When I was still a fairly new Christian, I’d been called to serve on staff at a church as an associate pastor and pastor for evangelism. My burning passion was to see others come to know Jesus, and at that time I’d use whatever means necessary to elicit salvation decisions. I figured warning others on the evils of Halloween was a good place to start. It’s no surprise that when Halloween rolled around, I saw it as an opportunity to expose the supposedly demonic origins of the holiday, tell why Christians should avoid celebrating it, and why forsaking Halloween would somehow lead them to Jesus.
In my zeal, I spent hours in Christian bookstores, my college library, and pouring over Chick tracts researching information about Halloween (this was before the internet was readily available). When I felt I’d educated myself sufficiently on the subject, I wrote my own anti-Halloween pamphlet. My pastor allowed me to place it in the church foyer, and I distributed it at restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores. My pamphlet caused a little bit of a localized buzz, mostly positive. But it also attracted the ire of the local Masonic Lodge, as I connected Halloween and its Druid rituals to the Lodge. (You can thank Jack T. Chick for that one.) It also caused at least one Masonically-connected deacon in my church to accuse me of “taking the fun out of Halloween.” I figured I’d done my job.
Over the years, I tended to avoid Halloween. I’ve never been a big fan of costumes, spook houses, or the like, and most people assumed I did so out of the religious convictions. I do love a good scary movie, the operative word being “good.” I’ll take the classic Universal ‘Frankenstein,’ ‘Wolfman,’ or ‘Dracula’ movies over any of the ‘Paranormal Activities’ any day. I avoided the whole Halloween thing mostly out of shame for the pamphlet I’d written years before, and because I’d also read my Bible in the intervening years. I simply couldn’t scripturally justify telling other believers not to enjoy Halloween. It is after all, just another day. To some it’s very important, not so much to others (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16).
My views on Halloween had certainly changed over the years.
Obviously, there are things Christians should avoid when it comes to Halloween. The whole “sexy” version of every imaginably costume makes me nauseous, and is better left on the Party City shelf by Christian females; the whole modesty thing and all. (This would also apply to guys dressing up in costumes that are excessively gory, and God-forbid, sexy.) Likewise, believers should avoid participating in séances and blatant occult practices. Those things are kind of universal.
However, trick-or-treating, costumes, spook houses, pumpkin carving, etc. should be left to the conscience of each believer. If you can, in good conscience, dress up as Michael Myers, go to Spook Hollow, and gorge yourself on Tootsie Rolls, by all means, do it. Have fun. But, be considerate. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 certainly applies to our behavior on Halloween:
“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything‘— but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
All that being said, I also have few more random thoughts floating around concerning Halloween…
- I see nothing wrong with Christians having Halloween alternatives (Fall Fest, Trunk-or-Treat, Hallelujah Parties, etc.). However, by isolating ourselves, we have to consider the message we’re sending to the culture we’re trying to reach. We want to be careful of giving a “We’re too holy for that kind of stuff” message, or “Celebrate Halloween with us … on OUR terms” kind of message.
- Avoid “Christian” spook houses. Like the plague. Hell House, Judgment House, etc. are all shams, and do nothing except try to elicit salvation decisions out of fear. Which is scripturally impossible. But we do it year after year anyway. My estimate is probably 95% of those attending Christian spook houses are church youth group kids whose parents felt Judgment House was “safer” and more “holy” than Wompus Woods. Go figure. See my first point. (I also wrote about them here.)
- Consider staying home this Halloween and getting to know your neighbors. Light the jack-o-lanterns. Open the door. Have lots of candy. Smile. Ask for names. And whatever you do… DO NOT hand out Chick Tracts in place of candy! If you do, may you awake to a yard a plastic forks and endless rolls of toilet paper in your trees 🙂