As I’m writing this, it’s nine days to Halloween, and that particular holiday has been a subject of lively discussion between my fiancé and me. I grew up in a family that didn’t explicitly disapprove of Halloween, but definitely didn’t like a lot of the undertones. Vincent’s family LOVES Halloween, and always goes all out. So we’ve had a lot of conversation on how Halloween should be celebrated, if at all, by Christians. I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t need to cross it off our calendars entirely, but that as with many holidays, there are a lot of things for people of faith to avoid in Halloween.
If you grew up in a conservative home or church, you might be familiar with people who raise an eyebrow at trappings of Halloween as universally and harmless as carved pumpkins. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s important to understand why some of our friends or family might be uncomfortable with the holiday even if we personally aren’t, and decide if there is anything we need to be leery of.
Basically, the objections that many Christian people have to Halloween are that it’s origins are pagan and that it is closely associated with the occult. A quick Google search will turn up reams of information on the subjec. While the Bible may not mention Halloween specifically, I think that there is a passage that can guide us. It’s pretty obvious that we can’t be involved in anything that’s overtly pagan, demonic, satanic, etc., but what about the seemingly harmless festivities like trick or treating, carving pumpkins, and decorating houses with cobwebs? Are those OK? Thankfully, hundreds of years before the first trunk or treat, the apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians chapter 8. In it, he uses the example of food sacrificed to idols to explain that there are things that are innocent in and of themselves, that might be a stumbling block to others.
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
What Paul is saying here is a pretty close cousin to the issue that some more conservative believers have with Halloween. Several that I know believe that to participate in Halloween festivals, on a night that features a lot of pagan and occult activity, and a lot of just generally debauched partying, is skating a little close to the line of wise behavior, and don’t participate for that reason. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trick or treating, candy corn, and dressing up (I’m going as Darth Vader this year!!), but I avoid anything that seems like a glorification of death or the supernatural. I think that the apostle Paul could have enjoyed free candy as much as the next guy, but I also think that if he were here today, he’d be judicious about what Halloween activities he participated in. So long as we maintain the attitude that we want to enjoy a fun holiday in a good way, and make an effort to avoid influencing any of our friends or relatives in a negative fashion, Halloween is a fabulous excuse to eat absurd amounts of candy, watch spooky movies, and dress up as something awesome.
A lot of Halloween parties, especially in college, can get pretty crazy, so this year Vincent and I are throwing our own. There will be pizza, pumpkin flavored things, jack o lanterns, probably some Star Wars, and a lot of fun. Long story short, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating any holiday, and that it’s even a good thing to be involved in the culture that we live in, as long as everything is done in a God-honoring way.