Halloween has become one the biggest holidays on the American calendar, spending over $6 billion last year on decorations, candy and costumes. What was once essentially a children’s holiday has become a cultural juggernaut, and as it has, Halloween has become an increasingly controversial and at times divisive topic in the Christian community. But it doesn’t have to be, and to that end I humbly offer a few thoughts.
- There is no clear teaching in scripture about whether or not it is permissible to participate in Halloween observances. It is what might be considered a gray area of the Christian life. That does not mean that there are no passages of scripture that should inform your decision about celebrating Halloween. Addressing the issue of eating meat purchased in the meat market in ancient Corinth which may have been sacrificed to an idol, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated that it is a matter of conscience, but the key to eating or not eating, was to eat or not eat for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 8:4-13) . You must ask yourself, is your motivation in celebrating or not celebrating Halloween glorifying to God.
- Remember whether or not you celebrate Halloween is a matter of conscience, your conscience. You have no biblical grounds to either approve or condemn another believer’s decision. Who are you to judge the servant of another (Romans 14:4)? Remember when you mistake your conscience for the moral will of God, you are the one guilty of sin, the sin of legalism.
- Another key principle that Paul gave to the Corinthians, is that they are not to cause a brother (or sister) to stumble in matters of conscience. It is not your responsibility to correct another believer’s understanding of Christian freedom as it relates to Halloween. If you convince a fellow believer to ignore the conviction of their conscience, whether you believe it is sinful or acceptable to celebrate Halloween, you have caused them to stumble, and that is a profound sin.
- Sinful behavior is sinful behavior regardless of the day of the year. Drunkenness is always a sin, and it is a serious sin (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:21). To look on sinful behavior and evil approvingly is always a sin (Romans 1:32). If you wouldn’t wear that blood spattered zombie killer or naughty pirate costume to a church party, you shouldn’t wear it to your office party either.
- Yes many of the traditions associated with Halloween have pagan origins, but so do many of the secular traditions associated with other holidays. Chocolate rabbits and hard boiled eggs at Easter harkens back to pagan springtime fertility festivals and evergreen trees at Christmas have roots in Celtic winter solstice celebrations. If you are going to get worked up about pumpkins, you should be outraged by Christmas trees and candy canes too. (Witches, devils, and skeletons are a different matter, see point 4.)
- Handing out gospel tracts instead of candy to trick-or-treaters is not a good evangelism strategy. If you are going to answer the door on Halloween, it is far better if you hand out Gospel tracts in addition to candy. And better yet talk with your neighbors about Christ the other 364 days of the year too. (And by the way, if you are going to leave a Way of the Master $1,000,000 bill for a tip in a restaurant, it should be in addition to a 20% tip, not instead of it.)
While believers may have differing, and even very strongly held beliefs, there is nothing about the holiday that should believers cause to divide over it. Although I personally don’t celebrate Halloween (it is easy when you live in a neighborhood that has centralized candy distribution), I do have a pair of pumpkins on the front porch. And if you plan to send your kids out to ring door bells and ask for candy, my prayer is that they will be safe and that you made that decision for the Glory of God. After all it is between you and Him.