Romans 14:1 (The Message)
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.”
Halloween is one of those practices that falls into a gray area for many believers. Some people don’t give the holiday much thought either way. Some go all out to celebrate it. Still others avoid it altogether. As members of the body, it is much more important to focus on what we have in common versus where we differ. The truth is, apart from the basic non-negotiables of our faith: the Triune Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the virgin birth, the fully human yet fully divine God-man, Jesus Christ, (who physically came to earth, physically died on the cross (atoning for all of humanity’s sins in the process), who physically rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, who bodily ascended to heaven of his own volition, who is seated at the Father’s right hand, and who will physically return to judge the living and the dead), salvation by grace alone, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and a conscious awareness of every soul after death either in heaven or in hell, our opinions about many issues – particularly as they relate to the culture at large are just that – opinions. Because we agree on the most important matter, the person of Jesus Christ, we can disagree on those things that the bible doesn’t speak to directly as sin. The celebration of Halloween is one of those “things.”
Whether you see the holiday as a dangerous pagan practice, infecting young people with an affinity for the occult, or as a light-hearted, fun holiday for the young-at-heart, the most important thing is that you do not judge, condemn or hold another’s viewpoint against him. People who celebrate Halloween get why it is fun. But often do not understand why others would object to the holiday. Below are a few reasons that I have uncovered as to why some believers do not celebrate Halloween.
Halloween is a favorite time of year for sexual predators – especially those who target children.
Like it or not, our world is a fallen one. While many people who celebrate the holiday do so with the intent to engage in good, clean fun, there are those who use it as a time to target the defenseless among us – namely the elderly and children. A family friend, who is a member of the L. A. County Sheriff’s Department shared this information with me. Think about it. We consistently discourage our children from speaking to strangers, let alone accepting candy or gifts from them. But at Halloween we do just the opposite. Predators are very aware of this and have no problem using it as an opportunity to get close to those who would normally avoid them. Some go as far to give tainted treats or to expose themselves to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters.
Halloween can be a scary experience for young children.
Many people adults and children alike dress up in scary costumes. For younger children, who have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and reality, witnessing “live” ghosts, demons, and witches can be very frightening. For this reason, many parents of young children choose to attend harvest festivals where attendees are less likely to appear in deliberately frightening costumes.
Some believers find Halloween’s pagan roots disturbing.
Although Christmas and Easter began as pagan celebrations, which the Church appropriated and “depaganized,” some Christians struggle with participating in the Halloween because God is not expressly glorified by it. Whereas Christmas has become a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and Easter a celebration of his resurrection from the dead, Halloween is still more overtly pagan celebration, which can sting the conscience of a person who is sensitive to the significance of pagan practices. Many new believers, those who are sensitive to the significance of occult practices, and those who have come out of occult or pagan religions feel a deep conflict over participating in this holiday and often avoid it altogether.
Halloween is a significant day for those who engage in occult practices.
In their book entitled, “The Facts On Halloween: What Christians Need To Know” John Ankerberg and John Weldon write:
“Although Halloween has commonly practiced today is an innocent time for most youngsters, it is a very serious observance for many witches, neo-pagans, and other occultists…it shoudl be noted that the historic and contemporary occult associations to Halloween have produced something of a “crossover” effect to the larger society so that in some instances the observance of Halloween is not necessarily an innocent practice. Reading through various histories of Halloween one is struck at the large number of superstitions and divinatory practices involved. Some of the former (and all of the latter) can be related to the occult.”
In light of this association, many believers view Halloween as means of familiarizing innocent children with the occult. For some believers the fact that the association is innocent is even more of a problem because the underlying “spirit” behind the holiday is certainly not.
The most important thing to remember is to be sensitive to your fellow believers and remember the words of the apostle, Paul:
“I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong.” (Romans 14: 14 NLT)
If we apply this scripture to Halloween, it might read something like this: “I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no day in and of itself is wrong to celebrate. But if someone believes it is wrong to do so, then for that person it is wrong.”
I agree with Paul. I certainly do not want to cause someone to stumble by exercising my “right” at that person’s expense – particularly where matters of the conscience are concerned. I view Halloween in the same manner that I view drinking alcohol. I am free to drink responsibly (not get drunk – mind you), but I would not choose to do so in the company of someone for whom my drinking responsibly created a crisis of conscience (i.e. a recovering alcoholic, the adult child of an alcoholic, a seasoned believer offended by drinking, or a person new to the faith). There will be plenty of time to celebrate in heaven – we aren’t missing anything by skipping a drink – or Halloween for that matter. Be blessed and stay safe, Family.
I hope this sheds some light. I’m interested in your thoughts. Do you celebrate Halloween? Why or Why not? If you do not, what are some alternatives you have discovered that you can share?