What to do with Halloween
Christian faith has long suffered from an issue with Halloween. The Church in history tried everything from banning it to changing it. Many High Churches try to celebrate All Saints Day , many Protestant Churches go for Reformation Day. The Church has also been at odds over what to do on October 31st. Some have Halloween parties, some give out candy, some boycott the whole day. Which one is right?
Romans 14 helps a great deal here. It is too long to put in full, but the chapter deals with an issue Paul saw often. Some people would eat meat (often in that day which been offered to an idol before sale) and have no issue convinced that as it was stone and wood it did not matter. Others who had been saved from worshiping idols felt convicted and saw it wrong to do that. Likewise, some Gentile converts saw some days as important and some Jewish converts had other days of importance. Who was right? Paul gives an unusual answer. Both!
"3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living." (Romans 14 3-9 NIV)
Paul says here that both groups are OK. So long as they are fully convinced and regard to the Holy Spirit’s leading. This almost sounds like a blank slate to do everything. There must be a limit, right? Yes, the limit is each other and love.
Paul later in the chapter explains that if an action we take will cause our brother or sister to sin or fall into temptation then it should not be done. Likewise, Paul in his many writings warn again and again to not become idol worshipers. So where does this leave us on the Halloween issue?
Honestly, it's complicated. Halloween and the many spins offs in many cultures was a time of ancestor worship, and fear of spirits. The idea being based on the seasons changing and the shorter days representing a time when the land of life and death were connected and crossable. Certainly, in that regard it is forbidden. The problem is that now in the US at least that meaning no longer exists for most people. Thanks to the commercializing and change of culture Halloween is by many seen as a day to get scared for fun, dress up as anything you want, and get free candy. Much of the spiritual context has all but faded away.
There are still groups that hold a more spiritual purpose for the day like Wiccans, Central Americans, and others. In good faith I would be amiss to ever suggest going to a seance or using a Ouija Board as that is blatant witchcraft banned by the Bible. That said so long as letting kids pretend is allowed and fun is permitted I cannot condemn the whole day. A child pretending to be Iron Man is no more spiritually harmful then playing a princess in a school play.
So where are we left? Honestly that it is up to you. If Halloween is a spiritual stumbling block to you and you are tempted to think about ghosts and demons do not do it. If, however you see it as a day to take your family of heroes and princesses and clowns out to get candy then go ahead and have fun. If you like a good scare and can separate it from truth, enjoy a haunted house. Just in everything you do remember the two rules of Jesus. Love God and your fellow man. In your fun do not sin and likewise do not get mad at the person that does not enjoy Halloween based on conviction. Whatever you decide to do this 31st do it for God and not out of selfishness.
"19 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 person 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 or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14 19-23)