I hate Halloween. I really do.
I was going to write a post about my take on the biblical facets of participating in Halloween, but this post on CARM’s website lays out my understanding of the biblical underpinnings of this event more eloquently than I could. (CARM is really good btw)
So if that is my view on Halloween (mainly that in a 1 Cor 10 or Romans 14 sense that it is a matter of conscience), why would I say that I hate it?
Let me say that I have no vehement objection to trick or treating or dressing up. Personally I think that it can conceivably be participated in without the participants immediately holding a séance to contact Beelzebub. I even played D&D as a kid, and never once sacrificed a goat to Samhain!
Let me also say that the concept of allowing my children to wander the streets after dark begging candy from strangers seems a tad bit counterintuitive to me. I also don’t like the advertising I see for Halloween. Boys pretty much dress up as characters from horror movies, or as hippies if they got to Savers late. Girls dress up as any kind of slut that they would like to be: pirate slut, witch slut, cheerleader slut, US Marine slut (yes, it’s true…check it here if you don’t believe me), nurse slut…
I hate Halloween because it causes division among well-meaning Christians. This is one of those issues that generates a lot of heat but not a lot of light, because rather than taking Paul’s advice in Romans 14 we get the idea that we have to defend our position and make every other Christian feel the same.
Some of us want to find every Frankenstein and Harry Potter in their neighborhood and make sure they know the love of Jesus. That is Michael Patton’s take, and he is certainly a thoughtful Christian thinker. On the other hand there are Christians who associate the practice very closely with Satanism and feel like we’ve been duped into worshipping Satan with this holiday.
We try to provide a middle ground at church. We have a party every year on October 31st as an alternative to trick or treating. We called it “trunk or treat” two years ago. Last year it was a “harvest festival.” This year it is a “fall family festival,” if only because “safe alternative to begging candy from strangers without any occultish stuff” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. We have carnival games with candy as prizes, a jumper for the kids, and food. It’s part outreach, part inreach.
The problem is that the entire event seems to create division. Last year some passionate (if not too respectful) Christian left tracts on the windshields of the cars in the church parking lot that we were in league with Satan by having the carnival. Some (I think most…not sure though) like having something fun to do and are grateful for providing an alternative to trick or treating. Others head to parties dressed as a zombie (or if a girl, a zombie slut) and wonder why we’re so worked up.
If we could all live out our conscience in the spirit of what Paul said in 1 Cor 10 and even more Romans 14:5-6 I would be delighted.
5 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
Let those who participate do so with a clear conscience and remember not to look down on those who do not have that clarity of conscience. Likewise the one who does not participate should not judge the one who does. (that’s Romans 14:3 for those keeping score at home)
Unfortunately we have a hard time with that, because instead of focusing on following Christ and allowing others to do the same, we get too caught up in being right and making sure others know that we are. I see this from both sides; as the pastor of my church, I hear it both ways every year. And it seems that this day is the one that invites the most heated debate. No one gets upset at me for allowing a Christmas tree in the sanctuary in December, though evergreen trees were an ancient fertility symbol and therefore in ancient times associated with pagan gods. But pumpkins are different! (unless they are part of a Thanksgiving display…there must be a cornucopia involved to avoid spiritual warfare)
I don’t hate Halloween for itself, but for what it causes. Once I get past Saturday I don’t have problems with holidays until we break out the Easter eggs for the kids on Easter Sunday. 🙂 From November 1st through the end of the year I am golden, so I am really looking forward to Sunday. Because then we get to indulge in state-sponsored and church approved gluttony! (I love turkey)
Be safe on Saturday everyone.