It’s the Great Halloween Debate, Charlie Brown

It happens every year around this time, when nature eases the northern hemisphere into the Fall season with ever-cooling evenings and misty mornings.

When pumpkin-spiced everything invades North America, we can be sure the season is well underway, and along with pumpkin-spice, we’re sure to read an opinion or two about Halloween and Christianity.

It’s the Great Halloween Debate, Charlie Brown.

I’m not sure about you, but the Halloween issue is something I’ve 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 so often divides Christians.

Yes, I’ve researched the history of Halloween and Christianity –  both the pagan roots of the holiday and it’s Catholic counterpart, All Saint’s Day. I’ve even 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 that there is one “right” way anymore.

The problem with the Great Halloween Debate is that scripture remains unclear on what to do with such holidays. How to celebrate (or not) is of the those “gray areas” where the Christian response is not dictated by scripture alone.

Unlike other potential sin issues on which scripture is clear, such as sexual immorality, dishonesty, theft, murder, and so forth, we read very little about what to do with man-made holidays.

For this reason, much of what we read on Halloween and Christianity tends to be human opinion rather than scripture-based mandates.

We’ll find similar opinionated arguments about whether or not we should celebrate Easter and Christmas, yet somehow Christians have managed to bring Christ to the center in many ways for those holidays in spite of their pagan roots.

During the Fall season, The Great Halloween Debate takes center stage in many Christian circles. Is there a "right" way to decide what to do about Christianity and Halloween?  And if so, who decides?  We might just be missing the most important thing in all of our Halloween discussions?

Is it possible then, that Halloween might be redeemed in the same way? Or are Halloween and Christianity simply incompatible?

Halloween and Christianity

Although we don’t find the word “Halloween” in scripture, we do find examples of debates over other worldly issues dividing the early church.

The Corinthian Church debated over meat that had been sacrificed to idols (see chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians), which some considered to be tainted, evil meat and as thus, inedible. Here’s what Paul had to say on the issue:

But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” 1 Cor. 8:8

According to this passage of scripture, those who ate meat that had been sacrificed to idols were neither right nor wrong.  It wasn’t better to do one OR the other. How can this be?

The morality of the meat debate depended not on the issue itself, but on their own personal convictions.  What is sin for some may not be sin for others in such scriptural gray areas.

Another example of debate over meat can be found in Romans 14.

Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”Rom. 14:3-4

Once again Paul reminds these early Christians that the matter of whether or not one should eat meat sacrificed to idols is one of personal conviction.

Neither the partaker nor the abstainer should despise the other!

Then, in verse 5 of Romans 14, we find this interesting advice:

“One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

At first glance, this verse may be taken to speak to the Sabbath and on which day Christians should celebrate it.  But according to various Bible commentaries (Matthew Henry, Warren Wiersbe, etc.), it was more likely a reference to traditional Old Testament celebrations – whether or not to continue celebrating them.

According to Paul, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” It’s up to us as individuals, gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit, to decide about Halloween and Christianity, for ourselves.

We so often look to other Christians for opinions on such gray areas, or we judge fellow believers as right or wrong based not on scripture, but on our own personal convictions. We are guilty of looking to others for how to walk out our faith here on Earth when we should be looking to the Lord alone.

Let the Lord tell you what to do!

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t tell you what to do about The Great Halloween Debate.  When it comes to Halloween and Christianity, each person must come to on his or her own personal conviction.

If your personal convictions allow you the freedom to celebrate it as “unto the Lord,” then by all means, do so! If your personal convictions require you to abstain from the “holiday,” then by all means, do so!

 And if you, like me, lie somewhere in between on the Great Halloween Debate, then let it be “as unto the Lord,” as well.

Maybe, just maybe, making the right choice for Halloween is not so much about the details of how we celebrate (or don’t celebrate) but the why behind it.

And any day with Jesus as the focus is a good day, in my opinion, whether we partake or abstain.

Romans 12:21

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

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

Let’s not be like Sally in It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. She worried over whom to believe – Linus or her other friends.  Rather than forming her own convictions, Sally allowed herself to be swayed by others throughout the night, leading to a lot of unnecessary worry and eventual frustration.

Let’s drop the Great Halloween Debate, shall we?

Instead, let’s just follow hard after Christ and quit worrying about what others are doing (or not doing).

For His glory!

