Friday, December 2, 2011

Lying to your Children About Santa

I realize that I'm in the minority (as far as I can tell I'm in the extreme minority here) among baptists for doing Santa with my kids. From most other people I hear something very similar to "I don't want to lie to my children, so I tell them Santa isn't real."
Set aside that St. Nicholas (in dutch, Santa Claus) was very likely a real guy, who at one point put gold coins into stockings so their poor owners would have enough money to pay their dowry and could avoid a life of prostitution. Set aside also the celebration of that spirit, like what everyone is actually aiming at, even non-believers, that that kind of action is good and should be celebrated, and emulated.
Set it aside, I want to point something out something more important about the idea of Santa.

All things that really matter are non-corporeal: love, joy peace, patience, goodness, our souls, these things have no real physical manifestation. As a consequence, they must be comprehended by way of analogy. Take God Himself for example: being utterly other than time, space, and matter (this is what is meant by the world Holy, it means He is so very other) results in us being unable to understand Him. (The Reformed thinkers called these communicable attributes because God is communicating them to us)
For example, how do we understand God when He says He's a Father? By understanding earthly fatherhood and relating it upwards- because God has decreed that we have kids and could experience that for ourselves, we are able to get a glimpse of God Himself. Indeed this is what Jesus says "If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much greater does your Father in heaven?"
And I'm arguing from the greater to the lesser here, if God, the highest end of our knowledge, demands we approach Him via analogy, and we care for our kids, then would it really make sense to deny our children this learning platform when we appropriate it for ourselves? Are you concerned about lying to your children about Santa? You might want to rather be worried about being a hypocrites before God.

All that to introduce the argument that if you sat down and try to explain to children in the highest terms the concept of Christian generosity and the necessity of loving your brothers and sisters and ensuring their well being because they are fellow believers, the kids are going to tune out, because they are concrete thinkers, and have not yet moved to grasp such lofty ideas. If however you provide them a concrete example then they may be able to latch onto it and understand it. For us then Santa is the real manifestation of Generosity and Christian Love. It's a simplification by way of concession, but it's not a lie. It's an object lesson. When they get older the notion of a physical Santa will be improved to see that while these attributes are embodied in Santa who acts as an example for us, they are not exclusive to him.
They are learning with their hearts now, and heads later.
So if it's lying to your children to tell them Santa is real then the subject matter expert witness in court is lying to the jury because he is not telling them everything just as it is. In fact simplifying anything for matter of explanation is a lie. Which means you had better cancel your kids Sunday morning Bible classes at your church and have them in with the adults or face the sin of lying to them.

Lastly, let's just be honest and admit that any child who grows up, falls away, and offers that line for why they don't believe in Jesus is putting up a pitiful excuse. "My parents lied to me saying there was such a person as Santa, they must therefore have lied to me about God. I do not believe in God." What they are saying is "Unless my parents could explain God perfectly to me they were lying to me." Tis nonsense. 
And this is why we will do Santa for our children on Christmas morning.

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