Halloween and The Christian Part 3

This is the final installment of the series of articles regarding the Christian and the celebration of Halloween.

With a proper understanding of the history of the modern Halloween celebration and a reminder to search the Scripture for Biblical principles regarding all types of practices allowing the Word to dictate what we do or don’t do, I want to conclude this series by examining Biblical principles and applying them to the celebration of Halloween.  Obviously some of my applications may not resonate with everyone.  Take what is Biblical and consider the rest.

The first question to ask is this, “Do passages of Scripture exist that reference the celebration of holidays in general?”   Yes, Romans 14:5-6 probably immediately comes to mind.  This text is, of course, within the greater context of Paul’s discussion of how brothers are to relate to one another when they disagree over questionable practices. Many call these questionable practices issues of Christian liberty.  They are practices that are not commanded nor forbad in the Scripture but practices that Christians might come to various conclusions on.  However, when something is a matter of liberty, it requires a new set of questions be asked concerning the practice.  Just because something is a matter of Christian liberty doesn’t mean that it is inconsequential, rather it means that we need to closely examine Scripture so that we can honestly be “fully persuaded in our own minds.”   That is what I hope we do regarding the matter of celebrating Halloween.  I must add a caveat.  I know that Christians who celebrate various aspects of Halloween are not devil worshipers.  I also am not talking about those who use the holiday as a means of evangelization.  Rather I am speaking of the Christian’s participation of the obvious cultural and questionable elements of modern Halloween.

The principle that guides other principles in relation to the celebration of Halloween, feast days, or any other liberty issue is found in Romans 14:5-6.  Paul writes that whether one celebrates (observes) a special day (probably a feast day in context) or not he is doing so “unto the Lord.”  This means that he is celebrating that day with his mindset, his practices, his choices as that which exalts the Lord and brings God ultimate glory.  This is the biggest difficulty I have with Halloween.  I find little redeemable value in the modern celebration of Halloween that could be done unto the Lord.

Both the pagan aspects of Halloween (celebration of the dead and the superstitions that accompany that) and the religious aspects (souling and praying to supposed saints) are void of glory to God.  Most of our other holidays that we celebrate have pagan and religious aspects to them (Christmas, Easter, etc.)  But in those holidays, one can find redeemable features that can and often do bring glory to God.  One would have to completely reinvent Halloween to find ways to observe the holiday (in the true sense of observe) in order to find God-honoring practices.  At least with Christmas, with all its superstitions and materialism, we can direct our focus onto the incarnation of our Savior.  At least with Easter, we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we can ignore the over sized bunny that hides eggs.  With Thanksgiving, prone to gluttony and worship of football, we can take time to thank God for his blessings.  With Independence Day we can patriotically praise God who blessed us with this free country, in spite of the rampant partying and drunkenness.  With New Years, we can remember the goodness of God, the trials of life and look forward to the coming of Christ and the growth we can expect in the New Year he gives us.  But with Halloween, it is a struggle to find redeemable values that would draw our attention to Jesus Christ and the glory of God.  Let us just examine the typical practice of a Halloween celebration.

The Christian and Halloween Part 3

With a proper understanding of the history of the modern Halloween celebration and a reminder to search the Scripture for Biblical principles regarding all types of practices allowing the Word to dictate what we do or don’t do, I want to conclude this series by examining Biblical principles and applying them to the celebration of Halloween.  Obviously some of my applications may not resonate with everyone.  Take what is Biblical and consider the rest.

The first question to ask is this, “Do passages of Scripture exist that reference the celebration of holidays in general?”   Yes, Romans 14:5-6 probably immediately comes to mind.  This text is, of course, within the greater context of Paul’s discussion of how brothers are to relate to one another when they disagree over questionable practices. Many call these questionable practices issues of Christian liberty.  They are practices that are not commanded nor forbad in the Scripture but practices that Christians might come to various conclusions on.  However, when something is a matter of liberty, it requires a new set of questions be asked concerning the practice.  Just because something is a matter of Christian liberty doesn’t mean that it is inconsequential, rather it means that we need to closely examine Scripture so that we can honestly be “fully persuaded in our own minds.”   That is what I hope we do regarding the matter of celebrating Halloween.  I must add a caveat.  I know that Christians who celebrate various aspects of Halloween are not devil worshippers.  I also am not talking about those who use the holiday as a means of evangelization.  Rather I am speaking of the Christian’s participation of the obvious cultural and questionable elements of modern Halloween.

