Skip to main content

Why I Enjoy Halloween

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.
Additional reading:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read]

The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package. It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s).

Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boys o…

Planting a Church. Finally.

James Taylor, the great grandson of Hudson Taylor, the famed missionary to China who founded the China Inland Mission (now OMF) once said: “It is a tragedy so many foreign Chinese have left the evangelization of China up to the non-Chinese.”

James spoke those words over twenty-five years ago during a Chinese church retreat when I was a senior in high school. His calling out of the Chinese diaspora vis-a-vis white missionaries challenged and haunted me. This challenge was the impetus behind my plans to join Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) staff to do a one-year mission trip to China. But I didn’t go. Rather, I accepted an invitation from my hometown pastor, Tom Chow, to return to San Jose and reach my American-born Chinese peers.

After nine years of working as a project manager and volunteering with the youth group and young adult ministry, I joined the staff of my home church, Chinese Church in Christ - South Valley (South Valley) in 2006. In the summer of 2007, South Valley l…

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene. It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you. I finished it in three days.

Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice. 
That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point.
Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can practice that much is…