Halloween Debrief

Most of you are not aware of my recent aversion to Christians' participation in Halloween. I grew up celebrating it, and nothing negative resulted in my life that I am aware of. Yet, out of a conviction concerning the teaching of Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 5:11, I had decided that participating in Halloween as such was unChristian. My reasoning was this: at worst, Halloween largely glorifies the "dark" (demonic) side of the spiritual realm, or at least makes a mockery of it. Christians are called not only to "come out and be separate" from "darkness", but to marshall the entirety of their being to fighting against it. Darkness is not something to be trifled with. It is anti-Christ.

As I had opportunities to express these convictions and was forced to defend them, I realized that I had made some faulty inductive leaps. The first of them was that of guilt by association. I realized that I could not be consistent with this conviction, due to Jesus' example of putting his reputation on the line by associating with others of ill repute, in questionable social environments. The second realization I came to was that virtually all (if not all) Christian holidays had some sort of pagan precursor. Once a suspicion of "holy days" waned in the Church, it decided that redirecting people's attention to something noble was needed to keep them from being corrupted by the pagan festivals.  While Halloween in no way resembles the Christian faith, nevertheless I could not reject it on the basis of its supposed pagan roots (what exactly those roots are is also disputed).  Thirdly, I came to grips with the fact that the overwhelming majority of those celebrating Halloween are neither celebrating nor mocking the spirits of darkness, but simply enjoying dressing up and going out into their neighborhood to meet neighbors and solicit large amounts of candy.

As a result of these ambiguities and realities, I recognized that I could not and should not dogmatically defend my convictions about Halloween.  My wife and I decided that it was not worth coming across as legalistic killjoys when we did not have a solid ground for abstaining whatsoever from the holiday.  Furthermore, our experience trick-or-treating Friday night confirmed our common sense assumption that this was a great way to meet neighbors and cultivate community.  We had a wonderful time dressing up our 3 year old daughter as a "princess" (Belle from Beauty and the Beast) and taking her out, along with our good friends and their 1 year old son (who was a dragon).

That said, I still insist on proceeding discerningly with regard to this holiday. As Christians we must avoid either celebrating or even trifling with all things evil, including death, which is the result of sin. Images that glorify evil and its effects are off-limits to the follower of Christ, as are obviously experimentations with non-Christian spirituality of any sort. While we should avoid passing judgment and condescending toward others, we ought to be more outspoken to our brothers and sisters in Christ about dissociating ourselves from "every form of evil" (1 Thess 5:22), though graciously.

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