Monday, November 1, 2010

How I Really Feel about Halloween (You Might be Surprised).....

Well, Halloween is over, and as much as I wanted to blog about this before Halloween, honestly I just didn't have the guts.  I know this post is going to open a can of worms, and cause debate.  I hate debate.  I'm not one who likes to argue.  I also know that in posting this, there will people that I love and respect that will be disappointed me, for having this view.  That being said, I feel I must make my feelings known, and share how I really feel about Halloween.  The truth is................... I don't hate it.  GASP!  Fellow Christians and Pastors, please, hear  me out. 

Point #1- You can take part in Halloween, without taking part in evil.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand the roots of Halloween, and what it meant to most people hundreds of years ago, and a few people today as far as satanism and paganism etc.  And I fully understand the scriptures people use to support their stance against Halloween.  I understand that scripture says to flee even the appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22). 
But here are a few things I would like you to know about some common "acceptable" practices.
1.  The dates that we celebrate Christmas and Easter have pagan roots.  Do I care?  No.  I don't care what calender day we set aside to celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus.  What's important is that we DO celebrate those things.
2.  The wedding ring you are wearing is a pagan symbol.  (Google it for it's many ancient meanings.)  And the fact that we have bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding is an ancient pagan practice.  The belief was that on the day of the wedding, evil spirits would try to overtake the bride and the groom.  The extra people by their sides, who would at that time be dressed identically to the bride and groom, were meant to confuse the spirits as to who the actual bride and groom were.  Are these the same reasons we practice these traditions today?  Of course not.  These things mean something different to us now. 
3.  Saying "bless you" when someone sneezes is a pagan practice.  The belief was the when you sneeze, evil spirits would enter your body through your nose.  People said "bless you" to keep that from happening.  We don't believe that today, it is just good manners.

Just as the meaning of language changes over time, so does the meaning of our common practices.  The origin of these traditions, does not make them evil today.  I do realize that Halloween is a little different in that we still see people dabbling in evil with haunted houses, creepy costumes, and scary decorations.  But friends, we as Christians do not have to, and definitely should NOT be a part of those things.  The Bible says to flee even the appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:22).   I really don't see that my two kids, dressed as Spongebob, and a butterfly, visiting our neighbors and eating candy, as any kind of evil.  But, many will say in contrast that if we take part in Halloween at all, that we celebrate all of it, evil included.  With that logic, we should never shop in grocery store that sells alcohol, and we should never see a movie in a place where R movies are also shown.  I don't know about you, but I saw Toy Story, and liked it! And I can't find a grocery that doesn't sell several things that I would NEVER buy. 
Also, (stepping on my soapbox) adults, if you are in the habit of watching TV shows like CSI, and a number of others, that glorify murder and violent crime, and you are now standing up against Halloween, you are being a hypocrite.  (stepping down)

Now, you may see all I have said as nothing but as excuse to take my kids trick-or-treating, but here is what I really want you to understand. 

Point #2  As Christians we should not "hide out" on Halloween.

Halloween is a social event.  It is the one day that your neighbors will come to your house and ask for a small treat.  It is also the one day that it is acceptable to knock on their doors asking for a treat.  Your neighbors will also be out on the street with their kids, having a good time, and talking to people.  How much time do we spend in meetings trying to figure out new ways to connect with our community, only to turn off our lights and pretend not be home on the one night when people want to interact with us?   This is our chance to open our doors, be friendly, get to know our neighbors, and meet new ones.  If your are not handing out candy, you are missing a ministry opportunity.  And really, really, is there any harm in handing out candy?  We have often printed out cute invitations to children's church and given those out with candy too. 
Some churches are having harvest parties as an alternative to Halloween.  What?  Having kids dress up, and come to your church to play games and get candy is not "doing Halloween"?  And can we be so foolish as to think that they will not trick or treat before they come, or after?  The event is a good idea actually.  I think we should hold fun events for kids, where we can share Jesus with them.  But lets pass on the condemnation and guilt that comes with it, for those families who will still let their kids participate in other Halloween activities as well.   Having a harvest party is at least better than hiding out in our homes.  But friends, why are we all congregating in one place, on the one night when everyone else is out on the street.  We are truely putting our lamp under a bowl (Mat 5:15) We are hiding our light.

