Halloween Redemption?

I’ve seen it in the gentle coloring of the trees outside of our home, that yearly reminder that Fall is here. Right along with Fall comes the harvest season: cornstalks and hay bales and apples and pumpkins… and the “holiday” of Halloween, possibly one of the most controversial holidays for those who are in Christ.

I’m not sure about you, but the Halloween issue is something I’ve always struggled with as a Christ-follower (it’s right up there with what to do with Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc.).  What to do with Halloween is one of those be-in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world gray areas that seems to so often divide Christians.

Halloween and Christians

 

Yes, I’ve researched both the pagan roots for the holiday and it’s Catholic counterpart, All Saint’s Day. And I’ve read a few articles lately about what Christians should or should not do in regards to this day.  I’m just not sure I agree anymore.

When I was growing up, my family did not dress-up or trick-or-treat, but we did hand out candy from our house during the years that we were not in missionary training (before we went overseas). However, my husband (who also grew up in a Bible believing home) and his siblings donned costumes and went door-to-door up through their teenage years! :)

So, when our firstborn came along, we weren’t sure which path to choose.  We had the desire to please the Lord in our parenting choices, but we honestly weren’t really sure where to draw the line between freedom in Christ and being “set apart” in this area.

At first, we decided to participate only in our church’s fall festival, a Halloween alternative which was held on the same evening as Halloween, without costumes, but with games and candy.  It was so much fun for the whole family!

However,  my philosophical brain rejected the idea that it would be somehow “acceptable” to participate in a candy-oriented event on the same night as Halloween as long as we called it by another name and held it at a church yet  “unacceptable” to dress in a costume and go trick-or-treating.  Weren’t we still celebrating the holiday, just in a different way?

And what about our other “Christian” holidays, like Christmas and Easter.  Weren’t those dates  and even  many of our traditions borrowed from pagan holidays as well? (I know I was shocked when I researched the origins of Christmas in particular.)  Yet, over the centuries, we’ve managed to bring Christ into the center of those holidays.

Furthermore, what exactly does the Bible have to say about such celebrations?  In the Old Testament we find many yearly festivals celebrated that always served as reminders to God’s chosen people, such as Passover, etc.  But after Christ, the only command to repeat any such “celebration” for the purpose of remembering was that of what we now call communion – “do this in remembrance of me.”

In Galatians 5, Paul advises:

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

He’s talking to the Galatians specifically about circumcision and how futile it is now that Christ has come.  In fact, in verse 2 he warns that if they allow themselves to be circumcised, then Christ will not be “of value” to them.  Why?  Because they are trusting in the Law rather than a Savior.  Then, in verse 6, he offers this truth:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

The outward acts that made up so much of the OT Law no longer matter!  What matters is that faith relationship we have because of Jesus.  When we read even further on in this chapter, we find once again that the only thing that matters is love:

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.

 But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

It seems to me that in gray areas that the Bible doesn’t specifically address, there is grace.  Because of Christ, we have freedom from human regulation.  The most important thing is not what we “do” in that regards, but in how we love, through faith – each other, as well as the lost.

Since the Bible does not take a crystal clear stance on the celebrating of specific holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and so forth we finally decided to err on the side of grace in this gray area.

So, for a few years, we allowed our children to trick-or-treat at select locations, usually church events around town (for safety reasons).

We took the opportunity to discuss why Halloween can be an evil day, depending on how it is celebrated.  We talked a lot about good vs. evil and how the spiritual realm is real and present, but that we need not fear it because “God is bigger than the boogeyman” (to steal a line from the Veggietales tune).

Then, a few years ago, my husband decided to return to full-time ministry as the pastor of a small, country church.

And one of the things we decided to do as an outreach event in our new-to-us, small-town community was to host a trunk-r-treat event. If you haven’t heard of trunk-r-treats, people line up their opened car trunks, decorated in various themes, in a parking lot or downtown, and  hand out candy from their trunks instead of from their homes.  For our small church, it was a big deal!

The big night arrived, cold and wet.

We drove to the downtown parking lot we had chosen for the event, spirits high in spite of the bad weather.  The sprinkling slowed a bit to a slight mist and trunks began to open as we set up our decorations.  We had Star Wars themed trunks, farm trunks, and even one trunk that looked like a giant mouth with razor-sharp teeth!

Trunk-or-treat, Christians and Halloween

Then the costumed families began to arrive, and for an hour and a half, we had a steady stream of trick-or-treaters.  We smiled at them.  We gave them candy.  We served hot drinks in the unseasonably cold weather.

We told parents about our children’s program and youth group.  We laughed at inventive costumes. We invited them to fellowship with us.  We handed out gospel literature. And eventually, we actually ran out of candy!

