Okay…it’s that time of year again. Pumpkins and skeletons are lining people’s houses. Charlie Brown is receiving rocks while Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin. And debates rage—should the kid’s go trick-‘r-treating or do we take them down to the Fall Festival or Harvest Party or just stay at home?
I’ll admit—I’ve had my times of being a bit of a brat when it comes to this subject. My last year at seminary, my roommate and I bought Halloween decorations and hung them on the door of our on-campus apartment. I wanted to include the smiling witch’s head but my roommate thought that was going too far, so we compromised…and hung it on the inside of the door. (We also put a flaming skull over the face of Martyn Lloyd-Jones on a picture hanging inside our apartment… I forgot about that one until my friend recently reminded me…)
Since then I’ve matured some.
As a pastor I see this is a serious debate among good, God-fearing, Jesus-loving people, and I have a role to help all sides grow in their faith.
Personally I’ve never been one to have a problem with Halloween. I grew up with faithful parents actively involved in church, and went trick-‘r-treating every year. When I was little it was as cute things like clowns and Cookie Monster. As I grew older, the costumes became more grotesque. But it was all in fun, and getting a big bag of candy was indeed fun.
In fact I didn’t even know some people had a problem with Halloween until my High School years when some of the younger families in church began to decry such things as a product of evil.
“After all, remember Halloween’s origins!”
Point taken… but counterpoint: how many kids or parents for that matter run around on that night thinking about how it started? The thing in most people’s minds is what it is now: a day kids (and some adults) can dress up in costumes, get candy, and have some fun.
One year—I can’t remember now if it was while I was in high school or college, I was flipping through the television channels and paused on TBN. There some dude spoke about how October 31st marks the evilest day of the year where demonic spirits are the most active and their peak time is midnight.
The first thought that went through my mind was: “Midnight, huh? So is that UTC, Mountain time, or do the demons just move with the time zones?” Okay, we get the picture, you don’t like the celebration of the “holiday,” but come on!—where do people come up with this stuff?
A couple of years ago when the 31st was on a Sunday, I was preaching through Ephesians and my text happened to be 4:17-32, where Paul tells us to put off the old self and put on the new self. I entitled the sermon “Enough of the Costume Party”—I thought it was fitting for the day…and my point being in Christ we are a new creation so the old sinful self is like a costume now—we’re not meant to be in it, but to strip it off and live daily in our new clothes: the righteousness and holiness of Christ.
I made one comment about Halloween in my introduction as I explained that despite the title, my sermon had nothing to do with Halloween: “Some of you don’t mind your kids dressing up and going out for candy, but others of you have issue with Halloween. This is a matter that falls under liberty of conscious—I’m not going to tell you what to do, it is up for you to decide as you seek to honor Jesus.”
And I think that’s where we must stand.
Paul wrote, “One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats…therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (Romans 14:2-3, 13).
In any given church there will be parents and families who think partaking in Halloween celebrations is wrong, while there are others who believe it is a night of harmless fun for most (that is properly supervised) children. Both have their convictions before God.
If you do not celebrate Halloween, good! But do not pass judgment on your brothers and sisters who do and think evil of them. If you do celebrate Halloween, also good! But do not pass judgment on your brothers and sisters who don’t and think evil of them.
Furthermore, if you have convictions against it do not set a stumbling block in front of your brethren by telling them how evil and godless they are being (I’ve seen that done before to the tune of upset and confused children); likewise if you feel free to partake do not set a stumbling block in front of your brethren by rubbing it in their face or talking as if they are the “weaker” ones.
Let each family act according to their own convictions before God!