Can Christians Accept Same Sex Marriage? A Biblical Response to the Supreme Court’s Ruling

The Dilemmagay flag

Sadly, on June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the Unites States of America voted in a 5/4 decision to make same sex unions legal in all 50 states. This is a new day in the history of the world – for a major world power to make this kind of change to the definition of marriage. As Christians know, the Supreme Court cannot redefine marriage, for they were not the ones to define it at its origin. The definition of marriage has been around for thousands of years and it will continue to be the union of one man and one woman. As hard as it is for us to think that they would overrule that long-standing definition – ultimately, for Christians, time is not what gives us our basis for our beliefs nor rulings of any court of any human power. The one and only ultimate foundation for Christian beliefs must come from God’s word. Without this basis as a foundation for our beliefs, we would make choices without any direction other than conscience, which can be wrong. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We have all made really bad decisions before, but if we would have been wise to follow what God’s word says, we would not have made those wrong decisions. Our philosophy and what we believe to be true about LGBT individuals will have major implications to the way we live our lives from this day forward. As Dr. Albert Mohler stated in Which Way Evangelicals? There is Nowhere to Hide,

This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.

In this season of testing, Christians committed to the gospel of Christ are called upon to muster the greatest display of compassion and conviction of our lives. But true compassion will never lead to an abandonment of biblical authority or a redefinition of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes it is. It is a moment of decision for all Christians. It is a decision you will not only make today, but you will have to continue to make every day of your life, and you will go on to teach your children and grandchildren – one way or the other – right or wrong. The culture will be no less than a vacuum that will consume us if we do not know the truths found in God’s word and hold to them with conviction and courage. My desire is not to give you my opinion – now is not the time for opinion, yet it is to give you God’s revealed truth, which comes directly from his word. If you want opinion, this is not the article for you. I’m a Christian and all Christians believe the Bible is God’s word handed down from him to us as our ultimate authority.

From a biblical perspective, we understand that in one sense Christians will have to “accept” same sex unions because we are in the world. But on the other hand, we are not of the world, therefore we cannot and we will not “accept” same-sex unions, because we know that it is a rejection of God’s moral law.

Judge not, right?

But wait just a minute. “You can’t judge me!” will be quoted as long as this conversation continues, in an attempt to gag anyone with any sign of moral judgment. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” is probably one of the most well-known verses from the Bible – by both regenerate believers in Jesus Christ and those who are not. It seems as if Jesus is telling his disciples not to judge anyone – under any circumstance. This is in no way what Jesus is saying. Jesus wants his disciples to see their own sinfulness in such a way that they would be slow to speak and quick to listen. Here are Jesus’ words in complete thought found in Matthew 7:1-5.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Please be careful to see that Jesus is getting at the hearts of his disciples. He wants them to be sure they are judging out of the right intent and without condemning desire toward others. Jesus explicitly says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” He is telling them they are to judge, but to be very careful, because they will also be judged with the same measure.

Jesus also explains in Matthew 18:15-20 what a Christian is to do if another Christian sins against them. In this case, Jesus is assuming that the Christian would make a judgment as to if his brother had sinned against him. That judgment isn’t found in what he thinks is right, yet it can only be found in the Bible. Then we find in verse 17, Jesus says, “If he refuses to listen even to the church let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” This means, if someone has sinned and he will not repent of that sin, the church is commanded to excommunicate him from the church. Yes, Jesus tells Christians to treat unrepentant members as though they are nonbelievers. In their unrepentant state, they are living as though they do not know Jesus.

Paul isn’t left out. Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth is also explicit on this matter. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul addresses an issue of incest. He begins in verse 1 by saying, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.” I would say that Paul is doing a lot of judging here. He goes on to show the seriousness of sexual immorality by stating, “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” Paul says to kick this guy out of the church, due to his unrepentant sexual immorality. Yes, this is another biblical example of church discipline toward an unrepentant member.

What we must understand is that the Bible does not condemn judging, but it does condemn judgmentalism. Christians are called to judge the lives and fruit of other Christians, but in no case are we to have judgmental behaviors or attitudes. The Christian should not be as the scribes and Pharisees in John 8:1-11. They brought to Jesus a woman, who had be caught in the very act of adultery. They wanted to catch Jesus in a moral predicament. Verse 6 shows their judgmental heart at is deepest when it says, “This they [the scribes and Pharisees] said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.” The highly influential religious leaders didn’t care one bit about this woman who had been caught in adultery. They didn’t care that she needed forgiveness for her sins. Nor did they care about the emotional hurt and pain that comes along with her sinful actions. They desired to reject Jesus and that shows the wickedness of their hearts. This kind of judgmentalism is sinful, but judging what is right from wrong is affirmed as good and even commanded by Scripture. Jesus judged not only the woman and told her in verse 11 to go and sin no more, but he also turned the tables and judged the scribes and Pharisees.

