Halloween has been a topic of controversy among Christians for centuries. There has simply never been complete agreement about whether it is acceptable for Christians to take part in this popular holiday. The argument both for and against it are many, and make it difficult for us to discern what side to take. Many that are against it continue to bring up the origins of the holiday as being blatantly evil, believing nothing good can come out of it. Those that are for it would say that it’s just harmless entertainment or thrills. How are we supposed to decide what is right?
I do not claim to be an expert or to have all the answers on this topic, but I have done my research. And although I know that there are blatantly evil aspects to this holiday, I believe there are ways for it to be redeemed for God’s glory. In order for this to happen, I do think we need to recognize the evil parts of this holiday for what they are and understand what Halloween is pointing to in its current content. Then we can discern what we can do about it.
The Icons of Halloween
There are a lot of iconic characters and symbols associated with Halloween that have developed over the years. While many of them are viewed as harmless or amusing, there is a danger in assuming them to be innocent. Most of these symbols and characters stand in contradiction to God’s truth. Don’t quite see it? Well, I’ve broken down several of them so you can see what I mean.
Zombies and Mummies
There are only a few instances in Scripture of people that has already died being raised to life again, but in all those cases, they came back fully alive, not in any undead state. Any other supernatural occurrence that would try to raise someone from the dead is outside of God’s will. It also seems to imply that God does not have the ultimate power over death if some other outside force can change it. It therefore makes the resurrection of Jesus less significant, when in truth, it’s the cornerstone of our faith and the reason for the hope we have. Therefore, anything undead should not be given any validity, even in fictional situations.
Ghosts and Spirits of the Dead
Under most circumstances I’ve observed, when people do have problems with evil spirits or exorcisms in this world, it’s at the hands of Satan himself, and is not something to be taken lightly. It’s one of Satan’s way of distorting this life and the next one when we live in fear of ghosts or evil spirits. Therefore, we must be cautious about using these characters as amusement.
Although these characters are completely fictitious, it is disturbing that our culture has been so fascinated with them, especially since they don’t have souls. I personally believe that God would never allow for such a creature to exist in the natural order, because He wants to give every single person who has lived and will ever live on this earth the choice to have that relationship with Him, and that’s a choice a vampire would never have. Therefore, I believe that it’s unwise to legitimize these characters.
I do think that if you can present monsters in non-threating ways either to reveal their perspective (like Monsters Inc.) or to illustrate a point in their monster state (like Beauty and the Beast), then that is safe for families and children. But the more common use of these creatures is for the sake of invoking fear in others, especially in children. I don’t think that is something that a Christian should participate in with a good conscience, which I will discuss a little more in a moment.
Skeletons and Bones
The use of these as a symbol of death neglects the fact that our skeletons are a part of God’s intelligent design for our bodies. He designed our bodies with incredible structure to give us the best ability to function. He designed our bones so well, they usually outlast the rest of our physical bodies after we die, and that’s pretty awesome when you think about it that way. Although it is true that “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), I believe that we should not participate in mocking the way we are designed by the way we use or portray skeletons or bones.
Witches and Mediums
Some of the more recent portrays of witches have really been more like magicians as far as their magic is concerned, and this type isn’t necessarily inherently evil, but is also completely fictitious. (This is the type of magic I believe is portrayed in Wicked the Musical. If you want to read more about my perspective on this play specifically, click here.) In the end, the overall principle is that we should avoid honoring any witches/witchcraft that appears in any way to be connected with Satan or spirits of the dead, because that is what the Bible specifically condemns.
Blood and Gore
It is quite common to create situations on Halloween to scare someone or invoke fear into them for the sake of amusement or entertainment. But I don’t think this is healthy for Christians to be practicing, on Halloween or any day of the year. This is because fear separates us from God. It’s difficult for us to trust Him or to experience His love for us when there is fear present. Fear can drive us away from God completely if we let it. Therefore, fear is another of Satan’s great victories in our world, and is not something that we should be honoring in any way for this reason. We should not be participating in the game that Satan is trying to play with peoples’ souls. We have to learn how to discern when he’s playing it so we can overcome it.
I know this is a lot of information to process, but I hope that you see there’s a lot about Halloween that is not just fun and games. Not only is most of this stuff evil and used by Satan, but much of it stands in direct opposition of the way that God designed it to be.
The Positive Aspects of October 31st
Although much of what Halloween has become has shown itself to be not God-honoring, there are two aspects of October 31th that I think we should get back to in our culture, especially as Christians.
It was the day that Martin Luther nailed The Ninty-Five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. In the end, it led to all the protestant churches we have today. When I was in college, we used to greet each other on Halloween by saying “Happy Reformation Day!” It was kind of a joke in some ways, but not completely.
