It’s honestly been years since I went to a “scary” haunted house for Halloween. I think the last time must have been in my teens. Back then, I didn’t even consider myself to be a Christian. But here I am now as a Christian adult with kids and I’m wondering if haunted houses are just too scary for Christians.
Each of us has a choice…to participate in Halloween or not. I really don’t mind if you do or don’t. But the occasion is definitely an opportunity to question the Christian participation in the holiday event. For those of you (us) who celebrate it, I’d be curious to find out why you think it is fine. For those that don’t participate, I’d be equally curious of why you don’t.
Is participating in or celebrating Halloween, in any way serving, honoring, glorifying, or holding up as an idol, a false God?
In fact, far from participating in a pagan ritual, I would suggest that Halloween (what it has become in America), is a great opportunity to initiate and strengthen relationships with neighbors and “un-churched” individuals who might not know God or may themselves be serving false Gods.
I’m not suggesting un-relational evangelism tactics such as including a religious tract with every handful of candy. Such impersonal methods will likely generate a negative and uninspiring result.
However, let’s step through a typical Halloween, identify the positives and the negatives, and tweeze out any potential God dishonoring pagan idol worship that would lead us to boycott this American tradition.
Step 1: Spend time with your children picking out the perfect outfit.
Maybe you will dress up too? Sounds fun. OK, I’ve done this before with my children and I know it can be a beating. Negatives: It’s sometimes a miserable experience ending in fights and tears. Often the best outfits have been picked over already and you are left with last year’s favorites. How dreadful. Positives: A shared experience with your kids. And they will probably look adorable, right? Take some pics.
Step 2: Go buy some candy, a scary sound thingy, some plastic skeletons, a few colored light bulbs, and a few pumpkins to carve or decorate.
Negatives: The scary sound thingy, light bulbs, and skeletons are optional, but I would hardly call that pagan idol worship unless you bow down to them and start chanting or praying to them like the Israelites did with the golden calf. If that’s your plan I’d say you need to do more than boycott Halloween. You need to have a nice theological visit with a local Christian pastor. Now, the pumpkins and candy will cost you about $40 all in, and it could get a little messy. Positives: Spending time with your kids. You might actually have a teaching opportunity about whether ghosts and goblins are real, how our bodies will be raised from the dead during the rapture, and how many pumpkins twenty dollars will buy. Does money grow on trees? I don’t think so! Other positives: Spending time with your kids decorating and carving a pumpkin can be a blast. Roast the pumpkin seeds for a delicious treat!
Step 3: Grab the candy bags or buckets, flashlights, get dressed up, and head out for some “treats”.
When was the last time you were “tricked” anyway? Negatives: Yes! More pictures. Positives: Lots of candy you probably won’t eat, memories of the 2 year old stumbling up to a neighbor’s doorsteps, dressed like a lady bug, grabbing 5 handfuls of candy before they are stopped, saying “twick o tweet”. How adorable! Did you get that on video?
Step 4: Meet, make new connections, and briefly mingle with neighbors you rarely see or talk to.
Other negatives: you might have to invade your neighbors homes to retrieve your children running in after a cute cat or puppie dog.
Step 5: Go home, fight the kids over what they can and can’t eat, throw away the “bad” candy, sneak a few yummy bites for yourself (Gotcha!), and scratch your head wondering when the pagan ritual thing is supposed to begin.
Negatives: A sugar rush that just won’t quit and a rekindled need to hit the gym. Positives: An opportunity to talk to your kids about healthy eating habits and the importance of brushing teeth before bedtime, a fun, memory-filled evening with neighbors and family, and some really cute pictures and videos.
So, should we as Christians boycott Halloween? My answer is an emphatic No! Unless you are planning a blood sacrifice, a seance with the undead, and a quick game of ouija, my answer is absolutely not! I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
Look forward to an article in a few months about whether as Christians “Santa Claus” should be part of our Christmas celebration.