A friend in my church asked recently "What is our church policy regarding Halloween?"
As this is my personal blog, I will speak for myself. My family enjoys Halloween. It doesn't mean other Christians should. In fact, we have the freedom in Christ to participate as we choose.
We participate by dressing up. I attend Halloween costume parties. We take our kids trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.
Why do we do that?
I understand Halloween has roots in the past as a pagan holiday. I haven't researched its full history but I know there's some evil and occult stuff out there. Halloween also has roots as a Christian holiday - somehow the two traditions became mixed together over the years.
I also recognize there are overtly disturbing elements of Halloween - demons, zombies, witches, ghouls, skeletons, and other gory, goth, and decidedly non-Jesus-y type things. I know the purpose of a haunted house is to scare people. One of our neighbors builds one with pop-up tents in their front yard. It's always pretty scary.
Lastly, I understand that as a Christ follower, I am called to be in the world but not of it, to live counter-culturally, and not to be conformed to the thinking of this world. I also understand that as a Christian leader, I am a role model for others.
In light of the above, I believe one's participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience. Our motivation matters just as much as our behavior. There is no absolute right or wrong, there is a wide range of permissible options, and above all, there is freedom in Christ (this also happens to be our church policy).
Here are some possible options for how Christians can celebrate Halloween: 1) No participation in anything Halloween-related: no dressing up, no listening to ghost stories, not even attending Halloween alternatives. 2) Halloween alternatives such as a "Harvest Festival"; "Trunk-or-Treat", and other opportunities to reach out to the community 3) Limited, non-compromising participation: Handing out candy to neighbors, dressing up and acting in ways that are honorable to Christ.
I choose the last option. My wife and I see Halloween as an opportunity for our children to enjoy our neighbors and for the children in our neighborhood to enjoy us. We brought our dog, Kodi, trick-or-treating with us and one neighbor, upon seeing him dressed up as a pirate, gave him a dog treat. There is something gospel-redemptive about neighbors walking around greeting each other.
As far as the occult and pagan history of Halloween, I have not discussed this with my kids nor do I feel it important to do so. At least not yet. In the limited way we participate, I don't see any linkage with idolatry or pagan rituals. There may be a connection but I would rather help our kids respond well to the messages popular culture sends 365 days of the year through social media, music, movies, and gaming. I understand Halloween is representative of popular culture but the holiday itself is towards the bottom of the list when it comes to deconstructing the secular worldview.
However in the future, I would like my kids to think through the gospel implications of Halloween - how can this holiday be an opportunity to love others? Keep in mind I don't view Halloween as a major outreach opportunity. It's simply one way to join my neighborhood in community. Here are Tim Challies' words:
I think Halloween is a time that you can prove to your neighbors that you care about them, that you care about their children, and that you are glad to be in this world and this culture, even if you are not of this world or this culture.