The principle that guides other principles in relation to the celebration of Halloween, feast days, or any other liberty issue is found in Romans 14:5-6.  Paul writes that whether one celebrates (observes) a special day (probably a feast day in context) or not he is doing so “unto the Lord.”  This means that he is celebrating that day with his mindset, his practices, his choices as that which exalts the Lord and brings God ultimate glory.  This is the biggest difficulty I have with Halloween.  I find little redeemable value in the modern celebration of Halloween that could be done unto the Lord.

Both the pagan aspects of Halloween (celebration of the dead and the superstitions that accompany that) and the religious aspects (souling and praying to supposed saints) are void of glory to God.  Most of our other holidays that we celebrate have pagan and religious aspects to them (Christmas, Easter, etc.)  But in those holidays, one can find redeemable features that can and often do bring glory to God.  One would have to completely reinvent Halloween to find ways to observe the holiday (in the true sense of observe) in order to find God-honoring practices.  At least with Christmas, with all its superstitions and materialism, we can direct our focus onto the incarnation of our Savior.  At least with Easter, we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we can ignore the oversized bunny that hides eggs.  With Thanksgiving, prone to gluttony and worship of football, we can take time to thank God for his blessings.  With Independence Day we can patriotically praise God who blessed us with this free country, in spite of the rampant partying and drunkenness.  With New Years, we can remember the goodness of God, the trials of life and look forward to the coming of Christ and the growth we can expect in the New Year he gives us.  But with Halloween, it is a struggle to find redeemable values that would draw our attention to Jesus Christ and the glory of God.  Let us just examine the typical practice of a Halloween celebration.

The most obvious element of Halloween that should be an objection to the Christian is the blatant celebration of darkness, witchcraft, and death.  Philippians 4:8 commands the Christian to think upon pure, lovely, good, true, honest, just things, as well as things that have a good report.  In the OT, the people of God were forbidden to dabble in the magical arts including speaking with the dead and casting of spells. In the New Testament, believers in Ephesus immediately burned all of their books and relics that associated themselves with the magical arts (Acts 19:18-20).  Obviously, they wanted to separate themselves completely from their former lifestyle having to do with the occult.  One of the great delusions Satan has brought upon our modern Western culture is to convince even Christians that the Spirit-realm is a joke.  To deceive people into thinking that witchcraft is fun and games, and that we can play around with fortune telling and mediums.  Walt Disney and Hollywood has been on the front lines of this by teaching children that there are good witches and there are bad witches.  According to God, all witchcraft is evil.  Satan is the master of darkness and even Michael the warrior angel of God was careful in his interactions with the Devil (Jude 9).  Of course I do not believe that Christians who dress up like goblins, witches, devils and other dark creatures are worshiping Satan, but I do believe that it is dangerous spiritually and psychologically to meddle or even make light of the spirit realm which really is the enemy of the Christian.  No one can deny that the celebration of Halloween is hugely centered around darkness and Spiritism.

Another element about Halloween that gives concern is the overwhelming celebration of death, gore and violence.  Sadly, we have been desensitized in our society by media and that “over-the-top gore” that permeates entertainment.  God’s Word tells us that it is good for Christians “to be wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19).  The continual gore and violence being crammed into our children’s minds perverts and twists their minds into hungering after more to satisfy the “shock” centers of their maturing brains.  Obviously, there are violent aspects to Biblical truth, especially Old Testament narratives.  What concerns me more than the mere presence of violence is the seeming celebration and exaltation of gore that is so blatant in the horror genre of media as well as the observation of Halloween.