Christians in this age must have the right heart and attitude when they see hurting people in the world, who are living outside of God’s desired plan for the human race. Part of the reason we are having this problem is that churches have not correctly judged those inside the church as we have been commanded by Scripture. When we don’t judge our own (Christians) we become hypocrites to the world – and in some cases that is exactly what has happened. I have heard multiple conversations from church leaders saying that they are reconsidering church discipline as a part of their church’s policies. Sadly, the rise of the LGBT cultural gains is what has spurred church leaders to these conversations. It should not take the culture to make the church act in accordance with God’s word. Church discipline has been left behind, partly due to a culture that affirmed much of the same values of the church. This has obviously wained over time and they are becoming increasingly polar opposites. I am saddened by the movement and direction of the culture, but I am encouraged to see churches propelled back to biblical positions and actions. This will in effect lead churches to save many marriages from failing. It will help keep Christians from living in continual sin, by having accountability to one another. The direction and the speed at which it is changing will create a major distinction between the culture and the true Church. This distinction will be good and will ultimately help churches be healthier, with Christians growing spiritually, and by the grace of God will ultimately lead to more conversions to eternal life through trusting in Jesus as the Christ.

Based on the Bible, God will be the final Judge. The people of this world should desire that Christians judge them. We know that mere sinful humans would be much more gracious toward sin than the holy and righteous Judge called God. The true rejection is not the disagreement with legalization of same-sex unions as marriage. Ultimately, they do not want to hear that God will judge us all. All I can say is, he will. You can either take my word for it, or his. Paul tells us that we are not to seek revenge on those who do us wrong, “but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord (Romans 12:19).” We know that God will one day judge and make all wrongs, right. It is not our job to bring down judgment from above, but we are to warn of the judgment to come. Shouldn’t we warn those who we believe are in great danger? I am glad, very glad, for those who warned me – for it led me to repentance and faith in Jesus as my only hope.

Christians we are to judge those inside the church (Christians) and to make moral judgments on those who do not profess to be Christians, but we are never to have a judgmental attitude toward anyone. Our desire should only, and always, be to see the transformation of individuals living in sin, repent and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

God’s Word is Clear on Homosexuality

There has been much discussion about homosexuality. Questions have arisen like “Can a Christian be a homosexual?” or “Can a Christian affirm homosexuality as ok?”

The question we need to ask is “What exactly is homosexuality?” Homosexuality is the sinfulness of giving into same-sex attraction as a lifestyle. This may bother some of my Christian brothers and sisters, but same-sex attraction is not a sin. It is no more a sin than the desire I or any other man has to look at a woman other than my wife. The desire is not sinful. It is a product of my naturally sinful heart, but the desire and temptation alone is not sinful. Let me remind you what the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “[Jesus,] in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The temptation of same-sex attraction is not sinful. On the other hand, giving into the desire and temptation of same-sex attraction is sin. All Christians struggle and fight against lust and temptations, but a Christian is not permitted to give into those desires, no matter if it is same-sex attraction, thievery, or gossip. When that happens, I have bowed my knee to the god of this world and my own idol, instead of doing what I know my God has called me to do – “Flee from sexual immorality” and all other sins (1 Cor. 6:18). Anything I love more than my God is an idol and doing anything he has told me not to do, has become an idol. Homosexuality is a particular branch of what the Bible calls sexual immorality. All sexual immorality is wrong, and homosexuality is included in that list.

God has called Christians to turn from our own desires and to look to him instead. What we have seen in our culture is an acceptance and affirmation of something that God labeled as sin. But this country has long been doing this. From Hardee’s commercials, to movies like Magic Mike XXL, to the affirmation of greed in all kinds of avenues. In one sense the same-sex “marriage” issue is not different, but it is different in that it is a sin that is being celebrated. Adultery is still not considered something to celebrate, nor molestation, nor domestic violence. These are not, but the culture has now, largely, accepted and in some since affirmed homosexuality as normal to the culture.

