Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can Christians Observe Halloween?

Last year I solicited opinions on how to approach Halloween. I’m still a bit ambivalent about the occasion, but at least this year I’m taking a permissive stance.

I have no desire to convince anyone else of that position, but I’m going to share my thinking just in case someone’s curious and because I welcome corrections to my thought process. Plus I like writing.

Is Halloween inherently evil?
Depending on who you ask, Halloween either began as a pagan celebration or as a response to a pagan celebration, but either way no one can deny there are aspects of this event that appear to celebrate some unsavory things.

Does that make it evil? I don’t think so.

If Halloween used to be about celebrating demons or frightening off the dead, can anyone really say that this is the purpose today for more than a tiny fraction of the population?

Does God really view acts that are devoid of meaning to these children as idolatry? Turn it around – does God view acts that are devoid of meaning as worship? No. Then the reverse is likely true too.

Children in costumes seeking candy may be doing many things, but none of them are worshipping the devil or seeking communion with spirits.

Are some elements evil or unhealthy?
Besides appealing to my inner dentist, you can certainly question whether Halloween places an unhealthy emphasis on death, gore, or danger. I’m not thrilled about the things my kids – or other people – will see, but they’re going to see most of it whether we “participate” in Halloween or not.

Eventually we’ll have to decide whether or not my kids can go to “spook houses,” but that experience really is not different than watching a scary movie – e.g., Psycho or Scream.

What is the purpose of "harvest festivals?"
The thing that most pushed me over the line was the fact that I can’t figure out how these church “harvest festivals” are any different than any other Halloween observance.

Kids dress in costumes. There will be fewer scary costumes, but my kids will be fairy princesses no matter where we go.

Kids will get candy. Kids will play games.

The question is, if kids in costume going door to door asking for candy and playing games is devil worship in neighborhood streets, what makes it different when this happens at church?

What about those stories?
You know the ones – kidnappings and sacrifices and orgies and all kinds of wickedness are alleged to happen on Halloween.

Those things happen 365 days a year, but there’s little evidence (beyond stories than have been handed down for 60 years) that Halloween is a special day for it. If there was a special day for pagan sacrifices, it would probably be the winter solstice, not Halloween.

If the stories are true, parents should keep an extra sharp eye on their kids on Halloween. If the stories aren’t true, parents should keep an extra sharp eye on their kids on Halloween. Honestly, the pedophiles are probably much more of a danger than the devil worshippers.

Is it wrong to trick or treat?
I expect I’ll revisit this question every year for my family, but this year I’m going to say no. Of course, we’re actually taking the kids to a “harvest festival” at my parents’ church.


Nancy said...

I think the title question should be...*Should* the Christian Observe Halloween...IMHO it is no. And as to the question about the "Harvest Festivals" I also think these are for me and mine, off limits. And.. are Santa and the Bunny! These I think are gray areas and if the Holy Spirit has not brought you to the same conclusion... wait a while...I think it will happen.

It is a hard thing to pull back from the world in these areas, especially when it appears that your children are missing out on "fun".

I also question why you would be watching the "scary movie". The vampire hysteria that is rampant in the teen and young twenty somethings today, possibly would not be happening if Halloween had been avoided generations back...It's the old...camel with his nose in the tent axiom...In my generation there was Bewitched...I Dream of Genie and Three is Company...These shows led the way for other TV greats that have put many evils into the everyday mind.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Maybe you still can find virtue in this celebration...This is not for me to judge...As for me and my house...we will not be participating.

ChrisB said...

I'm glad you're consistent. Those who poo-poo Halloween and go to "Harvest Festivals" seem a bit hypocritical (or is it just Christian fadish?) to me.

I have lots of issues with Santa Claus, but it's about materialism (and distracting from Jesus) not magic.

Nancy said...

I shared stories and fairy tales with my children and they always knew the difference between pretend and reality. So that is not my objection with Santa and the Bunny either...tying them to Christian Holidays or more correctly taking pagan holidays and trying to make them Christian... there's the problem. If we have chosen to use the particular dates that correspond to the pagan celebrations for Christian observances...we should especially take care to eliminate the pagan traditions.

Unfortunately, I didn't understand the connection while my children were young, but we did take a strong stance between the real and the imaginary.

Nathan said...

Indeed--the proof is in the pudding!

It depends on what one is celebrating! Now if one is celebrating the darkness, death, and fear that are common to Halloween, I would take issue with that.

Here is why this Christian doesn't celebrate Halloween. Maybe my reasoning will resonate with you!