The October Dilemma

Thursday night my small group had a special meeting (we usually have our study on Mondays) to get together for a Q&A session with one of the pastors at our church, Tim Ayers. Lots of good questions were asked, and Tim, as always, had wise answers. One of the most interesting and insightful comments was on one of the lighter subjects of the evening.

The only couple with a child old enough to eat candy asked what to do about Halloween. Do we celebrate it like everyone else, or is it Evil and Pagan and Of The Devil? I saw this as a very valid question. I've been in at least a couple churches where they've handed out tracts explaining the depth of darkness surrounding this seemingly harmless and frivolous holiday. Since I've heard and read those, I have never been totally comfortable with the idea of 'celebrating' Halloween. Tim's answer made things clear, and Josh and I really appreciated it.

What annoys us as Christians about the way Christmas is celebrated? Is it the people that refuse to celebrate it or those who celebrate Kwanzaa or Hanukkah around the same time? No, not really, we feel like they have that right. The thing that really bothers us is when a serious day of remembrance and significance is made frivolous- when Christmas is about candy canes and Santa and pine trees and nutcrackers and getting, or Easter centers around rabbits and chicks and decorated eggs and colored-sugar-coated marshmallows, and no mention or thought is made of Jesus.

So what does that have to do with Halloween? Tim was skeptical that Halloween had any sort of significance to much of anyone (as am I), but, on the chance that Satan does care about the day, the biggest disservice we can do him is to give him no attention. Trivialize the day. Celebrate it, and have as much fun as you can. Make the day not at all about Satan and darkness and scariness, and make it everything about running from door to door with your kid dressed up as a Power Ranger. If Halloween truly means nothing, we will have fun family time and give Satan no credit. If it does matter to Satan, we will do our best to make everything as frivolous and fun and silly as possible, as to give him no credit or attention and trivialize the day. This view made so much logical sense to me.

I did my part: Candy Corn Cookies


Matt Wissman said...

The "candy corn" cookies were very tasty, even if was only allowed to eat the 'ugly' ones :).

I agree with your Halloween sentiments.

Ashley said...

Halloween can be a fun and trivial time as you said, but I think in general one has to be very, very careful.

First of all, Satan and humans aren't the same. We can't necessarily attribute human emotions (i.e. being "annoyed") to angels - fallen or not. Satan's goal is to distract humans from God. He realizes he is powerless against God, so his main purpose is to keep as many people from experiencing Christ as possible. This is his indirect way of hurting God. Therefore, he doesn't really care if humans are worshipping him, but rather that they're not worshipping God. So actually, the greatest disservice we can do to Satan is to keep our focus on God.

Now about Halloween in general. I do think that it has a lot of significance to people - and evil significance at that. I believe trick or treating in of itself is a harmless and fun activity for children. However, parents have to be very, very careful. Children can grow up thinking that Halloween is an okay and safe holiday, and this allows Satan an "in" to their lives. The reality is, Halloween is a holiday that emulates and celebrates evil. It is a day when "ordinary" people dabble in the occult which they know nothing about, like levitating and ouja boards. Occults use the day (or rather, Halloween night) for special sacrifices and other such events. While I don't have hard facts right now, I know that groups like the Wiccan are alive and well in the United States (and around the world), and that the presence of the supernatural (demons and angels) is very real. Also, people can think that Halloween is an excuse to do things they wouldn't normally do, like vandalism; the origin of the phrase "Trick or Trick" and Detroit's "Devil's Night" are good examples of this.

As Christians, we need to really investigate how far we want to participate. Ultimately what we do with the holiday is what our children will take away from it. For me, I know I will not be taking my kids trick or treating. I want to teach them that Halloween is not a fun and safe holiday, but rather it is dark and evil.

Joanna said...

Ashley, I have to disagree with you on some of your points...

"Satan's goal is to distract humans from God. ... So actually, the greatest disservice we can do to Satan is to keep our focus on God."

Quality family time is one way we can bring glory to God and focus on Him. When we create a fun, safe atmosphere in our home and family activities, our children are strengthened, our family relationships are strengthened, and Satan has gotten no attention or credit for anything. Making Halloween out to be scary and devil-worshipping does nothing to glorify God; instead, it gives Satan credit for having power over a day, which is untrue.

Children can grow up thinking that Halloween is an okay and safe holiday, and this allows Satan an "in" to their lives. The reality is, Halloween is a holiday that emulates and celebrates evil.

First, how many children do you know who grew up thinking 'Halloween is an okay and safe holiday' turned into Wiccans as adults? Yeah, me neither. My point that I guess I didn't explain well was, Halloween will be what we make it in our families - as you said, 'Ultimately what we do with the holiday is what our children will take away from it.' I grew up seeing Halloween as simple and harmless, worrying only about not getting sick from eating too much candy, and there has been no evil in the silly celebrations since. I can safely say most Americans grow up with this same experience. If we allow scariness and evil and Ouija boards and vandalism to be condoned in our homes as a part of the celebration, then, yes, it will be viewed that way by children growing up. If we make it about dressing up as a pirate or Dora the Explorer and visiting neighbors with a plastic bucket, that's what it will be about in the children's eyes. If we teach our children to fear Satan rather than teaching them to be convinced that 'neither angels nor demons ... will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,' they will absorb that, too, and be afraid of Darkness rather than overcoming it with Good. Nothing about the simple fun of Halloween 'allows Satan an 'in'. It is as you said- it is what we make it.

Ashley said...

I've been thinking a lot about your response, and I think I've figured out why we disagree: we are coming from two fundamentally different sides. I believe Halloween is an evil holiday, and you believe it is not. So I'm not "making it out" to be bad, because it IS bad. You wouldn't take your children to rob a bank as a time of family togetherness if you believed robbing bank was inherently wrong. You wouldn't tell your kids it's fun so that they're not scared, because robbing IS wrong and you would want them to learn to NOT rob banks. Of course, it's an extreme example - but I don't think that celebrating Halloween is glorifying to God, so that's why I wouldn't take my kids trick-or-treating even if we are having family time. Does it make more sense where I'm coming from?

As far as why I think it's evil... I believe Christians underestimate the power of evil.The Bible does say that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one". To be honest I would never want to meet a demon face-to-face; I think it's a healthy fear. If I ever did encounter one, I know I would be okay because Christ is with me, but in the long run it's better to flee from any form of evil. Therefore, I want nothing to do with anything emulating or celebrating what is bad, and I don't want my kids to think it's okay either.

Actually, your response kind of proved my point. I'm guessing that you grew up trick or treating? And you are arguing that Halloween is a fun and safe holiday. See, that is exactly what I don't want my kids to think. I'm not necessarily worried about them joining the occult! I just don't want them to think of "bad" or "wicked" as anything but negative. When you underestimate the power of evil, you underestimate the need for God.

Because I value our friendship, I think this may be an issue where we need to just agree to disagree! Have a wonderful Reformation Day. :-)

annie b said...

Here's a comment from someone older than dirt. When I was a child fifty years ago, we did not believe witches were real, they were characters in Hansel and Gretel. Holloween was the eve of All Saint's Day. We processed from daily Mass to the cemetery on that day to honor our families that passed before us. Halloween was purely fun in those times. Since then an ugliness has crept into our society. Satan is no more real or powerful now than he was then. Satan has only as much power as we give him, unfortunately, many more people today give him that power. Each day is still a gift from God, to be used for his glory. My mother-in-law enjoys this holiday like no other. She sometimes dresses up. She delights to see how many neighbors and friends children she can recognize, and all the grandkids show up. This is a holiday more about giving than recieving for many people.

I really believe any day is what you make it.


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