Over the past few days, I have posted a few things on my Facebook page regarding how Christians should think about Halloween. The general discussion that has taken place has been focused on whether or not Christians should participate in this holiday. Because of the format, I have not been able to fully communicate my thoughts in a single place, so I want to take the time to do that now.
My general opinion on the matter is that there is not a right or wrong answer. I think individuals and families need to decide for themselves what they will do. I understand both sides of the issue and do not think this is a moral issue. It is one of Christian liberty and should be respected as such. But some will disagree with me.
Some will say that it is clear (Clear to who? is a good question to ask anyone who says this.) that Halloween is not pleasing to God. The argument goes like this: 1. Halloween began as a pagan holiday from either Celtic harvest festivals or Gaelic Samhain. (This is a debated fact though. You can read up on Halloween here.) 2. Since Halloween is a pagan holiday, God would not be pleased because it would be idolatry. 3. Scripture is usually quoted to back up this argument.
I do not disagree that God would not be pleased if Christians celebrated a pagan holiday. The part that I disagree with is whether or not Halloween is indeed a pagan holiday. So, Bible verses are not necessary to convince me. I need to be convinced that Halloween, as we know it today, is pagan.
Let’s assume that it really did begin as a pagan holiday (which again is debated). To that I say, “Okay, so those Christians living in that early Celtic / Gaelic culture should have avoided it.” Many years have passed and whatever the holiday started out as has changed dramatically. The question is: What does Halloween stand for in the United States of America in 2014? That’s the culture I live in.
I am completely unconvinced that Halloween in our country today is any more than a secular holiday where people don costumes and kids collect candy from their neighbors. I am quite certain that’s what the hundreds of children and parents who will be strolling through my neighborhood think about it. They are not thinking about Celtic harvests or the Gaelic Samhain or any other spiritual relationships.
Some will argue that the roots of the holiday alone are reason enough. To that I say, “Do you realize how many other things that we do every day have pagan roots?” Here are a few examples:
- The word we get pharmacy from (pharmakos) comes from what the Bible calls sorcery or magic. This was the mixing together of magic potions. Check out Revelation 21:8 and 22:15 for examples of its use.
- Wedding rings.
- Embalming the dead.
- Statues of people and animals.
- Money with pagan designs such as the goddess Liberty.
Do you use any of the above? I am sure almost all of us do and do not think twice about it. Why? Because we know that whatever their roots, they are not the same now. These things and others are no longer associated with paganism.
And that is my point about Halloween. Whatever its roots, it is no longer the same. We must evaluate it for what it is today. Some may still choose not to participate and that is fine. If someone chooses to abstain, let them do it to the glory of God. If another chooses to participate, let them participate to the glory of God. And let us offer grace toward one another whatever our decisions.