Autumn is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I like the colors, the harvest themes, pumpkin, apple, and spiced foods, and the crisper feel in the air. What I don’t like is Halloween. The other day, as I was taking my walk through the neighborhood, I passed a house that usually has a cross windchime thing hanging from the porch. Now that it’s “Halloween season” they also have a giant inflatable witch in their front yard. Anyone else see the incongruity in that? As I finished my walk, I thought more about Halloween. Why do Christians celebrate it? Should Christians celebrate it? Am I making too much out of something that should be harmless fun?
When I was in second grade, my family started opting out of Halloween. Before that we had never really done Halloween – I remember being Little Bo Peep one year, and a Care Bear one year with a rainbow picture pinned to my pink footie pajamas – other than that I don’t have any memory of the holiday. But I do know what happened when Mom started meeting with our teachers every year to tell them we were not allowed to do Halloween stuff.
From second grade until fifth grade (my parents pulled us out of public school right after Halloween when I was in fifth grade to homeschool us – my brother’s teacher was an actual witch, among other problems) I missed the following activities:
-I did not get to draw and color pictures of witches, goblins, ghosts, and demons
-I did not get to participate in making “witches brew” or reciting spells
-I did not get to do worksheets about witches and devils
-I did not have to read assigned books about witches, covens, and children who wanted to be witches and warlocks when they grew up.
Gee, I missed so much.
I think that perhaps because of my own experience growing up, I am not able to disassociate Halloween from symbols and practices of evil, and so my own conscience will not allow me to celebrate Halloween, or to encourage my children to do so. Certainly Halloween is yet another point on which Christians should examine their behavior in light of Scripture and not just mindlessly follow the culture. Colossians 3:17 says “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” I think that if Christians can find ways to participate in Halloween in ways that glorify God, they should not be barred from so doing. However, I don’t think Christians in any way miss out by avoiding Halloween. The arguments proposed by pro-Halloween Christians to put down Christians who don’t participate don’t hold much water with me.
1. Christians who don’t celebrate Halloween are against make-believe.
Some people say that children who don’t get to participate in Halloween miss out on make-believe. If you knew me when I was a kid (or, really, if you know me NOW) you will know that I have never been lacking in imagination. I dressed up all the time! I had a great sense of make-believe, and I still enjoy imaginative things. I don’t feel deprived since I never got to pretend to participate in the occult, nor do I feel like my life is lacking in imaginative richness for the fact that I didn’t grow up thinking that witchcraft, Satanism, and the occult are “fun” and “harmless.” I got to dress up as a princess or a pioneer or whatever else I fancied any day I wanted to, not limited to October 31. I fully intend for my kids to enjoy year-round fun and make believe without celebrating Halloween, and I figure that despite my best intentions, they probably won’t grow up sugar-deprived if they miss out on trick-or-treating.
2. Christians who celebrate Halloween are just PRETENDING about witchcraft etc, which is really making fun of Satan, which is good.
Deuteronomy 18:10-14 says that people who practice witchcrafe, sorcery, divination and the like are “detestable” to God, and that the people of God are not allowed to practice those activities. Of course, some will say they don’t REALLY practice witchcraft or engage with the occult when they celebrate Halloween. OK. But it sure looks like that’s what you’re doing when you decorate with witches, cut demon faces into the pumpkin on your porch, and pass out candy to kids dressed up as the Devil. And aren’t Christians supposed to avoid even the APPEARANCE of evil? Is there an argument I’m missing about Halloween symbols not being symbols of evil?
3. Halloween is ok for Christians because we have victory over forces of evil.
Some Christians also point out that in Christ we have victory over Satan, evil, and death. True, but it doesn’t follow that therefore we ought to play around with Satan, evil, and death just because we have victory over them. Rather, we ought to strive to be more like Christ, who has no part with Satan. People who advance this argument tend to draw on the “meat sacrificed to idols” passage in 1 Corinthians 8. I guess I would point out that the passage doesn’t seem to imply that Christians would be ok to DO the sacrificing, but eating the meat that was sacrificed by others is a matter of personal conscience. So I don’t have a problem eating candy that was purchased for Halloween, but I don’t feel like that means I need to partipate in the actual trick-or-treat event.