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Halloween-Newsletter-BLOG

Halloween: Should Christians Participate?

Should Christians participate in this popular holiday?  This is a question I’ve been asking for a long time.  Some Christians believe that any participation in Halloween is satanic and sinful, while others believe it’s a harmless tradition to be enjoyed by all. I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably isn’t as black or white as we all wish it were.

The History:
Most scholars agree Halloween has its origins dating over 2,000 years ago in the Celtic festival of Samhain.  Samhain was the Celts celebration of their New Year (Oct 31st/Nov 1st) when they wore animal heads, performed animal sacrifices, danced around bonfires, and had their druids (magicians/sorcerers) predict the future.  They also believed that on October 31st, ghosts of the dead would come back to earth and communicate with the living through these rituals.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III, in an effort to supplant the pagan festival, moved All Saints Day – the Catholic Church’s celebration of Christian saints who had died and achieved beatific vision –  to November 1st. Over time, the two celebrations merged to become what we now know as Halloween.

Halloween As We Know It:
I’m guessing that most people reading this don’t sacrifice animals or attempt to communicate with the dead. Nor do most people today commemorate the saints or martyrs of the Christian faith. If you are like most, you simply think of it as a time to carve pumpkins, dress up in costumes, and go trick-or-treating.  But is it really just a harmless holiday?

The Truth About Halloween
I’d argue that it is NOT as harmless as we might want to think.  Even the casual observer can see that Halloween is a time that celebrates death, fear, and the supernatural. Indeed, the whole idea of dressing up and going house to house comes from a similar Samhain tradition that was meant to disguise and hide one’s self from angry spirits. And while witches, ghosts, vampires, etc. may seem like harmless things of the past to modern 21st-century sensibilities, they reflect our human interest in a very real, spiritual world.

It is a reality that should not be taken lightly. As we see several times in the Gospels and Acts, Jesus and His disciples interact with and cast out demons — demons that have real power, and cause real suffering in people’s lives (Mark 9:14-29, Acts 19:13-15). In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he describes it like this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

In more recent years, these spiritual forces seem to be spreading out into the culture at large, fueling the popularity of everything from teen vampire romance novels to dark TV shows like American Horror Story, Sleepy Hollow to the plethora of gruesome titles found on Netflix or Redbox. Beyond that, Halloween is even fanning the flames of lust with a growing market for “sexy costumes!” With Americans spending more time and money ($6.9 billion/year!) on Halloween there is a danger that people may unknowingly be opening doors to demonic activity.

What To Do?
So am I advocating absolute non-participation in Halloween?  Not really; though this was my approach at one time.  Before having children, I vowed that I wouldn’t allow them to dress up or go trick-or-treating. And when trick-or-treating was happening in our neighborhood, Emili and I  would turn off the lights and close the shades…the neighbors probably thought our house was haunted instead of holy!

But today, rather than a complete rejection of Halloween, Emili and I are trying to be cautiously discerning. We’re asking questions of what it might look like to engage the culture where it’s at, and how to use this holiday missionally.  We’re not saying, “Oh well, everyone is doing it, so we might as well indulge.”  Instead, we are trying to use it as an opportunity to share Christ and as a teaching moment for our family. However, I must emphasize the words “cautiously discern” because it can be easy for Christians to become part of the world instead of being a light to it.  As Paul noted in his letter to the Corinthians, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12). Discerning also means that it’s going to require prayer and seeking God.

Maybe you were hoping that I would give you exact  parameters like “Well you can let your kids dress up as Disney characters, but you can’t let them be witches, demons, or ghosts” or “You can’t hand out candy, but you can leave a bowl on your porch with candy in it” or “you can carve a pumpkin; it just can’t be a scary face”.

Instead, I think we all need to be seeking God and asking questions: What does it look like to be a light in a dark place? What creative ways can I help my neighbors take one step closer to Christ? Will you let your kids dress up? Will you hand out Snickers bars, Bible tracts, church invites, all of the above, to the neighbors?  Will you let your kids go to a haunted house?

Five Suggestions
Here are some final action steps I would like to encourage in relation to Halloween:

  1. Recognize that Halloween is a spiritually dark holiday and that is shouldn’t be taken lightly. (Colossians 1:13-14)
  2. Respond in prayer. Whether you reject playing any part in Halloween or you are discerning how to engage your neighbors, Halloween is a time to pray!  (Romans 8:26-27)
  3. Reflect with your children about the decisions you’re making.  If you choose not to let them go trick-or-treating, talk to them about the why.  If you do let them go, use it as an opportunity to share how you came to that decision. Ask them what they think about Halloween. (Romans 12:2)
  4. Refrain from judgment. How God is leading you and your family may be different from how He’s leading another family. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dialogue with each other.  Having a spirit of edification and guarding against judgment is key.  (1 Corinthians 10:23–33)
  5. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and protect you. God promises to give us wisdom, and we can trust Him to guide us.  No matter your level of engagement in Halloween, we should put on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
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26 Comments

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for talking about Halloween.

