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Monday, October 26, 2009

For Christians - Halloween or Not?

(otherwise known as "let's have some controversy on the old blog.")

As the title states, the question is for the Christian readers of this blog. I am particularly interested in the opinions of the church of Christ readers, especially since it seems like we are the only family in our church who does not celebrate Halloween. But I will gladly accept opinion of those in other denominations ;)

Do you or don't you? Why? Have you ever considered doing the opposite? At any point, did you do differently than what you do now? What convinced you to do differently?

It is a conscience issue for me, per Romans 14. It bothers my conscience to take part in such activities, so I do not do it. I will leave it at that, unless you want to take it to the comments. As I mentioned before, it seems like it's us and a smattering of Baptists who do not take part. This means we miss out on a big Halloween party every year. In a few years we will no doubt have to explain to Pearl why everyone else gets to do it, but she (we) does not. Believe me, sometimes I wish my conscience were fine with it; life would be a bit easier.

I also feel similarly about Christians' propensity for the traditional Easter things like egg hunts and Easter bunnies and whatnot.

Let's hear your opinions.

Related Posts:

28 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • alice

    Our church created a Fall Family Festival in replacement. We let the kids dress up but nothing ghoulish or violent. We see a lot of super heroes and princesses. Instead of celebrating Halloween, we celebrate Family togetherness.

    Alice

  • Alan

    Halloween as traditionally practiced has very little in the way of redeeming qualities. It basically tries to make demonic things cute, and to provide children with vast quantities of sugar.

    It could easily be converted into a separate Christian event ("all saints' eve") without all the demonic trappings of the conventional Halloween. Or you could just have a family night and shut out the worldly influences.

  • Laura

    We'll be giving out candy, but when our kids are old enough, I'd prefer a fall festival type of event. I imagine if the Professor has an opinion in favor of Halloween, it is the fun of dressing up (in innocent costumes like Tetris pieces, not cutesy devils or whatever) and probably the opportunity to share candy with neighbors. :-)

    On the subject of Santa and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, we'll be treating them like playing pretend with storybook characters... so I don't think we'll go over-the-top to fool the kids, but we will still pretend with them. We have a little while to decide what that will look like, but one idea I've had is to put on the Santa hat and a paper beard in front of the kids so that it's obvious to the kids that it's imaginative play.

  • JunkMale

    Oh yes, the sugar factor. I failed to mention that in not observing Halloween, it will be that much (and I do mean "much") less sugar into Pearl and any other future siblings she might have. This is also good for us, because we are not very good at resisting sweets once they have entered into our dominion.

  • Laura

    I should mention that my preference for the Fall Festival type of event is not a conscience issue, but more a personal preference. IMO finding an innocent way to celebrate Halloween (dressing up and trading candy) is no worse than finding an innocent alternative to Halloween (a Fall Festival or whatever). Of course in any case, it's important to convey to your kids what trappings of Halloween you don't approve of.

  • Smockity Frocks

    We followed the crowd when we had 2 children and celebrated Halloween. About the time the 3rd one came along was when we were beginning to homeschool and I think that led us to see the value in questioning "following the crowd" mentality on a lot of issues.

    We didn't like to see children dressed as witches and devils and hated the gory severed hands and eyeballs that were used as decorations.

    At that time, we decided to only go to "Fall Festival" type celebrations at church. Strangely enough, we STILL saw the witches and devils, bloody hands and eyeballs! The punch was even served from a smoking witches cauldron - at church!

    Now, we just don't go to any events like that and we keep our front porch lights off on Halloween night. Frankly, I'm surprised more people don't question the gory, devilish, walking dead apects of it.

    We are the only ones at our 700ish member congregation who abstain.

  • JunkMale

    Laura, so why is it a personal preference for you? Just curious.

    Smockity, thank you for your input. Do your children ever give you any grief about why everyone else at church celebrates Halloween but you don't? If so, is it very difficult to deal with every year, and does it get easier? Is it a semi-public fact amongst your church friends that you don't celebrate it? (we have not actually declared to anyone at church that we do not do Halloween)

  • Laura

    Okay, maybe I have an idealistic view of a Fall Festival, but who wouldn't prefer bobbing for apples on a lazy afternoon to tromping about sidewalks of suburbia in the dark, past toilet papered trees and noisy kids dressed up like ghouls? What parent prefers candy to whole foods treats like caramel apples and fresh cider?

  • Iris

    Very good post - I have been wondering about how to go about this particular topic when/if I ever have children. Your questions are very similar to the ones I have.

