Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
It’s a question many Christian families struggle with year after year, and for good reason. The Bible never actually spells it out in black and white, and there are excellent arguments on both sides of the debate.
Some Christians do not celebrate Halloween, citing its pagan origins, close ties to witchcraft and obsession with all things gross, gory and evil.
They remind us that Christians are supposed to be different–set apart–and that missing out on one night of spooks and teeth-rotting candy isn’t really missing out on anything at all.
They have a good point.
On the other hand, some Christians DO celebrate Halloween.
These Christians focus, not on the ways Halloween has been celebrated in the past, but the opportunities it offers Christians today.
When answering the question “Should Christians celebrate Halloween,” these Christians see the holiday more as a fun, Americanized tradition or even a ministry opportunity — rather than as an exercise in sin — and argue that, if Jesus were alive today, he’d be passing out the biggest candy bars of all.
They have a good point too.
So, who is “right?”
Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
It isn’t just your average American family that struggles with the question of “Should Christians celebrate Halloween?”
Many well-regarded pastors, authors and bloggers come down on both sides of the debate, although most will readily acknowledge the other side’s opinions as valid as well.
In her thought-provoking article “Christians Who Celebrate Halloween,” Carissa Shaw writes, “What other time do you have an opportunity to be a light in your neighborhood literally dropped in your lap like this?”
It’s true. Halloween definitely provides a great way for neighbors to get together–something that simply isn’t done on a regular basis anymore.
And in her article A Christian View On Halloween, Courtney Joseph writes: “Since the Bible does not give a clear mandate “thou shalt not participate in passing out candy or dressing up as minie mouse on October 31st” – this is an area of Romans 14 – called liberty, conscience or a grey area.”
Personally, I tend to agree.
So, if there is no one “right or wrong?” — How do you decide?
Do you fully participate? Participate in an alternate activity, like trunk or treating? Use Halloween as a ministry opportunity? Ignore the holiday and treat the day as any normal day?
That depends on your convictions and motives. But here are five things you may want to consider as you make your decision:
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1. Everything is Permissible, but Nothing Everything is Beneficial
1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say–but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’–but not everything is constructive.”
Even if Halloween isn’t immoral, is it the best use of your time? What would the outcome be if you did or did not participate? How would you, your family and your neighborhood be affected if you did or did not participate?
Is Halloween a chance to intentionally invest in the lives of children in your neighborhood in a way that will edify everyone? Or is it a chance to “one up” your neighbor with a yard display, candy selection or gory costume that puts theirs to shame?
Whether you want to participate in Halloween or you don’t want to participate in Halloween — Why? What’s the real reason? What are you really hoping to get out of it?
2. Halloween is a Great Opportunity for Outreach
On the other hand, if you want to develop community and share the light of Jesus with a world in need, Halloween is a great chance to do it!
I don’t know how it goes in your neighborhood, but Halloween is the ONLY night of the year when you can have tons of strangers come knock on your door and when you can go knock on tons of strangers’ doors and be welcomed.
Why not take advantage of it?
And if your church does some kind of event like trunk or treat — that’s a GREAT way to meet and welcome neighborhood families who may never set foot inside your church doors (or in your church parking lot) any other way.
3. The Devil is Very Sneaky
Although, one thing that does concern me is how sneaky the devil is.
You see, the devil rarely just shows up and says “Hey, how about a big ol’ pile of disgusting, vile sin! Dive right on in!” No, we’re smart enough to see right through that. We’d head for the hills in a heartbeat, and satan knows that.
Which is why satan doesn’t try to get us to jump straight into big sins, but will often quietly and methodically lead us astray through things that we think are “not that bad” or “not a big deal.”
And if he can convince children that “pretending to be evil and creepy is a lot of fun!” and parents that it’s “not a big deal” well… that sounds like his kind of plan to me.
In fact, Rachel shares some of the dark side of Halloween that we American parents typically completely overlook in her post “The Question Christians Should Be Asking About Halloween.”
