Should Christians participate in Halloween?
Finding a balance between distraction and opportunity
Most Christians have already made up their mind on this issue. Halloween is either a good thing or a bad thing.
I’m not sure if the answer is as simple as either good or bad. In order to live in the world and be witnesses of Christ, we should be identifying the balance between distraction and opportunity.
Halloween as a distraction
Halloween isn't the devil's birthday (as some have suggested), but its history isn't very holy either.
The Druids celebrated year-end on October 31st. They believed the dead returned as ghosts, were able to predict the future, and otherwise connect with the dead. It was definitely a dark and evil night. It would be difficult to argue otherwise.
It wasn't long before the Catholic Church moved their celebration of martyrs (All Saints Day) to November 1st and remembering the dead (All Souls Day) to November 2nd. It's amazing that many don't know much about either of these celebrations.
As history unfolded, and cultures collided, All-Hallows-Eve (October 31st) turned into Halloween. With that, came traditions like the poor asking for food and money in return for praying for their dead relatives (eventually known as “trick-or-treating”), and dressing up like ghosts so the "real" ghosts would leave them alone. There are many other traditions, but the point is, they have transformed over the centuries.
While we can make connections to today's traditions, there is such a disconnect between what Halloween is today and what it was in the past.
With that said, that doesn't mean we can't be distracted by it all. As each year progresses, the amount of time and money spent on Halloween is unreal. In the U.S. alone it was estimated people spent $6.9 billion on Halloween in 2015.
People decorate weeks in advance, and sometimes just as much as Christmas. Is there anything wrong with that? If it's a distraction, then yes! If it leads to an opportunity, maybe not. As Paul wrote, “I have the right to do anything…but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12).The biggest distraction with Halloween is attempting to make fear a good thing. Click To Tweet
The biggest distraction with Halloween is attempting to make "fear" a good thing.
The reason why so many of these traditions begun in the first place, was because of fear. If we promote or otherwise encourage "fear" we diminish Paul's words: "If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
As Christians, we need to make sure we don't jump on the "fear" bandwagon. We need to let everyone around us know that our God is all about hope and love, not uncertainty and fear.
If we find ourselves putting fear in people, we may be distracting ourselves and others from the gospel. After all, we are His witnesses.
Halloween as an opportunity
If Jesus was a homeowner today, how would he respond? If Jesus was advising our families, what would he say? It's difficult to ignore Jesus' response to children. I can't think of a time when Jesus told children to go away. I can only remember him saying, “let the children come to me” (Luke 18:16).
I can picture Jesus answering the door with a smile, as a bunch of kids scream "trick or treat!?" I picture Him kneeling down to get on their level, and complimenting the little princess's hair, giving a fist-pound to superman, and looking at the vampire and saying, "You might look scary, but God loves you too!"
So, we have to ask ourselves, do we allow for godly opportunities even when culture might be pushing the tradition in another direction? How will we respond when neighbourhood kids knock on our door?
At Bethel Church where I pastor, we do a "Halloween Ministry" every year. It looks like "Halloween" just enough so families recognize they're invited, but different enough so that they recognize God's love.
We light up the street corner by our building, play Christian music, give away Hot Chocolate, and of course a bag of treats with an encouraging verse inside and promo for our ministries. And probably my favourite part - our 50+ ministry dress up in fun costumes to serve those who drop by!
Since starting this ministry, we have met so many people, and had numerous conversations that we would not have had otherwise.
So what do we do?
- Reclaim October 31st for Jesus!
We don’t want to “Christianize” Halloween, but redefine Halloween. Every day is God’s and darkness is no match for the light of the gospel. Participate in a new way and reclaim a dark night.We don’t want to “Christianize” Halloween, but redefine Halloween. Click To Tweet
- Don’t ignore the possible distractions or opportunities.
It’s easy to run in one direction or the other: it’s all bad, or there’s nothing to it. There are clear distractions and clear opportunities. Don’t ignore them.
- Build hope, not fear.
There is nothing Christian about fear. Instead of removing ourselves from the night, spread hope. Instead of jumping in and “innocently” scaring children, surprise them with love.
- Remember to be a witness for Him!
We are Jesus’ witnesses and we must point to Him. When children knock on our door we have the opportunity to welcome them and show them God’s love through our witness. We also must remember not to be distracted by the potential unprofitable activity that doesn’t bear witness to Christ.
How do you feel about Halloween? Is it a distraction or opportunity?
- Check out this link for more information on the history of Halloween: http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween
- Stephen Valdiva, Christian Austin, and Bruce Noyan, “The scary amount Americans spend on Halloween” Fortune.com, accessed October 12, 2016, http://fortune.com/video/2015/10/27/halloween-by-the-numbers-2015/
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