In our household, participating in Halloween festivities is a given.
We are pastors, and we celebrate Halloween.
Is Jesus okay with this? Obviously, we think so.
But what about all those other Christians who think Halloween is evil? Is their Halloween-abstinence unnecessary?
This is what we say: every family must make its own decision, and we can honor God with a decision either way.
If you say no to Halloween – you’re right
Parents can feel justified in their decision to not participate in the October holiday. Sprinkled throughout the Bible are warnings and commands against witchcraft and occult practices. (See Deuteronomy 18:9-12, Galatians 5:20, Exodus 22:18, etc.)
And I don’t know about you, but there are witch decorations and demonic figurines all over the place in my neighborhood right now.
If we are indeed intending to “set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth ” (Colossians 3:2) then I can understand why some families choose to not join in.
Philippines 4:8 tells us to think about the things that are true and honorable and pure and lovely. A lot of what fills the aisles in the party shop for Halloween are not pure and lovely.
If you say yes to Halloween – you’re right
The reality is that Halloween’s origin comes from a combination of Christian and pagan observances. All Hallows’ Eve is tied to All Saints Day – the Church holiday celebrated on November 1 to commemorate the saints who have died before us. It’s not all evil!
Our theology makes us lean more towards the freedom and grace received in Christ rather than rules and laws.
Of course, we must be careful not to “use your freedom to indulge the flesh” (Galatians 5:13). Holiness matters. But if a Christian family thinks of Halloween as a fun chance to dress up in silly costumes and canvas the neighborhood, then it is a harmless observance.
Our family’s experience and thoughts
I think it’s funny to admit this now, but most of my concerns about Halloween have been associated with the glorification of sugary candy. Others are worried about darkness and violence. My problem? Candy.
I don’t want my kids to have unhealthy associations with food and to become addicted to sugar (like I am!). So getting really excited about going to people’s houses to collect candy bothers me a little.
But do I think my toddler and preschooler will get swept up in a glorification of witchcraft and ghosts? No.
Ask me this again when they are preteens, and I’m sure I’ll have restrictions against Ouija boards and horror movies. That’s another story.
Will we ever let our own kids dress up as zombies or vampires or anything dark? No. Do I judge other parents who allow it? Nope. Each parent knows their own child and whether there is an unhealthy attraction to unhealthy figures or whether it is just about having fun.
As for Halloween in general, it is completely possible to enjoy the afternoon without paying homage to the demonic. It’s also completely possible to use the holiday as a chance to honor Christ through hospitality and neighborliness.
And here’s an important thing for our family:
Halloween is the evening that we naturally meet more neighbors than we do any other day of the year. Many people on our street choose to sit outside in porches, in driveways, or in their open-door garages. So when there is a lull in trick-or-treaters, we meander over to the neighbors to introduce ourselves or chat. We care about our neighbors and love the opportunity. We think starting these friendships honors Jesus’ command for us to love our neighbors.
Also, Jason thinks of giving out candy as an important element of hospitality. I’d rather not spend a lot of money on sugary candy that is only serving to damage children’s health (as mentioned above!) … But he insists on getting “the good stuff.”
We enjoy taking our little ones trick-or-treating because they’re so-darn-cute, but also because it’s a chance for a kind interaction between strangers. We want our children to learn to not be shy as well as to learn to be polite by saying thank you to each neighbor.
So – neighborliness and hospitality and fun make-believe with costumes … that’s what Halloween is about for us.
Whether you say no or yes to Halloween
Halloween is not going away. So we all must make a decision and be able to explain it to our children. Let them see how you’re seeking to follow God in your real-life choices.
I read somewhere that your decision about Halloween should be consistent with the rest of your life – like the kinds of things your allow your kids to read and watch during the rest of the year. And if you value hospitality but choose not to give treats on Halloween, then it would be good to have a conversation about it with your children. I think that is good advice.
Personally, we will never purchase gory costumes or decor. We’re not going all-out for this holiday.
And we do object to sexualized costumes and anything extremely violent or sinister-looking. I wish there were less of these.
But Jack-o-lanterns and cute skeletons? We can handle that. We approach all monster images in a spirit of fun and not a spirit of fear in our hopes to dispel any chance of a nightmare and disempower the shadowy figures.
So, parents. The decision is yours. Pray, and trust the Holy Spirit to guide you. THAT is the Spirit who truly has power in this world.
Question for you: Will you be out celebrating Halloween this year? Are there any boundaries or restrictions you employ with your kids or personally?