Should a Christian Celebrate Halloween?
Should a Christian celebrate Halloween? The topic has been vigorously debated, with strong opinions on both sides. The answer? Well, it depends. There really is nothing new under the sun — the early church disputed over holidays too. So let’s see what the Bible says.
What Do the Scriptures Say?
Colossians 2:6-15 is a great passage about our freedom from legalism because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Legalism is measuring your own or someone else’s spirituality by the ability to keep man-made rules. Note the emphasis on man-made. We’re NOT talking about things that the Bible clearly identifies as sin.
In Colossians 2:16, Paul gets specific. Since you are free in Christ, don’t allow anyone to judge you regarding the food you eat or the holidays you celebrate. This kind of legalism promotes a sense of self-righteousness, appearing to be spiritual while doing nothing to address the sin in our hearts (Col 2:20-23).
Romans 14:1-7 opens by admonishing Christians not to argue about doubtful issues, identifying those doubtful issues as food and holidays. So one person is a vegetarian; the other eats meat. One person eats pork; the other abstains. One person observes the Sabbath; the other does not. One person celebrates certain holidays; the other considers them pagan and doesn’t participate. Paul’s conclusion on these issues? It’s all good. It. Does. Not. Matter.
Let’s summarize the lessons found in Romans 14:1-7:
(1) If you restrict certain things for yourself, don’t judge the person who chooses to indulge in them
(2) If you are free in what you allow for yourself, don’t look down on those who restrict themselves
(3) God accepts Christians even in their differences
(4) God is your judge, not other people
(5) Be ruled by your conscience and make up your own mind
Notice Paul isn’t telling people what to do (adhere to certain diets or not, observe certain holidays or not). His only concern is our attitude toward those who disagree with us. He forbids judging others by our own preferences. Christians must not compromise about anything clearly forbidden in Scripture, but they shouldn’t create additional rules and make them equal to God’s Word.
So, should you celebrate Halloween as a Christian? Only if you want to! The main issue is this: Can you participate without sinning? Can you influence others for good rather than being influenced by them?
The Case Against Halloween
Most Christians agree with the following statements about Halloween:
(1) Satanists claim the day as their own.
(2) Halloween has pagan origins.
(3) Christians shouldn’t dabble in the occult (i.e., ghosts, witches, etc.).
(4) Halloween has become increasingly unsafe for children.
(5) Many people use the day for lewd, fleshly acts.
These are all valid concerns, so let’s explore them.
Satanists Claim the Day
We give Satan and his minions far too much credit. They can claim the day all they like, but the last time I checked, Halloween is STILL a day that the LORD has made. So let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Why should we just hand it over to devil worshippers and pagans? Why not turn it around and use it for good instead of evil? Incidentally, this is the thinking behind celebrating Christian holidays on or around pagan holidays (like Christmas). They wanted to take back the day, and I say kudos! Our months, weeks, and years are made up of the seven days that GOD created. Satan gets no credit here!
Halloween Has Pagan Origins
Yes, this is true. Since this is the most frequent argument against Halloween, let’s find out what paganism is and what that means to us as Christians. Paganism is the worship of something or someone other than the Christian God. This includes not only the deity worshiped, but the objects used in worship. Normally when you hear Christians speak against paganism, it’s not a warning against worshiping another deity. We’re all pretty clear that’s a no-no. What they’re talking about is not using or participating in the objects and/or activities associated with such worship.
In 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 and 1 Corinthians 10:18–33, the apostle Paul addresses the issue of taking part in things that have pagan origins. In both cases, Paul discusses eating meat that has been offered to idols. His conclusion? Idols are nothing; therefore the meat was offered to nothing. Eat it if you want and have a clear conscience, but don’t let your freedom cause another Christian to sin. Yes, those passages are about food, but Paul has elsewhere tied together the principles for food and holidays. Therefore the principles that apply to one also apply to the other.
Yes, pagans worshiped other gods on their holidays. They used some of the customs and decorations we find in the celebration of our holidays today. So what? I can name several things the world has co-opted and used for evil — things like music, movies, and sex. It’s up to Christians to take these things back and make them good again. The customs and decorations are not evil in themselves. The problem is what they were used for….the worshiping of other gods. But we worship the one true God, and the important thing is that we honor him in all we do. Holiday or not.
Halloween Isn’t Safe for Children
Halloween has increasingly become unsafe for children — the world has become increasingly unsafe. When I was a kid, we freely trick-or-treated around our neighborhood, visiting the houses of both neighbors and strangers. It wasn’t really safe then, but it’s doubly unsafe now. So yes, do everything you can to protect your children. Do not let them go out alone or to the houses of strangers. But there’s certainly no need to deny your children the fun aspects of Halloween. Many churches now host programs on Halloween to keep children safe. There’s nothing wrong with pumpkins, candy, parties, or costumes in themselves. So if you want to, go ahead and let your children participate and allow them to have fun in a wholesome environment.
Christians Shouldn’t Dabble in the Occult
The Bible specifically forbids dabbling in the occult. That means we should stay away from Ouija boards, fortune-telling, séances, haunted houses, and occult-like costumes such as ghosts, witches, or vampires. However, it’s totally possible to participate in Halloween without indulging in its negative aspects. There are more than enough fun costumes available that don’t involve dressing up like a witch or a ghost — from celebrities, to Disney characters, to Bible characters — the sky is the limit. Go to a costume party dressed as a Biblical character or get some friends to help you dramatize a Bible scene. When people ask who you’re supposed to be, you get to tell them a story!
People Use Halloween as an Excuse for Lewdness
In a popular 80s song, rap group Whodini taught us that the freaks come out at night. Well, they also come out at Halloween. Wild parties, drug use, near-nakedness, and sexual immorality abound. So what’s a Christian to do? Well this is an easy one. Stay away from those things — and not just on Halloween! Skip the club, and don’t attend parties where the host isn’t a Christian and you don’t know what to expect.
To Celebrate or Not — That Is the Question
Many Christians who wish to participate in Halloween are made to feel guilty by their well-meaning, non-celebratory Christian friends. Well, I’m here to absolve you of all guilt. If you want to celebrate Halloween, do so with a clear conscience, knowing that you are still honoring God in whatever you do. In Christ you are free from man-made rules and regulations, and God is the only one you really need to answer to.
Now, despite our freedom in Christ, caution is still required. Having been fully convinced that celebration of Halloween is ok within certain guidelines, it’s only natural to want to share our convictions. Sharing is fine, but make sure your sharing doesn’t cross the line into convincing. You don’t want anyone trying to convince you that you shouldn’t celebrate Halloween, likewise you shouldn’t try to convince anyone that they should.
Now if you believe it’s wrong to celebrate Halloween, don’t do it. It’s a sin to do something that you believe is wrong, even if it really isn’t. But there are certainly valid reasons for choosing not to participate, so don’t feel guilty if that’s your choice. Don’t go against your own conscience, but don’t try to convince others to go against theirs either (Romans 14:21-23).
If you ask me, many Christians have it backward. They scream “don’t judge” about things that are clearly labeled as sin; meanwhile they get all bent out of shape about what holidays to celebrate and other doubtful issues that have nothing to do with morality. But don’t get me started — that’s a whole ‘nother topic!
Wherever you stand, here’s the key: If you’re an abstainer, don’t judge the participator. If you’re a participator, don’t look down on the abstainer.
~ C. Austin Tucker
Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts (in love!) in the comments below. And if you’re celebrating Halloween, let us all know what you’re doing.