Paul speaks of homosexuality in Romans 1:24-27 when he says,

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

The main issue with homosexuality is that they were serving idols. They were worshipping the creature instead of God the Creator. Paul judges these homosexual acts by stating that they are sin. The Bible speaks of homosexuality in a number of other places, but it never affirms nor ok’s it as anything less than sinful.

Is homosexuality worse than other sexual immorality? Jesus raises the stakes on what it means to commit adultery. He says in Matthew 5:27-28,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Those who look at a woman with lustful intent have committed adultery of the heart! Have you committed adultery? Probably so, if we use Jesus’ standard. It seems too much for us to handle – and it is. We can’t, without a new nature. Without the help of the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, and directing us we cannot handle nor turn away from sin.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 are helpful. It says,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In the sentence, “And such were some of you.” the word “were” is a past tense verb. This shows us that these Christians are no longer living in a continual pattern of sin. The good news is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to break thievery, greed, drunkenness, and even the chains of sexual immorality. Some Christians had previously been homosexuals in the city of Corinth. In the same way if we will see our own sinfulness, repent (turn from) and believe in the good news of Jesus Christ, he is faithful to forgive us of all our sins – every last one.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The old person has left and the new one has arrived. If your life has never changed, repent now (that means turn from your sinfully wicked ways) and place your belief, trust, commitment in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. No Christian has a right to boast, because we were in the same boat as everyone else. We have no right to boast in ourselves, but we do boast in our God. You can too, if you will repent and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then you can boast of the power of your God!

As Christians, we must be knowledgeable of Romans 1:32 which says, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Christians cannot practice nor approve of homosexual behavior, nor any other sexual immorality, nor any other sin. Christians must live counter-culturally. They must look different from the culture around them. Better yet, they will look different from the culture around them.

God’s Word is Clear on Marriage

The best way to understand what God designed the world to be like is to go back before sin entered the world. As early as Genesis chapter 1 we see the design God had for the world and all his creatures. On the sixth day of the creation of the heavens and the earth, God created mankind. He lays it out beautifully in Genesis 1:27-28 when he says,

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God created man and woman in his image. These are clearly two separate sexes, while both are made in the image of God. He created them both. Then he blessed them and that led to something very important. His blessing, in this context, is directly related to their responsibility to reproduce. God uses the term be fruitful and multiply. His glory is being shown in the two humans he created, but he wants them to multiply and fill the earth, so that his glory is seen ever so much more. They are to subdue the earth together and also to have dominion over everything else he has created on the earth. It is man’s responsibility to do what God has given them to do and that can only be done in the context of marriage between one man and one woman.

Mankind is made in the image of God. That is something that no other part of creation can claim. We are images of God himself, but in a much lesser form. We do not indwell all of his attributes fully nor infinitely as he does. With that said, it is a major thing to be made in the image of God. We are not like plants, land animals, fish of the sea, nor the fly on the wall. We are created in the image of the God of the universe and we should not take that nor our responsibility lightly.

What are the takeaways for Christians?

  • Christians cannot accept same-sex “marriage” as good, right, legally ok, nor socially acceptable. But we will have to accept it as a reality of this sinful world.
  • Stand strong and courageous on the truth about what God’s word says on the matter of homosexuality and all other issues. We are to judge fellow believers in Jesus Christ, and those who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is for their good, for the witness of the Church, and ultimately to protect the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
  • We are to stand firm and say that any form of sexual immorality is sinful – whether that be homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, rape, bestiality, or even the lust of the eyes. All of these and many more are abhorrent to God.
  • A Christian cannot give into and live a life of continual sin. A person cannot be a Christian and accept something that is clearly rejected by God’s word.
  • We are to stand firm that biblical marriage is only between one man and one woman.
  • As Christians, we are to never have a judgmental attitude or heart. Our desire should always be to see people come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Repent means to turn from sin and to turn to Jesus. A Christian has the Holy Spirit as a Helper, and we are commanded to continually turn from the things that are sins against God. Once a person becomes a Christian, they have the power over sin, therefore we should not continue in that sin any more. Paul affirms this by saying in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Christians have ultimate hope in Jesus Christ as their Savior who paid for their sins on the cross, but the Christian also has the power over sin and now has the power to fight sin in a way they did not have before. The good news is that, if you are a Christian, you do not have to sin anymore. You have power over sin, but you will mess up and sin. That is when we call upon the name of the Lord Jesus for his forgiveness. We don’t give into sin. No, we are called to fight against it with all we have, then when we do sin, we call upon Jesus for help. And he is there to forgive.

