What Christians Should Do About Halloween
For Christians, Halloween is a controversial topic. Some people believe that Halloween should be completely ignored, while others believe that Christians should join in on the festivities. Sadly, Halloween can even become a point of division among believers.
If your convictions are to avoid any observation or participation in the goings-on around Halloween, I have no desire to change you mind. On the contrary, I would encourage you to live by your convictions.
My purpose here is to explain how a Christian can use Halloween for God’s glory.
The Struggle of How to Handle Halloween
I understand the struggle. I’ve studied and understand the dark origins and meanings of Halloween, and I realize that much of the world celebrates evil on that day. In response, speaking personally, I have been all over the map through the years concerning Halloween. As a follower of Christ, as a Father, and as a Pastor, I’ve tried it all. I’ve ignored Halloween, shunning all observations of it, and turned off my porch light, discouraging children from trick-or-treating at my home.
I’ve also welcomed trick-or-treaters and passed out candy with accompanying gospel tracts. More recently, I’ve participated in alternative events at church on Halloween evening, including harvest carnivals and trunk-or-treats. What I’ve concluded from all my experiences and studies is this: there are valid reasons for some Christians to acknowledge Halloween.
How to use Halloween as an opportunity for good
Halloween presents a prime opportunity to share the light of Christ in a dark world.
How did I arrive at the conclusion that participation in some Halloween activities is okay? Most simply, it’s that Halloween presents a prime opportunity to share the light of Christ in a dark world.
This is important, because God’s Word is very clear about how we should utilize the opportunities He sets before us. Let’s take a look:
Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Let’s unpack these Scripture passages for a moment.
The days are evil…
In Ephesians 5:16, Paul observes that the days are evil. Of course, it could be argued that no day is more so than Halloween. But as you read Paul’s words, it is important to note that his exhortation to make the most of every opportunity is because the days are evil.
The evil of the day is the reason why we should make the most of every opportunity. Halloween, then, gives us both a reason and an opportunity to share the gospel.
Being watchful and wise…
We should also note from Colossians 4:2-6 (above) that we should be watchful, looking for any doors which God may open for us to proclaim the gospel, and making the most of those opportunities.
Again, we should watch for opportunities and be wise in making use of them. On a day like Halloween, when the world is out and about, open to receiving things from strangers, how clear is the need for the Gospel, and how obvious is the opportunity to share it?
An example from Paul
The Apostle Paul was very zealous for righteousness and for the gospel. Upon his visit to Athens, Paul was distressed to see just how lost the people were:
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
In this passage, Paul noted that the people of Athens were in the habit of worshiping false gods and idols. In fact, he was distressed by it, and rightly so. The misplaced worship of the people of Athens would lead them to hell. What was Paul to do?
Paul seized the opportunity afforded by the darkness to share the gospel.
In a brilliant and God-directed stroke, Paul seized the opportunity afforded by the darkness to share the gospel. Naturally, some of his audience sneered, but others wanted to hear more about the Good News of Christ, eventually becoming believers!
When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Paul did not ignore the darkness of Athens, nor did he deny it. Instead, Paul recognized the sad, dark state of things as an opportunity for sharing the light.
Doesn’t This Make Us Participants In The Darkness?
This is a fair question, and something we should all be wary about. However, this question can only be answered by each individual, in light of the motives of each person’s heart. I’ve shared my personal conclusions and convictions, but what if yours differ?
For the authoritative Word on this, we need not look any further than Romans chapter 14:
A study of Romans chapter 14
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
While one man considers one day more sacred (or perhaps more evil) than another, others might consider every day to be alike. After all, God creates each new day, does He not? And doesn’t each day belong to the Lord?
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Clearly, regardless of how the world chooses to use each day, every day is created by and for the Lord.
Yet, Paul states in Romans 14:5 that each person should be fully convinced in his own mind. It is clear that Paul is referring to the mind that is in step with the Holy Spirit. That’s the mind in which we must be fully convinced. Therefore, whatever you believe about a day like Halloween, as informed by God’s Word and His Spirit, you should be fully convinced.
Let’s continue on in Romans 14…
He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Here, Paul points out that each person’s conclusions are made to the Lord, with thankfulness to Him. We are each individually accountable to God, and each individually live to Him and give thanks to Him.
Of course, we should all examine ourselves to ensure that our motives really are driven by Christ, but if they are, then we can be at peace.
Let’s continue in Romans chapter 14…
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
” ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’ “
12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
As Paul continues in Romans 14, he warns us against, in the midst of our personal convictions, passing judgment on those whose convictions are different. Paul reminds us that God will judge the motives and actions of each person, and that we need not concern ourselves with such things.
