Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Spooked Out Over Halloween?

Halloween is a few days away, and with the pumpkins and black cats, the question is back: Can Christians participate in Halloween, or is it off limits for them and their children? Here's an effort to give some helpful information and prod some thinking on your part so you can make a decision you know God will use for good in your life. James tells us that when we need wisdom, we can ask God, and he will help us.

Until the last couple of decades, there was no debate about Halloween at all in the church. It was just seen as a fun fall holiday, mostly for kids. But now many Christians are very concerned about the meanings of Halloween customs, the witches, ghosts and other spiritual beings, and the whole idea of having a holiday that in any way relates to death, ghosts, or scary things.

What Is Halloween anyway?  It’s an abbreviation of "All Hallows Eve”, the night before All Hallows or All Saints Day, when the Church honors saints. There were non-Christian celebrations around the same time. Over time, the fall festival traditions overlapped.

Wearing costumes, ghosts, carrying lighted ornaments to represent spirits, the whole trick-or-treat thing, harvest parties all got combined over the centuries with what had been an event in the Christian calendar.  That’s the same way we got the custom of the Christmas tree, caroling, the Easter Egg and the Easter Bunny.

Actually, All Saints Day and Halloween shared the idea of honoring the dead. The non-Christian customs, though, included a certain amount of fear of the unknown and death, That's probably why ghost costumes and tombstones become Halloween classics.  But Christians have never needed to be uncomfortable with the idea of spirits being everywhere, or of spiritual life beyond physical death...it's the cornerstone of Christianity as taught in the Bible.  Why would we be so frightened of what's on the other side of death? Jesus conquered it once and for all!

Sometimes people reject everything that has ever been a superstition, or used in a false religion, like even a 4 leaf clover, because they fear it may have power over them. But, if Jesus is my Savior, nothing has power over me because Christ is in me.  When I think these things have power, I give them the very power and attention I oppose.

Here’s one Christian perspective. Wearing ghost costumes, going to people's doors to collect treats...all of these things are just fun, like going to a movie, as long as we don't make anything more out of them. When you are a Christian, the most powerful being in all eternity lives within you.  There is no power that can harm you.  Evil spirits do exist but when we Christians live in fear of them, we're giving them power they actually don’t have.

So, should Christians take part in Halloween?  Yes...and no!  If you believe it's a sin for you, if you feel it is pagan worship or anti-Christian in any way, you should not participate. The Book of James tells us clearly that anything we have doubts about, we shouldn’t do.   But, if it’s a fun day, just another day that the Lord has made for you, if you've have confidence that he that is in you is greater than he that is in the world, if your conscience doesn’t trouble you,  go have fun!  Let your kids have fun, too!  While you're at it, don't forget to teach your kids that saints are people who follow Jesus, and they live forever! Teach them about the power of Jesus in them, protecting them from all harm...even from goblins, and ghosts!

Whatever is the best route for you, please be kind and loving to equally committed believers who don't see it the same way you do.

Happy Halloween! That day belongs to Jesus, too!