The Church and Halloween: How Should We Respond?

October 31st 2013 (5) comments so far  

file9251291040084Halloween is awesome, and I enjoy it now almost as much as I did when I was a little tyke. When I was four or five, I was Aladdin and I was set on being as true to character as I could. I told my mom in no uncertain terms that I didn’t care how cold it was outside; the real Aladdin did not wear a sweater. That trend continued when I dressed up as an Angry Bird last year, with authentic game reenactments that my friends and my friends’ furniture were none too pleased with.

The holiday itself is an interesting, muddled jumble of pagan and old Christian traditions that have been thoroughly Americanized for an excuse to gorge in unhealthy treats. Halloween is typically attributed to the Celtic festival Samhain and similar Norse holidays, which marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter. It was also said to be a time when spirits had an easier time entering the world of the living, and many pagan practices accompanied the festival. There is also a Christian influence on the holiday as we know it, going back to the early days of the Catholic Church attempting to “baptize” and tame pagan harvest festivals and be culturally sensitive through the Hallowmas holidays of All Hallows’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Today, Halloween is largely viewed as a harmless time for kids to dress up as Power Rangers or the Power Puff Girls, get hopped up on sugar, and get a harmless scare. (I just realized kids probably don’t dress up as 90s cartoons anymore, dating yourself is fun).

However, there are some Christian parents that shut off the porch lights and don’t allow their kids anywhere near a Ninja Turtle suit. They claim they don’t want to support or expose their children to a “demonic” holiday. That Halloween is a night devoted to Satan and we as Christians shouldn’t participate.

To which I say: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

(Disclaimer: I am not a parent. I’m clueless to the process of raising children so if you want to disregard my opinion, feel free. I’m speaking from a child’s perspective more than anything.)

If you would rather not have your children dress up as witches and devils or go to haunted houses, you are most certainly within your rights to keep them away, and should be applauded for being that concerned about your child’s spiritual safety.

No, I’m referring to the small number of Christian parents that choose to not acknowledge October 31 as anything special, and don’t let their kid dress up as Iron Man to go get free candy. Not only are you possibly keeping your child from forming great memories, you may be missing out on an incredible opportunity for outreach and connection in your community.

There are only a few times when your neighborhood comes to your door in good spirits. Maybe they know you’re Christian and, therefore, are a little wary of you. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where the neighbors don’t interact much, an increasing trend in suburban America. What’s going to seem more Christian to an unbeliever, a lighted porch with friendly people handing out candy and complimenting their kids’ costumes, or a dark doorway that might as well be saying “Don’t taint my household with your pagan ways”?

Is it a very, very small interaction? Sure. Is it a good first step in relational evangelism? Absolutely.

I can’t remember exactly what he was referring to, but the C.S. Lewis line “Above all else, the Devil cannot stand to be mocked” certainly stands out in this situation. He has certainly tried to make us afraid of Halloween, and some aspects of witchcraft and devil worship are undeniably frightening. But, because of the victory we have in God, we can laugh in the face of darkness. We don’t have to be afraid on a night Satan has tried to claim as his own. In fact, we can wear ghost and werewolf costumes because we know Satan is full of hot air. And he hates that.

I would also encourage you to keep Romans 12:21 in mind: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  Halloween is a prime time to implement that verse in our lives. Churches have transformed it into an opportunity for community outreach and evangelism by hosting fall festivals, overcoming evil with good at its finest.

There is a place for Halloween in the Church. It’s a time to reach out to friends and neighbors that come to your door. It’s a time to celebrate the victory we have over darkness and combat evil. I encourage you not to ignore the holiday, but remember that every day, holiday or not, is a chance to do good for God’s kingdom. And maybe eat a few more Butterfingers than normal while wearing that sweet Iron Man costume.


Comments

  1.  

    A. October 31st at 2:37 pm  

    Well done! I love this article. I have been in a debate today defending my position on Halloween (hubby and I don’t have kids, either). I missed out on a lot of memories as a kid because I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating. I asked God to let me know if I was wrong in my stance. Maybe this article is His way of providing me with an answer. Thank you! Sharing on FB! 🙂

  2.  

    Townsend Keller - staff October 31st at 3:42 pm  

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m really glad you enjoyed the read and that it was helpful.

  3.  

    Deb King October 31st at 6:56 pm  

    I’ve been defending Halloween for years. Thanks for putting my feelings into words perfectly!

  4.  

    W October 31st at 7:34 pm  

    Is this the official stance of Stonebriar Church on Halloween, or just your opinion? Is the church blog really the right place for this article?
    The article seems to be more about promoting Halloween among Christians, and making those of us who choose not to participate in it feel that we are making the wrong choice. With regard to childhood memories, aren’t there plenty of better opportunities for that (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, or even simple family time together on a daily basis can make for great memories)?
    Also, with regard to memories, please consider one other thing before jumping into Halloween just to have a little fun. I recall a sermon where our Pastor once said to be careful when dabbling in sin and to remember that when you play in mud with white gloves on, the gloves become muddy, but the mud never becomes “glovey”.
    I have included a link to another article that I feel might be beneficial when asking the question about whether or not to participate in this holiday.
    Please at least take the time to read this article below, and carefully consider what it says before making your decision.

    (Link removed)

  5.  

    Townsend Keller - staff November 1st at 9:40 am  

    Hello and thanks for reading. No, this is not the official stance or teachings of the church, just a personal opinion from a staff member. It’s certainly not an indictment of those who don’t choose to participate, just some food for thought.

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