Jen :)

Sharing with : Grace and Truth

Comments

  1. says

    I really liked Phil Drysdale’s take on Halloween and Paganism. It follows your thought a bit as well. Here is a link he wrote on FB.
    https://m.facebook.com/PhilDrysdaleMinistries/posts/457614037614085

    Also our kids wear fun costumes. For example one boy is a cowboy and another Zorro. We needn’t get so wrapped up in law over a day. Especially when so many “Christian” holidays first began as pagan holidays. :)

    http://unveiledandrevealed.wordpress.com

    • says

      Yes, I tend to agree with his thoughts, as well. I do think that the origins of the day are something I want my own children to be aware of. But yes – such debate over a single day just takes away from what we should really be focusing on, I think.
      Jen :)

    • Linda Whitworth says

      There’s a very good book on the topic of pagan & Christian beliefs. I also know a nun who agreed that alot of Christian holidays and celebrations have roots in pagan celebrations. There are several areas of the bible that has not been carried out these days. I agree with you. It’s all in the way a person perceives it.

  2. says

    GREAT POST! I have had the same issue with Halloween. When I took my younger two children went trick or treating they passed out scripture cards. With my older two children I never thought about it because I wasn’t a Christian during that time.

  3. says

    i will not be celebrating Halloween this year – and the church i attend will not be celebrating Halloween either – no debate in my mind :D

  4. says

    As much as I can see your point, the question that decides this for me is what would Christ, the Messiah do if He was on earth? Also did he practice pagan feasts? Answers he wouldn’t and he didn’t. I also think that other examples of paganic feasts in the Bible clearly show God’s perspective of this a la Easter. Although we can’t make other people celebrate or not celebrate as it is a question of faith and conviction, it is my duty in knowing the truth about the origins of these feasts to tell others too – after all I am called to be a watchman and an ambassador of truth.

    • says

      I guess I see it differently. When I’m working an outreach event, I’m not “celebrating a pagan feast.” I’m making the most of what can be a very dark day to reach others with the Good News. While I agree that Jesus wouldn’t have joined in pagan ritual, I’m not convinced that He would stay isolated in His home, either. He probably would have found the perfect way to teach a spiritual truth on this day. :) But this is the beauty of the body of Christ – we follow our own personal convictions. And so you and I can remain sisters in spite of our differences, yes? (By the way, we do take the opportunity each year to talk to our children about spiritual warfare and the roots of Halloween – why we feel free to join in some things but not in others. I agree with you that it is important to understand the history there!)
      Jen :)

  5. says

    Love this! Yes, we should not decide for others what they should do. If they are a Christian the Holy Spirit will guide them. We should focus on encouraging each other in our walk and letting Gods word guide our own actions. May we all glorify God no matter what day it is!

  6. says

    This is the best way I have seen it ever stated.

    I do think that if you believe that one is bad, then you should not celebrate any though because they all are pagen holidays. I know how extereme that is because I was raised in a home that did not celebrate nothing. No birthdays, no christmas, no halloween, no easter, no fourth of july. The only thing we did was my dad took us shopping once a year (usually after christmas during the big clearence sales) and as a family we went on a shopping spree and usually went out to dinner. It was rough being taken out of school on party days and what not because it was hard to understand as a child, but really it is hard to understand as an adult too.

    But either way it is really noones place to judge…ever. And we do all have one to answer to and that is not each other.

    • says

      I tend to agree, but then I’m a very logical sort of person – so if we’re going to quit one then we should quit them all. That’s actually what changed my thinking about the day. :)
      Jen

  7. says

    I really like your take on this debate. My husband and I are currently trying to conceive so we’ve had a lot of conversations recently about how we’ll handle the holidays with our kids (Halloween, Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc.). We still haven’t come to a conclusion and I think that’s because we’re trying so hard to find THE answer. I don’t think we ever stopped to consider that what’s right for us might not be right for someone else – even the couple who sits next to us in church. I think it’s time we turn to God in prayer about this and stop looking around at what everyone else is doing.

    • says

      This makes me so happy, Kristin! :) I’m learning this lesson in my own life, too, not about Halloween, but about our new roles as church-planters. It’s so easy to ask advice from everyone else first, rather than turning to the God of the Universe. And just typing that out makes me feel a bit silly. ;)
      Jen

  8. says

    So, so good, my friend. I’ve been blessed to read your blog for about a year now, and it just gets better and better. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, and for linking this one at G&T! :)

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