Considering the day, I thought I would take a pause from our “Were vs. Are” Series to offer some thoughts on a day that is quite controversial in Christian circles…
I have a friend who, many years ago, regularly practiced witchcraft. In time, she became born again, and now serves Jesus. But she has more than a few personal insights into the reality of evil intentions that are at work on Halloween night (of which she once participated!). She did not talk about Halloween without sadness in her heart about anyone who would “celebrate” such a night “that demons looked forward to.” Because of her past experiences… what is harmless “fun” for so many… brings up many remorseful feelings and regretful memories.
Why would she feel this way? Perhaps, when we understand the origins of this day, we may understand…
The Origins of Halloween… Many centuries ago, Celtic priests believed/taught that October 31 was when the earth came into closest contact with the spiritual world – and on that day ghosts and witches roamed the earth with special powers to steal, kill, and destroy.
Later on, in the Dark Ages, Oct. 31 became a prominent day for casting spells, and of heightened magical powers. This day was a favorite for Black (or Witch’s) Sabbaths.
In the early 800’s, to combat rampant paganism (and to attempt to re-focus people’s thoughts), the Church established All-Saints Day (Nov. 1) and “All-Hallows Evening” (Hallow – e’en!) the night before.
The Origins of Trick or Treat… At first, food was left out in an effort to pacify wandering, evil spirits. Later, Celts dressed up as evil spirits, going from house to house demanding food (treats) to deter mischief (tricks). Later still, children got into the act, dressing up as spirits, going around town, demanding treats… or else!
From the Dark Side… Practicing witches and Satanists still believe Oct. 31 is the most powerful day to draw upon the powers of evil, or cast a spell. They see this night as their night to rule (with the power to steal, kill, and destroy). It is a night of incantations and demonic rituals… including animal and (even) human sacrifices.
Should a Christian “celebrate” or participate in Halloween?
As Christians, we should always consider the origins and the practices of any activity.* How, and why, something began IS important. And why it is “celebrated” now is also important.
Do most people, today, think about the origins of Halloween (as a pagan, even demonic, activity)? Most people could care less.
But Christians are not called to be like most people. We are called to “abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22) And to “walk by the Spirit and… not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Gal. 5:16) And to “walk as children of light… and take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness.” (Eph. 5:7-11)
When we really think about Halloween, we should notice that what is “seen” may reveal things that are “unseen.” Drive around town, look at the extravagant displays in many people’s yards. What do they portray? Often it is demons, witches, specters, tombstones, murder, and death. Clearly, Halloween is a night devoted to fear. To what terrifies us. To what unsettles our souls.
Contrast that with what Jesus talked about. “Do not be afraid… Peace be with you… Come and find rest for your souls.” It seems to me that Jesus came to deliver us from fear and death – not celebrate it. He also came to remind us that we (like Him) are NOT of this world – we are of a King devoted to life, joy, and peace (Jn. 17:14-16)! At the very least, we should prayerfully consider our thoughts concerning Halloween.
All that being said… God is not opposed to us having “fun.” There is even a Scripture that says that He gave us all things for our enjoyment (see 1 Tim. 6:17)!
The key for us, is to always keep the balance of being “in the world, but not of the world.” To make choices in life with one key thought in mind: how do I connect with this world AND also do what honors and pleases God? The one supreme guide for all Christian behavior and activities is always…
It is entirely possible for us to be the Light of the World even on a day/night devoted to darkness. If we choose to participate in Halloween, do it creatively, thoughtfully, in ways that show kindness, generosity, and the love of God to the world at large. Have fun… but, as always, represent Christ!
God is God of every day. October 31 is also a day the Lord has made! As His people, we should do our best to honor Him in every day we live on this earth.
* Back in the early days of the church, the practice of meat sacrificed to idols became a point of great contention/debate within the Church (Romans 14 provides some wonderful guidelines for practicing our faith in controversial issues).