  • US

    We no longer celebrate at all. There are birthdays, and alternative gatherings where we may hand out tracts and candy with a group. We do NOT dress up, and we do not hand out candy from our home.

    We live in a very mislead community, where a cult is the majority. When we moved here, we saw and felt first hand how horribly evil halloween is. These poor lost souls think they are being cute, but to the saved in our valley, it is so clear that Satan is alive and active.

    Our kids just miss all that candy. I do not. Our littles have never been trick-or-treating, only the olders. I'm with Smockity, when we started homeschooling, so many things about being set apart and a peculiar people.

  • Smockity Frocks

    JM,
    We are pretty new in this town (just at a year) so it is just becoming public knowledge that we don't participate.

    This is the first year our oldest 2 (12 & 14) have hinted that they wish they could go to the class Halloween party at church. Part of the party consisted of going to a graveyard and being "scared witless" so there was no way we were giving in.

    They understand WHY we don't do it, but they are just beginning to have feelings of wanting to be a part of the group, so it's a struggle this year. I suspect that will only intensify as they get older.

  • Amy

    Saw your comment at Smockity's and couldn't help chiming in. :)

    We do not participate in Halloween at all because of the huge focus on death, decay and gore. I said basically the same thing, but in more detail in this blog post.

    Our small church has a "Hallelujah Night" at the end of October as a replacement, and we quietly choose to stay home that night.

    P.S. - for what it's worth, we're part of those Baptists that don't take part. ;)

  • Anne Marie@Married to the Empire

    We're Baptists, and we actually enjoy Halloween. We decorate the house, but we stick with only God-made things, like cats, rats, and pumpkins. No ghosts or witches or anything like that.

    I personally believe that things are evil only if you make them evil. Wearing a costume on October 31st is not thumbing one's nose at God, IMO. It's as fun and innocent or as evil as you make it. We enjoy handing out candy to the neighborhood children and seeing their cute costumes. We never mind the teenagers in their weird or creepy costumes, either. It's a good way to say hello to the neighbors. And we also host a costumed dinner party for our close friends.

    However, I do understand that not everyone sees things the same way, and that's okay. It's a personal decision, and I have respect for those who choose to abstain from all Halloween-related activities.

    The thing I do have an issue with is when churches profess to be opposed to Halloween, yet they hold Fall Festivals on the same night with essentially the same activities--candy and costumes. Slapping a different name on it somehow makes it less wrong? That just doesn't make sense to me and smacks of hypocrisy.

  • Julie

    I despise Halloween. It just reeks of evil to me. Kids with bloodied tshirts and axes in their heads. Little two and three years olds in sparkly witches outfits. Begging at strangers houses for candy. Adults in scary costumes awaiting preschoolers to scare. YUCK!
    That being said my husband does not think that halloween is evil. He agrees with the thought that it's only evil if you make it evil. In submission to my husband I dress my kids up in cute princess costumes or Bible characters and the ocassional super hero and parade them around the neighborhood. I smile and have a good time with it because my husband wants me to and I think that what he wants for our family is more important than my opinion.
    He has promised me though when we get our land we can have a marshmellow and weenie roast on Halloween and invite all of our friends instead of trick or treating and costumes.
    We do not do Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. Victory is mine there. LOL
    For what it's worth we are Baptist and I only have one other Baptist friend who does not do Halloween.

  • *Mirage*

    Hello! I am not Baptist. I am not really associated with any denomination actually. The only church I've ever been a member of was Island Family Chirstian Church my husband and I attended in Hawaii when he was in the military. My husband however was raised Baptist. I was raised not celebrating Halloween, but my husband was raised celebrating it. We do not celebrate it now because we believe it is honoring to Satan to celebrate it. We have 2 kids ages 3 and 1. I just wrote a 4 part on my blog about the satanic origins of Halloween and what it actually represents when you do things like displaying jack-o-lanterns and going trick or treating. Part 4 is my personal opinions and reasons and a bit about how I felt about it when I was a child and my family did not celebrate it. http://everypreciousjoy.blogspot.com/search/label/Halloween

  • Ginny

    I think it is a very disturbing sign that it even has to be debated among those who name the name of Christ.

  • Ginny

    I meant "claim the name".

    Sorry.

  • Laura

    Ginny, I think it's actually very similar to the "disputable matter" discussed in Romans 14 (eating meat sacrificed to idols). Apart from the night it's on, no one is saying that God doesn't want us dressing our little girls up as princesses and our little boys as cowboys, or trading candy with neighbors.

