This is a longer post on Halloween for anyone trying to work out what they think on this issue.
Halloween is not such a big thing in Sweden as it is in the UK or America but Christians can still be confused as to how they should approach it. Is it a celebration of evil or a Christian festival that has been commercialized (like Easter & Christmas)? Is it harmless fun or is it harmful and a doorway to the occult?
Probably there will be people in your church that will think differently on this issue. People can use the same facts and come to very different conclusions. So what to do? Here are four suggestions.
1. Do your homework (Make sure to read different sides of the issue).
Here is an article on the origins of Halloween. He argues that originally it was Christians mocking the dark, “look our children can dress up and everything is fine, there’s nothing to be afraid of with Jesus” which is why the author thinks God loves Halloween.
Here is an article from a pastor in America who thinks Christians should absolutely not celebrate Halloween.
Notice they see the same thing very differently. The first one sees the Christian origins and the second sees pagan roots. One seeks to reclaim it and the other to distance themselves from it.
This is from Krish Kandiah who is cautiously changing his mind.
2. Pay attention to the context
Some parties celebrate the occult and should be avoided. Some parties are just kids dressing up and having fun. You can probably think of stories that support both sides. I can remember some friends at school who watched horror films that came out near Halloween and became interested in Ouija boards. Let me be very clear that’s not good. I don’t want any part of that for me or our children. I also can think of plenty of kids who went trick or treating and the worst thing that happened was that they ate too much sugar!
Find out what’s likely to happen at a party. It’s OK to ask questions.
What you might do in one culture and country you might not do in another. We need to be wise & discerning because Halloween could be a celebration of God’s victory over darkness OR it could be a celebration of evil and occult (which must be avoided) OR it could be a harmless party for kids dressing up and neither celebrates the truth or anything else. Some kids will be zombies and monsters and some kids will be robots or Darth Vader or a hobbit. That doesn’t mean those children will be any more attracted to the devil than they were the day before.
This process of being aware of the context doesn’t mean we give Christians the right to just do what they like and be like everyone else. Neither does every act of abstaining demonstrate our confidence and freedom in Christ.
3. Read your Bible & and listen to the Holy Spirit.
Have the courage to follow your conscience. There are passages and verses to consider in all of the articles I linked to above.
4. Be gracious & listen respectfully to those who think differently whichever side they’re on.
We must avoid two dangers. Firstly those who strongly think it should be avoided can fall into the trap of judging those who think differently, seeing them as lukewarm in standing up against the darkness of our age.
Those who think it is harmless can think that those who are against it strongly are legalists who just want to spoil everyone’s fun and are making a big deal out of nothing because it’s just kids dressing up.
Check your heart – is my decision being made out of fear or faith? How is my attitude to others who think differently? Do I feel angry or think they are compromised? Do we see their sin but miss our own?
Guard your hearts! Encourage each other in LOVE & TRUTH. If you’re genuinely concerned speak to one another and listen first. I heard a wise pastor friend tell me this: Encourage in writing and challenge in person. Never the other way around. Encouragement is always encouragement but a Facebook message, email or text that criticizes can lack the love we need to give to people and damage relationships.
As adults we must also be aware of hypocrisy. Ever watched a film or TV show with zombies? Some films are silly and harmless – they mock it and others are dark and scary and scary – some films with magic in them might be fine and others definitely not.
Some final thoughts
As Christians living in a society that has largely forgotten Christ we have to make these kind of decisions ALL the time. What we watch on TV, what music we listen to, whether to drink alcohol or not, what to wear, how to discipline our children, what jobs we can do, can our kids take part in yoga in school, whether to let your child play sports on Sundays, how we use social media, what we read or see on the internet, how we use our money (how much do you give to God and how much do you spend on yourself?), whether to go to a party or stay at home – there are thousands of decisions we make all the time.
Sometimes we would like there to be clearer answers and we can be uncomfortable living with uncertainty or differences. Many Christians solve this by creating rules for everyone. Over time we become like the Pharisees creating a heavy burden for people.
But should we sin because we are under law but under grace? By no means! (Rom 6:15).
Let’s be aware that we won’t all answer these questions in the same way. Sometimes what is genuinely OK for one person would be the WRONG decision for another. A glass of wine might be OK for me and a terrible decision for you or vice versa. The easy way is to create one rule for everyone but I’m not sure that way is the right way.
However, we want everyone to love the truth, seek Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit. Be kind and gentle with each other, bear with one another in love and when differences emerge don’t be fearful, angry or judgmental.
God really does have the victory over the darkness through Christ on the cross. Jesus has won, the devil has been cast down. Let’s make sure all of us and our children know THAT story and know it really well and not get too upset if you spot a pumpkin with a candle in it!
This video is poetry so you may need to watch it a few times to get everything if English is not your first langauge. It basically reminds us that God has won through Christ!
A few years back my friend Mark Powley wrote this on the same issue.