Christmas, Mailbag, Parenting

The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids about Santa Claus?

‘Tis the season for Christmas-themed Mailbag questions! Got a question about something related to Christmas? Leave a comment below or e-mail me.

Originally published December 4, 2017

As Christian parents, is it OK for us to tell our children about Santa Claus?

Christmastime can be so much fun when you have children. Many of us remember the excitement of Santa, the Christmas tree, and presents from our own childhood. They’re happy memories, and we want to recreate those for our children.

But as Christian parents, our first priority isn’t fun, it’s obedience to Scripture. Yet is there a way to make Christmas merry for our children while still upholding God’s Word? Is Santa patently unbiblical?

No, he doesn’t have to be, as long as he keeps his sleigh parked inside the parameters of Scripture. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Santa can be unscripturally naughty, and how godly parents can keep him nice and biblical.

Santa Claus isn’t real. If you tell your children he is, or that he is the one who brings their presents, or that he knows whether they’ve been naughty or nice, you’re lying. The Bible says that lying is a sin, period. There’s no exception for jolly old elves who pass out toys (or for tooth fairies or Easter bunnies, either, for that matter). And not only is lying a sin, it is extraordinarily hypocritical to lie to your children about Santa Claus and then turn around later and punish them when they lie about something. Lying to your children about Santa Claus teaches them that it’s OK to lie (i.e. sin) when you want to or when it would be to your advantage.

Don’t lie to your children about Santa Claus. Tell them the truth: he’s a fun, fictional character that we can enjoy reading stories and singing songs about, just like Goldilocks or Superman or Old MacDonald. As for the presents, maybe you’d like to handle it similarly to the way my husband and I did with our children. When they were very small, my husband or I would don a Santa hat on Christmas Eve and say something like: “You know how you like to play pretend? Well, mommies and daddies like to play pretend, too, especially at Christmas! Now it’s time for you to go to bed so we can pretend to be Santa Claus.”

Santa Claus isn’t omniscient. 

He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good, for goodness’ sake!¹

Uh uh. No way. Omniscience is an incommunicable attribute of God. He is the only One who has the power to see and know all things, and it is an insult and an affront to Him to even suggest that a mere mortal – let alone a fictional character – has the same power and knowledge that He has. In reverence and awe for God’s preeminence, we should never ascribe to others the things that belong to God alone.

Teach your children about the attributes of God. When you read your children stories about Santa Claus or hear Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town on the radio, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach them about God’s omniscience and power. “Did y’all just hear that? That song said Santa Claus can see you and knows how you’re behaving. Is that true? Who is the only One who always sees you, cares for you, and knows what you’re doing and thinking? Can anybody else besides God do that?”

Santa Claus teaches works righteousness. In St. Nick’s economy, good behavior earns a reward (presents). Bad behavior earns punishment (coal). If you’ve ever shared the gospel with anybody, that will probably sound familiar. Most lost people think that’s what Christianity is. If you’re a “good person” God is happy with you and you’ll go to Heaven. Hell is the punishment for “bad people”: Hitler, murderers, and rapists. This is not what the Bible teaches, either about salvation, or about why children should obey their parents.

Teach your children the gospel. Again, this whole “naughty or nice” part of the Santa Claus narrative is a perfect gospel-teaching opportunity. Take advantage of it! Ask your child to be “nice” for one whole day. At bed time, take a few minutes to talk about the times she messed up and was “naughty” when she was supposed to be trying to be “nice.” Nobody can be nice and obedient all the time, no matter how hard we try. We are all naughty, coal black sinners deserving the punishment of Hell. Jesus came and lived a life of perfect “niceness” (obedience) died on the cross to take the punishment for our naughtiness, was buried, and rose again. He did that, not because we earned it with good behavior, but because of His mercy and grace. And then He gave us the greatest gift ever. A gift we naughty people don’t deserve: salvation and eternal life in Heaven. And it is because of our love and gratitude to Christ for saving us that we obey Him, not so that He will give us what we want. Indeed, the Bible tells us that the more obedient to Christ we are, the more persecution we will face.