    This is a subject that I struggle with as an adult (without children) every year…Thank you for all of the the suggestions and reminders (especially to pray and rely on the Holy Spirit). And thank you for not making up rules for us to follow.

    Balancing grace and being a light/ different from the world, trying to honour the Lord and not being unnecessarily prudish…it’s all so challenging. Thank you for helping to lead us in our walks with the Lord in this area!

    • Thanks for addressing this issue. Once I was educated on what’s truly behind Halloween coupled with having a friend who was a victim of SRA (Satanic Ritual Abuse) for 10 years of her childhood, (yes, there are still human/animal sacrifices made); I cannot in good conscience support Halloween; nor did we support this “holiday” when our children were young. Instead, we took our kids to Harvest Parties which were typically church driven or to fun restaurants where games were offered. They did not feel deprived. I SO appreciate the information that you provided! Too many people think this is an innocent, fun time. It isn’t! Thanks again!

  2. Awesome article Danny. Well researched and presented!!!! Great practicle perspective of how to be IN the world yet not OF the world. Ewald

  3. Yes indeed, we need to be part of the light. The dark is def among us and it is a bit more diff with kids wanting to dress up and get candy. Imo it is a dark holiday. Seems like every year ppl are displaying more creepier decor than the yr before. I like to think of it as free candy night only, but yes it is so much more. Great article

  4. Thank you Pastor Danny for addressing the relevant questionable issues like this. There seems to be a fine line of being an example of the love of Jesus, not seeming judgemental and condemning, and not approving of sinful things. Again, thank you for addressing questionable issues like this. This why I picked Epikos as my church home!! : )

  5. That is one of the most comprehensive scriptural assessment of All Hallows day. It is refreshing that , you would respect instead of coheres one towards a your particular position. Depending upon ones spirit and its spiritual association to enhance ones decisions. This is why, whatever Epikos is, is the place to be. thanks for your personal faithfulness.

  6. Christopher Lee sodders

    I can see giving candy and a Gospel tract and engaging in conversation with the people at your doorstep but dressing up,no way.

  7. Great thoughts, advice, and encouragement Danny. Thanks for sharing your research and exhortation. It is certainly a timely issue, but I bet this is also applicable to approaching most of our culture and traditions.

  8. While I was raising my children, I did not allow them to go trick or treating. We went to friends homes and had Harvestfest activity. Children could dress up in biblical character costumes, we handed out tracks with candy attached, and I put a sign on my window every year that stated, ” Jesus cares he doesn’t scare . ” I’ve had lots of opportunities to witness about Jesus to people that see that sign even today.

  9. Very insightful! Thank you for sharing this information; guiding without an iron fist. I appreciate Epikos for stepping up with Biblical truths on current or sensative issues and not remaining silent.
    Side note: When I had young ones at home, in early October we would decorate with a “Harvest” theme and host a “Harvest Party” for my child, her cousins and a couple classmates. They dressed up, had a piñata (free candy) played games, received “goodie bags” and just had fun. The parents came as well and it was just a wonderful time for families to be together in the fall sharing conversation, laughter & a meal. These college kids still talk about their Harvest Party Memories….

  10. Don’t make such a big deal out of Halloween. Let children enjoy Halloween, by going house to house in getting their candies or whatever. After all, its a harmless holiday, which you really are creating too much drama about. I certainly don’t see nothing wrong with such a harmless hoiday in Halloween. Leave the demonic decorations out of it by not advertising the “evil side” of Halloween. There again to each is own. At any rate Happy Halloween and enjoy it children

  11. Don’t make such a big deal out of Halloween. Let children enjoy Halloween, by going house to house in getting their candies or whatever. After all, its a harmless holiday, which you really are creating too much drama about. I certainly don’t see nothing wrong with such a harmless hoiday in Halloween. Leave the demonic decorations out of it by not advertising the “evil side” of Halloween. There again to each is own. At any rate Happy Halloween and enjoy it children

  12. Thanks for the well balanced article! I’ve been in all sides of this. When i first got saved, i went with no participation and ran “harvest” things at church. Later, after hearing a preacher say something like “Halloween is great! It’s the only holiday where non-Christians knock on YOUR door!”, we handed out Bible tracks. Now, i use it as an opportunity to get to know my neighbors, and build relationships. I hand out candy, but no scary decorations. Just “hello! How are you guys doing?” Thanks again for the article!