Here's my point.  Do I hate devil worship?  Yes.  Do I hate costumes and candy?  No.  In my opinoin, I think the best approach for Christians on Halloween is:
1.  Let your children dress up in cute costumes, not devils, witches, gouls, vampires, murderers etc. 
2.  Turn your light on and show yourself friendly and hospitable to your neighbors when they come by for candy.  If you don't do anything else, at least do that.  Maybe handout tracts, or invitations to church too!
3.  Get out on the street with your kids, meet some new people, and build better relationships with those you already know. 
4.  If you like to decorate, use things that are fall-ish like pumpkins, fall leaves, and scarecrows etc.  Skip the tombstones, skeletons, and witches etc.
5.  If you want to hold an event to share Jesus, do it.  But, don't intend on people being there the whole evening.  And, make sure that you don't need, or expect your whole church to be there.  Otherwise we've taken all the light, and put in one place.

Friends, the world see us as stuck-up, hypocritical, and no fun.  Let's show them otherwise, and show them the love of Jesus while we're at it. 

Your comments are welcome.  Love to you all!



Chris Genders said...


As a pastor......I agree with you! The church where I serve sees Halloween as an incredible opportunity to establish and deepen relationships with our neighbors. It's the one night a year where they come to you rather than you having to go to them.

We challenge families and small groups to offer an event called "Light the Night" at their homes. Essentially, you put some floodlights out on your front lawn along with an inflatable jump house, bean-bag toss games, bozo buckets, etc for the kids to play and offer up hot chocolate to parents and kids alike to help them stay warm. (A lot of parents take us up on the free hot chocolate!)

Typically, the kids want to stick around and play so the parents are forced to stand there and watch until they're done. This is the moment when we have adults from the church who intentionally strike up a conversation with the parents. Oftentimes, they will ask, "Why are you guys doing all of this?" and that is a great opportunity to talk about the church. I was amazed at the frequency with which this question led into a deeper conversation about faith, Christianity, and/or the need to attend a church more regularly.

Before the families leave, they are given a pre-packaged bag of candy that includes a promotional piece about the Children's Ministry at our church. We have seen several families begin attending the church as a result of "Light the Night."

Thanks for your post, Tracy! And by the way, we do the same things with our kids...dress them up in "friendly" costumes never the "blood and guts" costumes and we don't allow them to go to haunted houses, etc.

Besides...if it weren't for Halloween, how could I justify eating so much candy?!?

MarySue Laird said...

Interesting thoughts, Tracy. Definitely made me rethink my stance on Halloween (as an anti-Halloween person). I especially liked your point that Halloween is a social event. More thinking involved, I think. Good thing I have a year...

Tracy McCain said...

Light the Night, that is a GREAT idea! I really really like it. The yards in our town are so small, I don't if we could pull it off. But we'll definitely be thinking about how we might be able to make that work here. I liked your gansta costume by the way!

Mary Sue,
I appreciate your comment! Maybe it's a good thing I didn't post it before Halloween. It gives people a chance to mull it over!

Veronica Wood said...

Yayyy! LOVE you and your views and your honesty. Thank you so much for writing this.

Misti said...

I compleatly agree, and have always felt very strongly about letting my children dress up as something scary, so much so that originally my older girls were only allowed to dress like bible characters. You can only wear a sheet and be a shepard or Mary so many years in a row before the child thinks, "wow this stinks." I have been lax on that this year more than I would like as family dollar only had a skeleton and an alien, but I felt those were still appropriate.

I think as Christian parents we also have to be careful to not make being a Christian to a child seem boring and oppressive.

Your brilliant by the way, which is why I love you!