Monday, October 31, 2011

Christians and Halloween

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:04 AM
It's interesting to me that I've heard more discussion about Christians and Halloween in the last week than I have my entire life. I can honestly say that for the majority of my life, I never gave the holiday a second thought. Growing up, I dressed up (although I can't remember a single costume I wore) and trick-or-treated at the dozen houses in close enough proximity to do so. As an adult, I've attended costume parties (I do remember a few of those costumes), get-togethers, and handed out candy to neighborhood children. I'm not sure exactly when the change started, but sometime after becoming a parent myself, I began to look at it from a slightly different angle. I'm sure my maturing faith and growing closer and learning to be more heedful of God in my life played a role as well.

Still, I've never once considered completely giving up doing anything on Halloween. Both of the churches I've attended have done fall festivals - one on Halloween day, one not. The festivals focus on fellowship, fun, and food. In other words, your normal Baptist fare. Costumes are allowed, as long as they're not scary.

This year, however, I observed a passionate discussion between some Christians that began over one's opinion that Christians should absolutely, in no way shape or form, take part in Halloween or its celebrations. The main argument was that Halloween has deep roots in pagan rituals. It began as a pagan celebration that's been white-washed and adapted to the American commercial culture. We are in a spiritual war and participating in Halloween opens us up to spiritual attack from our enemy, the devil.

The counter, argued that in Romans 14 God clearly addresses how Christians are to respond to the world and pagan rituals. In discussing eating things offered to idols, the Word says to seek God and either eat or don't eat with a clear conscious. He never says don't eat. He also says that nothing in and of itself is unclean. That includes Halloween - nothing means nothing.

However, it also says not to put a stumbling block in another's path, a statement another fellow Christian made in a completely different discussion about Halloween I found myself in. So what does that mean for Christians?

It means to seek God. Keep the issue between you and Him. And be willing to give up whatever your ideas are about the holiday and its traditions. Whenever we begin to espouse our opinions and what God's lead us to do over love and edification of each other, we have missed the point.

Another comment made in the latter discussion is that we are to be light in the world. How do we do this in relation to Halloween? For some it's completely pulling out of anything to do with it. For others, it's offering alternatives. For our family it's taking part in something that is very cultural, but in a slightly different way.

We allow our kids to dress up, but nothing scary is allowed. We allow them to go trick-or-treating and see neighbors we don't normally see after the weather gets cold. We also hand out candy, each peace with a scripture stapled to it. These tiny pieces of paper are surely discarded as quickly as the wrapper, but curiosity almost ensures that it will at least be read by some. And who knows? Maybe this is the only time some children will ever hear the words of the one, true, and holy God. Maybe a parent is struggling, has lost their way, or has never heard the Word themselves, and that one sentence will make an impact. (God's word is powerful and accomplishes things on its own.)

In addition, we hand out cider and chili to the parents that are supervising trick-or-treating. I'll be honest to say a warm cup on a cold night has never began a conversation about God. But I regretfully admit I've never prayed that it would. That an unexpected door would be opened. From now on, however, I will. And maybe a heart will be softened and open to the gospel because of a small giving gesture.

This is how we choose to be light in world full of darkness and a holiday steeped in historical darkness.

In the end it doesn't matter for you what I do with Halloween. In the end, it matters if you're willing to submit completely to obedience to God and how He leads you to handle this holiday. We are not to quarrel over disputable matters. Halloween is not directly addressed in Scripture (although passages on other pagan rituals are there to guide us) and is not a make-it-or-break-it issue for salvation. That makes it a disputable matter. We shouldn't extract a few scriptures to back up our point of view either, but take scripture as a whole and with an openness to God about this, as well as about the other details in our lives. God might surprise us. He might confirm us. Most assuredly He will bring us together as one and bring glory to Himself.

0 comments on "Christians and Halloween"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christians and Halloween

It's interesting to me that I've heard more discussion about Christians and Halloween in the last week than I have my entire life. I can honestly say that for the majority of my life, I never gave the holiday a second thought. Growing up, I dressed up (although I can't remember a single costume I wore) and trick-or-treated at the dozen houses in close enough proximity to do so. As an adult, I've attended costume parties (I do remember a few of those costumes), get-togethers, and handed out candy to neighborhood children. I'm not sure exactly when the change started, but sometime after becoming a parent myself, I began to look at it from a slightly different angle. I'm sure my maturing faith and growing closer and learning to be more heedful of God in my life played a role as well.

Still, I've never once considered completely giving up doing anything on Halloween. Both of the churches I've attended have done fall festivals - one on Halloween day, one not. The festivals focus on fellowship, fun, and food. In other words, your normal Baptist fare. Costumes are allowed, as long as they're not scary.

This year, however, I observed a passionate discussion between some Christians that began over one's opinion that Christians should absolutely, in no way shape or form, take part in Halloween or its celebrations. The main argument was that Halloween has deep roots in pagan rituals. It began as a pagan celebration that's been white-washed and adapted to the American commercial culture. We are in a spiritual war and participating in Halloween opens us up to spiritual attack from our enemy, the devil.

The counter, argued that in Romans 14 God clearly addresses how Christians are to respond to the world and pagan rituals. In discussing eating things offered to idols, the Word says to seek God and either eat or don't eat with a clear conscious. He never says don't eat. He also says that nothing in and of itself is unclean. That includes Halloween - nothing means nothing.

However, it also says not to put a stumbling block in another's path, a statement another fellow Christian made in a completely different discussion about Halloween I found myself in. So what does that mean for Christians?

It means to seek God. Keep the issue between you and Him. And be willing to give up whatever your ideas are about the holiday and its traditions. Whenever we begin to espouse our opinions and what God's lead us to do over love and edification of each other, we have missed the point.

Another comment made in the latter discussion is that we are to be light in the world. How do we do this in relation to Halloween? For some it's completely pulling out of anything to do with it. For others, it's offering alternatives. For our family it's taking part in something that is very cultural, but in a slightly different way.

We allow our kids to dress up, but nothing scary is allowed. We allow them to go trick-or-treating and see neighbors we don't normally see after the weather gets cold. We also hand out candy, each peace with a scripture stapled to it. These tiny pieces of paper are surely discarded as quickly as the wrapper, but curiosity almost ensures that it will at least be read by some. And who knows? Maybe this is the only time some children will ever hear the words of the one, true, and holy God. Maybe a parent is struggling, has lost their way, or has never heard the Word themselves, and that one sentence will make an impact. (God's word is powerful and accomplishes things on its own.)

In addition, we hand out cider and chili to the parents that are supervising trick-or-treating. I'll be honest to say a warm cup on a cold night has never began a conversation about God. But I regretfully admit I've never prayed that it would. That an unexpected door would be opened. From now on, however, I will. And maybe a heart will be softened and open to the gospel because of a small giving gesture.

This is how we choose to be light in world full of darkness and a holiday steeped in historical darkness.

In the end it doesn't matter for you what I do with Halloween. In the end, it matters if you're willing to submit completely to obedience to God and how He leads you to handle this holiday. We are not to quarrel over disputable matters. Halloween is not directly addressed in Scripture (although passages on other pagan rituals are there to guide us) and is not a make-it-or-break-it issue for salvation. That makes it a disputable matter. We shouldn't extract a few scriptures to back up our point of view either, but take scripture as a whole and with an openness to God about this, as well as about the other details in our lives. God might surprise us. He might confirm us. Most assuredly He will bring us together as one and bring glory to Himself.

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