Halloween is upon us, and even though our kids are young adults now, I am reminded of autumns past when we did not celebrate Halloween. It is an issue that every parent needs to consider, along with a multitude of other child-raising decisions. So I offer the following thoughts for your careful consideration. (To see the companion to this post, where Mark shares why he is okay with his kids trick-or-treating, click here).
I am not going to reiterate the historical basis for Halloween, because while that may be important, it is not the critical issue for this blog. I am more interested in what Halloween has become than where it came from. A simple review of the newspaper ads, or a quick walk into any retail store, and the tone of Halloween is obvious: haunted houses, ghosts, witches, goblins, skeletons, grave stones, vampires, grim reaper, etc. Of course there are silly costumes, lots of candy, cider, and apples, too. But the themes of death and the evil spirit world are undeniably prominent.
Right off the bat, that should be troublesome, considering some pretty strong language in God’s word about such things:
“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-14 ESV)
Manasseh, arguably one of the most wicked kings of Israel, practiced witchcraft and sorcery (2 Chron 33:6). Acts 19 records a great revival in Ephesus brought on by the Holy Spirit through Paul’s preaching. There was great repentance and turning to Jesus, and in the midst of that we read:
“Many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all… So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.” (Acts 19:18-20 ESV)
God hates witchcraft. Satan is the evil enemy of God and all that is good. Demons are the foot soldiers of Satan’s evil army, and ghosts and goblins are mankind’s’ best efforts at putting flesh and form on the spirit forms of the evil world. Witches and the like are the human conduits into this evil, spirit realm that is completely anti-God.
So why in the world would we dress our little girls up in witch costumes when God considers witches such an abomination? Why would we celebrate a satanic worldview represented by Halloween? Why would we honor Satan by glorifying witches and goblins and ghosts, all representatives of a satanic system? I am not suggesting we are worshipping Satan by wearing a witch costume, or that we are channeling demons by trick-or-treating, but why, as followers of Jesus, would we honor such a holiday that is dedicated to so much that is evil and wicked? Of course I readily acknowledge that many choose to celebrate Halloween without dressing up as ghost or witches, but choose instead to dress up as superheroes and ballerinas. But even so, we are still participating in a holiday that honors occultism in many and varied forms.
While I am not afraid of Satan and his forces, “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 ESV), I do have a lot of respect for him. Peter calls him a roaring lion that prowls around looking for someone to devour and destroy. We must be vigilant and watchful. Let us never forget that we are at war, that Satan is the enemy, and we must be aware of his insidious schemes. Based on Ephesians 4:26-27, it appears that it is possible to give Satan a ‘foothold’ (NIV) or ‘opportunity’ (ESV) into our lives. As parents, seeking to raise godly kids to love Jesus and serve Him effectively, we did everything we could to prevent such a ‘foothold’ in our home. And so we chose not to participate in Halloween.
But is there anything about Halloween that can be redeemed? Are church-sponsored ‘Harvest Parties’ viable alternatives? Maybe. Satan loves to distort God’s good things, and God loves to redeem Satan’s evil things. So yea, maybe. But we need to think it through critically and prayerfully, and not simply fall into the Halloween world by default. We need to think it through in terms of scriptures such as Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” And may God grant incredible wisdom and discernment as we seek to navigate the dangerous waters of this worldly system!