Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
The leaves are falling nearly as fast as the temperatures. The cooler temperatures and beautifully colored leaves remind us that it’s about that time again. Every year Christians are seemingly perplexed and puzzled on whether they should be involved with Halloween or not. Good Christians stand on both sides of the argument, which means that this is not a simple question and there is room for disagreement. Some might be reading and wondering why it would be such a controversial issue, after all it’s about candy right?
Halloween has deep roots. It began as “All Hallows Eve” which came the day before “All Saints Day.” These days were designed to be a special time of remembrance for the martyrs of the Christian faith by Pope Gregory III during the eighth century. Yet, Halloween didn’t stay Christian for long. Much like the Israelites in the book of Judges, Christians quickly integrated paganism and mysticism into their “holy day.” Unlike today, in that time witchcraft and dark magic were more than silly costumes, there was definite demonic activity. Over the centuries and more specifically in moving to North America, these darker rituals became more rare in Halloween festivities. This dark history has led many Christians to seriously reconsider whether they should be involved with Halloween.
So what should Christians Do About Halloween?
Realize the Pagan Aspect of Halloween is Dead
Despite what you may think, that old curmudgeon living at the end of the block is probably not a witch or warlock. Virtually no one is brewing a potion or attending a seance. Nor, is Halloween a sort of Black Friday level busy day for Satan and his evil forces. There is nothing special or superstitious about Halloween. Over the centuries, Halloween has transformed into a day about fun and community. Children dress up as their favorite superhero or Disney character and go asking their neighbors for candy. People are deeply desperate for community and Halloween has turned into one of the most unlikely solutions to developing community. Think about it. Most neighbors keep their head down when they get their mail, if they’re pressed they might wave, but on Halloween everyone walks around the neighborhood smiling and getting to know each other.
Halloween isn’t what it used to be. Sure, there is still remnants of ages past. You will see “scary” costumes, but what is at the core of this? Is it some sort of pagan bloodlust? No, more likely it’s out of a thrill for being scared and scaring others. An aspect of community can be seen in this as well. People like to experience things together, even fear. So rather than conclude that teenager is going to be a psychopathic murderer because of their costume, perhaps a more accurate conclusion would be that this young person wants to feel connected with others. I’m not saying everyone has the best motives during Halloween, but that as Christians we should avoid assuming the worst.
Do Not Isolate Yourself or Your Family
Christians do not have to celebrate Halloween. They can rightly choose to not participate in festivities, but they should not avoid their neighbors. Jesus has called his church to be lights in the world (Matt. 5:14-16), so how dare we retreat to our basements and turn the porch light off when our neighbors are walking up our driveway. You don’t have to go outside in a costume, but you do have to be loving to your neighbors. Imagine what your neighbors will think of you when your car is in the driveway and lights are on downstairs, but you don’t answer that door. It certainly won’t help your friendship and it may be a hurdle for reaching them with the gospel down the road. Think of the opportunity that is presented to you as a Christian on Halloween, the world is coming to your door! You don’t have to throw a party or anything, they’re coming to you. Now is your chance! Build that relationship, get to know them. Ask them if they live in the neighborhood. Get to know their kids. This may just be that evangelistic opportunity you’ve been praying for.
Know Your Kids
If you believe that partaking in the festivities of the day is right, don’t forget about your children. It may be that while you are fine with the scarier costumes, they’re walking around like E.T. in Spielberg’s classic just terrified by it all. Can your child handle Halloween? It may be that you need to sit down and talk with your child about the differences between real tragedies and scary fun. This could even lead to some great discussions and teaching moments about death, Heaven, Hell, and Jesus’ Resurrection. While the world is just playing with empty shadows of these concepts, Christians have real truths to share about these subjects with their children.
Think of the Gospel
Yes, the world is coming to your door. What are you going to do? Have you thought about it? The Great Commission is the primary mission of the church, so how can you accomplish the mission through this opportunity? It may be through a church activity. There’s a wide variance of types of activities whether it’s a Harvest or Reformers Party or a “Trunk or Treat.” Imagine how easy it would be to host an “open house” at your church, giving parents a break from walking around the neighborhood and giving the children some smiles with a bag of candy. Oh, the possibilities!
Maybe, the best way to leverage this event for the Gospel’s sake is to just get to know your neighbors. This is foundational for loving them and then sharing the Gospel with them. Or perhaps it’s a more robust evangelistic effort like handing out tracts or something similar. Let me just help you with one suggestion, if that is what you are hoping to do, don’t forget the candy! I guarantee that if you hand a child a piece of paper instead of candy, that paper will be thrown away as quickly as when they get home and this child will not think very highly of you. If you’re handing out tracts, don’t let your thriftiness be a hurdle for the Gospel. Halloween is dripping with Gospel opportunities! Redeem the day!
Follow Your Biblically Informed Conscience
Don’t just take my word for it. Please, don’t. You need to do your Christian duty by searching out the Scriptures and coming to a conclusion for yourself on whether you will celebrate Halloween. Leave your preconceptions at the door and let the Word conform your mind and decisions. Just remember that whatever you decide be gracious toward other Christians’ point of view. Don’t fall into the trap of judging your brothers and sisters over something that is controversial at best. The Christian who celebrates Halloween should not throw it in the face of their fellow Christians either. Let me just stop for a second and explain what that doesn’t mean. Being gracious does not mean lying, it’s perfectly right to post a picture of your children in their costumes or host a Halloween event. That’s living out your beliefs. It’s when you belittle a fellow Christian who disagrees, then you have crossed the line and sinned against your brother. Halloween is a good opportunity to practice living out Romans 14.
I can’t answer whether you should celebrate Halloween or not. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as you study God’s Word. I hope that these thoughts have helped you to consider some aspects while making that decision. I’ll conclude by posing perhaps the most important question of all, can you honestly glorify God by celebrating Halloween?