As I look at these different things that happened on October 31, I have realize that they give us the opportunity to celebrate the opposite of what everyone else is celebrating on Halloween. While they celebrate death and fear, we can celebrate life and courage. Life can be celebrated because All Saint’s Day is a reminder that those that placed their life in Jesus Christ before they passed away are now more alive than they have ever been. We can also celebrate courage as it has been exhibited throughout church history. It took a whole lot of courage for Martin Luther and those who followed him to work towards reform in the church. It also brings to mind those in the past and present that have faced persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of Christ. They were not afraid of death, because they had the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s the love that compelled Christ to sacrifice Himself that will drive out all fear, if we choose hope and courage instead of darkness and despair.
What Should We Do About Halloween?
Although we have established that much of what Halloween represents is evil and of Satan, we are still left with the question of what we are to do in response to this truth. It is my personal opinion that it is unwise to completely reject and ignore the holiday. When we refuse to participate in Halloween, we miss an opportunity to be a light in the darkness of this holiday as well as be part of community. Even in the simple acts of kindness and hospitality that can come from passing out candy could become an open door to share Jesus with the children and their parents. And since it is a holiday, it’s an opportunity to spend time with your friends and/or family.
It is my personal opinion that the act of dressing up and giving away candy is not wrong! There is nothing inherently evil about this. When we dress up, we do need to remember to ask ourselves if our costumes are appropriate (like dressing up as a character we shouldn’t be honoring) and modest enough. If after you ask yourself those questions you can wear your costume with a clear conscience, then go for it! And again, passing out candy or participating in any sort of Halloween-type event/outreach is such a great opportunity to be a light in a dark world on a dark night.
I cannot answer the question “Is it OK to celebrate Halloween?" for you. I believe that this needs to be a personal conviction. I was not allowed to celebrate Halloween for most of my older childhood and teen years, and I respected my parents’ decision. When I got into college, I dressed up for parties for fun since I didn’t do it as much when I was a kid. But in the last few years, I have realized what an incredible opportunity it is to be involved in Halloween outreaches or help a busy mom with her kids on Halloween night. Aside from the fact that I love the costumes and candy as much as the kids, I also love the opportunity it provides to serve others and build relationships. These pictures are all examples of this. I participated in some sort of outreach or helped a family out every year for the last few years while wearing all these costumes, and I loved every minutes of it. The picture of me as Rapunzel is actually from one of those events, a trunk or treat for a church I attended in college. I love dressing for the kids as much as it is with the kids. I will never forget when a preschool age girl dressed as Cinderella saw me in my Rapunzel costume, and said with big wide eyes and a huge smile, "Hi Rapunzel, I'm Cinderella." It was the cutest thing ever! (Btw, I'm sure you notice a pattern with my costumes! lol)
I remember being very scared of Halloween decorations when I was a kid. In fact, I couldn’t even enter a party ware store in the month of October or go into the Halloween aisle at Walmart because there was just too much creepy stuff hanging up. Although I still don’t like the Halloween stores, I have had to learn to remember that Jesus has the power over death so that I don’t have to be afraid, on Halloween or any other day of the year. While the rest of the world is celebrating death and fear, we can remember the hope that we have in Jesus, who conquered death and whose perfect love drives our all fear.
This is a video from The Anima Series, which is perfect for remembering everything that opposes fear on a day that celebrates it. If you agree, think about sharing this video or this post on or before Halloween.
Valentine’s Day can sometimes be a real pain. Seriously. If you don’t have a valentine, you either feel left out or you end up annoyed with the world for putting this day up on a pedestal just to sell cards, roses, and candy. I've been on both sides. More recently, I've been getting frustrated when people use Valentine’s Day to emphasis love in the wrong ways. The fluffy love they talk about is the love of fairy tales, the type of love dependent on feelings and emotions, and ends up being quite selfish. That’s not what God intended love to be. It also upsets me because the man we should be remembering on the day did not condone that type of love either. In fact, I think Saint Valentine would be against it.
The Story of Saint Valentine
There isn't complete agreement about the life of Saint Valentine. Some would argue that much of what is believed about him is not based on historic fact. However, about 10 years ago, Focus on the Family released an episode of Adventures in Odyssey (LOVED that radio show when I was a kid) about Saint Valentine called “The Last ‘I Do.’” I want to share the story of Saint Valentine based on their interpretation. (I tried to distinguish some of the details I know were made up for the show by adding "In Odyssey") Here’s what you learn in that episode:
Now I know that this version of the story was fictionalized, but I still think that some of these stories are true. Many of these details are pretty consistent throughout all the different versions of his life, specifically the healing the jailer's daughter, his refusal to renounce his faith, and his martyrdom on what became his Saint Day. As I listened to this version of his story, two things stand out to me, things that I think should be the emphasis of Valentine’s Day: marriage and sacrificial love.