An element of Halloween that seems to go unnoticed is the greediness that seems to be fed.  The Scripture tells us that we are to separate ourselves from a covetous or greedy brother (I Cor. 5:10) and also that greedy people will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:10).  Covetous is a violation of one of God’s Ten Commandments, yet I am fearful that greed is fed and applauded in the observance of Halloween.   Children are encouraged to seek as much candy (something bad in excess) as they can.  Having spent a great deal of time with children both in pastoral ministry and teaching school, I have observed (and other teachers with me) a spirit of greed that begins to well up within children as we approach October 31.  I am not blaming Halloween for greediness, but I wonder if we are doing anything to curb the sin of greed with our observances of this candy filled holiday.  It should be noted that greed is also rampant in other holidays as well.  Christmas has become a fertilized garden of greed with fit throwing and whining children coveting after toys and gifts.  Easter has been peppered with greed as we have taken something that seemed innocent and made it into a hunt for more and more candy and prizes.  We humans tend to take gifts and turn it into covetousness.  However, I believe it is much easier to curb covetousness in Christmas and Easter than it is Halloween.  After all, I can teach my children to give gifts at Christmas, rather than receive.  I can teach them to consider another person, to seek out something that would honor that person and to invest their own resources in giving a gift to another.  It is pretty hard to do that with Halloween.  I am not saying it cannot be done, but teaching giving through Halloween is rarely if ever done.

Another element of Halloween that has been increasingly indicative of a need to separate ourselves from the holiday is its growing sensual and immoral aspects.  Thumbing through a recent retail catalog advertising costumes for Halloween was shocking to me as I noticed that the vast majority of adult and even adolescent costumes were sexual in nature.  We are commanded to flee sexual immorality (I Corinthians 6:18), yet our sex crazed culture has created “sexy” costumes even for children.  This is deplorable and something I want to completely protect my family from.  I recognize that many might contend that they stay away from that element of Halloween.  That is good, and if you believe you have the liberty to celebrate the holiday, praise God that you are able to flee immorality.  As for me, I believe it is too rampant and obvious for me to be able to engage in Halloween and avoid the sensuality for both my sons and me.

Finally, the religious tradition that has changed into modern day “trick or treating” is opposed to the Word of God.  I am not saying “trick or treating” is opposed to God’s Word, but rather the practice that morphed into our modern version.  The “souling” whereby poor folks would collect food and cakes in exchange for prayers to the saints is religious heresy.   We are to pray to none other than God.  We have one Mediator, Jesus Christ.  I know that the modern “trick or treating” no longer celebrates prayers to the saints.  But from a personal perspective, modern practices which blatantly point to a dangerous spiritual practice of the past give me great pause.

Therefore, the principle of being able to celebrate a day unto the Lord is an important principle.  Each person must be fully persuaded in their own mind.  If a Christian understands the origins of Halloween, carefully considers the Biblical principles, and honestly evaluates the practices of Halloween celebration yet still believes that they can celebrate it unto the Lord, then I nor anyone else can judge that person’s heart nor motive.  Obviously, dear reader, it is not difficult to determine where my conscience lies on the subject.  A word of warning, if you are one who celebrates Halloween but also feels the need to defend Halloween, and become frustrated and defensive against those who suggest it is unwise Christian behavior, then examine your heart and conscience.  One who is fully persuaded in his own mind does not naturally become defensive or angry over disagreements in Christian liberty.  On the other side, those who refrain from observing Halloween should not allow their liberty to become legalism. We cannot gain God’s favor by participating or not participating in the observance of a day.  Do not allow your refusal of celebration to become a matter of pride exalting yourself above another.  Also, do not make up stories and myths in order to “scare” people away from the celebration of Halloween.  It is this author’s opinion, that the truth about Halloween and the Biblical principles are enough to cause avoidance from the celebration of Halloween.

Comments

comments

4 Comments

  1. pmatt said:

    Daja, I like your blog post. Mine might be “deeper” (although I am not sure about that), but your post was very effective to me. Good common sense is not that common anymore.

    October 26, 2011
  2. Laura said:

    Great thoughts Matt. You have always challenged the body of believers there to walk closer with Christ, and I appreciate that about you. It’s hard to believe it’s really been over twelve years since you were my youth pastor, but I guess it has! Regardless of time though, it is refreshing to see that you still have a passion for proclaiming the truth of God’s Word, often in compelling, thought-provoking ways. In a day and age where Christians find themselves trying to be like the world, it is needed.

    November 4, 2011
  3. pmatt said:

    Thanks Laura, for the encouragement. It does seem like forever since you were in the youth group, but it has only been 10 years. 🙂 we moved out to Salt Lake in 2001. I am so thankful that you are serving the Lord in Seattle and delight to know that are raising your son for the Lord. I still remember those days in youth group in the annex building. It was just a handful of us, but it was a lot of fun.

    November 5, 2011

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