What Should Christians Do About Halloween?
Well, Halloween is approaching, and many Christians feel ill at ease with this particular holiday. “It’s Satanic”, “It has pagan origins”, “The dark images aren’t honoring to Christ”, “It’s a celebration of evil”, these are all things I hear around this time of year. Is Halloween necessarily an evil day? Should all Christians absolutely obtain from this autumn holiday? Should Christian parents not allow their children to go trick-or-treating? Let me offer my thoughts and opinions on this tricky topic.
#1: Christians Should Abstain From Halloween Because It Has Pagan Origins.
This is probably the weakest argument against Halloween there is. Just because it has pagan origins to it, so what? I don’t observe the holiday for those purposes. To me, Halloween has no religious significance at all. It’s a secular holiday for me. I once had an atheist friend who engaged in Christmas festivities. He had a Christmas tree up in his house and he engaged in gift exchanges at his house every December 25th. Now, even though he was an atheist and didn’t accept Jesus as his savior, he still engaged in Christmas, albeit the non-religious side of it. He enjoyed the holiday and smiled upon the message of selflessness and jollyness that Christmas promoted. But to him, it had no religious significance. Well, Halloween is the same way to me. It has no religious significance to me. For me, Halloween is just an excuse to run around in a costume without getting weird looks. Lol
By the non-religious side of Christmas, I mean things like Santa Claus, Elves, Present Exchanges, much of the commercialism that has nothing to do with Christ. In reality, the Christmas Tree and the Candy Canes actually have symbolic meanings. For example, the Candy Cane is supposed to be in the shape of a J. J for Jesus. And I’ve heard somewhere that the Christmas tree resembles eternal life, and Jesus’ death and resurrection. The evergreen tree is green all year round. This is to symbolize the eternal life we have in Christ. The fact that we take the tree down and put another one up every year is to symbolize death and resurrection. So, my atheist friend technically did have at least one religious symbol up for Christmas. He just didn’t realize it. But other than that, most Christmas icons are pretty non-religious.
The Easter Bunny would be a secular symbol too. I don’t see how that has anything to do with the resurrection of the son of God, or the son of God at all.
As Ken Samples of Reasons To Believe put it in his article "The Tricky Topic Of Halloween":
"Christians need to use good reasoning to support their moral and/or spiritual convictions. Drawing and applying biblical inferences to life's questions and challenges takes intellectual skill and care. To condemn the practice of trick-or-treating outright on the basis that Halloween has certain pagan origins is, in this author's mind, to come perilously close to committing the genetic fallacy.
The genetic fallacy is committed when an idea, person, practice, or institution is evaluated solely in terms of its origin, without giving appropriate consideration to how it has changed or evolved in contemporary practice. For example, one would be foolish to reject the scientific discipline of astronomy because its origins were connected to the ancient occult practice of astrology. Why? Because the practice of astronomy has changed significantly over time. While the Bible expressly forbids a believer's involvement in certain pagan and/or occult practices (Deut. 18:9-13), for the vast majority of American families Halloween has nothing to do with the practice of, or belief in, occultism. Rather, this celebration gives children an opportunity to dress up in funny, spooky, and/or outrageous costumes and accumulate candy by the pillowcase full (a little known metric measurement)."
2: Aren't many of the seemingly benign practices of Halloween directly connected to paganism and occultism?
Like the Christmas Tree and the candy cane having Christian meanings behind them, isn’t it the case that some of these practices we participate in Halloween directly connected to paganism and occultism? If so, shouldn’t we avoid it? Ken Samples, once again, has a very plausible answer to this objection. He writes:
“Christians have a biblical mandate to discern what is evil and resist and/or avoid its influence. However, to what extent should one go to avoid evil people and their practices? And to what extent are practices evil in themselves? Since Adolf Hitler brushed his teeth, should one rather knock one's teeth out to avoid any association with an evil person and his practices? Could practices that were once associated with pagan superstition (such as carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples) be purely benign for people with a totally different motivation and intent? Should one avoid eating meat (especially lean and inexpensive meat) that has been offered to idols, even if one is convinced the idols don't really exist? The apostle Paul assured the first-century Christians that they could eat such meat in good conscience knowing that the idols were not real.”
I should ask the Christian who is bothered by this; are the practices of carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples intrinsically sinful? Am I sinning by bending over and picking an apple up with my teeth out of a barrel filled with water? Certainly this doesn’t seem intrinsically sinful. I think motivation matters. Same with carving a pumpkin. There doesn’t appear to be anything intrinsically wrong about taking a vegetable and making it look like it has a face (or some other cool design). Once again, motivation matters. Why are you carving that pumpkin? Does the act have any religious significance to you, or are you just doing it for fun? If you’re doing it for some pagan deity or something, the act would be sinful. It’d be idolatry. But if your motivation is the latter, I wouldn’t worry about it. Motivations matter a lot to God. God has no problem with cow statues either, His problem is with Idol worship (Exodus 32).
3: The Dark Images Are Not Honoring To Christ.
Perhaps. Perhaps. But are dark images always wrong in every framework? How about the use of dark images in the realm of literature? Was it wrong of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (both Christian writers) to include dark images (witches, monsters, etc.) in their writings? At what point does a Halloween costume become a dark image that should be avoided? I think that this is largely a matter of conscience. If you’re uncomfortable with the dark imagery associated with Halloween, by all means, avoid it. While I don’t think Christians are forbidden from taking part in Halloween festivities, neither do I think we’re obligated to partake in them.
4: It’s A Celebration Of Evil.
I’m not sure if this is a legitimate concern. I don’t know of many people who celebrate the fact that evil exists. From my perspective, Halloween appears to be making fun of evil. It’s like a holiday of satire. C.S Lewis made satire of evil as well in his book “The Screwtape Letters” where he role played as a demon named Screwtape who was writing to his nephew Wormwood, a junior demon who was just learning the ropes of being a good tempter. But in any case, I don’t think people “celebrate” evil. Maybe one does if they’re a devil worshipper, but for the majority of people who partake in the festivities of October 31st, I’m doubtful most people are celebrating the fact that evil exists. At least that was never my motivation when I observed Halloween growing up.
My conclusion is the same as that of Bill Hybels. "(Halloween is) about kids having fun dressing up and getting free candy. Get over it." However, everyone should obey their own consciousness. I see nothing wrong with taking part in Halloween. So long as I'm not slaughtering goats to give glory to Satan, I think I'm good. Would Christ have a problem with me bobbing for apples as my favorite Avenger with Face-carved, candle filled Pumpkins behind me? I'd have hard time saying yes to that question. But, if you feel so convicted about it (which I don’t), you should definitely stay away from it.
“But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:23 (NLT)
"Let your conscience be your guide" as Jiminy Cricket would say. I for one, don't have such convictions. If God ever puts it on my heart, I'll stop participating.