31 October 2013

Halloween: Relax, Christians. Have a Milky Way.

This is what Halloween meant to me as a child, and what it means to about 99 percent of children everywhere:

This is what Halloween means to a lot of Christian ADULTS. I didn't want anyone to stumble, so I altered the image just a smidge:

I guess these are Future Satanists of America?

When I was a kid, there was this big house in my friend's development that we referred to as "the White House." It looked like the White House, but on a much smaller scale. They didn't answer their door on Trick-Or-Treat night and everyone assumed that really old people who couldn't get around very well lived there. Why else would someone diss trick-or-treaters?

One year, just to be stupid, my friend and I rang the White House doorbell until the occupants couldn't stand it anymore, and a young boy finally opened the door. 

He was like, "What do you want?"

We were like, "Candy, you idiot!"

He was like, "We don't celebrate Halloween."

We were all, "Huh? What do you mean you don't 'celebrate' Halloween?"

He was all, "I don't know. We just don't celebrate it."

Dumbfounded, we walked away and hit up the good neighbors, the ones who clearly didn't hate children. 

When I became a Christian, I quickly learned that a lot of believers are anti-Halloween and all of the trappings that come with it. They see it as celebrating evil, the Devil's holiday, and it's not something they want any part of. I understand why and I see their point of view, but I don't totally agree.

Michele Blake - who devotes much of her time to "researching the false claims of psychology and psychiatry since she became a Christian 15 years ago" (that's another blog for another day) wrote an article on why she kissed Halloween goodbye. It's a well thought-out piece delivered gently, but I think she's over-thinking some of it. My thoughts:

1. She mentions the tradition of Samhain, which is an ancient Celtic festival in which people would dress up in costume and light bonfires in the hopes of warding off ghosts. The Celts were not Christians, and therefore couldn't be expected to follow Christian theology.

Now, as they started to convert to Christianity, Pope Gregory IV turned Samhain into
All Souls' Day (later All Saints' Day) - a holiday resembling Samhain that was designed to win new converts to Christ. While this might sounds just terrible to some of you, keep in mind that we do this all the time with Christian rock, Christian movies, and even our worship - we update our culture (though it's sad that Christianity has it's own culture) to reflect the rest of society's in order to appeal to more people. It's just that, back in the day, they were much more creepy about it, but they had good intentions.

So, Blake is at least partly correct - Christians shouldn't be putting on scary costumes and dancing around fires to ward off spirits, nor do we have any need to. Of course, I don't remember doing any of this as a child. I don't remember anyone else doing it, either. Maybe Blake lives in Appalachia?

She makes an excellent point, though - you shouldn't dine with demons. I concur. They burp, lick their butter knives, and eat with their hands. No class at all.

2. Blake says: "Putting a Christian label over the top of a pagan practice does not make it pleasing to God. In fact, we are to get rid of all pagan practices and have no part of them." 

Just because something started out as a pagan tradition, that doesn't mean that it has to be celebrated that way. I can only assume that Blake does not have any Christmas lights, nor does she decorate a Christmas tree, since both are pagan traditions. Also, she must celebrate Christmas on a different day, since Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25.
I guess she doesn't celebrate Christmas at all.

And, again, I can only assume she does not listen to Chrisitian rock of any sort, as this would clearly be affixing a new label on something very worldly.

3. Sharing food with someone represents a sacred connection.

I'm not sure if Blake is referring to Halloween candy or not, but it's hard for me to wrap my mind around little kids committing a heinous sin by eating a Snickers bar in a SpongeBob costume. This one is over the top. Moving on...

5. We play how we practice.
"We think we can entertain the macabre, erect gravestones in our front yards, and prop dead 'bodies' on our front porches. 'Oh, but they’re not real,' we demur. Then we are appalled when a 17-year-old has a fascination with dead bodies and decides to act on his morbid desires."

