This year, I seem to be seeing a ridiculously large number of well-meaning Christians warning others about the dangers of celebrating Halloween. I mean, we see this argument every year, but for some reason, I seem to be seeing it more than usual. So, I started reflecting on it a bit. See, Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, I loved the dressing up in all sorts of costumes (both scary and pop culture) and getting candy. As an adult, I love seeing kids dressed up in little costumes (both scary and pop culture) and wish my friends were cool enough to throw Halloween parties that I could dress up as something scary or something within pop culture. But alas, none of my friends appear to be very cool and feel that dressing up in costumes is just silly. So every year, I content myself with watching a series of Hammer films (mostly consisting of Christopher Lee’s Dracula) or horror comedies, and enjoy watching kids do their thing haunting the streets of St. Augustine with their little orange pumpkin candy buckets.
But with so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ so confident that celebrating such a holiday is wrong, could I possibly be on the wrong side of things here? One of things I try to teach people is that despite God’s love and infinite grace, He does take sin very seriously. Because he takes sin very seriously, then so too, should we. So is celebrating Halloween a sin for a Christian?
Look, I’m not going to get really technical here. There are tons of other blog posts by well-meaning Christians on both sides of this that can probably construct an excellent argument for their points of view. Each group would have Bible verse after Bible verse supporting their arguments too. And then you’d have some people tracing the history of Halloween all the way back to its obvious pagan roots, and the Catholic church’s bringing such festivities into its traditions for the sake of maintaining certain customs of the people they converted. I’m not going to do that here, because the argument is really rather silly, and is a diversion, in my opinion, about what’s really important in a Christian’s life.
But I’ll be happy to share my opinion. You can accept it or ignore it. But that’s rather kind of the point. See, within Christianity, there are certain things that aren’t cut and dry. There are aspects of our lives that the Bible simply doesn’t specifically address. Paul dealt with this quite a bit, in fact. One faction of a church thinking people should act and behave one way while another faction felt that that way was stupid, and therefore, things should be done…blah blah blah. Paul’s response, time and again, was, and I’m paraphrasing here: If you feel in your heart that such behavior is a sin, then don’t do it. If you’re not convicted that such an act is a sin, then it’s probably not. We see this same argument all the time in the church. Some people feel that if you don’t read from the King James Bible, then you’re not really reading the right Bible and therefore, you’re reading false teaching. If you feel that way, fine. I’m not going to argue with you about it (even though I’m pretty sure that Jesus, the Disciples, Paul, and the Old Testament saints didn’t read or speak in King James English when they wrote their parts of Scripture). Some people think drinking alcohol is a sin, while others feel as though there’s nothing wrong with it. Fine. You’re both right. If you think drinking is a sin, don’t drink it. It would be a sin if you did. If you think drinking alcohol isn’t a sin, you’re right too. Just don’t drink excessively, because that, my friend, is clearly forbidden in Scripture and not open to interpretation.
As for Halloween? My take? It’s all about the power we give something within our lives. A couple of weeks back, I wrote a post about cussing. Now, the words we associate with cussing, in and of themselves, have absolutely no power whatsoever. They are meaningless until they are defined. Now those definitions can vary depending on context, but it’s the definitions that give such words meaning and therefore, power. The same is absolutely true with Halloween.
Yes, Halloween originated as a pagan festival. Yes, it was incorporated into the Catholic Church. Yes, the origins saw it as a time when the paths of the dead opened up into the land of the living, and the festivities were used to scare away the evil forces of the underworld. Such arcane acts are clearly contrary to Scripture in that as believers, we have no need of spells and wards to protect ourselves from the spirit world. We are God’s children, and therefore, have nothing to fear from spirits (unless we invite them in). ”Ah-ha!” You might say. ”I’ve got you now, Holloway! You just said ‘unless you invite them in’!” And then you’d go onto say that celebrating a holiday such as Halloween will surely do that. After all, we dress up as ghosts and ghouls and goblins. We pretend to be vampires, werewolves, and demons. We adorn ourselves in the dressings of the most vile and evil things imagined by mankind for centuries. How can that not be inviting such things into our lives?
Because, it’s all about the power you give to these things. A child, dressing up as Dracula, hardly believes by doing so he’s going to actually become a vampire. A boy who wraps himself up in toilet paper and shuffles around the street looking for candy is hardly a three thousand year old Egyptian pharaoh. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? What kind of demon do you think they’re summoning with pizza-loving reptiles? The argument is just rather silly to me. These kids, and the majority of people (Christians or otherwise) participating in these festivities are doing just that…they’re being festive. There’s nothing sinister in their intentions. There’s nothing demonic in their motivation. They’re simply having fun. They’re pretending…for one day out of a long, dull year…to be something that doesn’t exist.
But the tradition is pagan. By participating in it, we’re surely participating in pagan practices and that’s got to be sinful, right? Um, I dunno. Did you put up a Christmas tree last Christmas? Or a wreath? Did you burn a Yule log? All those things are pagan. An Jolly ol’ Saint Nick? Yeah, as much as I hate to admit this, he’s as pagan as they come. Sure, the Church tried to doctor him up by giving him the face and name of a Bishop from Myra, but before that, he was a Germanic spirit of the forest…or a group of spirit brothers of Yule.
And what about turning the tables around a bit in regards to Christmas. Christmas is most definitely a Christian holiday right? But there are thousands of atheists who celebrate Christmas every year, and never once think about Christ. They get up early on Christmas morning. Give gifts to one another. Eat turkey or ham. And enjoy the festivities of the season without once attributing anything at all to the God of Creation. Is an atheist automatically Christian because he celebrates a Christian holiday? Not at all. It’s the atheists choice to place whatever power on the holiday he/she so chooses. And the same is true of the Christian in regards to Halloween.
If you choose to place Halloween in a dark place, that’s your choice. If you choose to see it as “Satan’s birthday” (an actual phrase I saw one Christian use in reference to the holiday…which is both factually and theologically untrue by the way), then that’s fine. I appreciate you sticking to your convictions. But don’t look down on your brothers and sisters who do like dressing up in silly costumes and eating candy. Who enjoy bobbing for apples and decorating their homes like haunted houses to see the looks of excitement on the neighborhood kids’ faces. Don’t try to bully them into conforming to your convictions. Our God is bigger than all of us and He is quite capable of bringing a convicting spirit of repentance on any of His children He so chooses. If He wants someone to stop celebrating Halloween, He’ll make His desire known to them without your help. You take care of that plank in your own eye. I’ll watch out for the I-beam in my own. And we’ll all get along just splendidly that way.
But as for me and my house, I will serve the Lord…and have as much fun as I can while I’m still on earth to do it.