All need forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and that can happen. But there is only one way in which it will happen. Jesus’ own words are “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

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Is Playing Santa Playing With Fire?

Is playing Santa playing with fire? 

santa-fireplace

First of all, thank you for your comments. After seeing that this was a much larger issue than I expected, I felt an obligation to write something more thorough than a Facebook post. There are many of you, especially Christian parents, who desire to teach your children correctly about life. I saw that many of you had dealt with this issue in the past and some of you are dealing with it now. I started a blog, so that I could help you think through this and many other issues in the future. I decided to wait until after Christmas was over before I posted this article. I didn’t do that because I was scared to do it right before Christmas, yet I didn’t want you to struggle with what to do so close to Christmas. I knew that many of you have true desires to be faithful Christians and I didn’t want you to make a hasty decision. Maybe this will help you decide what to do going forward.

Cammie and I wanted to make new traditions for our family, so I booked us two nights at the wonderful Callaway Gardens at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. We wanted to go see the once-a-year Fantasy in Lights. Even though I was just getting over the flu, we decided it was now or never for this year. Cammie was feeling a little sore throat, but we decided to try it anyway. We checked in Monday about 9:00 pm and went to see the lights at 10:00. They were beautiful! The total show includes about 8 million lights. There were many beautiful scenes and they must have taken many man-hours to put together. We saw tall nutcrackers, beautiful butterflies, animated rocky-horses, flittering fairies, and even a few trolls. Oh yeah, I can’t forget to mention all twelve scenes of the twelve days of Christmas! Something struck me while we were going through it, I haven’t seen a manger scene, nor anything to do with Jesus. I asked Cammie, “Is what we’re looking at a good representation of what our culture has made Christmas to be about?”

My parents told me pretty early on there was no Santa. Looking back on it, it was kind of a cloudy understanding at best. I recall, later on in church having a troubling thought. “If my parents have told me all this time that there was a Santa, but there really wasn’t, then I wonder if one day they will tell me this God-thing is not real either.” I understand there are many people who have never had those thoughts, but my desire is to do everything that I can to keep my children from stumbling. If that is not having a Santa, then we won’t have a Santa. After I learned the truth about Santa, I found out that some people didn’t tell their children that there is a Santa. Until a few years ago I thought they were weird. Honestly, some of them may have been a little weird, but that is another topic. And after this post, you may think I am a little weird.

I want you to know up front that my desire is not to be a “grinch”, yet as any Christian should, I desire to think biblically about all of life’s issues. I’m not trying to make any of you angry, though the gospel does convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2). So, please know that I have good intentions in my question, “Is a lie a lie.” and also with this post.

With that said, I do ask that you please read this with an open heart and open mind. There are many things in our culture (as with all cultures throughout history) that are so engrained into the culture, that it takes an intentionality of thought to even think clearly about particular issues. If you are a Christian, then I would ask you to listen to the argument and then make up your own mind. Don’t let the culture nor the emotional excitement of Santa speak, before you have time to think through it yourself. These thoughts are not judgmental statements, but I believe they are based foundationally on God’s Word.

Cammie and I have decided we will teach our children the real story of St. Nicholas, but let me remind you that Christmas is not about St. Nicholas. The true story of St. Nicholas will be a side note with which we will teach our children during the Christmas holidays. We are not going to teach them that there is a Santa who is still alive. It wasn’t easy thinking of not doing the Santa thing. Both of us grew up with this tradition, and so it was difficult to think about not continuing the tradition. It is not easy because of my culture, my habit, and my desire to make happy memories. There are many family members who also have fond memories of Santa and other traditions during Christmas. These are understandable concerns, but lets think through it from a Christian worldview.

In one sense, if you are a Christian you do have great freedom in many choices in life. On the other hand, I would say we must be careful not to do what we think is right in our own eyes without first considering God’s Word. While talking about Micah’s idolatry, God’s Word says in Judges 17:5-6, “The man Micah had a shrine, and made an ephod and household idols; and he consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” God’s Word is not affirming that humans make good choices. We are depraved human beings and every part of our being is affected by sin. Our choices cannot be made based on what we think is right, but should continually be made by testing them against God’s Word. If you’re a Christian, then unlike the Israelites, you do have a King. His name is Jesus. I’m talking about the real Jesus, not the effeminate Jesus our culture believes him to be. He is the Son of God. The One who was humble, but is coming back in a much different way than He came the first time.