    What we disagree on is whether or not participating in something that some people use for evil is wrong if we aren't involved in anything evil ourselves. I would absolutely call that a disputable matter!

  • Laura

    Ack, that last paragraph is confusing; let's try:

    What we disagree on is whether or not it's wrong to participate in something that some people use for evil, when we aren't involved in anything evil ourselves. I would absolutely call that a disputable matter!

  • Brett

    Are all things with secular origins wrong? I know of religious people who believe that celebrating a child's birthday is wrong because it makes a day "more special" than the Lord's Day. I do not think that God wants us to abstain from all activities that are not worship. As for Halloween, I see it as a fun day to allow kids to dress up and get candy. I enjoy the questions my children ask about the origins of dressing up, carving pumpkins (or turnips), what 'trick-or-treat' means, etc. We use it as a teaching tool like most other things and sort of like 'living history'.

    The assertion that a "Fall Festival" and "Halloween" are different does not really hold up historically. If we accept the Druid origins of Halloween with the festival of Samhain, it was a fall festival/harvest festival. It marked the end of the Celtic calendar (Celtic New Year). The ancient druid's superstitions and beliefs led to the imagery we have today for Halloween, but that does not necessarily make the day or having fun with it evil.

    On a related note, I have never heard a debate about the use of fireworks during New Year's debated among Christians. The origins of New Year's fireworks in China were to ward off evil spirits and ghosts and to usher in a new year free of evil. The pagan belief that evils spirits were scared off by the loud explosions made this very popular. (So much so that the 'inventor' of fireworks, Li Tian, was even worshiped in China and there was a temple built to him.)

    I do not believe that shooting fireworks on New Year's is evil (and I am not trying to ward off evil spirits by lighting a firecracker), nor do I believe that having fun with Halloween is evil. But I think either could be, IF the people participating do so in the wrong way.

    If it is a stumbling block for you, avoid it. If it is not, enjoy it for what it is today, not what it was when it started.

    my 3 cents ...

  • *Mirage*

    A walk through WalMart in October, past severed fingers, bleeding chopped off heads, skulls, ouija boards, skeletons, ghosts, and all manner of other evil or just plain disgusting things would put my concience off enjoying anything about 'what it is today.' It is a day that is swimming in things that glorify Satan.

    As for it being a fall festival... nobody said enjoying the changing seasons was wrong. Do you know what the rituals people carry out in honor of halloween actually mean? Do you know what the jack-o-lantern is a symbol of? It's the grimace of the devil. Do you think God is okay with you displaying the grimace of the devil because it's all in fun? Trick or treaters represent demon spirits and the candy is a bribe to get them to go away and not haunt or "trick" your house. Research it. You think your god is okay with your children representing demonic spirits just because they're dressed up as Iron Man and Cinderella and it's what everyone else is doing? It's all in fun? Your god doesn't mind us play-acting something evil as long as we don't mean it with our hearts?! I don't know who your god is but my God would not tolerate that. Time and time again in the Bible He told His people not to follow the customs of the land that were not glorifying to Him and when they did they fell into ruin as a culture from disobeying God. Just look at the sorry state the economy is in right now. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you."
    He never said that if you're just pretending to practice witchcraft, or pretending to be a sorcerer, well that's okay because you are just playing.

    Ephesians 6:12-13 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."
    We aren't wrestling against dressing in costume or celebrating the changing seasons. We are wresting against principalities, against the rulers of darkness. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

    Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
    If it's inconvenient to you to serve God, then choose whether you will follow the old tributes to Satan of your ancestors, or the traditions of the land in which you now dwell... but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. If you love someone you will want to please them. I love God and want to please Him and I don't think that carving some pumpkins up with the grimace of Satan, sending my kids out to represent demons among others who are truely dressed as demons, and displaying things that my God says are evil, is going to make Him pleased in the least.

  • Ginny

    If people need a fall festival, why aren't they observing the one commanded in the scripture? I know, I know... Obeying the Lord is seen as legalism.

    yawn

    I do not see it as a disputable matter at all. It is strange fire.

    I am in a bad mood, lately. Can you tell?

  • JunkMale

    Now, now, play nicely...if this is the Brett that I believe he is, then I know that he and his family have most of their nuts and bolts in the proper places.

    Mirage, I see that this is quite a stumbling block for you. But I do believe Brett has a good point with the mention of New Year's fireworks celebration.

