The other night, I announced to my wife, “Me and the other Christians have decided Halloween is evil, so we’re going to ban it.”
In the space of a heartbeat, the woman whom I adore beyond measure shot me back a look that said, (in an entirely kind and loving manner) “You, sir, are being a big dumb Pharisee.”
Now, because I have been married to my lovely wife for nearly a quarter of a century, I received the communique she issued as clearly as if I were the Captain of the Titanic when his boat made first contact with that fateful iceberg.
(For those of you who have not yet learned to decipher the non-verbal communications of your wives, I urge you… No, I implore you, to devote yourselves to serious and careful study of this silent language. Failure to do so will result in pain and misery for all parties involved. You have been warned.)
Earlier in the day, someone had posted on Facebook an innocent-enough article entitled, “Why Christians Absolutely Should Not Celebrate Halloween.” Which is here: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/52738-why-christians-absolutely-should-not-celebrate-halloween#
As you can see, the pastor who wrote the article has at least ten very good reasons why we who call Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior should absolutely, positively have nothing to do with Halloween. Her arguments are firmly rooted in scripture. Her interpretation of those scripture passages is spot-on, and her reasoning is impeccable.
And so, I shared the article to my own Facebook page.
Within moments, I had a number of responses.
One was from a wonderful friend with a great sense of humor who posted a picture of Clint Eastwood holding a large gun and shouting, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”
Another was from a local pastor, whom I respect greatly. She pointed out that answering the door on Halloween night allows her to exercise the gift of hospitality by offering children a treat for honoring her by coming to her door without fear.
Another response was a private message from a godly young man whom I know to be a true believer and friend of the Lord Jesus Christ whom I had hurt by posting the article. He made a number of very good points in a clear, calm, loving, and intelligent manner.
All of which validates my wife’s point that I was being a big, dumb Pharisee by summarily advocating a total prohibition of Halloween. (Apologies to those of you who correctly point out that not ALL Pharisees were evil, awful people.)
I still think the article has some excellent points, but here’s the deal.
We are dearly loved by our Lord. Our mission is to love God and love our neighbors with everything we’ve got so that He would be glorified and so that others come to Him and be saved.
That is extraordinarily unlikely if we stand in the front yard pointing an enormous firearm shouting, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”
Zero souls saved. Zero glory to God.
Likewise, let’s say the doorbell rings on Halloween night, and you go to answer it. Standing in your doorway is six year-old Suzy from two blocks down in the cutest little princess costume you have ever seen. Suzy says, “Trick or Treat!” and you respond with, “Hello, Suzy. As you know, I am a Christian and I believe Halloween is evil so I am not handing out candy this year. Instead, here’s a Gospel Tract that tells you how Jesus died to save your soul.”
News flash: Suzy is not going to read that gospel tract.
Suzy is going to tell all of her friends how awful and nasty you are and you may very well spend the next morning washing egg off your bay window. (Not that Suzy herself would ever chuck a dozen Grade A Large at your window, but the local hoodlums may have overheard her talking and had an overwhelming impulse of vigilantism.)
And then we come to the young man who believes in and trusts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, who has participated in a Zombie Run or two, and who sees it simply as fun with no glory intended for the enemy of our souls.
That’s a good point, too.
While we often complain that the true meaning of Christmas has been sapped away by its commercialization, that is probably even more true of Halloween.
Without going into a lengthy history of Halloween, its origins do include ghosts and pagan sacrifice. Christianity gradually supplanted the original intent, but also blended with and incorporated some of the original content.
Halloween in America has morphed and changed back and forth since it came to America, to the point where many now consider it a secular event. (The word “holiday” should not be used because Halloween is not a legal holiday, and that word literally means “holy day.”)
So how should we, as Christians, treat Halloween in a way that does bring glory to God and open hearts, minds, and souls to Jesus Christ?
Certainly, one way to respond is to simply ignore it. After all, if we believe Halloween is evil and a tool of the enemy, we can take the Bible’s advice and resist the devil so he flees from us.
That’s probably not going to work because resistance is active, not passive. The devil loves to be ignored by those who would speak the truth.
But, I think I found a better answer on a website called “Grace to You.”
“There's another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children—provided you're not stingy—can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.” (Emphasis added.)
Personally, I like the idea of buying the biggest, best candy bars you can find and handing them out with a genuine, heartfelt “God bless you!” to Princess Suzy and anyone else who shows up at the door.
In my mind, that's much more like being salt and light than being yet another Christian who pulls out a soap box and, in his or her best Pharisee voice, calls for yet another ban or boycott of something he or she has found offensive. (As if there are not enough people in this world being offended by something.)
That having been said, I can also tell you that I by no means have all the answers on this topic. I would genuinely appreciate a thoughtful and loving discussion of any ideas would like to share.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (1 Colossians 1:13-14 NIV)