The Halloween Dilemma

While a lot of kids were hearing their parents greet them with “Happy Halloween” I’d wake mine on October 31st with the loud, celebratory (and maybe a bit obnoxious) shout: 

“Happy Reformation Day!!” 

Martin Luther rocked the world on October 31st, 1517, when he simply nailed a brilliant piece of theology to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. That seemingly small act was the match that lit the fire of the Protestant Reformation. Luther has always been one of my heroes. I love celebrating Reformation Day by introducing the younger generation to the movie Luther. (If you haven’t met this integral player in Christian history, my favorite book about him is here and you can read a great article about him here.)

Now that my children are out of the house and have children of their own, rather than waking them with a shout on October 31st, I send a “Happy Reformation Day!” text to their cell phones.

Avoiding Halloween wasn’t a problem for my husband and me in the years when we didn’t have children. We opted out of the Halloween scene pretty easily. I didn’t put gruesome decorations on the porch and we didn’t carve any pumpkins. My husband typically gave a mid-week message at our church on the spiritual origin of the holiday, and other than that, we gave Halloween little more than a sneer.

When our children came along, we explained why we didn’t celebrate Halloween. We told them we didn’t want to honor a day that was devoted (originally) to pagan practices and currently is considered a sacred holiday for those involved in the occult. They never put up a fuss about it and seemed to appreciate our concerns.

As our church began to expand with young families, and new converts who didn’t have a clue about the origin of the holiday, we found ourselves having to repeat the same explanation multiple times, mostly to their young children who didn’t want to miss out on the annual candy-scene.

We believed we were taking a biblical stand against a pagan night of darkness and we were making a statement (whether clearly understood or not) that believers are to have no part in the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), hoping that our explanations would “expose” the cunning devices of the enemy.

I don’t know that we really accomplished what we hoped to accomplish.

As our children and our church grew, we felt that rather than “turning out our lights” on this most dreadful night, we’d turn things around and open up our church’s gymnasium to be the light for our neighborhood. We invited the community to join us for an afternoon and evening of games, food, fellowship, and lots of candy! We shared the gospel with our neighbors by giving them literature, and just spent time loving on all the little ones that saw our church as a welcoming and friendly place.

We gave guidelines for the families in our church, and asked them to dress their little ones as wholesome characters, but made it clear that we would welcome all visitors and families that dropped by, no matter how they were dressed. Some people probably thought we were catering to Halloween and disguising it as a “Harvest Party.” Some thought we were celebrating Reformation Day. But what we were attempting to do was to be a light to a needy world on one of the darkest nights of the year.

I will probably always struggle with what to do with this day. It is a hard call, because there are so many issues at play. I encourage you and your family to set out on a study adventure on this topic. Seek the Lord and ask Him to clearly lead you and give you direction on how He would have you spend the evening. I hope you’ll read a couple of articles that I think you’ll find helpful as you process the Halloween dilemma:

The Inevitable Halloween Discussion

Halloween—Trick or Retreat?

Both articles are from one of my favorite bloggers, Tim Challies.

However you chose to spend this Thursday evening, I pray we will all be spending our moments living all out for God’s glory!