Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

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{Editor's Note: This article was previously published in Tirzah Magazine, but with Halloween celebrations happening this week, we wanted to once again share these thoughts with you...with some updates.}

Great post on what the Bible says about Halloween in Tirzah Magazine

It's that time of year - the leaves are all sorts of shades of red, gold and brown and  the smell of pumpkin spice lattes and warm baked apple crisp float through the chilly air as people pull out their winter clothes with excitement.

As soon as the calendar turns to October though, the world around us begins to buzz in anticipation of Halloween - people compare costume ideas, schedule tours of haunted houses, plan appropriate-themed parties and stock up on candy in anticipation of the trick-or-treaters.

The only person not caught up in such festivities though is Jesus. You know why? Because it's a holiday rooted deep in Satan's territory.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. -Ephesians 5:11

At this point, you're probably debating exiting out of this internet window and moving on, yet you're curious as to why I would write such a thing.

But, it's a holiday for the children!  There's no harm in it - it's only fun and games, you might say.

The History of Halloween

So, let's go to the beginning. To the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain a couple hundred years ago. Back then, the Celtics celebrated the new year on November 1. The Celtics believed that on the night of October 31, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth, causing trouble and damaging crops, yet making it easier for Celtic priests to make prophesies about the future.

In celebration, the Celts wore costumes (usually animal heads and skins) and gathered around large sacred bonfires to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic gods. The holiday began to change as the Roman Empire grew into Celtic territory and later, as Christianity spread with the coming of Jesus.

In 1000 AD, the church designated November 2 as All Souls' Day (also known as All Saints Day, All-hallows Eve and eventually Halloween), a day to honor the dead. It was also celebrated with people dressing up in costumes of saints, angels and devils and dancing around big bonfires. Most historians believe this holiday was created to replace the Celtic festival - something more church-appropriate though.

Halloween came to America in the nineteenth century as more immigrants brought their cultures with them to the colonies. Because the Protestant belief was very powerful though, people created a more American version of the Celtic, consisting mostly of play parties - public events held to celebrate the harvest, dance, sing, share stories of the dead and tell fortunes.

At the turn of the century there was a big push to make Halloween into a holiday about community, not ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. Leaders and parents were encouraged to take the "grotesque" out of the holiday and make it more child and community-friendly.

Halloween Today

Today, Halloween means ghosts, witches, monsters, haunted houses, sexy costumes and skeletons.

The sad thing is, we think that by giving our kids "wholesome costumes" and limiting celebrating to trick-or-treating with their friends, we somehow escape all that other stuff. I mean, what could be wrong with a kid dressed as a lion eating candy? 

That alone? Nothing. But it's not just a costume nor is it just candy, because it's filled with a spirit - and it's not the Holy one.

Growing up, my parent's wouldn't allow us to go to school if our classroom was having a Halloween party. In fact, they wouldn't even allow us to eat the Halloween candy given out at school.

Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you... -2 Cor. 6:17

Don't even touch it, says the Lord. If you know it is tinged with the evil spirit, then run fast and in the opposite direction! And don't forget your children - they're vulnerable and prone to peer pressure to fit in and participate in the excitement of Halloween with their friends.

What breaks my heart even more though is that in the process of giving Christians an alternative to Halloween, some churches have brought the holiday into the church (much like the Roman church way back when). We'll give it a new name like- trunk-or-treat and only wear Bible-themed costumes as we gather in a big reception hall at church.

Then, we go to sleep happy, as if we somehow escaped or beat the evil one with our clever alternative celebrations. Yet, it is the Devil who has the last laugh, because we're still participating in his festivities, in fact, we're expanding his reach into the church!

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. -Ephesians 5:6-12

We are not of this world, so our activities must be completely separate from the world. To be the light, you must expose the evil hidden in the darkness. That doesn't mean doing a church-friendly version of their ways, it means completely severing any ties to the evil forces. It means calling out the Devil's lies and mascerades.

NOTHING about Halloween represents what our faith is about. Nothing. So why, as a child of God would you participate in this holiday?

A few Christian speakers (most recently Kirk Cameron) advocate that Halloween is a great opportunity for evangelism to the masses - that by throwing "the biggest party on your block" on Halloween, you can convert people to believe in God. And although these arguments are clever, they are not entirely Biblical.

For example, according to Cameron, "The costumes poke fun at the fact that the devil and other evils were publicly humiliated by Christ at His resurrection.”

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swim, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." -Matthew 7:6

With this metaphor, Jesus clearly tells us not to give His holy word to someone who is going to make a mockery of it. Don't get me wrong - this doesn't mean you should limit your evangelism, but only that you must allow the Holy Spirit to show you which hearts to plant His seeds in. This is His work. He calls people, and we are merely vessels He uses to achieve His plans. So, discern carefully where and with whom you leave His word. Minister wisely.

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." -Matthew 10:16

In this case, if the sole purpose of a gathering is to mock everything that Jesus stands for, then it is not the time or place to bring in something so holy and pure as the word of God. Trust me, if God wants you to tell someone about the harms of Halloween, death, and Satan, then He will give you a chance to do so that will not involve you throwing or attending a party to celebrate demonic powers.

Although we are called to go out into the world to testify His name, we are not called to blend in with this world. You don't have to become a criminal to testify to criminals. You don't have to become an alcoholic or even frequent a bar in order to reach out to alcoholics. You don't even have to dress like the world in order to befriend people just to get a chance to talk to them about Jesus.

"I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." -John 17: 15-19

You must merely be a light in a dark world. Pure. Set-apart. Holy. And most of all, obedient and vigilant to the opportunities God puts before you to testify. Yes, you may end up in the slums, reaching out to the homeless. Or in prison ministry that takes you within the walls of prisons. But, that co-worker in the cubicle across from you may also be an alcoholic. Your job may cross paths with criminals. That girl who sits next to you in history class may be an alcoholic.

And the only way they will receive the word of God is if the Lord prepares their hearts and the words come from a person who is clearly a child of God - living in stark contrast to the world.

PS. This is a great blog post with 10 reasons why one blogger gave up Halloween + 50 Bible verses on Halloween. 

// image via Audrey's Little Corner