Your Thoughts on Halloween

On yesterday, I was asked a question that I knew would eventually come up: What do you guys do for Halloween?

Now, I always have a slight smile when I hear this question for two reasons. First, the question amuses me because I’ve only been asked this question around White Christians. This actually wasn’t really a discussion in the Black church. So the fact that this has only been a discussion in predominantly White churches is always amusing to me. Secondly, I’m never sure of the kind of reaction that I’ll receive from the person who is asking me. Some people will thoughtfully consider what I say. Others will be a little dismissive of what I say and talk about how harmless it is. So I always find a mixed bag of responses when it comes to celebrating or acknowledging Halloween.

Last year, my husband and I were exhorted not to be one of those “weird Christians” who ignored the holiday and disengaged ourselves from the rest of the world, but rather we should use the holiday to get to know our neighbors, invite them to church, and possibly present them the gospel. We had never considered ourselves to be “weird” for not participating in the holiday, but we also didn’t think that it was the best venue for presenting the gospel to someone.

In the Reformed crowd, I have heard of people hosting a Reformation party instead of a Halloween in honor of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses against the practice of indulgences in the Catholic Church. People are asked to dress up as famous reformers (or just wear regular costumes), and they have a party under this reformed banner. In addition, it was at our church home in Louisiana that I first learned about All Hallows Eve (or All Saints Eve and Day) being recognized among Reformed Christians. To my recollection, we didn’t do anything on November 1st, but the day was mentioned.

So, I have heard of many perspectives by now for participation and for transforming the holiday into something that is more God-honoring through the recognition of Church history, but I’m hoping to hear some more thoughtful reasons for participating or against participating in Halloween.

So I wanted to pose a few questions for all of you: What is your stance on Halloween? How did you arrive at that position? Or do you celebrate Reformation history this time of year?

14 thoughts on “Your Thoughts on Halloween

  1. Always a fun question. I say with the apostle Paul eat meat sacrificed to idols with a clear conscience, but do not go to the sacrificial ceremony. There are a three principles here.

    First, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with having your kids dress up like a princess or their favorite super hero and going out to get candy (eating meat bought in the market place with a clear conscience). The act in and of itself is not wrong as long as it is done with a clear conscience.

    Second, many are unable to do so with a clear conscience. They have become convinced that there is something intrinsically demonic about the activities due to historical significance or any other host of issues surrounding the day. For these people, it would be unlawful to participate because they would be sinning against their better judgment.

    Third, everyone should refrain from joining with Wiccans and others who would actually be engaging in real demonic activities on October 31.

    My wife and I get our kids dressed up in costumes that don’t require a compromise of our worldview and we take them to the nearest church that hosts a trunk-or-treat. Our kids have fun, eat lots of candy and, most important, share their candy with Mom and Dad. It’s a good time, and we walk away with a clear conscience.

    • I appreciate your insight. I don’t think I would have thought about grouping Halloween in with the meat sacrificed to idols passage, but it does make sense. But if a Christian with a “weaker” conscience on this issue confronted you about having your kids dress up and stuff, what would be your response?

      • It depends on their objection and their demeanor. If they genuinely wanted to know why we do what we do, I would explain to them precisely what I wrote in the above comment. If they simply wanted to bind my conscience according to their scruples, I would tell them, as Luther told the Diet of Worms, “Show me from Scripture. My conscience is bound to Scripture. Here I stand. I can do no other.”

  2. Well when I handed out candy I would include a tract that talked about Luther and the reformation and salvation by grace. Typically the tract was geared to little kids. However, the amount of children that have come to my house has dwindled to nothing. I know my church is having a truck and treat.

  3. I definitely understand the point of making sure that we aren’t binding the conscience of anyone based upon things not explicitly stated in scripture (or things that cannot be derived by good and necessary consequence). However, I have a very strong cognitive dissonance regarding the celebration of Halloween. I don’t associate it with demonic activity, but in my mind, it’s associated with the triviality of our modern culture.

    I don’t quite get the appeal of celebrating Halloween. It’s one thing for children to dress up as their favorite character to get candy (I mean, what kid doesn’t like free candy), but it’s another thing for grown adults to do all of the things that children do. When I use to have a Facebook account, I remember people (20+ years old) getting excited about Halloween because of the costumes they get to wear and because of the costume parties that they were going to. It seems even stranger when Christians do it because Christians generally shouldn’t be associated with trivial activities.

    Even more, why did we (I’m speaking of fellow believers here) pick Halloween as the day in which we can dress up in costumes? Why not pick a random day? Why pick a day that has severe historical baggage?

    • I don’t know. I’m a pretty big Alfred Hitchcock fan, and many people would say that’s trivial. I just say it’s niche. I do think it’s a little weird for adults to dress up, but no so weird if they have kids. My wife and I don’t dress up, but we aren’t as excited as other parents seem to be about getting into kid stuff. Some parents naturally jump into games and movies that interest their kids. Others, like my wife and I, are more subdued and less likely to jump into the high-energy activities. I personally get real uncomfortable watching parents foam at the mouth watching their kids roll around with other kids on a wrestling mat, kick a ball or, worst of all, excel at Call of Duty. These things often seem ridiculously trivial to me, but to each their own.

      Regarding the historical baggage, I think Halloween has less and less historical baggage as the years go on. The only people I see bringing it up in our culture are church people and Wiccans. I think if we tried to start up another dress up and get candy day just for Christians, just to avoid the baggage, that would be received by the culture about as well as a Dispensationalist B-Movie starring Nicholas Cage. Let the world be repelled by our gospel, not our idiosyncrasies.

      • No offense taken… thanks for your prospective. I guess it would look somewhat odd for Christians to dress up on a random day.

  4. Pingback: Veneration of the Saints? | CredoCovenant

  5. Dear wifewithpurpose: Please explain what a “white christian” is? Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NKJV). Part of the problem with our society (and unfortunately in the Church), is that we too often make those types of distinctions unnecessarily. Let’s honor Christ and His Word and consider ourselves as just Christians (or Believers if you will). This is not to be considered a criticism, just an observation, especially in light of the multiple incidents that have recently been occurring. God’s blessings be upon you and your family

    • Hi Gary,

      Well, to answer your question, a “white Christian” is a sociological term, not a ecclesiastical term. I use the term to highlight cultural differences that do exist between groups of people (not intending to make blanket assumptions of the whole group…of course). But I don’t mean it in the sense that our standing before Christ is different based on the color of our skin or our ethnic background. Blessings to you and yours as well!

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