subject. Here's the irony: we preach that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life… but we get all up in arms when people try to take away our Santa Clause… who is NOT truth. Why is that?...

When Caroline was little, Erich asked me why I wanted to teach Caroline that Santa is “real”. I said “Because it’s just fun.” He explained to me that using logic like, “it's just fun” or “that’s what everyone does” is simply NOT biblical. Then, he threw the clincher in:
“Have you ever prayed about it or searched scripture on the subject?”

Ooohhh…that did it for me. Surprise, surprise… there is NO scripture ANYWHERE that promotes lying to our children!!! Especially not relating to a religious holiday. The Jews had specific instructions how to worship God through their offerings, feasts, rituals, etc…. and NONE of them included adding a mythical creature, who steals God’s glory, wrapped in a package of a lie to children.

I even tried to convince myself that I wasn’t lying to my kids… gasp! I’m just pretending, right? Wrong! Not only am I lying but I have to tell lie upon lie… sometimes very complex ones, to try to get the innocent children to buy into it all. But, I didn’t want to believe I was telling lies to them…it’s amazing what you will do to convince yourself about something that you don't want to give up.

Why was I holding on to this Santa Clause myth?... It was against scripture, against Truth, promotes selfishness…. Yuck! The truth of the matter was: I was holding on to it for my pleasure. Yep, that’s right, MY PLEASURE! It must be more fun for me and the kids to wake up Christmas morning to see the many presents that Santa gave them. I mean, without Santa… Christmas would just be… well, um… hmmmm

Christmas would be about Christ!

Funny… it’s not called Santamas… it’s called Christmas. Isn’t it strange that any person, regardless of their Christian beliefs, can participate in a religious holiday that’s supposed to be about Christ’s birth, all because they can do Santa?!

Do you hear any non-Muslim people celebrating Ramadan?... non-Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah?... NO… because those are sacred holidays only participated by followers of that religion.

But, add Santa in the mix… and ANYBODY can celebrate Christmas… and they’ll tell you it’s even better with Santa.

What?... something BETTER than Christ’s birth alone?...

Ohhhh, I get it… is that what God had in mind when he commanded us not to have any other gods before Him and to not fashion any graven images?
(Exodus 20:3-4)

Wait… if I’m not willing to give the Santa Claus lie up… then that makes Santa Clause… an IDOL. Yep, it’s that simple! If I’m confronted with truth that I’m lying to my kids, that I’m trying to “share” God’s glory with a false image during Christmas, and that it’s completely unbiblical, then I MUST give it up. Otherwise, it’s an idol!

SHOCK OF ALL SHOCKERS: Let’s look at what the Santa religion teaches vs. what God is:

~Santa is always watching you.
~Only God is Omnisciencent (Psalm 147:4-5).

~Santa gives gifts when you are good and coal when you are naughty.
~God freely gives grace to us because our good-works won't save us (Eph. 2:8-9) and He gives us forgiveness when we’ve sinned (Psalm 103:8-12)

~Santa promotes indulgence and selfishness.
~Christ promotes sacrifice and selflessness (Luke 14:27).

Wow… Santa is the OPPOSITE of Christ… AND he’s a lie!

Why did I ever think teaching my children Santa was real was a good thing?... Why did I ever think adding his myth into Christ’s REAL birth would be a good thing? If I try to convince my children that Santa is real, then I am truly and simply teaching my children to believe in a false religion that completely contradicts God’s character and His Will and His Word. WOW!

I was disillusioned by the World in thinking that Santa was “OK”. But we are to be set apart from the World (Romans 12:1-2). We are not to look to them and how they celebrate Christmas, or Santamas, and mimic what they do.

Col. 2:8 says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

So, after much prayer and bible study… I was strongly convicted that low and behold, I shouldn’t be lying to my children about Santa. And, in case I wasn’t fully convinced, God orchestrated something beautiful that year:

Caroline came up to me, looked me dead square in the eyes, and asked with a heart of searching and sincerity: Mommy, tell me the truth… Is Santa really real?”

Oh, yea… that was it. There is no way I could look back into her sweet eyes and lie. There is no way when she asked for truth, that I should give her something false.

Why should I tell her to believe in Santa?... the Santa Religion teaches that he gives you gifts when you’re good, that he has the power to watch you always, that he will fulfill your every
Christmas present desire… all of these attributes go against everything I’m teaching about God’s goodness. And then, there will be a day I say, “Oh, I was just telling you a story about Santa… but God is really real, and He is watching you always… TRUST me this time!”