  13. Hey!

    Another thing to add to the history of October 31st: it is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenberg (1517CE), calling out the errancies of religious indulegences amongst other major theological errors of valuing rituals and human conventions over the Lord.

    I celebrate Halloween as Reformation day (which both share the same date, I suppose), where the dead come alive (In Christ). Trick or treatise? Anyone?

    Great thoughts on actively engaging a potentially tough conversation, Danny.

    Thanks for your words!

    Nick

  14. Thanks for such a great article! From someone that grew up in a home where we turned off the lights, did not participate, and maybe hid in a back room so they would not see us! I appreciate the advice to have parents talk to their children. Sometimes as I kid I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do so many things. I remember being so frustrated that I could not participate and feeling like an outsider. Im sure a good conversation as to the “why” could have changed many of those feelings. At the time I don’t think parents really talked to their kids, but I appreciate that those times are changing.

  15. If you let Halloween overwhelm you with darkness (promiscuous costumes, partying, demonic rituals, etc) then evil wins. If you treat the day as a time to get together with loved ones to laugh, eat, and play fun games, then good wins. Generally, when you let things scare you, you automatically lose to evil. As God said “fear not!” Be safe and legal 🙂

    • Frankie,
      Well said…..it is not the holiday but how we behave on that day … The truth is that though Christmas is Christian holiday we know that in many homes the day is filled with horrific family behavior, anger , fear and drama. Demonic behavior can also occur while wearing an angel costume …Keep Christ in our life everyday….Have a blessed day.

  16. Frankie,
    Well said. I think celebrating the fun parts for kids and not the dark aspects is the way to go as well as talking to your children about why we don’t do the latter. As you said, good wins

  17. Thank you so much for the article. I guess I never thought about it. You pointed out some interesting points that I alway found harmless.

  18. I think Suggestions 4 and 5 nail it on the head when it comes to just about every “gray area”.

    Often, I find myself more concerned with what/how others are doing (or not doing) something, and become judgmental. If we can put into perspective that everyone’s experiences and convictions are unique, and seek guidance from the Spirit about our own hearts, we will be free from the worry of everyone else’s trivialities!

  19. You continually blow my mind that your not afraid to hit the hot buttons.I’m so grateful. I’ve been in many churches and when I was raising my kids no one ever explained the background of this holiday. When I did realize it we stopped dressing up for trick or treat and found other activities to do with other families. Bowling, movies etc. Still made it a fun day out of the house. Kids were happy too. Thank you so much Danny.

  20. You know, I never thought too much of Halloween in a religious sense. More of just a social event. Frankly, I just knew not to mess with an oujii board that night lol. The Christian holiday that is associated is interesting however. Never knew about it. Any case.. It’s not easy to get people to understand to not out right hate and fear. One thing life has taught me is to take a lot with a grain of salt.

  21. Praise the Lord! Thank you for addressing this issue, and encouraging prayer in regards to it. I come from a family that did not participate in Halloween, but after I left the home, I left behind a lot of the convictions I was raised with, and participated in it as an opportunity to party and go out drinking. Jesus said that you will know a tree by it’s fruit, and the fruit of Halloween should be pretty obvious to those who by reason of use, have their senses trained to discern right from wrong (Hebrews 5:14). The truth is, even from an objective, non-religious standpoint—by that I mean both non-Christian AND non-occulitic (many wiccans and satanists see great spiritual significance in Halloween)—Halloween is all about spirits of the dead, and darkness. If anyone is not convinced of this, check out what the secular History Channel says about it, they did a great documentary on it (http://youtu.be/hSLUrQnLkxQ). As Christians, we’re to ‘have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.’ (Ephesians 5:11) A good question to honestly ask yourself (and ask God to show you; it’s easy to deceive ourselves) is this: Why am I really doing this? Am I doing it to honor, glorify, and make known the purity, holiness, and majesty of God in Jesus Christ, or am I legitimizing this for my own enjoyment, or to minimize the sting of the world’s rejection? We, as Christians, should not be feeding on the devil’s poisoned candy, when Jesus offers us bread and wine. Please heed the sound counsel given in Pastor Danny’s article, and PRAY about it. Remember, those of us who are parents are responsible before God for what we approve of for our children.

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