The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of Jesus when he comes back to be the King of his people! Revelation 19:11-16 says, “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, follow Him on while horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His rob and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” 

Our Savior is coming back for His people. We should desire to live according to His Word and I hope that I will be able to give you some things to think about with this in mind. As I continued to search, I found not only was there one good reason not to do Santa, but an overwhelming cumulative effect of many reasons. Here are seven reasons why we are not going to play Santa at the Abercrombie household and why I would like you to consider not playing Santa at yours.

1. Because there isn’t one. Telling children that there is a “Santa” is a lie. Nothing else – a lie. We can try to justify the action, but in the end at some point we have to fess up that it isn’t true. Why else would we have to take special time to sit down with our children in order to explain what and why we told them something that wasn’t true? Sometime it matters a great deal to the children. Other times the children don’t blink twice. They go on with their lives like nothing ever happened. I dare to say, it is because they, in their intelligence, know that it probably isn’t true anyway. Throughout their lives, when will they know if you are telling them a truth or a lie? They may not know and as a result may do whatever is right in their own eyes — just as their parents did, and that’s not good.

I don’t think that it is ever ok to lie to your children or anyone else for that matter. God said in Exodus 20:16, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Some people believe that telling their children there is a Santa is ok, because Santa “isn’t really that big of a deal.” Maybe not, but what if we have allowed ourselves to become immune to sin? Is that possible? I would like for us to look at just a few instances from Scripture about the wrath of God against seemingly minute sins.

a. Adam and Eve. Was it really that bad that Eve ate a fruit from the tree? It was just fruit! Yes, it was wrong, because God had told them not to eat of the tree. Since God stated, that they shouldn’t do it, that is what made it a sin to eat the fruit.

b. Lot’s wife. Was it really that bad that Lot’s wife turned around? Yes, it was a sin, because God had told all of them not to turn around and look upon the destruction he was causing.

c. Ananias and Safira. Was it really that bad that Safira lied about the amount of money they sold their land for? Yes, this lie was a sin, because God had already said in Scripture not to lie.

Here is what God’s Word says about lying: 

  • Genesis 3:4 – And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: (A lie indeed, which changed human history forever.)
  • Leviticus 19:11 – You shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.
  • Psalms 119:163 – I hate and abhor lying: but your law do I love.
  • Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.
  • Proverbs 14:5 – A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.
  • John 8:44 – You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
  • Acts 5:3 – But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
  • Colossians 3:9 – Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;
  • 1 Timothy 4:2 – Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
  • Revelation 22:15 – For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and fornicators, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loves and makes a lie.
  • Other texts on lying: Proverbs 17:7; Hosea 11:12; Proverbs 13:5; Zephaniah 3:13; Ephesians 4:29
All of the texts we find in the Bible about lying are negative in nature. We are commanded over and over not to lie.
1 John 3:6 says, “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.” We Christians know all too well that we still sin. Even though we are saved, our sanctification is still in process. John is telling us that when we have seen Jesus we no longer live with a sinful nature. We have a new nature as stated in 2 Corinthians 5:17. We will sin, but our life will not be known as one who sins continually or habitually. We can’t continue in sin, for we have seen the Son. If we do, then we are not becoming more and more like our Saviour, which is the process and goal of sanctification. If this is happening in our life, then we must check our relationship to the Son.

We have considered a lot about the sinfulness of lying, but on the other hand, are there times when lying is justified? One friend gave me the example of Nazis knocking on your door in the mid 1900s. What if you were asked if you had any Jews in your home? What would you tell them? Is this a “just” time to lie? Another example is in Exodus 1:15-21 when the Hebrew midwives possibly lied to Pharaoh about the Hebrew wives birth times. Also, Rahab lied to protect the Israelite spies in Joshua 2:5.

I would like to refer you to this article by Bodie Hodge. He makes some very good points about these instances in Scripture that I believe they are very helpful. He states in objection to a “righteous lie” by saying,

“But consider for a moment that we are all already sentenced to die because we are sinners (Romans 5:12). It is going to happen regardless. If a lie helps keep someone alive for a matter of moments compared to eternity, was the lie, which is high treason against the Creator, worth it?”

He then gives the example where Stephen could have lied and possibly saved himself from death. In Acts 6-7 Stephen preached Christ, and men came against him. The hight priest says in Acts 7:1, “Who said ‘Are these things so?'” Stephen could have quickly used a “righteous lie” in order to save his own life and served Jesus for many more years. But what did he do? He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and they killed him! I’m sure he was aware of what they would probably do to him without the intervention of God, but he continued with the truth.

