What should Christians do with Halloween?

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.Colossians 3:5

October 31 is one of the most awkward days of the year for Christians. Many of us just don’t know how we should respond to the “holiday” and all kinds of debate spring up this time every year. Maybe you’ve got a great Captain Jack Sparrow costume and you want to spend the night collecting candy and acting like an intoxicated pirate, but you’re afraid of running into your pastor. I feel ya. What do you do? What should you do? There are basically 3 main approaches Christian take when it comes to Halloween:

1. Fully Embrace it: These are the folks who have cobwebs and tombstones in their yards. They don’t have any problem at all with the history of the day, because they see it as a fun and harmless part of American culture. (Note: Even if your neighbors tell you that all the strobe lights and witches look really cool, they secretly think your yard looks tacky and can’t wait for November when you take it all down and replace it with even tackier Christmas decorations). 

2. Ignore it: These are the people at home with their lights off praying for all the heathen children as they walk by. They might do some “outreach” by leaving out religious tracts condemning Halloween as Devil Worship. These are the homes that usually get hit with eggs and toilet paper by the end of the night.

3. Recreate it: Many Christians and Churches have tried to put on their own version of the day. The events are usually called “Fall Festival” or “Trunk or Treat” and vary from Biblical Character costume contests, to parking lot candy giveaways to full-scale carnival like attractions meant to be an outreach into the Community.

I’m not claiming to have all the answers here, and I fully recognize that Halloween creates some complex issues that should be addressed. As a Dad, a Pastor and as a Christian who wants to see the world reached for Jesus, here are a few thoughts I’ve come to over the years…

1. Halloween provides an amazing Opportunity. Most of us don’t interact with our own neighbors. We live in a world where front porches have been replaced by back porches and privacy fences. October 31 is one of the few days of the years that you can have meaningful interaction with your neighbors and I believe God wants you to be a positive influence in your neighborhood. Don’t squander this opportunity by sitting at home in the dark all night!

2. Satan does not own October 31…Jesus does! Christians should never cower in fear because of the Devil. Jesus has already conquered death, Hell and the Grave and He is the one who rules over every day. God has as much power and Glory on October 31 as He does on Christmas or Easter, so remember that He is bigger than anything the Devil can do on any day. With that being said, don’t give the devil a “foothold” by embracing anything that could potentially harm your faith or the faith of others. Use the opportunity to reach out, not to hide out. 

3. Don’t be Stupid. I know this sounds harsh, but I don’t know how else to say it. Paul says, “all things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.” It’s not beneficial for you to dress yourself our your kids up like zombies and prostitutes. It’s not cute…it’s tacky. I’m not saying you have to dress as a Bible Character (in fact, please don’t), but don’t use the day as an excuse to imitate something or someone who contradicts your own values. Don’t use the day as an excuse to put your values on hold by getting drunk and watching ten straight hours of graphic horror movies. You are Children of the Light no matter what night it is.

I know that there are a lot of people with a lot of great things to add to this discussion, so please feel free to post your own comments. We can all learn from each other. Whatever you do on October 31 this year, I hope that you make some lasting memories and even make some new friends in the process.


11 thoughts on “What should Christians do with Halloween?

  1. Paul R. Erickson says:

    The only thing taht I can agree with is to use this as a witnessing tool

  2. Jeanie says:

    My understanding of Halloween, is that it’s to scare away all the demons, in preparation for November 1st, which is “All Saints Day”. The day was originally called “All Hallows Eve”.
    Even our government recognizes “All Saints Day”, and if it occurs on a Tuesday, the general election is pushed back to November 8th.
    November 1st is rarely mentioned, but was a holy day in the Roman Catholic Church, a solemn day remembering the Saints. Many countries celebrate the 2 days differently, and for different reasons (some to pray for those recently deceased, or clean up the cemetery).

    Anything can be used to promote good or evil, depending on your own beliefs and traditions.

    We have used the holiday to teach our children the many beliefs of Halloween around the world, and reinforce our Salvation through the Grace of God, not a ritual, or dependent on prayers after our deaths.
    You can use any worldly belief to teach and remind your family of the Grace that has saved us, and how our eternal life is already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life!!

    So go scare away the demons, and enjoy a Butterfinger for me!!!

  3. This question always comes up for me. While I don’t partate in horror movies and dressing up I do love to participate in the tradition of giving out candy. That’s about it….oh and the neighbor you speak of lives two doors up from me! 🙂

  4. kelly a says:

    You can make up treat bags to pass out to people and put bible verses in them 🙂

  5. Dave Willis, you Rock.

  6. chrystal says:

    Dave-We were at one of those fall festivals last night. Immanuel Baptist Church….full blown carnival of sorts. The youth minister or children’s minister (I can’t remember….) stood up and said a few words. He said he knows that a lot of Christians shy away from talking about God on Halloween but he believes its another perfect opportunity to share the story of grace. He then asked for a volunteer to demonstrate this point. Hunter was pulled up on stage so of course I was all ears. He had him dump his bag of candy on the table and they figured out how much it would cost for all those pieces and what kind of chores he would have to do to pay for it, etc. Then he said, “but of course we are giving it to you free………just like God gives you grace for free…..you don’t have to work for it because Jesus paid the price for you….” (my paraphrase….) Anyway, I’d never seen that illustration used!
    I do understand the internal struggle some feel with Halloween but I love the idea of taking the day back for Christ. As you said, He owns every day!

  7. Stephanie says:

    What About Halloween????