    This of course leads to the question of where on earth do we draw the line? I know that many Christians probably have issues with Harry Potter, but do those Christians also have issues with Star Wars? Jedi knights routinely perform humanly impossible acts guided by the Force, and perform what appears to be "magic." Should children from Christian families be forbidden to play pretend as Jedi? What kind of imaginative play is permissible then? Should Easter Sunday be just another Sunday? Should Christians serve in the military? (after all, we are supposed to bless our enemies and not curse them)

    I really do not bring these up in an antagonistic matter; rather, they are examples as to how far we can go on the restrictive end of things. I myself have wondered about the permissivity of such things. Judging by the sheer volume of professing Christians who observe such things, it seems like it would indeed qualify as a disputable matter. (then again, many American Christians routinely pray and thank God for their material wealth, when in fact it is harder for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter heaven)

  • Ginny

    If we truly walk according to the scriptures, all of them (not adding or subtracting), then we will be a peculiar people, indeed! The gate is narrow. VERY narrow. The crowd goes through the wide gate.

  • Laura

    Boy, what a discussion this has become! Ginny, I'd like to explain a little more why I think this is exactly the kind of disputable matter mentioned in Romans.

    Let's consider the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols. The food had been a part of a pagan sacrifice, a strange fire indeed. But Paul made it clear that it wasn't inherently wrong to eat that food, even though it was associated with something terribly, terribly evil.

    I am 100% behind the Christians who find "severed fingers, bleeding chopped off heads, skulls, ouija boards, skeletons, ghosts," and themes of "death, decay, and gore" to be reprehensible and filled with evil. Just like Paul obviously found idol worship and the associated sacrifices to be reprehensible and filled with evil.

    But at the same time, Paul was convinced that he could eat that meat with a clean conscience. And likewise, some of your brothers and sisters -- Christians saved by the same sacrifice as you, and accepted by God -- are convinced that walking to their neighbors' houses dressed like cowboys or princesses, and receiving candy that their neighbors are handing out, is not displeasing to God.

    Now, those of us whose consciences allow this practice absolutely need to be considerate of your conscience which does not allow it. But on the flip side, I think it's unfair to say there's no room for disagreement.

  • Brett

    Junkmale ... Thanks for weighing in. My next post was going down the lines of the Jedi order. As you know it is referred to as a "religion" in the movie and clearly has "magical" properties. It is completely fictitious, but some have decided to make it wrong and put it before God. (see wiki reference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi_census_phenomenon) Does that make it wrong for my kids to have pretend light sabers and pretend to use the Force? I do not think so. They know it is pretend and enjoy it for what it is.

    There are plenty of examples of fictitious works or literature or cinema that do not glorify God, there are some that do, and there are many that are just fun. God did not say we shouldn't have fun. My kids study Greek/Roman mythology, dragons, and other made up things. I do not believe it prevents them from worshiping God or doing his will.

    Speaking of the Romans, if they all of sudden decided the god Jupiter was REAL and demanded worship, then we would have a problem. But I don't see a biblical problem with teaching that a long time ago people believed this or that. We still give gifts at Christmas to each other despite the fact that the origins are with a Roman pagan celebration of the god Saturn (Saturnalia). Slapping a Christian label on a pagan celebration doesn't all of sudden make it "OK".

    I don't give gifts to my children in December to honor Saturn (nor do I believe that we are doing it to represent the gifts given to Christ by the wise men).

    I encourage everyone to make a decision for their family concerning "holidays". I think this discussion is profitable in that it makes people examine why they do what they do. I don't condemn those who abstain from Halloween, nor do I condemn those who celebrate Christmas.

    To be clear, the Druids were not Satanic. They were not worshiping Satan or worshiping evil. They were trying to ward off evil spirits or not be attacked by evil spirits. They were clearly misguided and not in accordance with God's will, but not Satanic.

  • *Mirage*

    JunkMale I am sorry if I went overboard. I agree with Ginny that it's very disturbing that people who claim the Name of Christ don't at least question a holliday that is so rife with things that aren't God-honoring. I admire you for questioning it and for being brave enough to make a blog post about it. I hope that when you are reading God's Word that He will point out to you the way He wants you to go so you can have a firm conviction about it.

  • Laura

    Mirage, I agree that it's important to question Halloween and all its trappings. Many thanks to JunkMale for bringing up this topic -- it gave my husband and me a chance to talk through what our boundaries would be with respect to Halloween. :-)