It happens every year. Right about this time. Facebook is flooded with articles about the evils of Halloween and how Christian families should have no part in it. Much of the reasoning lies in the origins of Halloween and the fact that "All Hallows Eve" is a high and holy holiday in pagan religions. Jack-O-Lanterns were borrowed from a pagan ritual designed to scare away evil spirits. Witches, well that's self-explanatory! We are admonished to "avoid all appearances of evil" as the Bible instructs.
So it is up to us to discern what the appearance of evil is. Is it evil to dress up like Captain America and go door to door begging for candy? I have to apply a little bit of logic to this. I have given the issue a lot of thought over the past year.
Last year, I was introduced to some friends who do not celebrate Christmas. My first thought was WHAT? Why in the world would you not want to celebrate the birth of your Savior? Well, as it turns out, my first thoughts were a bit judgmental and wrong. The reason why someone who loves God would choose to remove Christmas celebration form their calendars is because Christmas is a holiday that has borrowed from pagan rituals. There is not even proof that Christ was born in December! The gift giving was taken from the Roman Holiday Saturnalia, which celebrated their gods with gift giving. The Christmas tree has pagan roots also. However, Christians have adapted these things as a celebration of Jesus birth. I have heard the argument that "At least Christmas has some redeeming value because we use it to celebrate Jesus, Halloween has no redeeming value." I have to say that logically, I cannot agree with that. Both were holidays that were extracted from pagan culture and eventually celebrated to mean something different from their original intent. I sincerely cannot see the difference.
So, the question now is do we attempt to remove all things that have pagan origins from our lives? That would take a tremendous amount of study, as many of our traditions can claim some pagan roots. Veils were used in the Bible as a means of modesty, but were also used in Roman culture to protect the bride from evil spirits. Should we discourage the use of veils because of their possible appearance of evil? There are many other customs that we observe that either shared origins with non-Christian cultures or came completely from the non-Christian traditions. Do we have the strength to search out all of these things and eliminate them? Do we really need to?
I am going to give you my opinion here. Just my opinion, so take it for what it is. I believe that Paul dealt adequately with this in his teachings. Colossians addresses the fact that Christ's death of the cross has "disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it."
He goes on to say "let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." I know that most people who oppose Halloween are very familiar with that verse as an argument. I don't see it as much of an argument for Halloween, but an argument that we are not bound by any of these things. The holidays he mentioned were Jewish holidays that the devout Jew was obligated to observe. He says you no longer have any obligation to them under grace.
So in my opinion, it is not evil to dress up like Captain America and go trick or treating. I personally do have a problem with zombies, vampires, etc, because of what they represent. To trick or treat, in my opinion, does not mean that you are honoring or worshiping satan. That being said, I have the utmost respect for those who choose not to participate. I think that if we cannot participate with a clear conscience, then we should simply avoid it. However, I do think that we need to keep in mind that BOTH Christmas and Halloween traditions started out with ungodly origins. Christians have adapted Christmas into a beautiful celebration that honors the birth of God on earth. We have the grace to do that. I can put up a Christmas tree with a clear conscience knowing that I am not worshiping false Roman gods, but rather honoring my Savior. In the same way, I can dress my kids up like the Knights of the Round Table (our family theme this year?) and take them trick or treating and know that I am not honoring satan in the process.
I know that there are many of you out there who will disagree with me. I have no problem with that. The only warning: I would not want to receive an admonition from you against Halloween and get a Christmas card from you two months later standing in front of your Christmas tree. I believe when we teach against something, it is vital to examine our own lives before we judge to remove any "planks" that might blind our vision.
Once again, I welcome your comments, disagreements, and insights.