This is not to say that clearly-defined Biblical commands are open to personal conviction. Naturally, when Scripture commands us not to murder, for example, there is no room for personal debate on the issue.
To be fair, the same “black-and-white” thinking should apply to Scripture’s commands not to participate in divination, idolatry, witchcraft, and the like, which are sometimes associated with Halloween.
The question, then, is whether we are participating in those things by dressing in costume, passing out candy, or hosting trunk-or-treats or Halloween carnivals.
If any of us intend, in our hearts, to participate in evil through the wearing of costumes, the passing out of candy, or any other traditional activities associated with Halloween, then we most certainly sin!
On the other hand, if we’re not participating in evil, and if our heart’s motives in Halloween-centric activities are devoid of sinful motives and are done from a clear conscience, we can be at peace.
Let’s continue in Romans 14…
As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Here, Paul makes a point that I don’t want to ignore. We all have to be careful not to bring distress upon our brothers and sisters in Christ by what we do. I recognize that some Christians might be distressed about some churches hosting trunk-or-treats or harvest festivals, or that some Christians participate in trick-or-treating. Some people might view these things as a participation in evil.
That’s valid. This is where I would point out that none of us, as Christians, are generally required to participate in these kinds of events, nor would it be appropriate for anyone to be judged or frowned upon for abstaining. We are generally free to choose for ourselves whether we will be a part of these kinds of events.
Now, let’s conclude our examination of Romans chapter 14:
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
Here, Paul concludes his instruction on how to handle matters of personal conviction. He is clear that we should not allow such things to become points of division in the church. We should allow personal latitude on issues for which there are no specific commands in Scripture, leaving room for each person to wrestle with the Holy Spirit.
Clearly, for the one who believes that participation in festivities on a day like Halloween is sinful, it is indeed sinful.
Conversely, for the person who has weighed his/her motives and who has a clear conscience, it is not sinful.
Whatever the case, each person is individually accountable to God.
Should Churches Be Involved with Halloween Activities?
Scripture has clearly shown that we are all free to make our individual choices (and are individually accountable) on matters of conscience. But what about those times when a body of believers, like a local church, sponsors an event for Halloween?
If you are troubled about a church or body of believers participating in a Halloween-type event, there are two questions for you to consider:
Why are they doing it, and how are they doing it?
Why are they doing Halloween?
If your church simply wants in on the “fun” of Halloween and wants to “fit in” with the world, you may have reason for concern.
On the other hand, your church’s motives may not be to celebrate or participate in the sinfulness of the world, but rather to use the occasion as an opportunity to bring the world to its doorstep, where they can share the Light of Jesus.
Of course, there can be no guarantee that nothing sinful will occur at a church Halloween event (or at any other church event, for that matter), but if the driving motive is for the sharing of the Gospel, you might find peace with that, even if you’re not personally convinced.
How are they doing Halloween?
Once the question of motive is settled, it is also important to consider how a church goes about Halloween. Are they focusing on the evil and the darkness, or are they keeping things fun, lighthearted, and pointing to Christ?
Are spiders and skeletons evil? It depends. They’re creations of God, after all. The issue is how they’re being presented and used. On the other hand, its hard to justify witches and demons (I certainly can’t)! Here again, it’s a matter of focus. Is the attention being focused on the darkness, or on the Light of God?
Talk with your church leadership
If you’re concerned, it’s important to have an honest and respectful conversation about these issues and about your concerns. You might find that your church is simply trying to reach its community for Christ. And they might find that some adjustments are in order.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD.
If the Gospel is preached, praise God!
Of course, there are inherent risks when a church sponsors a Halloween event. Things can go wrong. People can show up in less-than-appropriate costumes. Church people might make mistakes, and the unbelievers in attendance might act like, well, unbelievers.
But what’s the goal?
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
What Should I Do?
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
After all has been heard, what should you do about Halloween? Well, you should do what you think is right. Whatever your convictions are, you should be proactive. You may not agree with every brother or sister in Christ, or even with every church. That’s okay.
Each of those people will answer to God for their own actions, just as you alone will answer for yours. If you’ve studied the Scriptures, prayerfully considered what you should do, and concluded that you should abstain from all things Halloween, then you should certainly do so!
For my part, I have come to believe that it is not only acceptable for me to seize the opportunity afforded by Halloween to share the gospel, it is my obligation.
If you feel differently, I encourage you to live by your convictions. Wherever you stand on Halloween, I pray that it will be in the spirit of what is most beneficial for the world around you, and most beneficial for your own walk with Christ.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
At the end of the day, we are the family of Christ. Even if we don’t agree on some matters of opinion, preference or personal conviction, let us ensure that all of these things are informed by God’s Word and His Spirit, so that we may all live and work together in harmony, both for His glory and for the saving of souls.