It seems that few holidays are more divisive within the Christian community than Halloween. Countless Churches have, by this time, already had their “Fall festivals”, many more will have theirs this weekend, and an enterprising few will have theirs the week after (for anyone whose sweet tooth has not yet rotted out).
The internet abounds with articles spelling out the evils of Halloween and why Christians should avoid it like the plague-ridden un-dead corpses many will dress up as. However, instead of adding yet another insulting post on why you will be visiting the hell many will re-enact this coming Halloween, I want to tell you why our fascination and struggle with this cultural holiday makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
First, it makes me laugh to think that we (that is, the Christian community) are going to make a dent in what is now the second-largest commercial holiday in America through our sour-puss moralizing and incessant preaching at our “heathen” neighbors whose adorable kids come to our door seeking fistfuls of candy.
It’s not that we shouldn’t point out the pagan roots of Halloween (particularly the history of Halloween in America) and how many of the fascinations it promotes are unwholesome and unhealthy1, but we must ask ourselves whether we are helping educate those around us or merely alienating them by appearing to be killjoys rather than bearers of salt and light.
A co-worker of mine who helps out at a local animal sanctuary brought me a pamphlet the sanctuary’s owner handed out that described the evils of Halloween. Unfortunatly, the very tone and intent was enough to keep him from reading any of it’s content. Rather than inform him, it merely served to reinforce the notion that Christianity is merely a giant list of dos and don’ts.
That’s a shame because it’s a far cry from the freedom we find in Christ.
Finally, it makes me sad that many Christians honestly think that Halloween is our biggest battle worthy of consuming so much of our time and energy. As with the faux-outrage over “Holiday Trees” during the winter solstice, err Christmas, I have to wonder where these same people are the day after their beloved holiday when the season changes but the same cultural evils such as abortion, rampant sexual immorality (in our own homes!), and general apathy to any and all cultural issues continues unabated.
I can hear many thinking at this point “well, shouldn’t we be concerned with cultural issues?”. Well yes, yes we should. However we ought to be consistent in what we choose to be outraged by which means if you think shielding your child from the evils of Halloween is a worthy thing, don’t let me catch them playing Grand Theft Auto or watching just about any movie that’s been made in the past couple of decades. Heck, if you are going to refrain from Halloween because of it’s pagan influence, why not refrain from Christmas as well?
Sadly, some would take that as an admonition to refrain from what I’ve listed above as if it were a checklist conferring greater holiness to those who manage to check off more “I don’t do..” items (Christian moralizing strikes again!). That’s not what I’m advocating either, lest we fall into the equally dangerous trap of thinking that our holiness is directly tied to how much we disconnect from the world around us (more on this at another time, but it will suffice to call it Christian isolationism for now).
This Halloween you’ll be able to find my family and I going door to door with large bags with which to collect massive amounts of candy.2 I’m only sad my 3rd child isn’t here yet so I can dress him up and collect even more candy (CANDY!).
What you won’t find me doing is preaching against my atheist co-worker and his Zombie Jesus costume (which, the more I think about it, the funnier it gets). Why? Because 1.) it’s not the most pressing issue and 2.) it is a huge and needless distraction.
So now you have, for what it’s worth, this Christian’s position on Halloween and those who choose to practice it.
- I’m thinking here specifically about the emphasis Halloween places on the occult and death in general. [↩]
- Why? Well, I have plans to feed it all to my kids and have them operate a dynamo connected to a generator which should theoretically power our house for years on the amount of energy they will produce 😛 [↩]