Santa Claus doesn’t automatically have to be on the Christian parent’s naughty list. There are lots of ways to enjoy the fun of Santa and even turn him into an opportunity to teach your child biblical truth, all while being obedient to Scripture. But if Santa makes you biblically uncomfortable in some way, then by all means, don’t go against your conscience. Whichever way you decide – after prayer, study of the Scriptures, and discussing it with your spouse – do not judge other Christian parents by your personal convictions about Santa Claus. And have a Merry Christmas!

¹Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, 1934.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 10- Beautiful Daughterhood

Ladies- this will be our last lesson for 2018.
We will pick up with lesson 11 in early January.

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 9, we looked at having beautiful feet that take the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world. Starting with lesson 10, our lessons will be focusing more specifically on God’s unique roles for women, beginning with our role as daughters.

Questions to Consider

1. Before we delve into the Scriptures, take a moment to think about your parents and your role as their daughter. Describe how your relationship functions. Is it loving and healthy, or strained and difficult? Are you a child, adolescent, or adult? Are your parents saved or unsaved? Living or deceased? Present in your life or absent? Caring or abusive? Every relationship is different, so you will need to be careful to wisely apply today’s Scriptures to your relationship with your parents. What can our relationship with our parents teach us about our relationship with God? How does being a godly daughter to your parents reflect being a godly daughter of God?

2. Examine the Exodus, Ephesians, and Colossians passages together. What are the similarities and differences among these verses? What is the main verb in Exodus 20:12? In the Ephesians and Colossians verses? To what group of people are the Ephesians and Colossians verses addressed? The Exodus verse? What is the difference between obeying your parents and honoring your parents? Is there ever an age at which adults no longer have to obey their parents, but continue to honor them? Describe this dynamic with your own parents.

What do these verses say are the consequences of obeying or honoring one’s parents? Be sure to consider the context of what was happening in Israel’s history with regard to the promise attached to Exodus 20:12. How does the Colossians verse best explain the consequences of honoring and obeying one’s parents?

How does God use the parent-child relationship to introduce us to the idea that He is our supreme Father? That we are to honor Him, obey Him, and submit to His authority?

3. Consider how a godly woman might show honor to parents who abused or neglected her. How could she honor them by sharing the gospel with them, praying for them, forgiving them, or blessing them? How can a godly woman honor parents who are deceased or whom she never knew?

4. Examine the John passage. How did Jesus set an example of honoring His mother? Can you think of any other instances from Jesus’ life that show Him honoring His parents? How can you imitate Him with regard to your parents?

5. Consider the Proverbs and 1 Timothy passages together. What do these passages teach us about caring for our parents in their old age? To whom does God reserve the ministry of caring for widows (and, by extension, elderly relatives) in 1 Timothy 5:16? Explain how God has uniquely equipped women to serve their families and their churches this way. Why does God choose to honor women with this special position of ministry instead of men? How can a woman be a daughter to elderly relatives she is caring for even if they are not her parents?

6. Study the Luke and Matthew passages together. Describe how the gospel can cause a rift between a believing daughter/(in-law) and her unsaved parents/(in-law). To Whom are we to give our highest love and loyalty? Why? Explain why Jesus’ remarks in the Matthew and Luke passages do not conflict with the Exodus/Ephesians/Colossians admonitions to honor and obey one’s parents. What are some ways a believing daughter/(in-law) honor her lost parents/(in-law)?

Explain Matthew 19:29 in terms of God blessing Believers with spiritual fathers and mothers, especially when their biological parents are lost. How can we, as godly daughters, honor our spiritual fathers and mothers? How is God a “Father to the fatherless” for those who have unbelieving parents?

7. Summarize, in your own words, a biblical perspective of “daughterhood”. How does obeying, honoring, and submitting to the authority of our parents teach us to obey, honor, and submit to the authority of God? How is being a godly daughter to your parents, those you love like parents, and your spiritual parents, a major component of biblical womanhood?


Read the book of Ruth and/or Esther, specifically examining their example as daughters. How did Ruth and Esther exemplify godly daughterhood as adults, even though Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law and Esther was Mordecai’s cousin?

Suggested Memory Verse

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Exodus 20:12


The Mailbag: What are some biblical ways of addressing my child’s mental illness?


My adolescent son has been engaging in recurring sinful behavior that I believe might have led to a mental illness. He recently attempted suicide and his doctor believes medication is the best treatment option. I don’t know what to do. I just know I want my child to be safe. I know you aren’t a doctor, but I was wondering if you had any advice about other things we could try instead.

