Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween?

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5: 22 KJV

I learned this Bible verse as a child. My mother taught it to me, not as a memory verse, but as a tool to live by in times when I was unsure of what is right or wrong. I can remember her quoting it before I even knew its reference. Later on, I learned the verse could be found in 1 Thessalonians. This verse still comes to mind in times I am trying to discern truth.

So, why do I, a professing Christian, still allow my own child to dress up and take part in activities on Halloween?

We do avoid scary costumes like witches and ghosts. We try to avoid spooky events. We do, however, dress up and go to a church or school festival. Perfectly innocent, right?

Sometimes I wonder.

My parents allowed me to trick or treat. I was never allowed to dress in anything ghoulish (hence the verse), but they did let me go door to door and plead for candy. Daddy usually went with me and Mama stayed home to pass out candy. Everyone knew their neighbors, and, frankly, the world did not seem so evil back then. I am beginning to sound like my parents' generation, but doesn't it seem that the world becomes more and more evil as time goes by? (In fact, the Bible prepares us for this.)

When I was a kid, Halloween still had some haunted elements, but it was not as haunting or as successful as it is today. Did you know that Halloween has become the second largest grossing holiday for the retail industry? It is second only to Christmas. (Thank goodness for some victories.)

There are two major concerns I have about this "holiday"- I will use that term loosely.

1. Where should Christians draw the line at Halloween when deciding what is "evil" or off limits?

2. Should we, the Church, not participate in any festival (even benign carnivals) at this time of year?

To address the second question, one must search deeply and ask for guidance from The Holy Spirit about the first question. As I said, 1 Thes. 5: 22 has become a lifelong quick reference, so to speak, for me. Of course, you should never take a verse out of context, then name it and claim it. So, I encourage you to read the entire chapter. This particular passage outlines the model walk of the believer. And, ironically enough, when I looked up various versions of this verse, they all pretty much said exactly the same thing, give or take a few words. It seemed to be pretty "cut and dry."

For a Christian, evil is real. It isn't pretend.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6: 12 KJV

This passage goes on to instruct us on putting on the whole armour of God. Armour is used in battle, so I believe The Lord wanted us to fully understand that we are truly at war with the deceiver, Satan himself. As a believer, I know that I am not alone in this war, and that I am protected through Jesus Christ.

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels , nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 37-39 KJV

So, evil is real and I should avoid it. Now, on to the second question: "Should Christians avoid any type of celebration at this time of year?"

Don't misunderstand me, I am very thankful that churches have stepped up and provided alternatives for children at Halloween. But, sometimes I wonder if we should avoid any kind of celebrating on that day.

Let me explain. If Halloween is such a huge retail success, aren't we participating in that success by buying candy and costumes for our "festivals?" What message does this send to the retailers who promote and profit from this "holiday?" Also, are we sending a clear message to the world about why we choose these festivals and carnivals? Are they seeing them as simply a safe alternative for their children or as a stand against the evil of Halloween?

I propose that we begin a new trend, a new season of celebration. Let's continue these fall festivals and events, thanking God for the wonderful harvests He has provided. Let's just offer them at another time of year, in September, other times in October, or in November nearing Thanksgiving. And, then on October 31, let's just stay home.

This post could go on, but I would like to close with a Bible verse that I hope will be a guide for me on October 31 and every other day of the year:

"Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.
I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.
Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil;
for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men." Romans 14:13-18 New American Standard

Are pumpkins evil? No. Are all costumes wrong? No. Are fall festivals and hayrides sinful? Of course not! But, I have to be very careful about the witness I live out in front of others. Simply put, I should prayerfully consider all choices I make, on October 31 and the other 364 days of the year, trying not to hinder the spiritual growth of other believers or the understanding of the gospel by nonbelievers.

By becoming a warrior in prayer, searching daily in the Scriptures, and listening intently for the Voice of The Holy Spirit, only then can I know the path The Lord would have me to take. As for the war of good vs. evil, we may take part in the battles, but ultimately Jesus Christ has already won the war. Praise God! He told us of His Victory over 2000 years ago:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16:33 KJV

All Praise to God Who is the Only One to triumph over evil! Amen!

* As always, I welcome your open and honest comments.
And, to let you know in advance, we are going to a church festival this year. We had already promised our daughter before I posted this. As for next year, I don't know. This is something we will have to pray about together. Also, I wanted to add that I had a lot of difficulty with my computer and blogger this morning while trying to write this. :>)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

People say "but Christmas and Easter began as pagan holidays, too, and Christians celebrate on those days." The main difference is that Christ is the reason for those celebrations. Unfortunately, we've mingled the message with worldly traditions, which has led to much confusion and blurred vision. Everyone knows there isn't really a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny, and many assume the same thing about Satan.

Most people realize that there is much evil in the world, and even the unchurched appreciate the "alternative" approach to trick-or-treating offered by some churches. Who doesn't want to keep their children safe? One does not have to be a believer to desire good things for one's children, and I think it's more a safety issue than a spiritual issue that brings them to our Harvest Festivals. The message of Christ must be proclaimed or the point is missed entirely.

Anonymous said...

I am going to post what I posted on Brenda's site: (btw thank you for posting this)


Yep this is a biggie, and I may get hit with some candy. But everything in my house is "Happy Fall" or "Happy Harvest" I have even written on my blog why I love fall (and its biblical implications).

Do I allow my kids to trick & treat. Yes. But we only go to houses we are friends with. We have a small town and sometimes we go to the stores down town.

In general whether it is Halloween or not, kids like to dress up. They like to pretend they are the Princess and/or the hero, and my kids love it. So I allow the day of dressing up.

