Santa Claus: Another “God”?

Santa Claus

Another “God”?

Through the so-called Christmas season, Santa Claus is much in the mind of American children as well as children from around the world. Although research indicates that the Santa Claus myth is particularly popular in North America, some versions of it are found in Europe, South America , and other locations on earth. Those who do observe this tradition, whether children or adults, delight in this mythical character from the land of imagination.

Books portray him, TV displays him, songs remind us of him, magazines exalt him, and some greedy store owners even give the opportunity to meet a costumed Santa! In some locations, public parades announce his arrival! The popular imagination goes to great extremes to elevate Santa in our thinking and devotion. Just how an obese Santa will climb down a narrow chimney, how he will keep from becoming overheated in the hot weather of the southern hemisphere, how his sleigh will function without snow, or how it will fly while laden with hundreds of millions of gifts pose little problem to the imagination of Santa’s admirers.

How many parents who profess to worship God and serve Jesus Christ have acquiesced to the Santa Claus myth simply because the world around us exalts him! Is the Santa fable really innocent fun? Should it be accepted in our families and promoted by Christian fathers and mothers during the traditional “Christmas” season? Does the Bible have anything to say about this contemporary emphasis on a mythological Santa?

The Santa Claus myth is not innocent fun but a cruel fabrication—a fanciful, destructive lie perpetuated by parents who hypocritically tell their children not to lie! It is propagated by money-hungry advertisers and toy-manufactures that have found that the Christmas season is the most lucrative time of the year. For the sake of fun and excitement, many are willing to cast aside many Christian virtues and Biblical teachings.

Consider the matter of lying. Are we justified in lying simply because a child enjoys the lie? Are we exempt from guilt simply because lying is accepted by a major portion of society? Is the Santa myth simply a good “white” lie of no consequence? The Word of God quite plainly affirms, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 12:22). We read that God hates “a lying tongue” (6:16-17). Paul tells us to “lay aside falsehood” and to “speak truth” (Ephesians 4:25; cf. Colossians 3:9). God assures us that “ALL liars” will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). These facts should settle the matter for all of those who prize honesty and truthfulness.

Another sin encouraged by the Santa myth is greed. When we think about it, greed or covetousness is at the very heart of the Santa Claus phenomenon. Millions of children are encouraged to want more, more, more material things from the exhaustless store of Santa’s toy shop! Not content with a toy or two, modern children are encouraged (by greedy store owners and advertisers) to want the latest and most popular toys, regardless of the price! Indulgent parents encourage this greedy spirit in their sons and daughters, catering to their materialistic pursuit for more and more. Not only this, but the overwhelming majority of such toys are worldly to the core (violent characters, proud and sexy dolls, foolish computer devices—the list seems endless). Do we not realize that greed or covetousness is called “idolatry” since pursuing material things such as toys receives the devotion that only God should have? If we have such greed or idolatry, we will have no inheritance in God’s kingdom (Ephesians 5:5) and will suffer the wrath of God (v. 6; cf. Colossians 3:5-6).

Furthermore, Santa Claus, or “Saint Nicolas,” is not simply an overweight, white-bearded, jolly old man in a red suit with fur collar, who lives at the North Pole. To many, Santa is elevated to the level of Deity! In effect, he has become a “god” to vast numbers of children. Notice the characteristics of God attributed to this supernatural figure:

  • Santa is omniscient (all-knowing) like God—knowing whether every child in the world has been “good or bad” (to use the thought from the popular song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”).
  • Santa almost omnipresent (ever-present) like God—he can be everywhere in the world during the same night of the year!
  • Santa is omnipotent (all-powerful) like God—flying through the skies with his supernatural reindeer, carrying tons of toys!
  • Santa is a moral judge like God—rewarding good little children and refusing to reward bad children.
  • Santa is served by others like God is—he has his group of faithful little workers at his beck and call.
  • Santa personifies love, good will, and giving—just as God does.
  • Santa is revered by his worshipful subjects—a response suitable for our exalted God and Creator alone!

In these and other ways, the mythical Santa Claus has become something of a god, since he has superhuman attributes. This constitutes an affront to the true and living God! “Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:4-5).

Could it be that if parents tell their children to believe in both Santa Claus and Jesus Christ (particularly at the very same season of the year), and then later reveal the mythical character of Santa, the children will also have their belief in Christ undermined? How sad to think of parents’ willingness to deceive their children and weaken their children’s faith simply for the sake of “fun” and a little excitement.

Nothing spiritual is to be gained in believing a lie. All will eventually be disillusioned by falsehood. Nothing is more precious than truth. True Christians must remember and practice the virtue of honesty through all seasons of the year. Let us love, trust, and serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9) rather than giving our allegiance to a fictitious Santa Claus!

Richard Hollerman

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