Halloween, the one day of the year that you’ll see Christians up in arms, get into heated arguments about how it’s evil and swear it off entirely. If you have friends on Facebook that go to seminary, or just leave reading thick books on theology, you’ll probably see your news feed fill up with posts saying “Happy Reformation Day” in reference to Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the doors of the church in Germany. To learn more about Reformation Day, click here. But to the rest of society, today is all about dressing up costume, knocking on neighbors’ doors and getting free candy. Or toothbrushes if you wind up at a dentist’s home. Granted, there are parties too but the only difference about it on Halloween is everyone is people are in costume instead of an Abercrombie polo. So, what’s the big deal about Halloween?
Well, it has roots in an old Celtic lore that says the day Halloween falls on is the day that spirits are more visible and their activity is heightened. However, Halloween wasn’t called “Halloween” until the 16th century and it wasn’t until the 19th century, during the Irish/Scottish immigration that it came to America. From there, it wasn’t until the 18th century that people began dressing up, going door to door and asking for money and food, which, to be honest, I think I prefer how it is now compared to then. Fast forward to today and you have children that are terrifying, dressed up as Doctor Who and princesses, who run door to door asking for candy. I’m sure there are some religions that probably practice rituals on this day but, because I’m not well versed in those religions, I won’t disrespect them by fumbling and trying to elaborate on what their religion looks like.
What does this mean for the Christian? How do we react?
The popular reaction is to swear Halloween off. Have a “Trunk-or-Treat”, Fall Festival, or just stay home. It’s something that says, “We’re not being part of the world”, which is based in Scripture. But if we take a minute to really think about it, it’s a very secluded ideal. I know Jesus told us to be “in the world but not of it” but is this really the answer? Somehow, I don’t think staying walled in a church, inviting people to church is the right answer. Why? Because we’re not engaging the culture where they’re at.
I’m not saying we should have parties, call fruit punch “blood” or play bobbing for eyeballs. What I will say is I think we need to get out of the church parking lot and go trick-or-treating with our neighbors. I remember when I was younger and my parents would take me trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. We always ran into someone we knew and began spending that night going door-to-door and getting candy. We would compare costumes, our loot of candy and catch-up on life. We nurtured relationships. And I can’t think of a better way for a Christian to get to know his/her neighbors than that.
Maybe get a group of friends from work together and have a scary movie marathon, especially since there’s plenty to choose from like Friday the 13th, Halloween and X-Men 3. Or if you and a group of friends like video games, there’s plenty of games to download that are terrifying, like Outlast, Slender and a few others, and have a scary game night.
What I’m getting at is, for the Christian, Halloween isn’t a day to seclude yourself from the world. Jesus never commanded that. Instead of complaining about Halloween and sitting at home, not doing anything about it, get out there and hang out with people. Get to know who lives around you and start building relationships with them. You may find a fellow baseball fan, a family who needs a friend, a new friend to play Battlefield 4 with and maybe, just maybe, find someone who really wants to know more about Jesus.
If you don’t participate in Halloween, that’s fine. If your convictions tell you Halloween is completely and utterly evil, then okay. But I would encourage you to try and redeem the holiday in some way that allows you have some kind of fun. Personally? I have no idea what I’m doing. I may wind up watching the episodes of Doctor Who that contains the Weeping Angels because they scare me but they’re fun episodes to watch with my wife. I don’t know how I can reach out to my friends who aren’t that fond of Christ on Halloween but I know that after reading the article on Relevant titled Why Christians Can Celebrate Halloween, I want to do Halloween differently, especially when I become a youth pastor.
If you’re the person that posts all the “Happy Reformation Day” stuff on social media, I would encourage you to do more than just post that. Talk to your friends about it, even if they know about it. Dress up as Martin Luther. Go share the significance of that with other people and explain it led to a huge shift in theology. But don’t be the troll that just posts it to spite folks and family who are going trick-or-treating.
In the end, don’t get too bent out of shape over Halloween. The kid in the Batman costume isn’t of big concern. The souls of your neighbors definitely are and it being Halloween certainly doesn’t change that.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” – Jesus