In the instance of the Nazis knocking on a person’s door. Even if you do lie with the best of intentions, it doesn’t mean that the life of your friend will be spared. The Nazis may plunder the house in search of them anyway. On the other hand, what if God desired to use the person speaking the truth as an opportunity to preach the gospel to unbelieving Nazis? We can’t talk all day about what ifs, but we shouldn’t be so quick to think that lying is justified in any situation, since God’s Word gives us a clarity in knowing what is right and what is wrong. I have never been put in this position and I do not know what I would do. I can tell you that I hope that I would be able to speak the truth with shrewdness and with Jesus on the tip of my tongue.

These ethical issues are very real and I understand that. I don’t believe Scripture gives us clarification that there is such a thing as a “just lie.” All of these Scriptural instances of possible justified lies are all in a context of preventing the murder of God’s chosen people. I don’t believe using this argument, or these examples, warrants parents lying to their children about Santa. Especially during a time they are forming their mental acumen, wisdom, and spiritual intelligence.

What we can take away from this is, “Be holy, for I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:13-16). This isn’t a matter of what we think is a major or minor sin, but what God tells us is a sin and considers a sin. God desires His children to “be holy, because he is holy.” We are His image bearers and should live our lives in accordance with what He tells us to do and not to do. Therefore, I think we should stay away from the sin of lying.

2. It promotes works righteousness, not righteousness by grace through faith. What are we teaching our kids when we tell them they will get presents if they are good? Actually, no matter how you act, whether good or bad, we still give them presents. God’s Word says in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” Yes, this pertains to our children, you, and me – all of us. None of us are good, and we know that, but we tell our children that they are – either by words or by giving them gifts at Christmas. Why do we do that? It sounds like another untruth (lie).

God is good. We are not. We cannot understand how good God actually is until we understand the depravity of our own hearts. Do you think that telling children that they are inherently good will help them to see that they need a Savior? You can’t need salvation if you are already good. What we teach our children with Santa is that if you are good then you will be rewarded for it later. In the same way it is possible for children to make this same assumption about God. It is very easy for Christians to slide off into this falsity. The church at Galatia must have struggled with the tendency toward works-based righteousness, because Paul had to correct them. Paul said in Galatians 3:3,5-7, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?. . . Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”

Santa promotes works-based righteousness, which could later cause your children to stumble. It is by faith we are saved, not of works. Children should do right and be “good” because God’s Word tells them to, not because of some made-up figure that is keeping tabs on them (which is also a lie). We teach children that there is a list of “good deeds” and one of “bad deeds.” In the end your good deeds side must have more than your bad deeds side. This teaches them an unbiblical understanding of good and bad. It teaches them that if there is more good than bad then they are ok. This is not what God says about good and bad. God’s Word teaches us that we are all bad and that none of us are good. From there, it teaches that Jesus was the only one who was good and that we must trust in his goodness in order to be saved from our bad (sin).

3. It teaches things temporal are important enough to be good all year for. What about things eternal? This reason is somewhat related to #2 – works righteousness. John Piper brought this to my attention in an article called Rethinking Santa. Santa insists that children be good (we all know they are not) in order to get temporal presents one day out of the year. It teaches them that they are to work on being “good” for the purpose of what they can get on this earth, instead of teaching them that eternity is much longer and that no one can earn eternity for them except for Christ. Earning eternity cannot be done by being “good” but it takes the penalty of sacrifice to pay for sins.

Teaching your children to be good people is not a bad thing. We need all of that we can get! Children should be taught to be good because they are commanded to be good by God. They are commanded by God to honor their father and their mother. Honestly they can’t do this perfectly, and this is what can help lead them to the gospel. When they see that they can’t do what God has commanded them to do in Scripture they see their own sinfulness and a need for a Savior. Living a “good” “moral” life is only truly good when a person has become a believer in Jesus Christ. Until then a person is nothing more than a Pharisee, who believes their own righteousness makes them right with God.

4. It distorts the understanding of the word “believe”.

santaandfireDo you “believe” in Santa? Santa quits coming when you quit “believing.” Doesn’t the Bible use language about belief? Yes. The Bible teaches that belief in Jesus will save you from all of your sins. By using this language about an imaginary figure we are distorting our children’s biblical vocabulary. We are teaching them to “believe” in something that isn’t real. Is it ok if we tell them they should “believe” in Santa for years and tell them they should “believe” in Jesus forever? I don’t think so. If this one isn’t bad enough, what if they begin to distort other words in Scripture like justification, faith, salvation, and hell? If they can’t trust their parents to tell them the truth about what they can believe in, then who can they trust?

