Around this time of year I get the same message from readers: “What does your family do about Halloween?”
Halloween is a hot-button topic with more than one “right” answer. But there is definitely common ground all Christians can agree on.
Halloween Shouldn’t Make Us Fearful
Many people are terrified of Halloween. As Christians we can say this is wrong. Why? Because we are not to fear anything but God. We are not even to fear death, a common focal point of Halloween. Death has been “swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54) When Jesus died he destroyed “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14) Before Christ we were slaves to fear, but now we are free.
If Halloween makes us lock our doors against Satan and hide under our blankets from ghosts and demons, we are forgetting that God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” (Colossians 1:13) Martin Luther got it right when he said,
“The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him!
His rage we can endure
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.” (A Mighty Fortress, 1527)
We teach our kids to laugh when they see skeletons and tombstones and mummies. Laughing reminds us of our victory over death. Whatever a Christian’s reasons are for not celebrating Halloween, fear shouldn’t be one of them.
Halloween Shouldn’t Make Us Judgmental
If God allows for different opinions in the church, we should, too. “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 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.” (Romans 14:1-3)
I have a lot of respect for people who decide to skip Halloween altogether, even though we don’t skip it. God gives different convictions to different people. We don’t know what God is doing in another person’s heart, what they’ve been through, or what associations they have with Halloween. Rather than judging people with different opinions we should welcome them like God does.
Whatever you decide to do about Halloween should be a conscious decision. Why? Because your kids will ask you about it. You need to be ready with answers. Recently my son asked, “What is Halloween all about?” We tell our kids it’s a fun day to enjoy fall and get to know our neighbors. It’s about whimsy and imagination. It’s an excuse to revel in the beauty and joy of God’s goodness. We don’t get into the controversial origins and pagan traditions. The world can have that part. We’ll take the candy and costumes.
Once you’ve decided how to handle Halloween, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Romans 14:22 says, “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” If people disagree with you, who cares? Don’t let that be a reason to constantly second-guess yourself.
There is no intrinsic sin in a Halloween costume. The sin is in flaunting it in the face of someone who is uncomfortable with Halloween. There is also nothing sinful about skipping Halloween, but it is wrong to make others feel guilty for participating in it. Romans 14:13 calls these, “stumbling blocks.” Why trip each other up? Love covers differences with respect and kindness.
Where to Draw the Line
Our kids dress up, trick-or-treat, and eat a ton of candy. We carve silly pumpkins and build relationships with our neighbors. We don’t string up gory decorations or dress up as witches and demons. We focus on light-hearted fun. When our kids see scary things in our neighborhood we laugh and move on. If they ask us questions we answer them.
In this world our kids will have to figure out how to take the good and leave the bad. Whether it’s Halloween, a new Netflix series, or the latest health food fad, they need discernment. We can’t make every issue black and white for them, but we can give them a map and teach them how to navigate. Halloween is a great place to start.
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