For the record, I don't do this. I know zombies and bloody body parts are all the rage these days, but I'm not into it. I have a Dollar Store inflatable Jack-O-Lantern hanging from my balcony and that's about as exciting as it gets. I very much agree with Blake that this is a super crappy way for Christians to "decorate." We're supposed to celebrate life, not death.

I can't argue with this one. Our society is obsessed with the macabre. I don't necessarily agree that Halloween drives teenagers en masse to go out and murder any more than anything else does, but this sort of stuff does desensitize us en masse, and that's a scary thing to consider.

6. If we forego Halloween but give our children a substitute celebration instead, are we sending the message that “I am trying to compensate because I think you’re missing out on something really amazing”? I want my children to believe what I myself believe: that we have been given something so much better than this! No more bobbing for apples in the church basement (a pagan fertility ritual, by the way) when I have true joy in knowing God’s true Son!

The parties. The trick-or-treating. The bobbing for apples. The costume contests.
Yes, it's amazing. Yes, these church celebrations are substitutions, and they should be.
Why shouldn't Christians be able to have as much fun as everyone else, if it's within the walls of a church and free of death and darkness? Why in the world would we, as believers, allow the ENEMY to have all the fun? Wanna fight back? Transform a dark holiday into something fun and innocent. Reclaim it.

7. Second, God has told us to focus on what is pure, noble, right, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). Is Halloween any of these things? No, and therefore it is unworthy of any of our time or thoughts.

Depends on what you're focusing on. If you're focusing on candy, looking cute, and little kids having fun - without the zombies, vampires, and corpses - then you are living out Philippians 4:8.

8. We often say we don't want to deprive our children of candy, of dressing up, of the "fun" they have by participating in this holiday. But God has already told us the customs of the world are futile! 

And, yet, Blake has a blog.
She probably drives a car.
Has electricity.
Isn't Amish.

9. Even if we think our costumes are not sinful (as if it’s the costume that’s the problem and not the fact that we are still giving reverence to the holiday itself), what about others who have decided that there is nothing wrong with their costumes either? After all, they aren’t really practicing witchcraft, just dressing up as witches. So do we excuse the dressing up but draw the line at Ouija boards? What about pretending to cast spells? We have made ourselves the judges of what is good and evil instead of following God’s command to avoid even the spoils of the enemy.

You can't do anything about other people. You can't expect non-Christians to act like Christians, and you can't crawl into the hearts of believers and make them believe the right things. This is life, not just Halloween. My advice: don't let your kids dress like demonic characters, don't buy a Ouija board, don't cast spells, and don't judge others. If you take little Jimmy trick-or-treating, avoid the house with the coffin on the front porch. Explain why. It's really pretty simple.

10. Perhaps the reason I finally let go of Halloween was precisely because I didn’t want to. 

If that sounds like a contradiction, let me explain. You see, the very fact that I kept coming up with reasons and excuses so I could continue celebrating eventually led me to question my motives. Why was I hanging on so tightly? Was it possible that my celebration of Halloween had become an idol to me? Certainly it appeared so, because still I embraced the traditions of men even when I knew God’s heart on the matter.

I don't know, maybe because you know you did it as a kid and it was fun and you never sacrificed any babies or kittens. Maybe because you know Halloween can be whatever you make it to be.

Maybe because, deep down, you know your kids could be having a lot of fun.

I appreciate anyone who takes a stand, even if I don't totally agree with it. Blake's article was well thought-out. I don't doubt her sincerity and she obviously loves God and wants to please Him.

I disagree that Christians can't take something that used to be dreadful and make it life-breathing. If Halloween makes you stumble, don't celebrate it. If God has laid it on your heart not to participate, by all means, listen to that small, still voice.

Personally, I think children can dress up like fairies and ninjas and collect candy bars without any ill effects, and certainly without offending the Lord. Especially at a church harvest party. 

I think we need to stop giving the Devil so much credit and take back what is rightfully ours - childlike joy, innocence, fun, and laughter - whatever that means to you. Church parties included.



  1. "Relax, Christians. Have A Milky Way." My favorite part. You said it, sista! Delighted to find out that was you. - Queen B.