5. You may think that I am crazy, but I believe in many cases we have created a god for ourselves. I believe this is the most important issue with Santa. The Santa many people have created in their homes today is one who has attributes that only pertain to the God. The Santa many have created is omniscient (all-knowing), which means to have a complete ultimate understanding. He knows when we are sleeping, awake, good and bad. He obviously isn’t limited by money, like God. Santa is omnipotent (all-powerful), which means that he is not limited by anything. He lives in the North Pole, makes millions of toys, and travels all around the world in one night. He can go down chimneys. Uh oh, what if there is no chimney? Well, he can just walk “through” the door. I think there is someone else who actually did that – John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Santa has the very attributes of God and this should make us question whether it is right.

One of the saddest parts is that Santa, in many cases, is really what we desire the God of the Bible to be like. We have created a real figurative being in the minds of children. He has the attributes of God that we like and enjoy, but throw out the attributes of God which we don’t enjoy so much, like – holiness, jealousy, wrath, and righteousness (justice). We say that Santa teaches them justice, because Santa is keeping a list. How many parents end up not giving their children anything, because their children weren’t good? I dare to say very few. We teach them an unbiblical understanding of justice. One that doesn’t follow through with what it says it will do. Paul Washer said it this way,
“Sunday morning is the greatest hour of idolatry in the entire week in America, because people are not worshiping the one true God…but are worshiping a god formed out of their own heart by their own flesh, satanic devices, and worldly intelligence. They’ve made a god just like themselves and he looks more like Santa Claus than he does Yahweh.” ~ Paul Washer, sermon, “Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church.”
Who is getting the glory? The chief end of man is to glorify God. We give our tithes and offerings to Santa, he gets the toys, gives them to our children, and he (Santa) gets the glory. This sounds a lot like what we should be doing for God. We, the parents, should get recognition from our children for purchasing the gifts. We have worked hard for the money to purchase them and our children should know this. We should get the recognition, however, God should get the glory. We should tell our children why we give them gifts and in many cases sacrifice other things in order to give them gifts on Christmas. We do it because we love them and because God has been good to us. We do it because of how good God is, and this gives God the glory – not us and not Santa.
God says in Exodus 20:3-4, “You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image-any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” The people, who are lost, will not celebrate the coming of Jesus, but will make for themselves idols to celebrate instead. I am not saying that Santa is an idol. However, I am saying Santa can easily become an idol that looks a lot like the real God, but isn’t. And if Christians are not careful we can find ourselves worshiping the same idol.

6. The “magic” in our child’s eye is not a good thing. I’ve heard and read so many things about the “magic” of Santa and the “magic” I see in my child’s eyes. I hate for this to be a real “spoiler alert” for you, but magic found in the Bible is only found in opposition to the attributes and abilities of God. This is seen very strongly in the story of Moses confronting Pharaoh before the Israelites were released from captivity in Egypt. God performed a miracle and then the magicians would copy that which God had done. They were workers of other gods in opposition to the real God. The One true God can always overpower any other workers of magic or sorcery. I do not necessarily see that you are teaching your children witchcraft, but I believe we must be careful not to break into the spiritual realm unwittingly. The truth is, untrue belief is giving them the magic in their eyes. The magic comes because they believe in things that are super-human. This being we have created has some of the attributes of God, and they like it! Who should bring the magical feeling to the child? Santa or truth from God’s Word in Jesus.

Why do we want our children to have a “little magic” in their eyes? Is it because they need it, or is it because we, the parent, want them to have it? Is it possible that we are teaching our children that life should always have a little magic in it? The reason many people are disappointed in life is because they have an idea of what their life “should” look like (a very magical happy life) and that just isn’t real life. Truth always wins out and we should teach this to our children from an early age.
I’m not saying that Children shouldn’t watch cartoons like Winnie the Pooh (if any of them even know who that is anymore) or movies like Toy Story. Children know that real bears, or for that matter fake bears, don’t have real conversations with people. They know it is fictional and in these instances they don’t have anyone telling them that it is real and true. There is a vast difference in letting a child’s imagination work and telling them that something is real, when it isn’t.

