Halloween is one of those issues that leaves intelligent, godly people firmly disagreeing with one another. Some Christians will dress up their kids, walk the neighborhood, and come back with heart-stopping amounts of sugar. Others will dress up their kids and go to a church sponsored event, like a harvest party or “trunk-or-treat.” Still others refuse to do anything out of the ordinary on the last day of October aside from saying an extra prayer to combat the dark deeds taking place all around.
Let me be clear: each of these groups of people has valid points—points we all need to weigh—and each person has a responsibility to follow his or her convictions on this issue. But we all have an equal responsibility to ensure that our convictions align with biblical truth. And we have a responsibility to treat everyone—even those with whom we disagree—with respect and understanding.
So in an effort to help you think through the issues surrounding Halloween, we are going to use the next three posts to debate the Halloween issue. I will use this post to explain why I’m okay with my kids trick-or-treating, my friend and colleague Chris Hay will use the next post to explain why he didn’t let his now-grown kids trick-or-treat, and a third colleague, Matt Swaney, will fill in some of the gaps on Wednesday. Our prayer is that this models the right kind of disagreement and promotes the right kind of thought.
So here we go:
Why I Let My Kids Go Trick-or-Treating
Here’s what you shouldn’t do on October 31st: Don’t worship the devil. I mean it. Worshiping Satan is the heart of idolatry and must be avoided in every form.
I know that many Christians view trick-or-treating as a validation of the devil worship that some will engage in on Halloween night. But let me explain why I don’t think this is a necessary correlation.
I see a number of beneficial points in celebrating Halloween with my children. First of all, we dress up in costumes (thus far just my girls, though I’m sure they’ll try to convince me to join in as they get older). Some see this as trivializing an act of deception, but I disagree. I think this is inherently imaginative, and I believe that our imaginations are good gifts given to us by God. Being able to see the world in a different light, to imagine the world as a different place, can be a powerful tool for the gospel and I believe that exercising our imaginations is a means of imitating the creator.
Secondly, we walk around our neighborhood and interact with our neighbors. This proves extremely difficult 364 days of the year, but for this one day everyone forgets their cultural propensity toward isolation and goes door to door.
Thirdly, we give gifts to each other’s children. I think this is a high point of the Christmas season, even when viewed from a consumeristic angle. Typically we buy things for ourselves. But at Christmas, we buy things and bless others with those things. Halloween gives us a sweet little taste (catch the double entendre there?) of that giving spirit, and I’m all for that.
Fourth, Halloween gives us a great teaching opportunity with our kids. My wife and I are not on board with dressing our girls up as witches or devils simply because we believe the spiritual realm is a reality, and we don’t want to give the impression that these things are fun or pretend. This is a big reason for people refusing to celebrate Halloween, but we think it makes a good teaching point. So when our girls see kids dressed as witches or devils, we can explain to them that these boys and girls are just having fun, but that we choose not to dress this way because we believe that these things are real and we don’t want to even pretend to be on the side of those who oppose God.
Here’s the thing. Many Christians choose to avoid celebrating Halloween and instead do a church sponsored event like a harvest party. There’s nothing wrong with dressing up and having fun, they say, we just don’t want our fun to be associated with devil worship. I agree. But I don’t think that trick-or-treating is associated with devil worship in the minds of anyone in my neighborhood. We all take our kids around because its fun for the kids. A harvest party basically maintains the celebration but changes its purpose. I think that’s what trick-or-treating is, so I don’t understand why a harvest party is considered a better option.
It seems to me that if any celebration on October 31st is associated with the devil, then all celebration on October 31st should be so associated. If I can’t change the purpose of Halloween from devil worship to neighborhood fun, then it shouldn’t be permissible to change the purpose from devil worship to church/harvest fun.
Here’s the key: If the Satanic worshipers have power enough to claim any celebration on that particular day as allegiance to their cause, then we ought to abstain from all out-of-the-ordinary goings-ons that day. But I don’t believe they have this type of power.
And having said all of that, I want to reaffirm that we all must follow our consciences on this issue. If it doesn’t feel right to you to dress up your child as a cowboy, then by all means, don’t. But we still have an obligation to love and understand one another. That’s why I’m looking forward to Chris’ post tomorrow.