How Should Christian Families Approach Halloween?
- Jim Liebelt HomeWord
- 2008 1 Oct
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of the world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle, don’t eat, don’t touch.” Such rules are mere human teaching about things that are gone as soon as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires. — Colossians 2:20-23 NLT
At HomeWord, we receive questions from time to time about Halloween. Should parents allow their kids to “celebrate” or not? To avoid “giving the devil his due,” so to speak, some Christians change the name of their festivities from a “Halloween” party to a “Harvest Party.” (While pretty much everything looks exactly the same!) Churches throughout our country use Halloween as a means for outreach to the community.
So what’s up with Halloween? There is no doubt that Halloween's origins can be traced to pagan beliefs and rituals. Satanic groups have also attached meaning to Halloween, celebrating it as a special holiday. These origins and meanings can be researched pretty easily on the Internet. Christians of good conscience differ on their views of whether or not believers should have any participation in Halloween celebrations.
Certainly, Christians should not participate in the "dark side" of Halloween–to in any way approve of the satanic or the focus on paganism, evil, death, etc. Yet, the reality of Halloween participation for many, believers and unbelievers alike, is that of exercising a bit of fantasy, dressing up in costumes and having fun "trick or treating" around the neighborhood. To many, this is what Halloween is about, without any connection to occult or pagan practices. I have a hard time saying that there is anything wrong with this.
Let me give an illustration: We know the source and heritage of Christmas. We also know that for many people, Christmas is a very non-religious holiday. People give Christmas their own meaning, regardless of its origins. We would never say that everyone who celebrates Christmas is a follower of Christ or honors God.
Halloween, I believe, is similar. People give Halloween their own meaning, regardless of its origins. Consequently, because people participate in Halloween, does not necessarily mean they are promoting or encouraging occult or pagan practices and beliefs.
Whatever conviction you hold about participating in Halloween, live it out for God’s glory! In all these things, a person should follow his or her own convictions, while understanding that Christians may differ in their beliefs about this issue. So, if you run into those fellow believers who differ from your stance on Halloween, give them freedom to live out their own convictions. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.” (Romans 14:4 NLT)
1. Responding to today’s culture can lead to two extremes: either isolating oneself entirely from the culture or immersing oneself totally in the culture without using any discernment. How can either of these extremes be destructive to God’s work your life?
2. What do you believe about participating in Halloween and why?
Jim Liebelt is a 20+ year youth ministry veteran and is the Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord, including oversight of the "Good Advice Parent Newsletter," Today’s HomeWord daily devotional, and HomeWord’s Culture Brief. Jim is also a presenter for HomeWord's parent seminar, "Building Healthy Morals and Values." Jim joined the HomeWord staff in 1998, and has served over the years in various pastoral ministries, as a youth ministry and parenting seminar speaker, an adjunct youth ministry instructor at Gordon College, a national presenter for Group Magazine Live, and has served on the council of the New England Network of Youth Ministries.