Do I feel like I am leaving God out. No, my house is a God centered household. Now my kids are a bit older I have mentioned the "not so good stuff of Halloween".

Is Satan sneaky, yes. But I don't think I, personally am doing my kids wrong. I respect people who don't celebrate this holiday, I can completely understand. But for me personally we are celebrating Fall and I am allowing them to pretend to being that hero for one night.

That is just my take.

Susanne said...

This is such a huge issue in today's sociey because it has become so huge in our countries. Thank you for a very bold and courageous post.

We never celebrated halloween in our home. When the children were small we enjoyed various fall carnivals hosted by various churches that not just gave the kids something to do but presented the gospel also. We felt when they were in elementary that that when peer pressure was on this gave them opportunity to say they did something fun with family and to invite others the next year.

As one parent said to the the school's parent council when the issue came up one year, that us as parents can put whatever spin we want to on it for our kids, but bottom line and one that can't be denied is that it is a holiday steeped in ancient witchraft practices.

And as massive an undertaking in prayer and revelation to the church it would need to be, I like your proposal.

Mommy Dearest said...

When I was growing up in Arkansas, we always trick-or-treated and I don't think I ever heard anyone question it or discuss the roots of the "holiday." Our family was very religious and my grandfather was our pastor. It has only been in my adult life that I have heard this discussion of Halloween.

Our family handles things much the way Laurel Weath mentions. Our kids love to dress up, and we always say nothing scary. We certainly don't want them scaring little kids. Our kids were thrilled tonight to try on costumes. We have things like cowboys, lions, and ladybugs.

We have a fabulous, family-oriented neighborhood, where the kids have lots of friends, so we'll go door-to-door here. Before we moved last year, we went to a fall festival at a church that hosted lots of events for our homeschool group.

Mommy Dearest said...

I don't mean we don't say scary things, I mean we don't let them wear scary costumes.

Tammy said...

Oh, this is such a big thing on my mind lately!
My husband, who is a wonderful Christian, doesn't think there is really anything wrong with Halloween, trick or treating, or even the "cute" scary stuff. He had seen little cute ghosts on a ceiling fan at a restaurant we had been to, so made them with the girls the other day.
Hmmm...This makes it hard for me to come along like a "bad cop" and say,
"Stop that!"
But I have taken the time to try to explain my feelings to the girls in terms they understand, and also to my husband. He's sort of going along with my feelings...sort of.

Our church is doing the harvest party tomorrow night and I don't have a problem with that. I love the fun of dressing up, as long as it's not scary. I love Fall and hot apple cider and hay stacks.

But as for having it on a different time of year, although I completely see your point...I am not sure that some Christians wouldn't just celebrate both times. Sad, but true!

Also, like mommy dearest, when I was growing up, this subject was never a real issue.
But I do agree...we should leave all appearence of evil and water down the Gospel with mixing with the dark.

Nancy said...

I really appreciate the topic you have brought up here. Although I know there is evil in the world, the Halloween traditions we participate in are not centered on anything scary. Basically, at our house it is a dress-up opportunity where you get candy. If my wee ones could dress up on August 3rd and get candy for it, it would mean nothing more or less for them.

Several churches I have been a member of have done their own Halloween events, and I agree that it is mostly done to provide a safe alternative for parents. We only trick-or-treat at houses of people we know on our street and sometimes by car to a few friends' houses. We don't want an overabundance of candy! Occasionally, we have friends come for dinner and some adults stay at the house while the others take the kids.
Even if the history of the holiday is pagan, at our house it is about fellowship, dress-up and chocolate.

Grafted Branch said...

Everyone must prayerfully come to their own conviction, in His timing for them.

Where I am now is:

(1) Is it virtuous? Of good report? True? Can we glorify God in the midst of it. I can't say yes.

(2) Am I putting my children through the fire? Am I unwittingly whetting my children's appetite for darkness? Am I desensitizing them toward compromise later in life? It would be better for me to tie a millstone around my neck and throw myself into the ocean.

(3) Am I rationalizing? Do I doubt God's commitment to my holiness? So did Eve. Satan is the subtlest of all creatures -- was then, is now.

I've found a great Reformation Rally (anniversary of the date in 1517 when Luther tacked his 95 theses to the Church door) to attend, thus avoiding both sides of the "trick-or-treat" greed and horror.

If you're Catholic...well, I don't know -- go out for ice cream maybe. lol.

Linda said...

Loved the post and all the comments. What flack my fam. has taken over the years for not participating, first from the secular world, then from believers! It seems to me that this celebration falls in and out of favor within churches. I just hate the "darkness" of it all. Where is God in it? Now, the exception I've come to is the one I wrote about last night on my site, about how our youth ministry seizes this opportunity to draw in tons of kids. Sometimes, you've got to meet people where they are. But honestly, I cannot embrace Halloween, esp. as we know it now.

Julie said...

I personally stay focused on "Autumn, Fall, Harvest" and all the FUN stuff of the season.

We don't do Halloween stuff, either. Our decorations are hay bales and pumpkins, gourds, and candy corn.

Our youngest is allowed to 'trick or treat' to a few neighbors. She is only allowed to wear something sweet or nice ...NO spooky or gory or creepy costumes allowed. Period.


Our church offers LIGHT THE NIGHT...a Halloween alternative, where the gospel is presented. It's a HUGE community outreach and normally we have well over 500 people attend. This year our whole family is going. I'm so glad!

I did, however, receive this recently and think it is really great:

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff-- including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.