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.