Halloween, or at least the celebration of it, is probably one of the most controversial topics in Christianity. I’m including baptism versus sprinkling, communion versus the Lord’s Supper, and Hillsong versus hymns in that assessment, too. Parents all across America argue over whether or not the celebration of Halloween, or the distinct lack thereof, encourages their children to participate in witchcraft. The topic is polarizing; in many people’s minds, a person is either pro-boredom or pro-Satan—nothing in between will do.
The exception: my house.
We didn’t really celebrate Halloween until I was older. We might have worn costumes we already had around the house and eaten candy we got at church, but trick-or-treating was for the neighborhood kids. We didn’t even watch the Peanuts special when I was little.
Then, as I got older, Mom got outnumbered, and we went trick-or-treating for the first time when I was in high school. (Note to parents: your teenagers will be somewhat miffed if you do this, because they get funny looks from the neighbors if they’re unaccompanied by smaller kids. Trust me.) To fifteen-year-old me, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, but the younger kids in my family had fun.
Astonishingly enough, out of the eight of us, zero have shown any interest in witchcraft. Granted, one of us is two years old, but still. An amazing statistic, right there.
So, which perspective saved our spiritual lives? The anti-fun perspective or the anti-Jesus one?
Neither. I’ve never considered Halloween to be any different from any other holiday, save for the unfortunate lack of canceled classes. With Thanksgiving, I can focus on the feast and the football, or I can focus on thanking God for my bountiful life. With New Year’s Eve, I could get drunk and make out with some stranger, or I could spend the evening praying and asking God to bless the new year. Valentine’s Day? Even without a “significant other,” I can focus on the infallible love of Christ in my heart.
Halloween is the same way. I could dress like a vampire and go around sucking blood (wait, nobody actually does that?), or I could take the opportunity to reach out to all the kids roaming the neighborhood. Schools don’t typically talk about Jesus, so trick-or-treating is a great way to briefly encounter all the kids in the neighborhood at once. That doesn’t happen every day!
It is possible to throw a pack of Gospel tracts in the bucket of candy without dressing up. It is perfectly reasonable to host a movie night without bubbling cauldrons of potions. It’s these sorts of acts that will truly help get the message of Christ out to the masses—more than any candy boycott or angry internet post.
It’s okay to dress up and hand out junk food if it’s clear that getting down on the neighborhood kids’ level is the best way to reach them. It’s also okay to avoid those things if doing so will only raise suspicions or guilt. Buy leftover candy on clearance on November 1st if you must. (I know I will.) None of this makes a person any more or less of a Christian by itself. What makes someone a Christian is Christ’s presence in the heart, and no little cowboy or witch at the door is going to take Him away.
Be cautious and be discerning, but be open. After all, we still have to decide between “Oceans” and “It Is Well.”
Written by Catherine