“Would I be crazy if I said that I would rather my kids celebrate Halloween than Santa/Christmas or Easter/The Easter Bunny?”
Oddly enough, this is a genuine question that my wife and I discussed during a get away this past weekend. I don’t think either of us really wanted to answer it openly but our philosophy went something like this:
— Halloween doesn’t claim to be directly influenced by the life or death of Jesus like Christmas and Easter do. At least, Halloween isn’t celebrated in today’s culture under the premise of an intentional lie. Our modern/cultural celebrations of Jesus’ life and death, who referred to himself as “The Truth” by the way (John 14:6), are displayed though the proclamation of a lie about a fictional gift maker and a giant bunny, yet we make Halloween out to be the evil one?—
It was for this reason that we really questioned if Halloween was really that big of a hill worth dying on. Sure many anti-Halloween enthusiast are also anti-Santa and anti-Easter Bunny but that is not where my wife and I are in our walk with God as ministers of the Gospel. In fact, here was our list of “Pagan activities” for the Halloween weekend.
- We purchased Candy for Trick-or-Treaters (We were that cool family with Reeses Peanut Butter cups…however, we ate all of it since no trick or treaters graced our door step)
- We traveled to a nearby Flea Market for Christmas Shopping
- We drove through a Christmas light show that displayed elves, Santa, the Grinch, and etc..as well as a gospel presentation (We didn’t know it had the gospel part, that was just a nice surprise at the end.)
- We took a selfie with Santa… (See picture –> )
So as you can see, we had a fun day as a family. We talked about the work Christ is doing in our marriage and in our ministry and we still had Halloween candy to indulge in and experienced the magical wonder of Santa Land. (This was the name of the Christmas light show)
HALLOWEEN, IDOL WORSHIP, AND THE WORD OF GOD
At the root of this discussion, if we are completely honest, both sides would agree the biggest issue with Halloween is whether or not celebrating it is idol worship. I heard one Anti-Halloween individual imply that, “Ghouls, Goblins, Skeletons, Mummies, Warlocks, Wizards, Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, Zombies, Monsters, and etc…. are not of God and are therefore of the darkness.” On the other hand, Christian recording artist Natalie Grant posted a status on her Facebook that says, “I DO celebrate kids. And princesses. And fairies. And candy. Lots and lots of candy. And neighbors. And community.” She follows with some great questions in the realm of Halloween evangelism by asking, “As children of the Light, why in the world would we hide in our houses on what is considered a “dark” day? And what other day of the year does your entire neighborhood show up at your doorstep? What good does it do to make sure all of the lights are out, trying to make a “stand” for righteousness while the neighbors turn and walk away?”
(So…. here lies our dilemma…)
One side says Halloween is the idol worship of an ancient form of evil rooted in dark witchcraft and that it has no part in God and that God has no part in it. The other says Halloween is a harmless activity where families and kids dress up and get candy and that those who oppose it are arrogant fundamentalist who are rooted in their own idol worship of an irrelevant tradition. Here is my response to both sides:
YOU BOTH ARE WORSHIPPING IDOLS!
The on going debate of whether or not Halloween is idol worship has lead us to the worship of a different idol, one that I will name, “Personal Worldview”. The truth is, the motives on both sides of the Halloween spectrum are only feeding a persons own opinionated indulgences on the subject and are really never looking to progressing the missional or ministry work of Christ. The fact that the debate even exists has only allowed Satan to have victory because we have divided the fellowship over something as irrelevent as Halloween. To do, or not to do Halloween is really more of an issue of personal preference than it is an issue of sin.
Please don’t get me wrong, I recognize that Satan is deceptive, and known as the ‘Father of Lies’. I can understand and relate to both poles on the spectrum. I also recognize that we have a nasty habit of justifying our desires to celebrate or even not to celebrate an activity by convincing ourselves that it is or isn’t sin to the point that it eventually becomes a sin idol we worship. (Think about the taboo church topics; tattoos, drinking, language, divorce, smoking, etc.) Unfortunately, many Christians live their spirituality by walking as close to sin as possible without actually being caught up in the sin. In contrast, The pursuit of Holiness is not a pursuit to get as close to sin as possible but it is a pursuit to get as far away from sin (or gray areas) as possible. We often times ask ourselves, “Can I do this and it not be sin?”. However, the root of our asking is not whether or not the activity is a sin or whether or not the activity will honor God, but instead we aim to justify a desire that we ourselves are longing to indulge in. Don’t partake in or abstain from Halloween (or any activity) just because it is not technically, “sin”. Instead, seek God’s wisdom for you and your family through prayer, fasting, and scripture, not tradition, emotion, and feelings.
The debate over Halloween, and specifically our personal worldview of it, is the idol that we worship the most. Not the “evil” or the “innocence” that we have placed upon it. Sure many will read this and go to their trigger verses (Such as: 1 Peter 2:9-10, Colossians 1:13, Deuteronomy 18:9-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Ephesians 5:11, 3 John 1:11 or Romans 12:2.) To them I would say that you aren’t incorrect. Believers are not to be involved with or support the occult, witchcraft, demonism, satanism, or any other thing that uplifts the work of darkness. To do so would be to contradict God’s word. If Halloween, in your city’s cultural context, is a celebration centered on demons, devils, spirits, etc., I would say don’t have anything to do with it. But that doesn’t constitute that it is ALWAYS wrong to dress up in a costume and go door-to-door saying “Trick or Treat” in order to get a piece of candy. In no cultural context is that activity the work of darkness. It’s just fun for the kids in the community.
To me, Halloween is much like Paul’s wisdom to the Corinthians concerning meat sacrificed to idols. (1 Corinthians 10:23-33) In Paul’s context, meat was often sold in the meat marketplace that had been used in cultic worship as sacrifices upon cultic alters to cultic idols. This meat was typically cheaper in price, and higher in quality due to the use of a higher quality animal as the sacrifice. The question arose as to whether or not believers should consume this meat. Paul advised them that to eat this meat would not lead one into sin, but that the knowledge of whether or not the meat was used could lead to gospel unity and discipleship between strong and weak individuals. To me, the Corinthian meat had a darker history than the candy or costumes that define our cultural expression of Halloween today yet the wisdom is the same. To partake is not sin or idol worship, but to forsake gospel unity for the personal indulgences of debate is. (This scripture refrence doesn’t affirm that we should or shouldn’t partake in Halloween, but affirms that if the debate is forsaking gospel unity, then that is the idol that we should be concerned with, not those that we assume are there.)
I leave you with this final charge:
- To those of you who celebrate Halloween, stop acting like you have achieved some higher level of enlightenment because of your understanding on the history of it, and your “safe” practice of it. At that point your idol is ignorance. People don’t see you as a reformer but as an ignorant snob.
- To those of you who don’t celebrate Halloween, stop acting like you have achieved some higher level of Holiness because of your understanding on the history of it, and your “holy” abstinence of it. At that point, your idol is arrogance. People don’t see you as a Puritan but as an arrogant snob.
AT THE SAME TIME
- To those of you who believe Halloween is totally innocent, the history of it is not as harmless as you presume.
- To those of you who believe Halloween is totally Satanic, the modern practice of it is not as harmful as you presume.