Christian parents struggle with Halloween.
It’s a day where our city celebrates (plays with) evil and death. It proves the blindness and naivety that much of our world has to the reality of Satan/evil (as well as the good side of the spiritual).
Like Christmas, it’s history and contemporary practice is a melting pot of morphed beliefs and practices. Each person has a unique (tailored or naive) perspective on it and its various traditions.
And like Christmas, it can be used for good or bad. (Christmas can be wonderful if you forget about the people that suffered to make your Walmart toy, the impact that toy will have on the planet, the materialism and entitlement we teach our children in that season, and the debt that we incurred from buying it). Don’t worry, I still think Christmas is wonderful (we just need to renew healthy practice).
Humans are both an outside-in and inside-out creation. Our practices and environment shape our heart (outside-in) and our heart shapes our practices (inside-out).
To think that externals don’t matter is naive. To think that externals are all that matters is naive.
I think the matter of Halloween is best illustrated in 1 Corinthians 8 (whether a Christian should eat meat sacrificed to an idol). The practice of the Christian is contextual (situational) as it depends on the participant’s heart (weak or strong in the faith) and the impact such a practice will have on those watching.
- If participating in “trick or treating” causes your faith (or your kid’s faith or your friends’ faith) to stumble (you/they feel like you’re playing with or flirting with the devil) then don’t do it.
- If participating in “trick or treating” causes your neighbours to believe Jesus is okay with evil and gore, then don’t do it.
My current read (I may be wrong) is that the majority of our city thinks Halloween is a fun day for kids to dress up and get candy.
Additionally, a large number of our city thinks it’s fun to dress up like evil characters/symbols. They equate Satan and demons to that of the tooth-fairy (they aren’t real). So, if anything, they aren’t worshipping Satan, they are mocking Satan’s existence. Of course, their ignorance comes at a great cost (and Satan is happy to indulge them in disbelief of the spiritual).
It’s because of my perception of how our city (at least the majority) and my kids view Halloween that I decide on my family’s participation:
- If I don’t participate in Halloween, my neighbours think Jesus doesn’t like fun, community or being generous.
- If I don’t participate in Halloween, my kids think Jesus is less powerful than Satan and we should walk in fear (hide, turn off the lights).
Regardless of whether you think the right thing is to participate or refrain from trick or treating, it’s important to graciously, clearly and creatively communicate why to our kids.
As a parent, I take it year by year (I don’t have a hard stance). I gauge what my kids are thinking and saying. I consider the words of my neighbours and their views of the day. And I adjust accordingly. This year, we’re planning on trick or treating, but we might not next year.
As a tenant, I like to be home and give out candy because it’s the one time of year my neighbours knock on my door and ask for something. I think we should be overly generous! I remember our first year in our neighourhood, God used trick or treating to open lots of doors to relationships with neighbours.
Rather than whine about Halloween, I invite Christians use it as an opportunity to bring good out of bad:
- Pray for our neighbours and city.
- Talk with our kids about the reality of the spiritual.
It’s an opportunity for my kids to see (I teach them how to see) how blind/naive the world is to demonic forces. And that dressing up like evil or gory things is a horrible thing to celebrate. I teach them that there is no such thing as fun evil or good evil. Evil often masquerades as good/fun/harmless, but it will wreck you and those you love.
But mostly I teach them, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (NIV)