Everything I share here will be my personal thoughts. I’m not speaking for Christianity in general or born-again believers or even my own church. I’ll just share my own thoughts. I’m actually kind of surprised that Halloween is still controversial. I’m not even stating opinion yet, I usually just feel like Christians (whether right or wrong) just get over stuff. I remember boycotts on Disney (because of gay pride parades), Harry Potter (because of witchcraft), and then every store and product from Target to Johnson & Johnson to Kraft for some reason or another that almost everyone has forgotten about. Now for actual opinion: I’m a pastor and I don’t have a problem with Halloween. But it’s not an uninformed opinion. I feel like I have heard all the reasons why I shouldn’t let my children go Trick-or-Treating, but I just don’t see it. I guess it comes down to how you view Halloween. Is it “redeemable”? Is Halloween sin in and of itself, or has it been used for sin. For instance, is Halloween like “sex” or “adultery”? Sex is talked about in a negative context in many settings, but sex is a completely beautiful thing in the context of a marriage. Adultery (sex outside of marriage) would be wrong no matter the context. “Killing” and “murder” would be another example. Killing another human being is allowable in several situations – self-defense, times of war, and capital punishment. Murder is never ok. It’s murder. So which example is Halloween? My vote is that it’s totally redeemable, that it’s not sin in and of itself. Let’s lay out why I think so, and you can feel free to disagree.
Did Halloween have pagan, evil, sinful origins? Yes.
So is that the end of discussion? I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble too much, but Christmas and Easter have more pagan origins than most Christians want to admit. Christmas and Easter have been at least culturally redeemed. I think the more important answer is whether something can start out sinful and then, not be. Sure, humans. We start out pagan, evil, and sinful and Christ redeems us. Teddy Bears don’t have a lot of controversy behind them now, but President Theodore Roosevelt went on a hunting trip and was the only one to not shoot and kill a bear. Someone with him caught a baby bear cub and tied it to a tree. They then tried to get the President to shoot the bear so he could have a trophy. He refused, calling it unsportsmanlike. Ah, that’s so sweet. Oh, wait, he then told one of the hunters with him to kill it, he just didn’t want credit for it. The “teddy bear” moniker and mass production was a political one to attack him with the public who likes cuddly things. Lots of things have strange or even evil origins, but does a bad origin mean that it’s always bad? No. Just like something with good origins, isn’t always good.
Isn’t there a lot of celebration of death and witchcraft at Halloween? I guess.
I think celebration is a strong word. Was there a time in history where that occurred? Oh definitely. Are there still people today that are actually involved in cultish things? Yep. But if that is our gauge, then we can’t have fun at any holiday. At Christmas some people celebrate Greed and Envy. On New Years and July 4th there are punk kids who blow-up mail boxes. There are Celts somewhere that still use Easter to celebrate fertility. And my favorite holiday, Ground Hog Day, really is just a remnant of our animistic past, right? Rodents don’t determine the spring solstice, do they? No, no they don’t. So does this mean that I cannot have fun during Halloween because there are some people who use the occasion for sin? Doesn’t the intent of our heart matter? When I carve a pumpkin, I am not warding off evil spirits; I’m trying to make an Angry Bird. Just like when I decorate a Christmas tree, I’m not welcoming in Nordic spirits to extend my life; I’m shortening my life through stressing out over finding that one bulb that’s burnt out. Other people using an occasion for sin doesn’t mean I’m using an occasion for sin.
Isn’t Halloween supposed to produce fear? Sure, sometimes.
There are a lot of verses that state that God is not about fear, but these verses are talking about the lack of trust in God, not the emotion. If this were the case, then you shouldn’t read Nicholas Sparks novels because you’ll cry and God is a God of hope not sadness. Nor can you watch any Netflix documentaries on anything in the food industry because you will certainly get angry and God is a God of contentment and not hate. Here’s the question: Does God want us to have fun? We talk at church like the only thing we should ever do is read the bible and pray, and if you venture off in any other direction it’s sin. That is just patently untrue. God should be the absolute center of everything we do. Whether we are eating or drinking, everything should be done for the glory of God. We should laugh and play for the glory of God. Everything we say and do should be for the glory of God, and if there is something we are saying or doing that can’t be done for the glory of God, then THAT is sin.
So, can we celebrate Halloween for the glory of God? Why not.
Again this goes back to how you define Halloween. If your definition of Halloween is: a day in which people worship Satan and honor the dead so they won’t come back and haunt you, then you are right, that is sin, and no Christian should have anything to do with that. But, if Halloween is: a day in which people dress-up as their favorite movie character and neighbors lovingly share candy with the children of their neighborhood, then that sounds like the early church (but with more princesses and ninjas.) If you think Halloween is evil, what would it take for Jesus to redeem it? That answer comes down to whether you believe that Halloween is a sinful act in and of itself or if it’s due to the actions of sinful individuals. If it’s the latter, then of course Jesus is powerful enough to redeem that. That’s what Jesus does. He saves sinners. What we cannot do as believers is distort the issue at hand by mixing in just a “little bit” of sin.
So should you celebrate Halloween? I don’t know. If you just hate all the darkness, and sin, that is clearly in the world, I get it, and you may want to avoid everything you can. However, I choose to educate and enlighten my children about death and sin and fear. I want to use everything in my life to point people to Christ. October 31st seems as good as any other day to do that. And I get to praise God for all the candy I take from my children. (This is not a spiritual lesson, but rather a lesson on the American taxation system.)
Is there something I didn’t consider here strongly enough? I’d be happy to interact with you in the comments.