Like many of you, I love Fall. I love the routine it brings after a loose summer. I love marching bands, college football, the changing colors of the leaves and their eventual raining down. I love crisp, sunny days, long sleeves with shorts, and the chilled pink on my kids cheeks. I love a little bite to the air on a sunny morning run. I love soups, and baking, and the general return to a warm kitchen after a hot summer. I love pumpkins, and hayrides, and Fall Festivals with friends.
But here's what I don't love about Fall: Halloween. In fact, it is the proverbial buzz kill to my Fall high. I know I'm not alone, but I also know I'm in the minority. Here is what I routinely hear:
"What's the big deal?"
"It's just a fun holiday. It's harmless."
"It doesn't mean I don't love God."
"It's just pretend. Don't be such a party pooper!"
My personal evolution towards Halloween has gone through each of those thoughts, too, so I get it. Many friends I love dearly and who do love the Lord see no problem with celebrating Halloween. I've passed more than one doorway of a Christian home with witches, ghosts and the like hung in decoration. I'm not turning my nose up, trust me. I struggle as a Christian mom to be both fun and set apart. And the narrow road is one I'm constantly learning to navigate, usually after a few wrong turns. It is a constant topic of conversation with the kids. I don't shy away from telling them why I don't like Halloween, why we do some things but not others, and why even in those decisions I feel the squeeze to walk a finer line.
Since it's what we are talking about in our home, I wanted to share with you what is influencing what I do believe and what we do, and even the areas I still struggle to define.
1. There is no redemption. Even outside the Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, there are holidays the Christian believer can latch onto with tenacity. Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day, for example, thread the redemptive qualities of thankfulness and love. Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day each provide believers the opportunity to tie faith in Jesus to their core celebrations. In contrast, Halloween offers no redemptive quality for a believer to celebrate. "Hallow" means to worship ("Our Father, who art in heaven, hallow be THY name.). What is presented for worship on Halloween? Darkness, evil, fear, and curses are elevated for worship. It is everything that is in opposition to what God represents, which is light, goodness, love, and blessing. There is nothing for the believer to latch onto that says, "JESUS."
2. Through the celebration of evil, we dumb-down the reality of evil. I'm THAT mom who steers her kids away from cartoons which include witchcraft, sorcery, and magic. And, no pun intended, it's tricky. The very argument which says, "It's just a cartoon!" is the very basis for my decisions. I don't want my kids to be dumbed-down to the reality of the inherent evil of witchcraft in all of its forms. If they think witchcraft is nothing more than a silly cartoon -- or a costume -- they won't know to step away from it when they are older and presented with the real deal. It's not cute and harmless Selena Gomez playing a covert wizard. It's real and it's dangerous and I make no qualms about making sure my kids know it so they will have as healthy a disdain for it as they do a hot stove. Yet, as Christians, I find so many areas where we mix our faith in God with things very much not of God. Billboards, stores, and decorations advertise the "spirit" of Halloween. Yes, there is a spirit, and it's not God's.
Consider God's command to His people in Deuteronomy 18:9-12: "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you."
It's strong language for good reasons. Abominations in scripture are the worst of the sins, the sins which God abhors the most. Why? Because those sins carry with them the idea of worship of another god. When we play with types of witchcraft mentioned above, we are in essence turning to and worshiping the power of Satan in lieu of turning to and worshiping the power of God. God is not only jealous for our worship, He is jealous for us for the sake of our protection.
Second, "...makes his son or daughter pass through the fire..." speaks to the sacrifice of our children. Some pagan religions required the sacrifice of children in order to learn about the future or to seek favor from a supposed deity. There is more than one way to sacrifice a child, to sacrifice the call God has on his or her life. To think the enemy of God doesn't come at our children in seemingly harmless ways to get them to mix their faith in God with powers of darkness is foolishness on our part. And I've allowed it and have repented and redirected. We need to be wise! Certain movies and cartoons, television shows and video games, seances and Ouija boards, horoscopes, palm reading and future telling, and all other sects of the occult, tempt us to dabble in things which transfer our worship from The God to a god. And to be perfectly clear, the Bible teaches us Satan does have power, he just doesn't carry authority ... unless we give it to him. Which brings me to my third point.
3. We need to be aware of accidental access. One of the basic tenants of the Christian life is one of free will. It's easy to say, "if it's God's will" as if everything is left to God (I'm not speaking to the ultimate sovereignty of God, but to the active role of the believer in co-laboring in order to live out his or her God-given purposes). But the stark reality is that God allows what we allow. We get to choose. The ultimate choice is to choose Jesus, but from that decision comes a slew of choices for the rest of our days. What we lose sight of as believers is that to NOT choose is still a choice. As believers, we either intentionally, daily, categorically choose the truth of God, or we by default choose what the enemy of God has in store for us. There is no "Switzerland" of choices where we stay on neutral ground of neither for or against. Throughout scripture we find the contrast of "good and evil" but no third ground of "eh". In fact, James strongly teaches us the double minded man is a man unstable in all his ways (James 1:7)! Our choices, even our lack of choices, matter, and carry with them consequences. You don't have to intentionally believe, serve, or worship Satan to believe, serve or worship Satan. But you do have to intentionally believe, serve, and worship God in order to believe, serve and worship God. And that means as Christians we sometimes have to do things differently, and whatever price we pay for doing so will be nothing compared to the bill we could rack up for not doing so.
The issues swirling around Halloween are present 12 months of the year, but come kicking up every October. The points I've listed are a few of the reasons I am increasingly inclined to submit our family's practices for review. It's a process. Ten years ago I was doling candy out of a witches' cauldron!
What will we do this year? Our kids have fun costumes and we have and will attend local Fall Festival events and church events organized as alternatives to Halloween. On the day of Halloween, we have friends over for dinner and together we visit the homes of mostly like-minded people where the kids can get their candy fill (which eventually ends up on the counter of a local business so MOM doesn't eat it all). Our choices are not the standard and how we approach it next year is always subject to change based on the call of God in that season.
I want to be clear that I hold no judgment or opinions about how other Christians choose to acknowledge Halloween. My goal as a teacher of the Word is for us all to grow in the wisdom of the Word, to find increasing freedom from bondage, and to become powerful, loving advocates for the Kingdom of God. I have had a journey and a process to get where I am now. I deeply want anyone reading this to know I'm coming from a place of submission in my own walk, and not a place of elevation falsely earned out of my own choices.
I would love to keep the conversation going. Please join in it by commenting below and sharing how you and your family or friends choose to handle (or not handle) Halloween. I'd love to hear!