This post includes two conclusions I’ve drawn about culture and spirituality. One of them might be more liberal than you are comfortable with and the other might be more conservative than you are comfortable with. Maybe I can provide at least something for everyone to disagree with.
It’s Halloween again. Which means dressing up in ridiculous costumes, kids looking adorable, kids hopped up on crazy amounts of sugar, and questions about whether a Christian can have any part of this. I just wrote a reply to an email I received from someone in our church and it got me thinking about how my family handles this holiday. Hopefully my conclusions can help you figure out your family’s stance.
Conclusion #1 (the progressive one)
Celebrating Halloween is not celebrating evil.
You don’t have to love Satan in order to want to dress up with your kids and take adorable photos. The short answer is that there is nothing in the Bible to prohibit a Christian participating in trick or treating. It won’t surprise me if someone quotes a verse to me in response to this conclusion that they generously conclude has its application with this holiday.
Ironically, I’ve found that Halloween can be an incredible opportunity for Christians to connect with the community around them. Why? Most people are out of their houses on Halloween, or at least are willing to open their house to you if you knock. If you want to start friendships with the people around you (and have the chance to have a deeper conversation about Jesus), take advantage of an opportunity to meet and connect with those around you. It’s amazing how much more casual the conversation is when you are dressed up like Tony Stark. Or so I’ve heard.
My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween because we love fear, evil, or darkness. We celebrate Halloween because I love making memories with my kids and spending time with new people who are often hard to connect with.
Conclusion #2 (the conservative one)
Fostering an obsession with fear is dangerous.
I won’t go as far as to say sinful, simply that for most people it has negative results. Please hear this conclusion without judgment. I don’t offer this as a mandate for anyone other than myself and my family. It is advice, not doctrine.
Many people love touring Haunted Houses (click here to see more hilarious pics like the one above) or watching scary movies. I was in this camp as well before I watched the movie The Ring and it totally messed with me for days afterward. Don’t judge me.
I found that when I watched scary things I thought about scary things afterward. I couldn’t help it. Any weird noise at night would ignite my imagination in ways I didn’t want. Not only did this affect my thoughts but also my emotions. I would feel things that I would have to make my brain turn off. The week after I watched The Ring was especially imaginative for me (I’ve heard of this happening a lot with people watching the Paranormal Activity movies).
While I enjoyed the movies, I didn’t enjoy the lingering affects. Again, I don’t think this is sinful, just not beneficial. Consider the following two passages (both from the NLT translation).
“Then you will experience Godâ€™s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:7-8
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
In my experience and the experiences of my wife, entertainment designed to scare you makes these ideas difficult. Is it possible for someone to watch scary movies and not be affected this way? Absolutely. We all have different reactions to different things. My advice is to honestly evaluate how you react to those things and whether this is beneficial.
My family doesn’t watch scary movies because they are not beneficial for us, not because they are sinful.