Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Thursday, October Halloween, 2013"

We have a large pocket folder/hanger thingy/calendar hanging in our kitchen.  Each day the kids take turns putting the number of the day's date in the pockets on the hanger and then say the date.  It's a good way for them to practice knowing how to read and use a calendar.  For today's date, instead of a "31" the calendar simply says "Halloween."  This morning, Ferg said, "Today is Thursday, October Halloween, 2013."  Close enough, I guess.

This year it seems as though there have been an inordinate number of online articles published by various authors and organizations that address how Christians should approach Halloween.  To costume, or not to costume?  To trick or treat, or not to trick or treat?  These are the questions that preoccupy the hearts of Christians at this time of year.

Some people appeal to the pagan roots of Halloween - which to be sure, are there - as a reason to not celebrate.  Others point to how Halloween has become somewhat of a low-brow holiday, as it seems the goal is to see how gory, disgusting, or risque we can get without crossing a line (or maybe intentionally crossing several lines).  Still others balk at how closely related Halloween is to death, witches, ghosts, etc., and don't want to be a part of it.  These are definitely good reasons to abstain.

Those Christians who do celebrate the holiday, however, usually justify their participation by arguing that Halloween is a cultural holiday, and amounts to nothing more than dressing up the young'ns in cute costumes and shuffling them off from house to house, and then sneaking some candy out of their bags after they go to bed.  This is mostly where I fall, for several reasons that I won't go into here.

Interestingly, opinions on whether or not to celebrate Halloween vary even amongst the members of our church.  There are some who partake, and some who abstain.  Who's right?  They all are.

I don't want to oversimplify the question, but to me it seems that there is an easier response to the question of whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween.  As I see it, in order to answer this question, one should read the Bible, pray, and then do whatever one wants.  Abstain or partake, either one - as long as you are informed by scripture and are walking in the Spirit.  Based on this approach, whatever you decide will be right and good.  The minute we start making our opinion a standard by which we judge others, however, we have erred.  I don't think that one can hold up his or her beliefs on the celebration of Halloween as a standard of righteousness for all others.  The Bible doesn't speak clearly on this issue, and we should allow for differences.

So go trick or treating tonight with the little ones.  Or don't.  Whatever you decide will be what is best.  But in whatever you do, take some biblical wisdom along with you.  The first thing that comes to mind when I think about this participating in Halloween, specifically when it comes to costumes, celebrations, etc., is Philippians 4.8: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  

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