Marriage – Something Worth Fighting For
Valentine was one of the greatest champions for marriage to ever live. He died in the defense of marriage. It doesn't get any more real than that. However, Valentine’s Day has become a day to celebrate all types of relationships. Dating relationships and even crushes are also celebrated on Valentine’s Day. I think that in many ways, we miss the point when we choose to focus on all relationships instead of marriage specifically.
Valentine believed that marriage was an institution created by God and that no man should have the right to take away or change this institution. To be frank, I think Valentine would be grieved to see what has become of marriage and relationships in our world today. It is no longer holy. It is no longer permanent. Many spend extravagant amounts of money to make a wedding fancy, but end up saying vows that they don’t really intend to live out. Many are being extremely irresponsible with their sexual lives, to the point that marriage has become less important than “being in love,” or experiencing sexual pleasure. Marriage is no longer a necessity to parent a child. Families are not the backbone of society that they used to be, and we are paying the price for this cultural shift. This should not be.
On Valentine’s Day, I think we should celebrate marriage as the blessing from God that it is. It is a commitment between a man and a woman to be joined spiritually and sexually until death separates them. This is a beautiful thing, and a metaphor of God’s love for us. We should not allow anyone or anything to taint marriage any more that it has already been distorted by our culture. We need to win back marriage and sex from Satan’s grasp so that we can help our world see God’s divine intention for them. The sacred love within a marriage is something worth fighting for. This what this song from the movie Fireproof tells us.
Love – Giving Up Yourself
The other thing that stands out about Saint Valentine is that he cared enough about those around him that he gave up his life for their sake. He came to care for Julia so much that he did not want to leave her fatherless. He cared about those he married so much that he gave up his life so that they could be united. That’s incredible. That’s not the love of fairytales or a love based on feelings. It was even a parallel to what Jesus did for the church.
Jesus did not want us to be fatherless either. He did not want us to be without a way to know the Heavenly Father intimately and personally, so he came down to earth as a man, and became the Ransom for all transgressions. This hope we have in salvation was the ultimate motivation for Saint Valentine to give up his life, but he was able to do so because he knew the ultimate example of sacrificial love.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from The Lord of the Rings. When Frodo tells Sam that he would be leaving over Sea, Sam has a hard time accepting it. He makes a statement I will never forget, and I may expound on further in another post. This is one of the best ways that sacrifice has ever been defined.
"I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so Sam, when things are in danger. Someone must give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them."
This is the type of love that we are supposed to have for each other, especially husbands and wives. It is your motivation and your ultimate goal. You put their needs ahead your own. You don’t think about what you can get in return. You protect and defend them, no matter what. You choose forgiveness over bitterness. You let them be right instead of arguing. You chose to love them despite their flaws. You endure even when you want to give up. That is true love, and anything short of this is a counterfeit.
Sacrificial Love Isn't Grey
The kind of love people really want to know, the sacrificial love we as Christians know, isn't grey; it’s black and white. Our culture wants to believe in this type of love, but when they can’t find it, they settle for the counterfeit versions our world is selling them. That's why Fifty Shades has become so popular. We haven't given them a better alternative. We haven't given the ability to find the love that will really satisfy them. This needs to change.
As Christians, we need to learn how to have sacrificial love in our marriages and in our other relationships, so that we can demonstrate it to a world so desperately needs to know what true love is. Then, we can lead them to the foot of the cross, where they will find the love that will endure all, and teach them how to live out that same type of love in our own lives. This will be the type of love that will matter for eternity, not some man-made version with mushy feelings and "happily ever after's." As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we need to focus on celebrating the right kind of love, and how to identify when someone is trying to sell us the counterfeit.
True love is not found in porn or erotica. It’s not found in uncommitted relationships. It’s not found in many of our favorite chick flicks. It’s not found in cheesy cards and fancy dinners. It’s not even found in fancy weddings.
True love found in a marriage grounded in Christ. It’s found in the man willing to do anything to protect and provide for his family. It’s found in the woman who gives up her dreams to support her husband’s dreams. It’s found in a child that gives expecting nothing in return. It’s found at the foot of the cross. That’s where I look for it. How about you?
To conclude this post, I want to share my newest YouTube video about Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s a spoken word poem that further addresses my perspective on the subject. I hope that all of you will know how to be pursue sacrificial love, this Valentine's Day, and everyday.
This blog is now designated for my reviews of primarily Christian books, but also some movies and musicals. It will feature the work I do to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors I believe in their message. This will also be the place where I will update and promote the major of the projects of Princess Worth Dying For Ministries or my personal life.
The name is derived from one of my favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through my reviews, I hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
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Bethel Grove is a self-published Christian author, spoken word artist, and a graduate of Ozark Christian College trained in biblical hermeneutics and practical ministry. She founded Princess Worth Dying For Ministries to proclaim the truth of the gospel, especially to the next generation and their leaders. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and mentoring younger women.
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