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College student turns to Craigslist to rent family for Christmas

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Jackie Turner during her interview about her attempt to rent a family for the holidays on Craigslist (Credit: ABC/News 10/Sacramento)

Jackie Turner is a presidential scholar with a 4.0 grade point average at William Jessup University in Rocklin, California.  However, she was abused physically, sexually and emotionally from childhood.  She lived on the streets and spent nearly a year in jail before an encounter at a Christian young adult camp transformed her life.

To this day, “there’s this void, my biological parents aren’t here, and it’s kept this hole inside of me,” she says.  So she posted an ad on Craigslist: “I am looking to rent a mom and dad who can give me attention and make me feel like the light of their life just for a couple of days because I really need it.”  She would be willing to pay $8 an hour.  “I was looking for two people who would sit and listen to me for a couple of hours, so that I could cry,” she explained.

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{/source}The response has been overwhelming.  Dozens of families offered to take her in for free.  Others contacted her to tell their heart-rending stories of pain and loneliness.  So, rather than renting a family, Jackie has decided to make one.  She created Unzipped, an event that will take place on her campus this Saturday with speakers who will talk about their pain and personal growth.  She explains: “It’s designed to help people not be silent about the pain that’s going on inside of them.”

Christmas ads tell us this is “the happiest time of the year.”  According to the National Institute of Health, it’s actually when incidents of depression and attempted suicide are highest.  One survey reported that 45 percent of respondents dread this season.

On occasion, responders to the Cultural Commentary register their own frustration with Christmas.  As one points out, “Jesus was not born on 25th December or anywhere near December.  The festival that is called Christmas has pagan roots.”  She’s exactly right.  Jesus was born in the springtime, the season when shepherds would have been “out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).  Early scholars dated Jesus’ birth around March 25 or some time in April.  His birthday was not celebrated by Christians for nearly four centuries.

Meanwhile, Romans celebrated the “birthday” of the sun each year on December 25, since that date is near the winter solstice.  They conducted all sorts of pagan festivals to mark the occasion.  Christians eventually began redeeming this “birthday” of the sun by using it to celebrate the birthday of the Son.  By 1038, the Mass of Christ was called Cristes Maesse, from which we get “Christmas.”  In 1223, Francis of Assisi assembled the first nativity scene.

While there is no biblical reason to identify Jesus’ birth with December 25, there is much reason to celebrate his birth every day, not just on Christmas.  Jackie Turner said, “I’ve never felt the touch of my Mom hugging me and holding me.  I don’t know what it’s like to look in my dad’s eyes and feel love instead of hatred.”  Because we couldn’t touch our Father or look into his eyes, “God sent forth his Son, born of woman… so that we might receive adoption as children” (Galatians 4:4-5).

In our lonely, hurting culture, Christmas matters to us because it shows how much we matter to God.