Jeremy Sams Art Blog

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A response from the weaker brother

Before Ellie was born, I tried to work out almost every day. I could bench press a person and a half, and do 10-12 pull-ups with a 45 lb. weight attached to my waist. I made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like...well, a really huge guy with big muscles. I was nothing like that. But now, several years later, along with the average of 4 seasonal trips to the gym, atrophy has left me looking more like this:
Yes folks, take away the glasses and the shaggy hair and there ya have me. Apart from my high weight/low reps workout routine and high protein intake, I have become...weak. I admit it.

Wait a second. Are we talking about physical weakness or another type of weakness here? Ah yes, we are talking about another form of weakness. This is a response to my dear friend, Jennifer over at the Nonconformist blog. She had responded to my previous blog post about Santa being a liar. I was very encouraged by the responses that I got through email. Surprisingly, the great majority agreed with my post. You can view Jennifer's response here. It's actually a good article from the opposing view, which does not in the least bit offend me. I appreciate critique. I'm an artist, so even my livelihood depends on it. And, I, for one, do not hold myself to some form of ministerial immunity: a belief that you can say or preach what you want and refuse to be challenged. I'm not above a good challenge, so thanks Jennifer.

So, here's the rebuttal in a nutshell from the Nonconformist mom: According to Romans 14, NOTHING is unclean of itself, including celebrating Christmas with Santa. You can have your cake and eat it too as long as it's done in faith.

This is the most common view and scriptures used for those who celebrate our modern traditions while mixing them with Christianity. So, let's examine the logic along with the Scriptures.

I would agree that the whole of the chapter is not isolated to meat, drink and days. You can use this chapter as a litmus test for many of those seemingly "grey" areas in our Christian walk. However, this chapter absolutely does not negate the holiness and righteousness that God demands. If I tell my child that Santa knows when she's been bad or good and that if she's good, he'll bring her some neat little presents sometime between midnight and 6 am. Dec. 25th...and my 3 year old daughter fully believes it (as most small kids do)...then guess what my friends, I just lied. But does Romans 14 give me liberty to tell a fun little lie? Of course not, and I don't know of any sane Christian who would propagate that.

As far as Christmas trees, lights and all that good stuff, I say go for it. I don't know of anyone who's bowing down to a Christmas tree in order to worship it and I'm sure the attention our tree gets does not exceed the attention towards Christ. In fact, you can use some of these Christmas objects as object lessons to teach your child about Christ. I have no problem with the "objects"...we do have liberty in Christ.

The Nonconformist says this:

So yes, I am saying that I can participate and believe in the same things I did 6 years ago that were then a sin but now are not. The difference? Now, God gets the Glory. Then, he did not. Then, my actions and beliefs were self-driven and worldly. Now, I realize that God has made ALL things blameless and new, and what I “do”, as long as it is in honor and faith to Him, is also holy and blameless.

But, how can God be pleased with our mingling of that which is in competition with Him? The theme of my original post was specifically old Kris Kringle. Why must we confuse our children by adding an untrue element into our remembrance of the birth of our Savior? And, more specifically, how do we introduce, and celebrate with this element without telling a lie? I would love to hear exactly how people do this.

Also, lying is just one aspect of this saga. The worst part of this character is that society has made an idol out of him. I can hear my detractors gasp, "WHAT??? " How is Santa an idol? Do we bow down to him and worship him? Probably not. However, anything that comes between us and God, or takes more precedence and love from God is an idol. That's why I think it's hilarious to hear people say they're going to "fast from tv." In reality, they're just getting rid of their idol for a week. But, how do I get this? Well, I can think of one young man who loved his riches more than he loved Christ and when Jesus told him to go and sell all, then come follow Him...he went away sorrowful. His god was his riches...He loved money more than Christ.
But, how does Santa take attention and adoration away from Christ? Here's where we need to take a long serious look at our society. The main man being advertised, photographed and talked about during the Christmas holiday, sad to say, is not baby Jesus. How many kids have you seen in the "baby Jesus" line at the mall? Oh wait, I forgot...there's not one. Jesus is just a side-note.
So, when parents and society introduce this fictional character to their homes and the minds of their children by telling them all these cute little lies, they're in fact introducing an idol...made that way by our modern society. I then have to ask, have we forgotten 2 Corinthians 6:14-18?
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. "
I know some will say, "Santa's not an idol to me, so it's ok." Maybe he's not. Well, Buddha's not an idol to me and I don't worship him. But, do you think it would be ok for me to decorate my home and introduce my little girl to Buddha, and tell all the wonderful things he has done or can do for her? I think God would have a major problem with that. But some will still say, NOTHING is unclean of itself...even a little Buddha. Well, how about crack-cocaine? If I take it in faith, surely it's not sin and nothing is unclean. But then they'll say, "No, that will alter your mind and we're supposed to be sober minded...this is strictly forbidden." And they're right...and in the same way, we're commanded not to lie, and to introduce this character, a person would be forced to tell a lie. The temple of God has NO agreement with idols. There is NO fellowship between light and darkness. So, why do we compromise with Santa?

I'll repeat that for effect.

The temple of God has NO agreement with idols. There is NO fellowship between light and darkness.
And we're not talking about the meat offered to the idol, we're talking about the idol itself.

Here's something else I'd like to address:

Allowing your kids to dress up and calling them “princess” or “angel” is a lie just as much as Santa. But we don’t ever stop to condemn ourselves for those “innocent” actions.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I never remember telling my little girl that she was an actual princess. The only time I've called her an angel, I made sure people knew she was fallen. If, however, I did tell her she was a princess, it would not be a lie. I've been made a king and a priest, and she's my daughter, soooo if we want to get real technical... Besides all that, this argument doesn't hold water. "IF" I ever told my daughter she was a princess or an angel, you can rest assured I wasn't telling her some elaborate story that I owned a huge castle, and one day she'll kiss a frog and magically, her future husband will appear. If I ever called her an angel, you can also rest assured she did not understand me to say that she was actually created by God somewhere between the 1st and 3rd day of the creation week. Did not Solomon call his lover, "My dove"? Sometimes we call our children or spouses names or qualities out of endearment and not out of trying to make up a false story. We can't exactly say the same with Santa.

Well, there's the story from the weaker brother. Do I condemn those who celebrate with Santa? No, that's your business. I just want to give people something to think on. I'd like to say thanks to Jennifer Brigman and her husband Ryan. Be sure to visit her blog. She's a great writer and Ryan's quite the theologian and is the pastor at Grace Memorial Baptist Church, near Burlington, NC. It's good to be able to agree to disagree with brothers and sisters in Christ without division. Iron sharpens iron.


  1. Ah Jeremy, a fine response. Though, you argued all the points where I DON'T disagree with you! Lol. I never condoned lying and don't think that we should embrace the Santa lie. I don't have time now, but I'll re-respond in a blog post later. :)

  2. Here ya go!