A brief stroll around my neighborhood reveals something ironic: we’ve all just finished sweeping the nasty cobwebs off our shrubs just in time to replace them with much larger, fake ones!
Over the years, I’ve been all over the map on Halloween.
When our kids were very young, we allowed them to go trick-or-treating. Then, due to information circulating about the pagan roots of Halloween and dark practices associated with it, we opted out and took our boys to church harvest parties, where they could dress up, play games and get a sack full of candy.
(Turns out, Halloween is not the huge pagan deal we once thought it was—and the celebration of birthdays has pagan roots, too. So does Christmas. So there’s that.)
Still, Christians celebrate life, not death; faith, not fear; beauty, not the grotesque. There’s a lot about Halloween that doesn’t fit what we’re about.
So how should Christian parents approach Halloween?
It’s always easier to make a rule than to figure out a principle, but principles are where we ground our decisions.
Here are some principles which may help you formulate your family’s guidelines:
First, Christians, of all people, have the greatest reasons for celebrating. Our gratitude toward God and all he has done for us overflows into corporate worship, joy and thanksgiving.
Being rescued from spiritual death and darkness and brought into light and real life is the most compelling reason ever to party in the best sense of the word.
Our celebrations center around the abundant life we share in Christ. Our focus is on “whatever is true…noble… right… pure …lovely …admirable … excellent or praiseworthy.” (Phil 4:8).
Second, Christians celebrate in the same way we live. We enjoy God’s good gifts of food and drink and fellowship and fun without using celebrations as excuses for bad behavior.
Contrary to the way the world parties, we avoid drunkenness, gluttony, orgies, sexual immorality, and the like (Galatians 5:19-21).
We recognize such actions as hollow substitutes for real joy. We understand that worldly partying is just fake fun with bad consequences.
Still, most people are into this holiday, so what do we model for our kids?
How do we find that fine line between compromising with the world on the one hand and acting religiously standoffish on the other?
Since this is a matter of principle, there’s no one correct answer here.
You might choose to opt out of Halloween altogether because of our culture’s increasing obsession with death, violence and gore, and the premature sexualization of children.
If you do opt out, don’t be a religious party-pooper about it. Explain your reasons to your kids in age-appropriate ways, and come up with an alternative activity for them.
They need to know that Christians enjoy life to the full—but we don’t mindlessly do things just because everyone else does.
We belong to God, and that makes us different (1 Peter 2:9).
If you do choose to participate in Halloween, put some healthy guard rails in place, such as avoiding costumes and activities which are inconsistent with a godly life.
(Witches, goblins, skeletons, monsters, fake blood…no, thank you. Our culture calls these things cute and fun, but keep in mind people who don’t know Christ are deceived, so they believe lies.)
Whatever you decide about Halloween, know your reasons. Use the occasion as a springboard to develop your children’s critical thinking skills.
Ask questions like:
- Does it make sense to call scary, gross things “fun”? Why or why not?
- Why don’t we dress up as devils or ghosts?
- What did Jesus mean by “not of the world (John 17:16)?”
Whether your kids go trick-or-treating or not, enjoy your October!