    In order to understand Halloween, it is important to understand the history of this fall holiday. Halloween, which directly stems from Irish, Scottish, Welsh and British folk customs, was celebrated as the Druids’ autumn festival. The Druids were an order of priests who worshiped nature. They were accomplished magicians and wizards at the height of their influence some 200 years before the birth of Jesus.

    This holiday was originally celebrated to honor Samhain, lord of the dead, on October 31 (the end of the summer). The Druids believed that on this date, Samhain called all the wicked souls that had been condemned within the last year to live in animal bodies. He was believed to have released them in the form of spirits, ghosts, fairies, witches and elves.

    According to Druidic tradition, these souls of the dead roamed the city on Halloween night and returned to haunt the homes where they once lived. The only way the current occupants of the house could free themselves from being haunted was to lay out food and give shelter to the spirit during the night. If they didn’t, the spirit would cast a spell on them. That is where the phrase “trick or treat” comes from: They would be tricked if they didn’t lay out a treat.

    The jack-o’-lantern was also a part of this belief system. The carved pumpkin symbolized a damned soul named Jack. According to the tale, Jack was not allowed into heaven or hell. So, he wandered around in the darkness with his lantern until Judgment Day. Fearful people hollowed out turnips (and later pumpkins in the United States), carved an evil face on them, and a lit candle inside to scare him and other evil spirits away.

    The Druids had other outlandish beliefs which have since turned into tradition. For example, they were afraid of black cats because they believed that when a person committed evil, he would be turned into a cat. Cats were thus considered to be evil. To scare them away, the Druids decorated their homes with witches, ghosts and the like. They also decorated with cornstalks, pumpkins and other goods in offering of thanks and praise to their false gods.

    In addition to being Halloween, October 31 was also the New Year’s Eve of the Celts and Anglo-Saxons. To celebrate, they built huge bonfires on hilltops to frighten away evil spirits, and often offered their crops and animals to them as a sacrifice – sometimes they even offered themselves or others.

    The Romans began the conquest of the Celts around A.D. 43 and ruled much of what is now the United Kingdom for about 400 hundred years. During this period, two Roman autumn festivals were combined with the Celtic festival of Samhain. One of them, called Feralia, was held in late October to honor the dead. The other festival honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The practice of bobbing for apples became associated with Halloween because of this festival.

    Some people have thought that Halloween’s only significance was as the evening before All Saints’ Day, a festival of the Catholic Church honoring all Christian saints. The Mass said on All Saints’ Day was called Allhallowmas. The evening before became known as the Eve of All Saints, the Eve of All Hallows, All Hallows’ Eve, or Hallow Even, which has given us the name Hallowe’en.

    Although All Saints’ Day contributed to the naming of Halloween, All Saints’ Day itself did not exist until A.D. 700 when it was instituted by Pope Boniface IV. Originally it was celebrated in the spring on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Its date was changed to November 1 by Pope Gregory III (reigned A.D. 731-741) in an attempt to add a Christian influence to the traditional pagan customs still being celebrated on October 31 by Celtic converts. When sending missionaries to convert native peoples, the Catholic Church encouraged the redefinition of local customs into Christian terms and concepts. Therefore, All Saints’ Day and Halloween became unified, because of the same ties to reverencing the dead.

    The combination of these customs eventually became the traditional celebration we call Halloween. It is important for parents to consider these “harmless gestures of enjoyment” and the distorted images they make in a child’s heart. We must realize Halloween is a holiday centered around fear and death.

    Modern day witches and wizards believe this night to be the most suitable night of the year for magic and demonic activity. In Deuteronomy 18:10-11, God forbids us to participate in any kind of occult practices or witchcraft. Further, in the New Testament, we are told to abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

    As Christians, we should not celebrate Halloween, rather we should recognize October 31 as the day the Lord has made – a day we can rejoice in (Psalm 118:24). And we don’t need to be fearful, for God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

    Parents should teach their children faith in God. Children can have just as much fun on a Halloween centered around the Word of God and family fellowship. Make a commitment today to give your children the Word of God instead of the fairy tales the world offers – it will help them grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

  8. Jeanie says:

    On the 6 PM news tonight, the anchors were announcing “How to Keep your Child Safe” while out trick or treating.
    They explained the somewhat new law, that requires anyone commited for certain crimes, and all registered sex offenders that it is against the law for anyone with those convictions to hand out candy to children, decorate for Halloween, or even leave their front porch light on!!
    SO, we have left our porch light on, even though we rarely get kids in our neighborhood (except ours)!! I want every child to look around, and SEE which houses are safe to go to in an emergency, and which houses to avoid.

    Sadly, that’s something we need to consider, and one of the many things we should include when we teach our children all day, every day! Shine your light, so the world will know!!

    Sorry that this is too late for tonight’s trick or treat fun, but maybe next year, we can find a safe neighborhood, with many people willing to set up tables outside, near the curb, and make it a fun filled, “meet your neighbors” type of event!!!

  9. tammyswann says:

    I personally think the Kids love 2 dress up and Have FuN!!..It’s what u make of it and as Christians I say Smile and Let people see GOD in You!!..:)!!

  10. EM says:

    There are so many who condemn Halloween, but excuse the historically pagan festivals that have been renamed the ChristMASS & Easter. Easter especially; it is named after a pagan god & centers around pagan symbols of fertility (eggs & bunnies). But yet Halloween is “the Devil’s Birthday” & must be eschewed —- Jack o lanterns are condemned while ChristMASS trees are welcomed. What hypocrisy.

    Why should my liberty in Christ be judged of another. Word to your Mother.

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