Worshiping the dead, offering sacrifices, conjuring spirits, and placing curses on others… These things may not be happening at our neighborhood trunk-or-treats (I sure hope not anyways!), but they are definitely still happening, and I’d be willing to bet that they are a lot more common and probably a lot closer to home than you’d think.
Definitely something to keep in mind…
4. Halloween is a Great Opportunity to Teach About Good vs Evil
As Christian parents, we are presented with plenty of opportunities to teach our children the good, happy side of the gospel — that God loves us, wants what’s best for us, and that we can all go to Heaven someday if we believe.
But what about the other half of the gospel?
That we have a real enemy, that death is real, and that some people believe other things than we do?
Well, as it turns out, Halloween is the perfect time to have discussions about things like darkness, fear, evil, and death.
Not sure where to start? Start by talking about the things you see while you’re out and about.
Or check out the “Sweet Opportunity: Seeing the Gospel in Halloween” Family Bible Study by Anna from Narrow Gate Prints.
Using the Bible as your foundation, this family Bible study will help you show your kids how the gospel relates to six different aspects of Halloween – Trick or Treating, Costumes, Darkness, Fear, Evil, and Death.
And you can even get the first chapter free.
5. The Devil Doesn’t Get a Holiday
As you are helping your children answer the question “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween,” be careful not to give the devil too much credit, however.
Yes, Halloween may have pagan roots, but that doesn’t mean the devil gets to claim it as his own.
God created all 365 days of the year. Satan created 0.
The day isn’t his. He has no right to it. And I’m not about to give it to him.
For you, that could mean that you don’t give it to him by choosing to not participate. Or that could mean you don’t give it to him by choosing to give it to God instead, ignoring the dark side of Halloween altogether.
I don’t think either is a bad answer.
But either way, you need to make a choice: How will YOU honor God this Halloween?
6. Halloween isn’t the Only Cultural Tradition With a Questionable Past
Not participating in Halloween due to it’s ties with witchcraft and satanism? I totally understand and respect that.
But that brings the question: Where do you draw the line? Because Halloween isn’t the only cultural tradition with a questionable past.
- Wedding rings, wedding ceremonies and funerals were and are a pagan custom – should we also boycott those?
- Several months of our calendar year are named after gods.
- MANY Christmas traditions (such as lights, bells, mistletoe) come, at least in part, from pagan sources
- And the same is true for Easter traditions as well.
If you must, in good conscience, boycott Halloween over it’s undeniable pagan ties, wouldn’t it be right to boycott many parts – if not all – of Christmas and Easter as well?
Where do you draw the line when Christian and secular history is so intertwined?
7. “Alternative” Activities Aren’t Really Any Different
So, say you decide you will participate in Halloween, but you will do it in a more “God-honoring” way.
But if you take your kids trunk-or-treating instead of trick-or-treating, or if you celebrate “Hallelujah Night” instead of “Halloween night” — is it really any different?
Are you actually setting yourself apart? Or are you just modifying a bit so that you make yourself feel a little better?
Do you really have “Putting God First” in mind? Or are you just trying to make a small concession to ease your guilt and make the decision easier on yourself?
Something to think about…
(And I am absolutely NOT judging or condemning here. Just providing some questions for you to think through yourself as you decide “Should Christians Celebrate Halloween” for yourself and your family!)
Personally, my family does participate in Halloween – but only in the Americanized, sanitized version of it.
We carve pumpkins into silly faces, dress up as superheros and princess, and go trick-or-treating for way more candy than any little belly needs. And we might even do a cute craft of two (like these cute handprint spiders).
But we draw the line at dressing as witches or demons, anything gory, or anything eerie or evil.
That’s what works for us. You’ll have to prayerfully consider what will work best for you.
Hopefully these six thoughts give you a few things to think about as you decide.
What do you think? Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? How does your family spend the day?
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