There’s been a lot of sparring in the social media world this month about what a Christian should or shouldn’t do on Halloween. Personally, I’ll be glad when the opinions are put to rest for another 11 months — although in my neck of the woods, the local school board elections debate has been winning the honors of most controversial topic in my Facebook news feed this month!
It’s not that I don’t believe there is good reason to ask this question, because I do. As followers of Christ, we should put all of our thoughts and actions under the spotlight of God’s word (2 Corinthians 10:5), seeking His wisdom before the ways of men in everything we do. What I do tire of is the arguments, the finger-pointing, the judgements, and the lack of humility and love in the conversation. Thankfully, every post or comment I’ve read isn’t guilty of this, but just like in the political season, I see the gloves come off more often than they should — even in the Christian community.
So why did I decide to add my voice to the conversation? Actually, it was my three daughters who spoke up first: It’s their voices that I want to share today. Their words to us about Halloween spoke volumes about where we’ve come as a family regarding our journey to be transformed rather than conform to our world (Romans 12:2).
My husband and I haven’t had a firm opinion about Halloween since we married almost 19 years ago. Both of us came from families who wavered in their decisions about how to celebrate year to year, from full costumes and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood to more polished dress-up at the harvest festivals at church. Over those childhood years, we both learned many reasons to avoid the evil aspects of Halloween, so we were fine about continuing to leave the “scary” stuff behind. But what’s the harm in a little costume party?
So when our girls were young, we had fun dressing them up like their favorite characters — if not for the photos more than anything. It wasn’t until our second daughter was a toddler that we BOTH received thought-provoking emails from our parents after we’d emailed out costume photos to the family. It felt like a concerted effort (although we know it wasn’t). However, their comments did spur our first discussion about whether we were still OK with the range of celebrating that we’d grown up with.
Fast forward to 2013: Our three daughters are now almost 13, 11 and six. For the past few years, we continued to waver on our choice of celebrations — from costume parties and friendly trick-or-treating to church parties — all the while spending more time explaining what Halloween was about to our girls. Answering questions like: “Why does so-and-so dress up like a witch when we know witches are real and evil?” and “why do people like haunted houses, because even if it’s fake, it’s still really scary!”
As homeschoolers, we have talked about the history of Halloween quite a bit over the years. We realize that there are many different paths linked to what is called Halloween today, as well as similar holidays in different cultures and different faiths celebrating other events on this day. Unfortunately most of this history has little to do with how Halloween is celebrated today in America.
After moving to Castle Rock, we discovered that there are way too many houses in our neighborhood that make every effort to horrify on Halloween, so that was the end of our door-to-door candy gathering. The next year we did the outlet mall trick-or-treat street, which was a more pleasant alternative, but there was no escaping the witches, ghouls, monsters and frights. Last year, our girls book club happened to be meeting on Halloween, so we hosted a fall crafts party and the girls dressed up as their favorite fictional characters. Still, the neighborhood kids were all out trick-or-treating after our party, and I know the girls felt conflicted about whether they wanted to join in since they were dressed up.
This year, I began to discuss the idea of doing a costume party with our girls book club again, even though the date of our meetings didn’t line up with Halloween. As I tossed around some ideas out loud, my eldest daughter finally stopped me.
“Mom, we don’t have to do ANYTHING on Halloween,” she said. “I really don’t want to celebrate it anyway.”
My 11-year-old chimed in next: “Halloween is really about being scary and evil, like that house on Kensington. I don’t like it.”
Only my six-year-old was perplexed. “Does that mean I can’t wear my Rapunzel wig again this year? Why not?”
Both of her older sisters answered her in unison: “Because Halloween isn’t a good holiday, it celebrates evil!”
“And you can wear your costume whenever you want,” my eldest added (which is true, because she does).
I wasn’t sure how long this somewhat unanimous decision would stand, but I was happy to hear that the girls had given it some thought and seemed fairly resolute about their conclusion. I shared this news with my husband and he was happy to hear that they had thought about it on their own. The girls and I had a few more conversations about it after that day, and it was clear to me that they not only understood the origins of Halloween, but that they didn’t feel pressure to celebrate it American-style, either. Even my youngest told me about how she explained to a neighbor friend why we weren’t celebrating Halloween — a conversation she initiated on her own!
Today is October 31st, and the decision still stands. We aren’t getting dressed up to “celebrate” Halloween. We plan to have a family dinner out and enjoy family fellowship time and delicious food without having to cook or clean up. My husband had to travel a lot for work this past month, so this will be a real treat.
I’m sharing this because, like all of us, my girls are on their own growth journey with Jesus. As new creations in Christ, they have a redeemed spirit and the Holy Spirit to guide them and give them discernment. They are meditating on God’s word, and they are learning to live it out every day — even when it’s hard and uncomfortable. And this year, their young spirits are saying “no” to Halloween.
This is what I think about the Halloween debates: It’s between you and God. We all have the same Bible to shed light on our path (Psalm 119:105). And we all wrestle with our sin nature and spiritual forces on the earth (Ephesians 6:12). However, I think the Lord challenges us and stretches us in different areas at different times to accomplish His purposes through us for that particular moment in time (1 Peter 5:6). I trust His timing.
God may lead you to reach out to your community in entirely new and purposeful ways, like the Bell family (See “Shining for 20 Years”). God may lead you to bring some neighborhood families to your church harvest festival. Or He may lead you to share with a friend (like my youngest did) what you believe and why.
“But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” — Romans 6:22
Let God lead YOU as you lead your family today and every day.