In the weeks that followed, we saw very little tangible results from our first trunk-r-treat.  No new families stopped by our church to visit.  Some might even call it a failed outreach event.

But that event marked the beginning of a slow change in that church, a willingness to start thinking outside of the “church” box.  They began to see, with fresh eyes, the lost in our community.  They realized that even small churches can serve in big ways!

This year will be our second attempt at the trunk-r-treat event.  I hope we will reach even more of our community. We plan to utilize the Pumpkin Gospel object lesson to demonstrate the gospel in visual form (kids love stories!).  Whether or not it’s the best way to deal with a historically evil holiday, I know the Lord sees past the exterior to the desires and the motives of our hearts.  I hope what our children take away from this in the future is that Halloween is a day to remember that we live in a fallen world.  Evil is real, but so is God.  We have a light to shine in the darkness!

So, maybe, just maybe, making the right choice for Halloween is not so much about the details of how we “celebrate” but the why behind it.  And any day with Jesus as the focus is a good day, in my opinion.

I just have to wonder what satan thinks about a bunch of Christ-loving people hijacking his evil day in an attempt to demonstrate the gospel to an entire community?

If sinners can be redeemed, and Christmas can be redeemed, and Easter can be redeemed…..

then maybe Halloween can, too?

And if the best way for you to overcome evil is to follow convictions about abstaining, then by all means, follow your own convictions!  It’s okay for the Body of Christ to disagree on how to best glorify the Lord on this one day, really it is. :)

Perhaps the best way to be a light in the darkness is to quit biting and devouring one another and focus on loving each other instead.

Romans 12:21

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Jen :)

 

Comments

  1. says

    Wonderful post!! Thank you for putting this into words. Loved this: “So, maybe, just maybe, making the right choice for Halloween is not so much about the details of how we “celebrate” but the why behind it. And any day with Jesus as the focus is a good day, in my opinion.” :)

  2. melcaldicott says

    Jen, we too have struggled with how to deal with Halloween as Christian parents. It never used to be such a big deal here in the UK but it’s really grown over the last ten years. Most of the focus does seem to be on ghosts, witches and ghouls too. Our kids understand why we don’t celebrate it and thankfully we always tend to be on holiday over that week so we miss out of what their friends are doing. Our church is doing a neon party this year which looks like great fun! It’s so hard to work out how to stand up for what we believe in but not get in a stew about what might not be all that important.
    Thanks for linking up at Essential Fridays.

    Blessings

    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions & Connect With God

    • says

      Yes, Mel, I completely agree! We struggled over what to do for quite a while before settling on this idea of redeeming the holiday much in the way that Christmas and Easter have been. Standing up for what we believe is incredibly hard – a fine line for us to walk in many ways. I won’t be prideful and say that this is the “best” way to handle it because who knows – in a few years God may lead our hearts in a different direction altogether (as He has done already). ;) I know this is one of those areas that won’t look the same for every Christian family, and that’s ok!
      Jen :)

  3. says

    This post is my favorite I’ve read on the topic, Jen! Your church sounds like it’s getting it right :) I love the concept of redeeming a historically “evil” holiday (as many call it) for our faith. Thanks for clearing up any lingering doubts I had about one of my favorite holidays.

    Your post also reminds me of yoga, an exercise I LOVE due to its enormous health benefits. So many believers may be missing out on its pluses due to a narrow view of the practice. I honor & pray to God during it & use it as a form of worship!

    Romans 14 (http://biblestudytools.com/romans/14.html) says clearly that a man with weak faith may only eat veggies, while another man’s faith allows him to eat freely. We don’t want to flaunt our freedoms in each other’s faces, but we can celebrate them & our God-given ability to enjoy our lives without offending each other. Verse 1 says “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.” I agree that our approach to “grey areas” is what determines whether they’re beneficial or not, & we must do everything from a place of faith.

    Above all, our #1 goal is unity & love in these matters. Thank you for exemplifying both!

  4. says

    Are you living in my brain? LOL. This is basically my stance exactly and I just finished writing up my own blog post about it before reading yours. Thanks for sharing this! (modernishhomemaker.com)

  5. says

    You make a lot of really great points, Jen. I’ve been on both sides of this issue in years past, so I know the confusion and tension to please God and yet not be legalistic. We finally landed in about the same spot as you. We try to find ways to give in addition to the candy to our neighbors/community–finding this “generous” holiday a great opportunity to “open doors” in more ways than one! :) Thanks for being brave enough to share your convictions here and I hope/pray your Trunk-r-Treat is a smash hit this year–drawing lots of families to your church and ultimately to God!

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