7. The focus is on us, not others. Yes, I understand we are doing it for the children, but look at it from a little different perspective. Even though they are children, they are still “your” children and not someone else’s. Paul tells us, as Christians, in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” The issue with Santa is that it makes Christmas all about them and what they are going to get for Christmas. We say it is about Jesus, but who do we dwell on during the months leading up to Christmas – Jesus or Santa? If we say we are really focusing on Jesus with our children then why is the conversation normally about Santa? Who do you take your children to get a picture with? Yes, I know Jesus isn’t here. Have we created a replacement for Jesus? If Jesus were here, would you stand in line to see him? Even pay to have your child’s picture taken with him. Oh, I know that you would all say yes, but would you really? Jesus said things like,

  • “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17.
  • “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his on household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:34-39
  • “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him… When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?”… From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” – John 6:54-55,61,66.

If we want to teach our children what Christmas is about it should be the time we focus on the incarnation of God in human flesh in Jesus. This is what we should focus on. Knowing how good God has been to us we should use this time to be generous and gracious to others. I dare to say this means those who are truly in need. There are many brothers and sisters in Christ who live in much worse conditions than us and we should desire to help them during the Christmas time. Help others in your church who are in need. Help those who are homebound and in nursing homes. This should be a time of giving to others in order to glorify God.

The reality is, Jesus is here. He is here as the Holy Spirit. He is here, but do we take the time to be with him and his body (the church)? Instead of going to the mall to have your child’s picture taken with a man, it is much more important to have your children in Sunday school, worship services, and prayer meeting in order to learn about who Jesus is. If you are not gathering with the body on a regular basis, you are probably not a Christian. The writer of the book of Hebrews is clear when he says,

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting on another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. – Hebrews 10:24-25

The church is the body of Christ and if you are not there, as long as you are physically able, on a regular basis then you are not a part of the body. Being in church on a regular basis will not save you; but, if you are not there then it is a good indication that you are not a Christian.

Some of you have been doing Santa, but you believe the Lord has convicted you. You don’t have to feel terrible. Make it right with God. Repent if need be. Then change the way you do things to line up better with what you believe God’s Word teaches. Tell your children the truth and move on.

The Truth

It isn’t a matter of whether Santa is ok or not, but rather it is a matter of what is most important to you. For Christians, there is a silver lining. Yes, you may have guessed it – Jesus (God in the flesh) came to earth. God was very good to mankind to send Jesus, His Son, to earth, to live, to die, in order to save lost sinners. Jesus is not the real reason for the season. He is “the” reason for the season. If He is not the reason for this season to you, then I would tell you to repent and believe in Jesus. Do not be deceived. Jesus said in John 15:5-6, “I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” This means that if you are a true disciple of Jesus and abiding in Him then you will bear good fruit. It does not mean that you can do good works in order to earn God’s love, mercy, and grace. God’s grace is a gift, but good fruit will be produced by a life that has been forever changed by God.

A Christian asked John Piper if they should allow their children to believe that Santa brings them presents at Christmas. One part of Piper’s response went like this,

“It is mindboggling to me that any Christian would even contemplate such a trade, that we would divert attention away from the incarnation of the God of the universe into this world to save us and our children. . . . Not only is Santa Claus not true — and Jesus is very truth himself — but compared to Jesus, Santa is simply pitiful, and our kids should be helped to see this.”

It may not be wrong to play Santa, but I agree with Piper, Santa is no comparison to what we celebrate that really happened on Christmas – the incarnation of the one, true, and only God. Why would we even consider diverting attention away from this great truth?

It looks like I am saying that it isn’t ok to give our children presents. The root of the issue is not giving our children gifts or wanting them to be happy. It is biblical to desire good for your children and to want to give them good things. The question is, are we compromising on God’s Word for the sake of it? I don’t believe we have to compromise God’s Word in order for our children to be happy and joyful on Christmas morning. We can give them gifts, but they must know the true reason for Christmas.

Thank you for considering my words. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind as to whether to play Santa at your home. My desire is that I have given you a biblical basis for why it is best not to do it. I’ll leave you with a word from John Piper.

“If being Jesus-focused is a killjoy for your Christmas, you don’t know him well.”


Other Resources to Consider

Below are a couple other links to good articles and audio on this subject from men whom I respect and are much smarter than me.

  • John Piper, evangelical pastor and author of many great books, has an article and an audio clip here talking about the issue of Santa.
  • Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a great podcast about this topic here.