Reflections (and help) on Halloween 2013

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To be honest, I enjoy Halloween. It's a creative, relational and tasty holiday. Costumes and candy are part of God’s common grace extended to all people to be enjoyed. Who, after all, is quick to turn down a mini-Snickers, particularly if it is handed to you by Darth Vader? Its also one of the few holidays where people actually visit your home (albeit dressed as zombies) without any effort on your part - or answer their door when you visit theirs. All told, Halloween is a unique and fun holiday that Christians are free to celebrate. 

But, like anything, it can have a darker side. It can glorify evil, promote drunkenness and relativize that which is meant to be frightening (e.g. Satan). It also eclipses Reformation Day, the exact day which marks Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 theses to the castle door in Wittenburg, thus launching the Reformation and the recapturing of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When it comes to Halloween, Christians have long fallen on both sides of the fence. Its history is long, complex and uncertain with pagan, Catholic, and recent American roots. Its difficult to pinpoint any one single source of this over-commercialized holiday, let alone a general consensus as to what it actually means. Yet, for most Americans, Halloween means costumes and candy - not drunkenness and demonic worship. So what do we do with Halloween?

First, don’t violate your conscience. (1 Tim 1:19; Heb 13:18) Depending on your upbringing, or particular experiences, you may not be able to participate without violating your conscience. Do your homework. Pray through it. Talk to fellow Christians regarding your concerns. If you have kids, carefully consider your their costumes. There is a big difference between dressing your little girl as a princess versus a stripper. Consider using the following as a helpful biblical grid:

Q#1 Is it legal? Of course the holiday itself is legal, but will you be tempted to participate in or advocate anything that is illegal? (1Cor 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.”) 

Q#2 Is it helpful – physically, spiritually, emotionally? Will your costume hurt or harm others - or yourself - in some way? (1Cor 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.”) 

Q#3 Is it enslaving? Will you be tempted to unhelpful or unhealthy behavior? (1Cor6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.”) 

Q#4 Is it God-glorifying? Can I enjoy God through it and make him look as good as He is in how I celebrate it? (1Cor 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”) 

Second, enjoy God's common grace through Halloween. Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17). If you can celebrate with a clean conscience, enjoy! Image our creative God by being creative. Engage your friends. Make memories. Enjoy your favorite candy. Throw a party. Invite your neighrbors. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. Get into it.

Third, go where the people go. Those in the city will be out of their homes, so you should consider getting out of yours - or stay in yours to receive them. Go where the people are. Ask what your friends are doing. There are lots of activities already happening in the city, so you don’t have to make up your own. Use the holiday to build relationships with those around you for the sake of the gospel. 

Fourth, meet your neighbors. It can be hard to meet all your neighbors, let alone have a conversation. Use Halloween to intentionally meet and greet your neighbors. Invite them in. Have snacks and cider prepared. Be intentional. Or, do the reverse, and consider visiting your neighbors and dropping off a small gift. At least you know they’re likely to answer the door. 

Fifth, be the most generous and hospitable home on the block. Give out the biggest candy bars on your street. Christians should be the most generous people in the city. (2 Cor 9:11) Make your home/apartment (if your complex is doing this sort of thing) the go-to-home on the block. Tangibly demonstrate the generosity you’ve received by God in Christ.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31