What Should Christians Do About Halloween?

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Halloween can fill us with warm fuzzies and fond memories.  Countless hours and millions of dollars are spent to persuade children and adults to disguise themselves, march around neighborhoods and beg for treats. Costumes, decorations, and candy consume the months of September and October each year.  But, if we stopped to look at this holiday with fresh eyes and a Biblical perspective, those warm fuzzies might be replaced with horror and shock at what we have been mindlessly participating in, all in the name of fun. Here are some points to consider as you contemplate what to do with this holiday.

First, let’s consider how this holiday began. Many years ago, Scottish, Irish and English priests taught that their god, Saman, would tell the spirits of dead people to communicate and visit with men on earth on October 31. Why October 31? They said that autumn, when leaves fall, is a symbol of death, and winter is the season of death. To keep these evil spirits away, these priests told people to burn animals, saying that the light of the fire would scare spirits away. Then they turned the animals inside-out to proclaim the future and to make peace with evil spirits. If these evil spirits did no harm to a family, the family would celebrate. Parents would dress their children up as ghosts and ghouls to scare away the real spirits, sending them to collect food and treats from neighbors. As the children paraded around the blocks, they would call out, “Trick or treat!” and if they received no treat, they would vandalize houses. People from these countries believed in witchcraft. Witches (women) and warlocks (men) wore dark clothes and were messengers and priests of the devil, Satan. They used his power to make people afraid of them. These innocent people were taught to believe that witches could fly on brooms and together with warlocks could transform themselves into bats, spiders and black cats. Witches’ special day is still October 31 because they believe all the spells they cast in the previous year would come true on that night. They celebrate with noisy partying and cut scary faces into pumpkins.

Why should we celebrate this day? It is filled with evil, the devil, and things with which we should not associate.

Walking through our neighborhood, lawns that just a few weeks ago contributed to a sense of peace and well-being with their verdant lawns now boast skeletons, tombstones and half-decomposed bodies protruding out of the ground. Ghosts, witches and spiders hang from trees. Black cats and ghoulish faces carved in pumpkins grace walkways and front porches.

Why? The overarching purpose seems to be to prey upon people’s fears. Why do we want to celebrate fear? We read in the Bible that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind,” (2 Timothy 1:7). And, “We did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear” (Romans 8:15). Rather, “Perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (I John 4:18). If God has set us free from fear, why would we willingly participate in a holiday that seeks to produce fear?

Not only does Halloween celebrate fear, but it also focuses on ghoulish, hellish death. We all will face death someday, but believers look forward to death that leads to life. Halloween focuses on the death that leads to eternal death. Everywhere we on Halloween we see signs of death. The Bible says, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). So, why should we celebrate the very thing we’ve escaped?

Now you might be saying, “Look, the adults like decorating, the children like the dressing up and the candy so what could be wrong? Many people just celebrate Halloween because it’s fun. They think it is harmless. Fun is what everyone looks forward to.” But we have to face the facts. What does the Lord reveal in His word?

  • Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).
  • Abstain from every form of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22).
  • Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2).
  • Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).
  • Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15).

I’m not opposed to having fun, but we need to be careful how we implement our convictions about things like Halloween. Fun isn’t more important than showing our loyalty and allegiance to the God who has reached down to save us from the very powers of fear, death and darkness.

With that in mind,  now that we’ve examined the origins of Halloween and its focus on fear, death, and darkness, what are we as Christians to do? The holiday is not going away.

The truth is, while we don’t need to participate in the holiday, there are some advantages to the believer. For example, some of us go door-to-door trying to get an audience for the gospel with the hopes that someone will meet the Savior. But once a year, people come to our door and are a captive audience for the gospel. Why not take advantage of the opportunity? Jesus himself said, “If your neighbor asks something of you give it, and more besides.” If they come asking for candy, have it ready and also a tract and a short presentation of the gospel.

We have an opportunity to counteract the fear with hope, the darkness with light, and death with life. So let’s not participate in what the world has to offer, but instead respond with the gospel the Lord freely offers. We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Sources

All scripture quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible

Perry, Bill. A Look inside America:  Exploring America’s Cultural Values and Holidays. Pennsylvania: Mulit Language Media, 2000.

Miller, Toby. What Does Halloween Celebrate? Crockett, KY. Rod and Staff Publishers.

 

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Why and Who Christians Should Judge

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The word “judge” has become synonymous with a pretty nasty image. The last thing Christians wants these days is to play into the stereotype of the judgmental religious fanatic who shoves a Bible in people’s faces and gives them a list of reasons why they’re wrong. And why would we? We’re constantly told that no one should ever judge anyone else for any reason. Even the Bible tells us not to judge:

“Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

So, while we’re studiously avoiding the flecks in everyone’s eyes, with some biblical justification, we’ve made judgment as a concept in Christian circles so abhorrent that it couldn’t ever be good. Far be it from us to ever tell anyone that the way they live their lives is wrong. After all, we’re all sinners saved by grace, and no one is better or worse than anyone else. So no judgement. It’s just wrong, right?

Except God is our judge and he is righteous, so there is nothing inherently evil about judgment. We often forget because we think of Jesus as soft and gentle, which he is, but Jesus judged pharisees in a way that many of us today might consider unchristian. He called them hypocrites, broods of vipers, greedy, self-indulgent, lawless, murderers, and hell-bound in Matthew 23. Peter also condemned false teachers in 2 Peter 2, calling them slaves of corruption and saying that the gloom of utter darkness is reserved for them.

We don’t possess the same insight into the human soul as Jesus does, or perhaps even Peter, but we are also commanded to judge, specifically those inside the church who are living in error. In Matthew 18, Jesus commands us to rebuke in private a brother who sins against us.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 gives the most clear expectations of judgement for believers. He writes the church that it is alright to associate with the sexually immoral, greedy, swindlers and idolators of the world. Clearly, because Jesus also associated with them. But Paul writes that Christians should not even eat with another Christian who is “guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler” (verse 11). Paul ends with this charge:

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

There are right and wrong ways to judge, and right and wrong people to judge. As Christians, we bear a responsibility to judge each other’s actions for the purpose of sanctification. Letting a spiritual brother or sister live a life of sin in the church without consequences isn’t loving. We shouldn’t reprove others for the sins we ourselves struggle with but neither should we allow a sinning Christian to continue in fellowship unrepentant.

When judgement is needed, judgement without love is wrong and so is love without judgement. They aren’t mutually mutually exclusive concepts.