Trunk or Treat?
- Friday, October 27, 2000
By Brent Larson
It's that time of year again - when Christians wonder what to do with Halloween. There are many categories in which we may find ourselves: "What's all the fuss about? It's just candy." "This is an evil time of year!" "I wish it would just go away ..." These are just a few of the choices. Let's take a brief look at this increasingly popular secular holiday and ask the question: "What would God have me do on Halloween?"
According to most accounts, the fall seasonal celebration we now call Halloween originated from Celtic and pagan beliefs and practices which pre-date Christianity in what is now Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It was believed that as the harvest season ended and winter approached, the spirits of the dead were most active, intent on mischief and mayhem toward the living. Bonfires and costumes were supposed to frighten away spirits, while treats were set out, and sometimes sacrifices offered to appease them. St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland between 300-400 A.D. The church eventually instituted All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, and later All Souls' Day, Nov. 2, in an attempt to Christianize the season. As Christianity grew in influence, the ancient pagan practices waned, yet certain aspects of the ancient traditions remain today.
Halloween seems to gain popularity every year. I think part of the reason is massive marketing in a consumer society. It used to be candy, costumes, and carved pumpkins. Now, there are decorations for house and yard that rival Christmas. If they make it, someone will buy it. In recent years, parents have become increasingly protective of younger children going door to door asking for treats, yet Halloween parties and celebrations for young adults are prevalent. So what do we do when the kids are planning their costumes? First, let's see what God says.
The Bible does not address Halloween directly. Or does it? In Deuteronomy 18:10-14, God clearly condemns witchcraft, sorcery, divination and those who "call up the dead." Read the account of Saul and the medium at En-dor in I Samuel 28 (trivia: What was the name of Samantha's mother on the TV show "Bewitched"?). Read both passages for context concerning God's revelation to man through His prophets. Who was behind the magic and powers with which Pharaoh's magicians opposed Moses in Exodus 7? In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul includes witchcraft in the list of deeds of the flesh and warns that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. From these and many other Biblical passages, we can be certain that God opposes these dark evils.
If you choose to participate in a fall seasonal activity, consider some of the alternatives to traditional Halloween practices. Make certain your activity is "profitable" for God (I Corinthians 6:12). Some churches and schools reserve a portion of the parking lot for "Trunk or Treat." The kids can be in one safe place and load up with candy served from open car trunks. At our church we'd have to use the side doors from all the minivans. Organize a community outreach such as a "Harvest Festival" with food, games, and gospel skits or messages. Invite your neighbors and kids' sports teams. If you are comfortable allowing your kids to wear a costume, encourage them to dress up as Bible characters. Learn the character's story together and use it as a witness to those who might ask,
"Who in the world is Elijah?" Avoid scary costumes and those that don't honor God. There are many wonderful tracts that can be handed out with treats at your door. How many times a year does the mission field come to you? Most of all, stand firm in Christ with a loving attitude (I Peter 3:15). When discussing your beliefs with others, don't become so defensive and angry that no one hears the good news you have to share. Make Christ the treat you freely give out this year.
There are a number of books and articles about Halloween. Please be discerning. I recommend Halloween, What's A Christian To Do?" by Steve Russo.
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs, is great seasonal story with scriptural wisdom for young children.
Share your views and see what others think online at Halloween-Is it good or bad?
Remember, Halloween is only the tip of the iceberg for the spiritual battle Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:10. The best online resource for this topic I've seen is Christian Answers for the New Age. Check out the Harry Potter article!
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