I know this is a really difficult situation, and I deeply wish I could be of more help. However, as you rightly pointed out, I’m not a doctor and don’t know your son’s situation, so I wouldn’t dream of suggesting changing or stopping any particular treatment.¹

In addition to working closely with your son’s doctors, I would recommend a few things:

1. Continue to pray for his salvation and repentance. Share the gospel with him and point him to Christ whenever you have the opportunity to do so, but use wisdom and be sure you’re not pushing him past what he can deal with at the moment. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the work on your son’s heart that only He can do.

2. Set up an appointment with your pastor for counseling- for you, your husband, and any other children still living at home. If your son would be willing to see your pastor for counseling – in addition to any other treatment he’s receiving, not instead of – that would probably be beneficial as well. Your pastor should have received training in counseling in seminary and can help guide your family through this situation.

3. If your pastor is unable or unwilling to counsel you (or in addition to your pastor’s counseling), you might want to seek out a Certified Biblical Counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. This is not secular counseling with a Christianish tilt to it, but counselors who have received extensive training in Scripture, theology, and counseling to help you apply the Bible to your situation as you walk through it, and help your son understand his sin and the gospel. They are very helpful, and I highly recommend them.

As I said, I wish I could do more to help. I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you. I’m taking a moment to pray for you now, and ask everyone reading this to pray for this family as well.

¹A brief note to my readers- I know many of you strongly disagree with psychological and psychiatric treatment. There are many aspects of these disciplines which I disagree with as well. However, it would be dangerous, unethical, unwise, and ungodly for me to recommend for or against any specific type of treatment in this forum. Any comments suggesting this parent should discontinue any type of mental health treatment her child is currently receiving will not be published.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.


Movie Tuesday: Making Sure Kids Stay in Church as Adults

Children who sit with their parents in “big church” are more likely to
stay in church as adults than those who spend the
worship hour in children’s activities.

It’s more detrimental to youth to have a series of youth pastors than to have no youth pastor at all.

These are just two of the fascinating statistics included in Dr. Steve Parr’s recent seminar for the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s ReGroup small group leader training workshop. It’s great information for those in children’s, youth, or student ministry, and if you’re a parent with children still in the home, or a grandparent, you’ll definitely want to watch and give some thought to your church’s programs and how your own family worships.

(Disclaimer: I am not familiar enough with Dr. Parr to recommend or warn against following him. I screened him very briefly for associations with several major false teachers and did not find any with the exception that he quotes John Maxwell – whom I do not recommend – occasionally in his writing. The video above is the only material of Dr. Parr’s I have viewed. As always, please compare all media you consume to Scripture and reject anything that is out of line with God’s word.)

Parenting, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ The 10 Commandments of Parenting- 9

Originally published July 14, 200810 Commandments Parenting 9

Thou shalt be forgiving.

“bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:13

Imagine a home where there was no forgiveness. Anger and bitterness would reign supreme. Old wounds would be nursed and rehearsed. Grudges would be held tightly as treasured friends. Is this kind of home healthy for anyone, let alone children? Is it Christlike?

Of course not. In our homes, the place where we are most inclined to let it all hang out, forgiveness is even more vital than in any other venue. If you have a husband and/or children, you know that the people who live in your house are going to mess up. Royally, at times. And guess what? So are you.

How will you want to be treated when you mess up? I’m guessing that while you’ll understand your family will be disappointed in you, you’ll still want them to find it in their hearts to forgive you once they work through that disappointment. In obedience to the “Golden Rule” (Luke 6:31), therefore, you’ve got to extend forgiveness when your husband or children offend you.

When we forgive each other, we paint a picture of God’s forgiveness. Just as God does not condone our sin when He forgives us, the forgiveness we extend on the human level does not mean that the offender’s actions were OK. It is merely a way of saying, “I’m going to let this go instead of continually holding it against you.”

God deeply values forgiveness. It is the entire reason He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth and allowed Him to be brutalized to death. Jesus endured all that pain and degradation so that each of us could be forgiven for offending God. And, if God could go through all of that to forgive us, how could we – out of love for Him – ever refuse to forgive our loved ones?