Does “playing Santa” with your kids set your children up for failure? Are you lying to your kids? Are you potentially disrupting your integrity?
Some argue “playing” Santa endangers your children because you are establishing a reason for them to distrust you and therefore ultimately the Gospel. The problem with most arguments on the subject stem from an over-simplification to “playing Santa.” When evaluating this situation, it seems best to think about a person’s overall life and not zero in on two months out of the year to a practice that is obviously fantasy or fiction. Santa will not derail your testimony. Your life will derail your testimony.
Are you concerned about your testimony to your children? You should be. But consider these four factors. If you are biblical in these four factors, “playing Santa” will neither disrupt or hinder the Gospel.
First, your child’s salvation is God’s work. My child’s belief is contingent on the Spirit of God awakening them to salvation. Ezekiel 18 is an important chapter for any parent. “Behold, all (all means all here) souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” Ezekiel then goes on to explain just because a father transgresses the law and follows wickedness does not mean the son will do the same. Nor does a righteous parent mean your son will be righteous. Each person is accountable for his or her own actions.
I pray for my children’s salvation. I believe the Lord wants them saved. There are so many “issues” out there potentially providing a person’s disbelief. To fear all of those is to place my focus and fear in the wrong direction. Fear the Lord, trust Him, and faithfully follow Him! Have we bought into psychology’s “daddy’s complex”? Daddy did it wrong, now I am scared for life! DAD!!! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!!! WHY AREN’T YOU PERFECT?!?!?!
We know a child’s belief is not contingent on our actions but on His sovereign plan. I will sin, obey, teach, and explain the Gospel in front of them. But their belief is the Triune God’s work.
Second, show your children the Bible is the foundation for truth. Show them Psalm 19, Psalm 119, and 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The center for truth is the Bible.
I teach my children to trust the Bible. It is the ultimate authority, not me. Where I am off, follow Scripture. My words are not the center for truth unless they are an accurate reflection of biblical truth. Believing the authority of Scripture will keep a person from derailing on ANY subject — even Santa. The Bible testifies about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He died for me, buried, and resurrected so that I can have eternal life in Him. I stand justified by His grace and work, not mine. I know because of Scripture!
Now, one might argue, “How can they trust that if they can not trust your view of Santa?” That’s a good question and two other factors need to be included before this is answered.
Third, I am an ambassador to my children (2 Cor 5:20). Therefore I teach them biblical truth and live out my relationship with Christ in front of them ALL YEAR ROUND! (Eph. 4:1).
Christians live out their life in devotion to Christ all year. We pray to Him, we follow Him, we hold the Triune God, as revealed in Scripture, as the standard for perfection and say we follow him because we love him! We tell our kids conduct matters because He is holy. We sacrifice to serve others because we love Christ and His church. We listen to the preaching of the Word and tell our kids this is essential to our sanctification. Our kids should see people who fear the Lord and follow Him.
What parent prays to Santa? What parent teaches his child to follow Santa? What parent discusses Santa in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September or October? What parent goes to church, gathers with other believers under the name Santa? What parent opens a book on Santa and reads a family devotion to him? What church mingles Santa with hymns and begs you to consider repenting and following Santa?
If someone is doing this, then yes, your children will probably doubt your integrity and truthfulness.
4. There is a difference between fantasy, fiction, and fact. Our kids can discern the difference. The difference can be discerned by the way you respond to it, use it, and enjoy it. I joke with my kids all the time by saying absurd things. They know when I am kidding and telling them the truth. I teach them history. But I tell them the history is from mans’ perspective and could be wrong. They read books. They know Harry Potter is fake. They know the Bible is historical fact from God’s perspective.
They do not see their parents praying to Gandolf, following Gandolf, or exalting Gandolf in prayer and church. There is no confusion regarding the standard, the Gospel, and what governs our life.
When I found out Santa was my parents I did not feel decieved. I had fun and thought it a fun tradition. Did I believe in the Lord at that time? No I did not. I did not believe because I suppressed the truth in unrighteousness. It took the power of the Gospel to save me and make me believe the truth. Teach your children the Bible, teach them discernment, pray for them, have fun and do not violate your conscience.