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Elf on the Shelf… gosh, those marketing geniuses got bonuses that year for their creepy invention. Even a quick Wikipedia search will give you the background on why the world gets so Santa-crazy… it’s commercialism! Santa promotes over- indulgence and consumerism. No wonder retailers put Santas up everywhere and I don’t see any pictures of Jesus decorating the store shelves.

How about this one: WWJD? Yea, what would Jesus do? Luke 18:16 reads, "But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Would Jesus turn to those kids and lie to them about Santa? Would He promote good works for gifts… would He promote selfishness?... Nope… I’m sure on this one: Jesus would NOT be lying to the little children about Santa. He would be telling them that He is the way, the truth and the life and only through Him can they come to the Father.
(John 14:6)

So back to the moment of truth with Caroline asking me for an answer on Santa's "real-ness": I gulped and replied, No sweetie, he’s not real,”. She said with a smile on her face,
“OK, that’s what I thought.”

That was the end of Santa being “alive” in our house. I am confident God was pleased with that Truth!

So, how do we celebrate Christmas?... with LOTS of CHRIST! We do an
Advent bible study each night preparing our hearts for the story of Christ’s birth . We have an Advent Calendar and Wreath that we do with the girls. We teach the children that Christmas is about celebrating Christ’s birth and sacrificing to help others, like he sacrificed to save the world (John 3:16). We spend the month finding ways to serve others to show Christ’s love for them… either local charity ministries or abroad. Christmas morning we wake up, read Luke Chapter 2 about Christ’s birth, sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and sing some Christmas carols. Then we open 3 gifts each that symbolize the 3 different gifts the Wise men brought to Jesus.

Are we doing it perfectly?… no way! We re-evaluate our hearts, motives, spending, gift purchases, etc. each year to see what we can improve on to honor and glorify God. As the imperfect people we are, we find something each year that we could do differently to match up with God’s Word. Our goal is to celebrate Christ's birth in the most God-honoring way possible.

Christmas is a wonderful season of truth and life. And we celebrate Christ and Christ alone. We promote loving sacrifice for others, and we thank God for sending His Son for the purpose of teaching us more about Him and for sacrificing His life for ours! What a glorious time!

Santa is just a character to my girls… he has no power, only God has power. He is the same as Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost… just a story, a myth, a legend.
God is TRUTH… Christmas is about that TRUTH ALONE!

Here are some wise words from John Piper on the subject of Santa Clause being a diversion to Christ:
How we See Christmas Symbols

John MacArthur Jr. has something to say about Santa Clause being Evil during this sermon: Santa Clause is Coming to Town

R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries has a wonderful article about are we really worshiping Santa or Jesus in: Santa-Christ

I pray this post encourages you to focus on Christ this Christmas… to remove Worldly myths… simply celebrating Jesus’ birth. What would Jesus do?...

John 4:24: "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Have a truly blessed Christmas!


Meghann said...

Wonderful post! I love the ideas of how to celebrate it throughout the month as well! Love you :)

MamaJ said...

Very good post!! Thanks for posting those links as well! I liked visiting your blog.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. I think that I have participated in it SO long that I don't even stop to question why I am doing it. It's all about presents and "getting stuff." You are right, there isn't much about Christ birth mentioned at Christmas time.

Each year, I over-spend on Christmas gifts trying to "impress" people in some way, but it's really utter foolishness! I don't think that I have ever seriously prayed about this Christmas issue . . . maybe I am afraid to?

At any rate, thank you SO much again for posting this. This gives me much to think about for Christmas Days that will come in the future.

Jennie said...

Thanks for atriculating so well what I have felt for years about Christmas and Santa. It really undermines our authority as parents by lying to them about the Santa myth. A child may reason, "If you lied so easily about Santa then, what about Jesus. Maybe He's just a myth too."

One thing we have done is to learn about the real, historical St. Nicholas who was a Chrsitan. He certainly would be appalled at how his name is tied into modern day Christmas celebrations.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your insights....they are much needed and much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts through this process. We don't even have kids yet but we have talked about this subject a couple of times this month. When I talked with my mom about it she freaked, at least now some of the arugments and scriptures I can use to difuse or make others understand more clearly when that time comes for us!

Bethany W. said...

A very well written, and much needed post.