10 Problems with Halloween…errr…you

In a blog about the dangers of Halloween, especially one written by a pastor, one might expect to read a complete rejection of the holiday as evil, something to be avoided.  Nothing could be further from truth.  My hope is that Christians can avoid getting their holiness panties in a bunch, relax, and enjoy Halloween for what it is–and not make it into something it is not (regardless of how many websites you can find).

Let us acknowledge, with all respect, that there are different opinions about this holiday. The same differences of opinion exists with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, even Cupid and Valentine’s Day. So, let us all take a breath, read Romans 14, and FIGHT the desire to judge people for doing something you consider “pagan” or disqualify them for not attending your harvest carnival instead (or trunk or treat, all saints day, etc).  Whether you abstain, participate, or choose an alternative, let us all be “convinced” in our own minds and be driven by a desire to glorify God–and not make sure others do too (at least not your way).

Personally, I always appreciated that my Jesus-loving parents raised me to enjoy Halloween.  As all of our “church” friends hid “safely” away celebrating the harvest, my sisters and I  risked going door to door.  We were not out to scare anyone, to celebrate death, or to align ourselves with the forces of darkness.  Quite simply, we were out there for one reason…candy. I have great memories.

I find it somewhat disturbing how much effort the evangelical world puts into campaigning against Halloween and the like.  And although I realize we all want to protect our kids and help them discern the difference between good and evil, I’m just not sure demonizing Halloween (literally) is the way to do it.  I also can’t personally muster up the feelings to love “Harvest Carnivals”. They’re often as cheesy as those Christian movies look (not the stories…the actual film). I wonder if, instead of distancing ourselves from things like Halloween, we ought to find a way to embrace them to the glory of God.  Instead of rejecting or receiving it entirely, perhaps it can be reformed in order to be used missionally.  Perhaps Halloween is simply one of those community celebrations that we can use to connect with people relationally–to show them that Christians, though spiritualy different (a real transformation that does reform our real lives), are not completely culturally disconnected joy-killing-party-poopers.

Below are a few ways you’ll know if you need to rethink how you approach Halloween next year:

  1. You have kids but did nothing but darken the lights and hide, close your eyes, and wish it away.
  2. You were stingy with your candy (very anti-gospel), or worse, “blessed” the kids with apples, raisins, or something else healthy (thus ensuring you’ll have half as many trick or treaters next year).
  3. You passed out tracts instead of candy.
  4. You carved crosses,the Christian fish, the face of Jesus, or the names of the 12 disciples in your pumpkins.
  5. You forbid your kid from being a zombie, monster, or the like and forced them to dress up as a biblical character such as a patriarch, a prophet, a priest, a king, a shepherd, or worse…Jesus.
  6. You spent the evening fasting and praying that God would protect little children and condemn those ignorant adults (and pastors) who would dare to inflict such evil on their own child.
  7. You went trick or treating and met most of your neighbors for the first time (Of course, they all met each other at the neighborhood Halloween party you refused to attend).
  8. You didn’t spend a minute with a pagan non-believer who needs Jesus and, instead, hung out at the harvest carnival with believers who already know Jesus.
  9. You spent most of your time with believers hosting non-believers at a “hell house”, exposing the “sinners” to more wrathful, dark, disturbing imagery than they would ever get going door to door.
  10. You did everything you could to distinguish yourself from the world, so much so, it is likely the world will never want to spend anytime with you again.

Laugh and let all that we do be done with a desire to honor God.  Let us keep ourselves unstained by the world as we seek to love those captivated by it.  I realize that this is a difficult tension to resolve sometimes.  It’s easy to reject and it’s easy to receive. Perhaps we should ask more about how we can discern how to reform…ourselves…not Halloween.

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Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

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